Facts and Figures

Houston's mix of international appeal and Southern charm have captured the imagination of tastemakers the world over. Read on for a few insider facts on the nation's fourth largest city.


At 655 square miles, the City of Houston could contain the cities of New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis and Miami.


Houston, with 2.3 million residents, is the fourth most populous city in the United States, trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The city is the largest in the South and the Southwest. 

Houston is the nation’s demographic future. In racial and ethnic composition, the Houston of today very much resembles the U.S. 40 years hence.

  • 37.3% Anglo
  • 36.5% Hispanic
  • 16.9% African American
  • 7.5% Asian/Other
  • 1.8% Other

More than 145 different languages are spoken in Houston. That's the third largest number of languages spoken in a U.S. city behind New York (192) and LA (185). More than a third of Houstonians older than five speak a language other than English at home.

Just over 31% of the population over the age of 25 holds a bachelor's degree or higher.

Houston has a very young population. Approximately 22.1% of residents are age 5 to 19, the largest population segment. 


Houston ranks first among U.S. cities where paychecks stretch the furthest, according to Forbes. 

Houston is home to the second largest concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in the country (49) behind New York (72).

Overall Culture

GQ Magazine deemed Houston the "New Capital of Southern Cool" (2018).

Thrillist ranked Houston among "The 7 Most Impressive American Cities of 2017" for its diverse population, affordability and strong economy (2018).

WalletHub ranked Houston among 2018’s Most Fun Cities in America (2018).

Green Space

Houston rates first in total park acreage among U.S. cities with more than one million residents.

Of the 50 largest parks located within U.S. cities, the City of Houston contains four: Cullen Park (#12) with 9,270 acres, George Bush Park (#16) with 8,043 acres, Lake Houston Wilderness Park (#25) with 4,787 acres, and Bear Creek Pioneers Park (#48) with 3,067 acres.

There are 198 golf courses within a 50-mile radius of downtown Houston, according to Golflink.com.

The City of Houston offers a 300-mile interconnected bikeway network spread over 500 square miles. The network includes bike lanes, bike routes, signed-shared lanes and shared-use paths.

Houston, situated on two of the four major North American bird and butterfly flyways, offers a bounty of avian species. As of ’14, the Houston Audubon Society has counted more than 400 species of birds in the Houston region.  

International Connections 

More than 3.5 million foreign travelers came to Houston in 2017, the most recent year for which data exists. The vast majority of those travelers came from Mexico.

International trade directly or indirectly supports more than one-third of all jobs in the Houston metropolitan area.

Ninety-one nations have consular representation in the city, ranking Houston’s consular corps third largest in the nation.

Houston has 18 sister-city relationships promoting business opportunities across five continents: Asia (7), Europe (7), Americas (2), Africa (1), and Australia (1). Houston’s oldest sister-city relationship was established in 1961 with Taipei, Taiwan, and its most recent relationship with Basrah, Iraq was established in ’15.

Fifteen foreign governments maintain trade and commercial offices here, and the city has 35 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations.

Bush Intercontinental Airport offers non-stop service to more than 70  international destinations.

Hobby Airport completed construction on an International Terminal in 2015 and began service to Mexico and Latin America through Southwest Airlines. It now serves more than 55 destinations.

The Texas Medical Center sees an annual average of 16,000 International patient visits.

Hospitality Industry 

Houston received approximately 17.5 million visitors in 2015, according to the most recent data available. 

Visitors to Houston spent $17 billion in 2014 and the industry supports more than 123,000 jobs.  

Houston has more than 80,000 hotel rooms with approximately 8,000 located downtown.

The Houston Airport System (George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport) handled 55 million passengers in 2015.

Conventions and Major Events

With more than 4.4 million square feet of convention space, metro Houston ranks at the top of American cities when comparing convention venues. 

In 2016 Houston hosted 431 conventions, events and shows that drew 628,013 attendees to Houston translating into an estimated economic impact of $253 million, based on attendance.

The city hosted the NCAA Final Four in 2016 and the NFL's Super Bowl LI in 2017. 

The Arts

Texas has 20 cultural districts, of which 5 are in Houston (Texas Commission on the Arts).

Houston’s cultural events and exhibitions report 9.2 million visits per year.

Houston’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated over $1.1 billion in total economic activity, according to the ’17 Arts & Economic Prosperity report. This spending, $579.4 million by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and an additional $538.0 million in event-related spending by their audiences, supports 25,817 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $801.6 million in household income to local residents and delivers $119.3 million in local and state government revenue. 

Houston is one of only a few U.S. cities with resident professional companies in the four disciplines of the performing arts: ballet, opera, symphony and theater.

Houston has more than 500 institutions devoted to the performing and visual arts, science and history in the Houston area.

Theater Facts:

Houston’s Theater District, located in downtown Houston, features seven renowned performing arts organizations and many smaller ones in four venues: Alley Theatre, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Jones Hall and Wortham Theater Center. The Theater District also includes one venue dedicated solely to dance: Houston Ballet’s Center of Dance. 

  • Houston Ballet: Hailed by The New York Times as "...one of the nation's best ballet companies"
  • The Alley Theatre has staged more than 25 world premieres in its history. Backed by private and public contributions, the theatre underwent a $46.5-million renovation in ’14–’15.
  • Houston Grand Opera: Only opera company in the world with Grammy, Tony and Emmy awards.
  • Theatre Under the Stars is one of the largest nonprofit producers of musical theater in America.

Museum Facts:

The Houston Museum District is one of the country’s most visited and diverse cultural centers with 19 museums within close proximity. These museums provide rich experiences in art, history, culture, nature and science. The district is divided in four walkable zones, each of which includes a group of museums.

  • One of the largest museum districts in the country with 20 museums and institutions within walking distance.
  • Children’s Museum of Houston is the highest attended youth museum in the country for its size and rated No. 1 in the country by Parents magazine. 
  • The Houston Zoo seeks to provide a fun and inspirational experience fostering appreciation, knowledge and care for the natural world. Currently there are over 6,000 animals attracting over 2 million guests each year.
  • The Menil Collection: Considered one of the most important private collections of the 20th century.
  • The Health Museum: Most visited health museum in the country.
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: The largest art museum in the Southwest United States.
  • Rothko Chapel: The only ecumenical center of its kind in the world.


The Greater Houston area has 14 major institutions of higher learning and more than 60 degree-granting colleges, universities and technical schools
Houston (Rice University) is the birthplace of nanotechnology.

Rice University ranked first among "30 Best Values in Small Colleges" and the "30 Best College Values in the West/Southwest" according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine (2014).

Tier One research universities in the Houston region include: Rice University, the University of Houston and Texas A&M University. 

The region has some 100 trade, vocational and business schools. 


For four generations, the Hamilton family has made high-quality men’s shirts for high-end stores like Barneys New York from a Richmond Avenue storefront.

Elaine Turner has built a thriving accessories business from her Houston headquarters. Today, her designs are carried in more than 200 specialty stores, at Turner’s boutiques, online and Nordstrom.

Project Runway winner Chloe Dao has created a popular clothing line from her boutique Dao Chloe Dao (formerly Lot 8).

Fashion designer and native Houstonian Cesar Galindo is recognized worldwide for his cocktail and evening wear collections, which have appeared in print, television, film and the runway of New York Fashion Week.


Houston is considered to have one of the best culinary scenes in the country, with cuisine from around the world. There are more than 10,000 restaurants in the Houston area with culinary choices that represent more than 70 countries and American regions.

Houstonians dine out nearly more than residents of any other city—6.9 times per week, compared with the national average of 4.9. The average meal in Houston—$35.57—is less than the national average of $36.40, according to Zagat.

In ’16, Yelp.co. listed Houston as having more than 75 national categories of cuisine, and listed over 600 vegan friendly restaurants, more than 150 farm-to-table restaurants and more than 700  food trucks in Houston.


Houston is home to Johnson Space Center, the training base and home for our nation's astronauts and the site of Mission Control. For more than three decades, JSC has been the world leader in human space flight operations for NASA. Over 3,000 men and women began their careers in this facility.

Houston is home to Space Center Houston, the official visitor center of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, which is NASA's center for spaceflight activities.

In 1969, "Houston" was the first word spoken from the moon. The Apollo 11 mission established a place in history for the city when astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke the now-famous line, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Space Center Houston is the home of the international landmark Independence Plaza, the only place in the world where you can enter a space shuttle replica resting on top of the original shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905. The exhibit immerses visitors in the science and history of the shuttle era and gives them a rare glimpse into the ingenuity, breakthroughs and technological advances which impacted the future of exploration. Only at Space Center Houston can visitors walk through the flight deck, mid-deck and payload bay of a shuttle replica and the seven dynamic areas within the aircraft.


Hollywood directors frequently film in Houston because of the vastly diverse terrain and unique locations found in the Greater Houston area, from the urban landscape seen in Jason’s Lyric and Reality Bites to the NASA favorites Apollo 13, Armageddon and Space Cowboys.

In fact, Houston’s varied topography can sometimes be unrecognizable. Who would have guessed that the lush, green landscape on the Rushmore campus was not filmed in New England but in Houston just 10 minutes from downtown? Or that Houston doubled for Arlington, Virginia in the thriller Arlington Road?

Other blockbusters filmed in Houston:

  • Boyhood
  • Terms of Endearment
  • Evening Star
  • RoboCop 2
  • Tin Cup
  • Flags of Our Fathers
  • Mao’s Last Dancer
  • Tree of Life


Texas Medical Center (TMC) with 21 renowned hospitals—including M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the No. 1 cancer hospital in the country — 13 support organizations, eight academic and research institutions, six nursing programs, three public health organizations, three medical schools, two universities, two pharmacy schools and dental school—is the largest medical complex in the world.

The TMC handles approximately 7.2 million patient visits annually and 106,000 employees.

More heart surgeries are performed in the Texas Medical Center than anywhere else in the world.

The first successful human heart transplant was performed in Houston by Dr. Denton Cooley (1968).

77030, the Texas Medical Center Zip code, is home to 21,000 physicians, scientists, researchers and other advanced degree professionals in the life sciences at 385 medical offices, the highest concentration in the country.

Houston’s Memorial Hermann Hospital is the birth place of Life Flight™ (1976).


  • 1836: On April 21, General Sam Houston's army wins Texas' Independence from Mexico in the Battle of San Jacinto.
  • 1836: Houston founded on Aug. 30 by brothers Augustus C. and John K. Allen, who pay just over $1.40 per acre for 6,642 acres near headwaters of Buffalo Bayou.
  • 1837: General Sam Houston, first president of the Republic of Texas, signs an act authorizing Houston to incorporate. Houston is capital of the Republic from 1837-1839.
  • 1853: Houston's first railroad - the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos & Colorado Railroad - begins operations.
  • 1868: Houston's first trolley cars (mule-drawn) appear.
  • 1899: First Houston city park opens. (This site, now Sam Houston Park, contains several of Houston's earliest buildings.
  • 1912: Rice Institute (now Rice University) begins classes.
  • 1913: Houston Symphony is established.
  • 1914: The 25-foot-deep Houston Ship Channel is completed and formally dedicated.
  • 1924: Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the first fine arts museum in Texas, opens
  • 1932: First Houston Fat Stock Show & Rodeo (now Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo) held.
  • 1943: Texas Medical Center is founded.
  • 1962: NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center moves to Houston.
  • 1969: Houston Intercontinental Airport begins operations.
  • 1969: "Houston" is the first word spoken from the lunar surface.
  • 1970: The Galleria opens.
  • 2004: Houston's first modern rail line - 7.5 miles long - begins operations.