Greater Houston

Last updated

Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land
Panoramic Houston skyline.jpg
The Woodlands
Sugarland Town Square.jpg
Sugar Land
CountryUnited States
State Texas
Principal cities
1,660.0 sq mi (4,299.4 km2)
10,062 sq mi (26,061 km2)
Highest elevation
430 ft (131 m)
Lowest elevation
0 ft (0 m)
(2018) [1]
  Density2,978.5/sq mi (1,150.0/km2)
6,997,384 (5th)
7,197,883 (9th)
 MSA/CSA = 2018, Urban = 2010
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
  Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Interstates I-10.svg I-45.svg I-69.svg I-610.svg

Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land is the fifth-most populous metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States, encompassing nine counties along the Gulf Coast in southeastern Texas. With a population of 6,997,384 people, as of 2018 census estimates [2] , the MSA is the second-most populous in Texas after the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] Colloquially referred to as Greater Houston, the 10,000-square-mile (26,000 km2) region centers on Harris County, the third-most populous county in the nation, which contains the city of Houston—the largest economic and cultural center of the South—with a population of 2.3 million. [8] Greater Houston is part of the Texas Triangle megaregion along with the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, Greater Austin, and Greater San Antonio.

In the United States, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is a geographical region with a relatively high population density at its core and close economic ties throughout the area. Such regions are neither legally incorporated as a city or town would be, nor are they legal administrative divisions like counties or separate entities such as states; because of this, the precise definition of any given metropolitan area can vary with the source. A typical metropolitan area is centered on a single large city that wields substantial influence over the region. However, some metropolitan areas contain more than one large city with no single municipality holding a substantially dominant position. MSAs are defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and used by the Census Bureau and other federal government agencies for statistical purposes.

Gulf Coast of the United States Coastline in the United States

The Gulf Coast of the United States is the coastline along the Southern United States where they meet the Gulf of Mexico. The coastal states that have a shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and these are known as the Gulf States.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.


Houston has historically been among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States; it was the fastest-growing in absolute terms during the 2013–2014 census year, adding 156,371 people. [9] The area grew 25.2% between 1990 and 2000—adding more than 950,000 people—while the nation's population increased only 13.2% over the same period, and from 2000 to 2007 alone, the area added over 910,000 people. [10] The Greater Houston Partnership projects the metropolitan area will add between 4.1 and 8.3 million new residents between 2010 and 2050. [11]

Greater Houston Partnership organization

The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) is an economic development organization serving the Greater Houston area, including the counties of Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, and Waller. Its headquarters are in Suite 900 in the Partnership Tower in Downtown Houston.

Greater Houston has the seventh-highest metropolitan-area gross domestic product in the United States, valued at $490 billion in 2017. [12] A major trade center anchored by the Port of Houston, Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land has the second-highest trade export value of all MSAs, at over $84 billion in 2016, accounting for 42% of the total exports of Texas. [13] Metropolitan Houston is home to the headquarters of 21 Fortune 500 companies, ranking fourth among all MSAs. [14]

The Port of Houston is one of world's largest ports and serves the metropolitan area of Houston, Texas. The port is a 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities located a few hours' sailing time from the Gulf of Mexico. Located in the fourth-largest city in the United States, it is the busiest port in the U.S. in terms of foreign tonnage, second-busiest in the U.S. in terms of overall tonnage, and sixteenth-busiest in the world. Though originally the port's terminals were primarily within the Houston city limits, the port has expanded to such a degree that today it has facilities in multiple communities in the surrounding area. In particular the port's busiest terminal, the Barbours Cut Terminal, is located in Morgan's Point.

<i>Fortune</i> 500 Annual list compiled and published by Fortune magazine

The Fortune 500 is an annual list compiled and published by Fortune magazine that ranks 500 of the largest United States corporations by total revenue for their respective fiscal years. The list includes publicly held companies, along with privately held companies for which revenues are publicly available. The concept of the Fortune 500 was created by Edgar P. Smith, a Fortune editor, and the first list was published in 1955. The Fortune 500 is more commonly used than its subset Fortune 100 or superset Fortune 1000.


An image of the Greater Houston area taken from NASA's Space Shuttle during mission STS-55 (STS055-71-43) with Galveston Bay and Galveston Island visible towards the bottom of the picture Houston metro area.jpg
An image of the Greater Houston area taken from NASA's Space Shuttle during mission STS-55 (STS055-71-43) with Galveston Bay and Galveston Island visible towards the bottom of the picture

According to the United States Census Bureau, the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan statistical area has a total area of 10,062 square miles (26,060 km²), of which 8,929 sq mi (23,130 km2) is land and 1,133 sq mi (2,930 km2) is water. The region is slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts and slightly larger than New Jersey. [15] The Office of Management and Budget combines the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugarland MSA with four micropolitan statistical areas (Bay City, Brenham, El Campo, and Huntsville) to form the Houston–The Woodlands, TX Combined Statistical Area.

United States Census Bureau Bureau of the United States responsible for the census and related statistics

The United States Census Bureau is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about the American people and economy. The Census Bureau is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and its director is appointed by the President of the United States.

Massachusetts State of the United States of America

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

New Jersey State of the United States of America

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States. It is located on a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, particularly along the extent of the length of New York City on its western edge; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, and the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states; its biggest city is Newark. New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.

The metropolitan area is located in the Gulf Coastal Plains biome, and its vegetation is classified as temperate grassland. Much of the urbanized area was built on forested land, marshes, swamp, or prairie, remnants of which can still be seen in surrounding areas. Of particular note is the Katy Prairie to the west, the Big Thicket to the northeast, and the Galveston Bay ecosystem to the south. Additionally, the metropolitan region is crossed by a number of creeks and bayous which provide essential drainage during rainfall events; some of the most notable waterways include Buffalo Bayou (upon which Houston was founded), White Oak Bayou, Brays Bayou, Spring Creek, and the San Jacinto River. The upper drainage basin of Buffalo Bayou is impounded by two large flood control reservoirs, Barker Reservoir and Addicks Reservoir, which provide a combined 400,000 acre-feet of storage during large rainfall events and cover a total land area of 26,100 acres (106 km2). [16] Greater Houston's flat topography, susceptibility to high-intensity rainfall events, high level of impervious surface, and inadequately-sized natural drainage channels make it particularly susceptible to catastrophic flooding events. [17]

Biome Distinct biological communities that have formed in response to a shared physical climate

A biome is a community of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biomes are distinct biological communities that have formed in response to a shared physical climate. "Biome" is a broader term than "habitat"; any biome can comprise a variety of habitats.

Prairie ecosystems considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome

Prairies are ecosystems considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and a composition of grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type. Temperate grassland regions include the Pampas of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, and the steppe of Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. Lands typically referred to as "prairie" tend to be in North America. The term encompasses the area referred to as the Interior Lowlands of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, which includes all of the Great Plains as well as the wetter, hillier land to the east.

Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) was established in 1992 to conserve Katy Prairie, part of the Western Gulf coastal grasslands located in Texas, United States. Approximately 24,000 acres is under conservation easements or owned by KPC in western Harris and Waller Counties.


Underpinning Houston's land surface are unconsolidated clays, clay shales, and poorly cemented sands up to several miles deep. The region's geology developed from stream deposits formed from the erosion of the Rocky Mountains. These sediments consist of a series of sands and clays deposited on decaying organic matter that, over time, transformed into oil and natural gas. Beneath these tiers is a water-deposited layer of halite, a rock salt. The porous layers were compressed over time and forced upward. As it pushed upward, the salt dragged surrounding sediments into dome shapes, often trapping oil and gas that seeped from the surrounding porous sands. This thick, rich soil also provides a good environment for rice farming in suburban outskirts into which the city continues to grow near Katy. Evidence of past rice farming is even still evident in developed areas as an abundance of rich, dark, loamy top soil exists.

Clay A finely-grained natural rock or soil material that combines one or more clay minerals

Clay is a finely-grained natural rock or soil material that combines one or more clay minerals with possible traces of quartz (SiO2), metal oxides (Al2O3, MgO etc.) and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure. Clays are plastic due to particle size and geometry as well as water content, and become hard, brittle and non–plastic upon drying or firing. Depending on the soil's content in which it is found, clay can appear in various colours from white to dull grey or brown to deep orange-red.

Shale A fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock

Shale is a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals and tiny fragments of other minerals, especially quartz and calcite. Shale is characterized by breaks along thin laminae or parallel layering or bedding less than one centimeter in thickness, called fissility. It is the most common sedimentary rock.

Sand A granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles, from 0.063 to 2 mm diameter

Sand is a granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. It is defined by size, being finer than gravel and coarser than silt. Sand can also refer to a textural class of soil or soil type; i.e., a soil containing more than 85 percent sand-sized particles by mass.

The Houston region is generally earthquake-free. While the city of Houston contains over 150 to 300 [18] active surface faults with an aggregate length of up to 310 miles (500 km), [19] [20] the clay below the surface precludes the buildup of friction that produces ground-shaking in earthquakes. These faults generally move at a smooth rate in what is termed "fault creep".


List of hurricanes

A number of tropical storms and hurricanes have hit the area, including:

  • 1900 Galveston Hurricane, which devastated Galveston and was the deadliest natural disaster in United States history, killing between 8,000 and 12,000.
  • Hurricane Carla (1961), which was the most recent Category 4 hurricane to strike Texas until Harvey in 2017.
  • Hurricane Alicia (1983), which struck the area as a Category 3, and was at the time, the costliest Atlantic hurricane.
  • Tropical Storm Allison (2001), which, until Harvey, brought the worst flooding in Houston history and was the first tropical storm to be retired.
  • Hurricane Rita (2005), which triggered one of the largest evacuations in United States history in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Tropical Storm Erin (2007), which was a fairly minor tropical storm that struck Texas, but brought severe impacts to Oklahoma.
  • Hurricane Ike (2008), which brought devastating storm surge to the coast and wind damage into the city.
  • Hurricane Harvey (2017), which brought devastating flooding that resulted in excess of $100 billion in damages to the region.

Components of the metropolitan area

Location in the U.S. (red) USstcou2010 HOUSTON.png
Location in the U.S. (red)

As defined by the Office of Management and Budget, the metropolitan area of Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land encompasses nine counties in Texas. They are listed below with population figures as of the 2010 U.S. Census. [21] [22]

Municipalities, CDPs, and other communities

Five "principal" communities are designated within Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. The Woodlands is a CDP; the rest are cities:


Historical populations - Houston Metropolitan Area
1950 806,701
1960 1,243,15854.1%
1970 1,985,03159.7%
1980 2,905,35346.4%
1990 3,301,93713.7%
2000 4,177,64626.5%
2010 5,920,41641.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
2011 estimate

As of 2011 Greater Houston has four of Texas' ten wealthiest communities, which include the wealthiest community, Hunters Creek Village, the fourth-wealthiest community, Bunker Hill Village, the fifth-wealthiest community, West University Place, and the sixth-wealthiest community, Piney Point Village. [25]

County 2017 Estimate2010 CensusChangeAreaDensity
Austin County 29,78628,417+4.82%646.51 sq mi (1,674.5 km2)
Brazoria County 362,457313,166+15.74%1,357.70 sq mi (3,516.4 km2)
Chambers County 41,44135,096+18.08%597.14 sq mi (1,546.6 km2)
Fort Bend County 764,828585,375+30.66%861.48 sq mi (2,231.2 km2)
Galveston County 335,036291,309+15.01%378.36 sq mi (979.9 km2)
Harris County 4,652,9804,092,459+13.70%1,703.48 sq mi (4,412.0 km2)
Liberty County 83,65875,643+10.60%1,158.42 sq mi (3,000.3 km2)
Montgomery County 570,934455,746+25.27%1,041.73 sq mi (2,698.1 km2)
Waller County 51,30743,205+18.75%513.43 sq mi (1,329.8 km2)
Total6,892,4275,920,416+16.42%8,258.25 sq mi (21,388.8 km2)


Houston Ship Channel Houston Ship Channel Galena.jpg
Houston Ship Channel

Among the ten most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S., Houston ranked first in employment growth rate and second in nominal employment growth. [26] In 2006, the Houston metropolitan area ranked first in Texas and third in the U.S. within the category of "Best Places for Business and Careers" by Forbes . [27]

The Houston–The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA's gross metropolitan product (GMP) in 2005 was $308.7 billion, up 5.4% from 2004 in constant dollars—slightly larger than Austria's gross domestic product. By 2012, the GMP had risen to $449 billion, the fourth-largest of any metropolitan area in the United States. Only 26 nations other than the United States had a GDP exceeding Houston's GAP. [28] Mining, which in Houston is almost entirely oil and gas exploration and production, accounted for 11% of Houston's GAP—down from 21% as recently as 1985. The reduced role of oil and gas in Houston's GAP reflects the rapid growth of other sectors—such as engineering services, health services, and manufacturing. [29]

The area's economic activity is centered in Houston, the county seat of Harris County. Houston is second to New York City in Fortune 500 headquarters. The city has attempted to build a banking industry, but the companies originally started in Houston have since merged with other companies nationwide. Banking, however, is still vital to the region.[ citation needed ]

Galveston Bay and the Buffalo Bayou together form one of the most important shipping hubs in the world. The Port of Houston, the Port of Texas City, and the Port of Galveston are all major seaports located in this Greater Houston area. [30] The area is also one of the leading centers of the energy industry, particularly petroleum processing, and many companies have large operations in this region. [31] The metropolitan area also comprises the largest petrochemical manufacturing area in the world, including for synthetic rubber, insecticides, and fertilizers. [32] The area is also the world's leading center for building oilfield equipment. The region is also a major center of biomedical research, aeronautics, and high technology. [33]

Much of the metro area's success as a petrochemical complex is enabled by its busy man-made ship channel, the Houston Ship Channel. [34] Because of these economic trades, many residents have moved to the Houston area from other U.S. states, as well as hundreds of countries worldwide. Unlike most places, where high fuel prices are seen as harmful to the economy, they are generally seen as beneficial for Houston, as many are employed in the energy industry. Baytown, Pasadena/La Porte, and Texas City have some of the area's largest petroleum/petrochemical plants, though major operations can be found in Houston, Anahuac, Clute, and other communities. Galveston has the largest cruise ship terminal in Texas (and the 12th-largest in the world). The island, as well the Clear Lake Area, are major recreation and tourism areas in the region. [35]

Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center—the largest medical center in the world. [36] Galveston is home to one of only two national biocontainment laboratories in the United States. [37]

The University of Houston System's annual impact on the Houston-area's economy equates to that of a major corporation: $1.1 billion in new funds attracted annually to the Houston area, $3.13 billion in total economic benefit, and 24,000 local jobs generated. [38] [39] This is in addition to the 12,500 new graduates the UH System produces every year who enter the workforce in Houston and throughout Texas. These degree-holders tend to stay in Houston; after five years, 80.5% of graduates are still living and working in the region. [39]

Sugar Land is home to the second-largest economic activities and fifth-largest city in the metropolitan area. Sugar Land has the most important economic center in Fort Bend County. The city holds the Imperial Sugar (its namesake), Nalco Champion, and Western Airways headquarters. Engineering firms and other related industries have managed to take the place as an economic engine.[ citation needed ]


Major professional teams

Houston Astros Baseball1962 MLB Minute Maid Park
Houston Rockets Basketball1967 NBA Toyota Center
Houston Texans Football 2002 NFL NRG Stadium
Houston Dynamo Soccer2005 MLS BBVA Compass Stadium
Houston Dash Women's soccer2014 NWSL BBVA Compass Stadium
Houston SaberCats Rugby Union2018 MLR Aveva Stadium

Minor league and semipro teams

Houston Energy Football2001 WPFL The Rig
Houston Red Storm Basketball2006 ABA John H. Reagan HS
Sugar Land Skeeters Baseball2010 ALPB Constellation Field
Houston Dutch Lions Soccer2011 PDL HDLFC Soccer Complex
Houston Aces Women's soccer2012 UWS Carl Lewis Stadium
Houston Hotshots Indoor Soccer2015 PASL TBD

College sports (Division I)

Greater Houston is home to five NCAA Division I programs, with four located within Houston proper. The University of Houston and Rice University play in Division I (FBS). [40] The University of Houston plays in the American Athletic Conference, while Rice belongs to Conference USA. Both schools were once part of the Southwest Conference. Texas Southern University, which is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, plays in Division I (FCS). [40] Houston Baptist University currently plays in Division I (FCS), mainly in the Southland Conference. [41] Rice and Houston Baptist are widely noted for their student-athlete graduation rates, which number at 91% for Rice (tied for highest in the nation according to a 2002 Sports Illustrated issue on best college sports programs) and 80% for HBU.

Prairie View A&M University 1876 Prairie View A&M Panthers Southwestern Athletic Conference
Rice University 1912 Rice Owls Conference USA
Texas Southern University 1927 Texas Southern Tigers Southwestern Athletic Conference
University of Houston 1927 Houston Cougars American Athletic Conference
Houston Baptist University 1960 Houston Baptist Huskies Southland Conference


Houston is or has been home to various nationally known sporting events. The most notable is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is the world's largest livestock exhibition and rodeo event. Other events of importance on greater Houston include the Shell Houston Open (a PGA Tour event), the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships (ATP tour), the Houston Marathon, and the Texas Bowl college football bowl game. From 1959 to 1987, Houston hosted the Bluebonnet Bowl. Houston has also played host to three Super Bowls (VIII, XXXVIII, LI), the 1968, 1986, and 2004 MLB All-Star Games, 2017 World Series, 2005 World Series, and the 1989, 2006, 2013 NBA All-Star Games. Houston has also played host to various high school and college sporting events, including the Big 12 Championship Game and hosted the 2011 NCAA Men's Final Four, 2010 NCAA Men's Regional Finals, and 2010 MLS All-Star Game. Houston has held two WrestleMania events, WrestleMania X-Seven and WrestleMania XXV, which is considered the biggest pro-wrestling event of the year, seen as the Super Bowl of pro-wrestling. Houston was also considered a candidate for the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.


Houston's concentration of consular offices ranks third in the nation and first in the South, with 90 countries represented. [42] Houston has a sizable Hispanic community. CNN/Money and Money magazine have recognized cities in the Greater Houston area the past three years as part of its 100 Best Places to Live in the United States. In 2005, Sugar Land, southwest of Houston in northeast Fort Bend County, was ranked 46th in the nation, and one of only three Texas cities among the Top 100. In 2006, the magazine recognized Sugar Land again, this time as the third-best city on its list. [43] Also making the 2006 list were League City (65th) in northern Galveston County and The Woodlands (73rd) in southern Montgomery County. In 2007, another Houston suburb, Friendswood, made the list ranked 51st in the nation. The 2006 list only includes cities with at least 50,000 residents, and the 2007 list contains only cities with less than 50,000 residents.

Greater Houston is widely noted for its ethnic diversity and strong international community. In its 2010 publication "Urban Elite", [44] A.T. Kearney added the city to their list of the 65 most important world cities and ranks Houston 35th, as "...a magnet for a diverse population and business services...". The Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network ranks Houston as a Beta- World City, "an important world city instrumental to linking their region or state to the world economy." [45]


Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting at the University of Houston Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting.jpg
Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting at the University of Houston

Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area is served by a public television station and one public radio station. KUHT (HoustonPBS) is a PBS member station and is the first public television station in the United States. Houston Public Radio is listener-funded radio and comprises one NPR member station, KUHF (KUHF News). The University of Houston System owns and holds broadcasting licenses to KUHT and KUHF. The stations broadcast from the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting, located on the campus of the University of Houston.

The Houston area is served by the Houston Chronicle , its only major daily newspaper with wide distribution. The Hearst Corporation, which owns and operates the Houston Chronicle, bought the assets of the Houston Post —its long-time rival and main competition—when Houston Post ceased operations in 1995. The Houston Post was owned by the family of former Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby of Houston. The only other major publication to serve the city is the Houston Press —a free alternative weekly with a weekly readership of more than 300,000. [46]

The Galveston County Daily News , founded in 1842, is that city's primary newspaper and the oldest continuously printed newspaper in Texas. [47] It currently serves as the newspaper of record for Galveston, as well as Galveston County. Radio station KGBC, on air since 1947, has also served as a local media outlet. [48]


Colleges and universities

University of Houston Ezekiel W. Cullen Building (Alternate).JPG
University of Houston

Five separate and distinct state universities are located within Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. The University of Houston is a nationally recognized Tier One research university, and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. [49] [50] [51] The third-largest university in Texas, the University of Houston has nearly 43,000 students on its 667-acre campus in southeast Houston. [52] The University of Houston–Clear Lake and the University of Houston–Downtown are standalone universities; they are not branch campuses of the University of Houston. The metropolitan area is home to the two largest historically black institutions in the state: Texas Southern University (largest) and Prairie View A&M University. The University of Texas Medical Branch and Texas A&M University at Galveston, a branch campus of Texas A&M University, are located in Galveston.

Rice University Rice University - Sally Port.JPG
Rice University

Several private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges to a nationally recognized Tier One research university—are located within the metropolitan area. The University of St. Thomas is the only Catholic institution of higher education in Houston. Houston Baptist University, located in the Sharpstown area, was founded in 1960. Rice University is one of the leading teaching and research universities of the United States and consistently ranks among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. [53]

Three community college districts exist with campuses in and around Houston. The Houston Community College System serves most of Houston. The northwestern through northeastern parts of the metropolitan area are served by various campuses of the Lone Star College System, while the southeastern portion of the city and some surrounding areas are served by San Jacinto College. Eastern portions of the area and small sections of the city are served by Lee College. Portions of Fort Bend County are served by Wharton County Junior College. Portions of Galveston County are served by College of the Mainland and Galveston College. Portions of Brazoria County are served by Alvin Community College and Brazosport College. Blinn College serves portions of Austin County. The Houston Community College and Lone Star College systems are within the 10 largest institutions of higher learning in the United States.



Interstate 610 in Uptown Houston RF - Houston West Loop South.1.jpeg
Interstate 610 in Uptown Houston

Houston's freeway system includes 575.5 miles (926.2 km) of freeways and expressways in the 10-county metro area. [29] The State of Texas plans to spend $65 billion on Houston area highways by 2025. Houston freeways are heavily traveled and often under construction to meet the demands of continuing growth.

The Greater Houston area has a hub-and-spoke freeway structure with multiple loops. The innermost is Interstate 610, forming a roughly 42-mile (70 km)-circumference loop around downtown. The nearly square Loop 610 is quartered into "North Loop", "South Loop", "West Loop", and "East Loop". The roads of Beltway 8 and their freeway core, the Sam Houston Tollway, are the next loop, at a diameter around 83 miles (134 km). A planned highway project, State Highway 99 (the Grand Parkway), will form the third loop outside of Houston. Currently, a completed portion of State Highway 99 runs from U.S. Highway 59, Near New Caney, to U.S. Highway 59 in Sugar Land, southwest of Houston, and was completed in 2016. Another segment of State Highway 99 from Interstate 10 south to Farm-to-Market Road 1405 in Chambers County was completed in 2008. The next portion to be constructed is from the current terminus at U.S. Highway 290 to U.S. Highway 59 in Montgomery County. Freeways also include the Westpark Tollway, which runs from U.S. Hwy 59 to Texas Hwy 99 and the Fort Bend Parkway, which runs from U.S. Hwy 90-A to Texas Hwy 6 in Missouri City. When completed in the future, Interstate 69, will start at the Mexico–US border, go through the Greater Houston area, and continue on to Michigan at the Canada–US border. All of Interstate 69 has been completed in the Greater Houston area and is co-signed with U.S. Highway 59. Interstate 45, which starts at State Highway 75 in Dallas provides transport from Houston to Dallas.

Mass transit

METRORail in downtown Houston METRORail 4.jpg
METRORail in downtown Houston

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, or METRO, provides public transportation in the form of buses, trolleys, and lift vans.

METRO began running light rail service (METRORail) on January 1, 2004. Currently, the track is rather short — about 22.7 miles (20.6 km) from Northline Transit Center Station through downtown Houston to the Texas Medical Center and Reliant Park, and lines from downtown to the East End and the University of Houston/Lower 3rd Ward. Still, the system is traveled by about 61,000 people daily, giving it the second-highest ridership per track mile in the nation. The Uptown Light Rail Line has been converted to a BRT Line and began construction in the late 2nd quarter of 2016. The BRT Line will run between the former NW Mall (which is in the process of redevelopment) and the WestPark TC. METRO's various forms of public transportation still do not connect multiple suburbs to the inner city (defined by the 610 loop), causing Houstonians to rely on the automobile as a primary source of transportation. The problem is one due the lack of a central metropolitan area transportation authority, primarily due to a few suburban counties refusing to cooperate with METRO. For example, there are multiple coach bus services that run into downtown Houston. METRO is in the late planning stages of the US 90 Commuter line which will service the Ft Bend County and SW Harris County suburban region. Prior to the opening of METRORail, Houston was the largest major city in the United States without a rail transit system.

Following a successful referendum held locally in 2004, METRO is currently in the beginning design phases of a 10-year expansion plan to add five more sections to connect to the current rail system. An 8.3-mile (13.4-km) expansion has been approved to run the service from Uptown through Texas Southern University, ending at the University of Houston campus.

Some areas in east Harris County are served by Harris County Transit.


Houston's largest airport (and Texas's second-largest), George Bush Intercontinental Airport, is located in north Houston. It is the second largest hub for United Airlines.

In 2010, Continental Airlines moved its headquarters from downtown Houston to downtown Chicago upon its merger with United Airlines. The southeast of Houston has William P. Hobby Airport, the second-largest commercial passenger airport. Houston's third-largest airport is Ellington Field, which houses several National Guard and Air National Guard units, as well as a United States Coast Guard air station and the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center's fleet of jets that are used to train astronauts. Sugar Land has the Sugar Land Regional Airport, which is the fourth-largest airport in the metropolitan area. Both Sugar Land Regional and Ellington Field serve as reliever airports for the Houston Airport System.

Intercity rail

Amtrak provides intercity rail service to the Houston station. [54]

Intercity bus

Greyhound Bus Lines operates services from three bus stations in the City of Houston:

In addition, Greyhound operates services from two stops [58]

Greyhound also operates services to stops within other cities in the Greater Houston area, including:

Three Megabus stations additionally serve the Houston area:


Politically, the Greater Houston area has historically been divided between areas of strength of the Republican and Democratic parties. [65]

The city of Houston has historically voted Democratic except for its affluent western and west-central portions, including the River Oaks, Westchase, Memorial, and Uptown areas, as well as the Kingwood and Clear Lake City master-planned communities on Houston's far northeast and southeast sides, respectively. All these areas favor and are almost entirely represented both in Congress and in the Texas Legislature by Republicans. Democrats' strongest areas are within Loop 610, and in the largely poor and minority northern, eastern, and southern portions of Houston. Most of these areas have sizable Hispanic populations, though some northern and southern parts of the city have mostly notable large African American communities. Democrats are also stronger in the more liberal Neartown area, which is home to a large artist and LGBT community, and Alief, which houses a sizable Asian American population.[ citation needed ] In 2008, almost every county in the region voted for Republican John McCain; only Harris County was won by Democratic candidate Barack Obama, by a small margin (51%–49%). [66] Galveston has long been a staunch Democratic stronghold, with the most active Democratic county establishment in the state. [67]

Houston's suburbs are also politically divided. Such examples:

United States Congress

SenatorsNamePartyFirst electedLevel
 Senate Class 1 Ted Cruz Republican 2012Junior Senator
 Senate Class 2 John Cornyn Republican 2002Senior Senator
RepresentativesNamePartyFirst electedArea(s) of Greater Houston represented
 District 2 Dan Crenshaw Republican 2018Kingwood portion of Houston, Spring, northeast Harris County (including Baytown, Humble and La Porte), western and southern Liberty County
 District 7 Lizzie Pannill Fletcher Democratic 2018West Houston, Memorial Villages, Bellaire, West University Place, west and northwest Harris County
 District 8 Kevin Brady Republican 1996Montgomery and San Jacinto counties; northern Liberty County
 District 9 Al Green Democratic 2004Alief, Southwest Houston, Houston's Southside, portions of Fort Bend County (Mission Bend, eastern portion of Stafford, northern and eastern portions of Missouri City, county's entire share of Houston)
 District 10 Michael McCaul Republican 2004Northwest Harris County; Austin and Waller counties; most of the Greater Katy area
 District 18 Sheila Jackson Lee Democratic 1994Downtown Houston, Bush IAH, northwest and northeast Houston, inner portions of Houston's Southside
 District 22 Pete Olson Republican 2008most of Fort Bend County (Sugar Land, Rosenberg, the southern portion of Greater Katy, plus western and southern portions of Missouri City), northern Brazoria County (including Pearland), portions of Galveston County (La Marque), southern and central Pasadena, Deer Park
 District 29 Sylvia Garcia Democratic 2018East Houston, northern Pasadena, Galena Park, Channelview (all Harris County)
 District 36 Brian Babin Republican 2014Southeastern and eastern parts of Harris County (including the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center)

Texas Legislature

Texas Senate

DistrictNamePartyFirst electedArea(s) of Greater Houston represented
 3 Robert Nichols Republican 2006Northern and western Montgomery County (including Conroe), San Jacinto County
 4 Brandon Creighton Republican 2014Southern Montgomery County (including The Woodlands), Kingwood, Liberty County, Chambers County, far eastern portions of Baytown
 6 Carol Alvarado Democratic 2018Houston Ship Channel, eastern portions of Houston, Jacinto City, Galena Park, northern Pasadena, western portion of Baytown
 7 Paul Bettencourt Republican 2015Memorial Villages, Memorial/Spring Branch area, Addicks Reservoir, Northwest Harris County
 11 Larry Taylor Republican 2013Northern and central Brazoria County, southeastern portions of Houston and Harris County, the Galveston County mainland, and all areas roughly north of SH 87 on Galveston Island.
 13 Borris Miles Democratic 2017Downtown Houston, Texas Medical Center, southwest and northeast Houston, Houston's Southside, northern portions of Missouri City, Stafford
 15 John Whitmire Democratic 1983Northwest Houston, Bush IAH, southern portion of Humble, eastern Harris County
 17 Joan Huffman Republican 2008Meyerland, Bellaire, West University Place, much of Katy area, far west Houston, Barker Reservoir, portions of Fort Bend County (Sugar Land and southern Missouri City) southern Brazoria County, the area of Galveston Island south of SH 87, entire Bolivar Peninsula, and Port Arthur.
 18 Lois Kolkhorst Republican 2015Austin, Waller and Wharton counties; western Fort Bend County

Texas House of Representatives

DistrictNamePartyFirst electedArea(s) of Greater Houston represented
 3 Cecil Bell Jr. Republican 2013Waller County, Montgomery County
 13 Leighton Schubert Republican 2015Austin County
 15 Mark Keough Republican 2014The Woodlands, southern Montgomery County
 16 Will Metcalf Republican 2015Northern and central Montgomery County (including Conroe)
 18 Ernest Bailes Republican 2017San Jacinto County, Liberty County, Walker County
 23 Wayne Faircloth Republican 2015Galveston, Texas City, Bolivar Peninsula, Chambers County
 24 Greg Bonnen Republican 2013Hitchcock, La Marque, Santa Fe, Dickinson, League City, Friendswood (all in Galveston County)
 25 Dennis Bonnen Republican 1996Southern Brazoria County (Lake Jackson, Angleton, Freeport)
 26 Rick Miller Republican 2013Sugar Land
 126 Kevin Roberts Republican 2017Champions/FM 1960
 127 Dan Huberty Republican 2011Kingwood, Lake Houston, Crosby, Wallisville
 128 Briscoe Cain Republican 2017East Harris County (Baytown, Deer Park, La Porte)
 129 Dennis Paul Republican 2015Southeast Harris County (Clear Lake City Area, NASA Johnson Space Center)
 130 Tom Oliverson Republican 2017Northwest Harris County (including Tomball and Cypress-Fairbanks areas)
 131 Alma Allen Democratic 2004Outer portions of Houston's Southside
 132 Mike Schofield Republican 2015West Harris County (including county's share of Katy and unincorporated western parts of the Katy area)
 133 Jim Murphy Republican 2006West Houston, western portion of Memorial/Spring Branch, part of the Energy Corridor
 134 Sarah Davis Republican 2006Inner western portions of Houston (including Meyerland, River Oaks and Memorial Park), Texas Medical Center, West University Place, Bellaire, Southside Place
 135 Gary Elkins Republican 1994Parts of northwest Harris County (including Jersey Village) and southeastern segments of the Champions/FM 1960 area
 136 Beverly Woolley Republican 1994Memorial Villages and surrounding areas
 137 Gene Wu Democratic 2013Southwest Houston (including Sharpstown, Westwood and Fondren Southwest)
 138 Dwayne Bohac Republican 2002Northwest Houston and parts of the Memorial/Spring Branch area north of I-10, Addicks Reservoir
 139 Jarvis Johnson Democratic 2016North Houston and Aldine west of I-45
 140 Armando Walle Democratic 2008North Houston and Aldine east of I-45
 141 Senfronia Thompson Democratic 1972Northeast Houston, Bush IAH, Greenspoint, southern portion of Humble
 143 Ana Hernandez Democratic 2005 (special election filling the unexpired term of Joe Moreno)East Houston within Loop 610, Houston Ship Channel, Galena Park, Jacinto City, northern Pasadena
 ;144 Mary Ann Perez Democratic 2017Southern Pasadena, far southeast Houston
 145 Carol Alvarado Democratic 2009Inner southeastern portions of Houston (mainly east of I-45), South Houston (not part of the city of Houston)
 146 Shawn Thierry Democratic 2017Inner portions of Houston's Southside
 147 Garnet Coleman Democratic 1991 (special election filling the unexpired term of Larry Evans)Downtown Houston, inner southeastern portions of Houston (mainly west of I-45)
 148 Jessica Farrar Democratic 1994Northwest Houston mainly within Loop 610 (including Houston Heights)
 149 Hubert Vo Democratic 2004Far west Houston, Alief, unincorporated portions of Katy area east of Fry Rd, Barker Reservoir
 150 Valoree Swanson Republican 2017Northern Harris County (Spring, Klein, northern Humble)

See also

Related Research Articles

Houston City in Texas, United States

Houston is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas, fourth most populous city in the United States, as well as the sixth most populous in North America, with an estimated 2018 population of 2,328,419. Located in Southeast Texas near Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the seat of Harris County and the principal city of the Greater Houston metropolitan area, which is the fifth most populous metropolitan statistical area in the United States and the second most populous in Texas after the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, with a population of 6,997,384 in 2018.

Harris County, Texas County in the United States

Harris County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas, located in the southeastern part of the state near Galveston Bay. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 4,092,459, making it the most populous county in Texas and the third most populous county in the United States. Its county seat is Houston, the largest city in Texas and fourth largest city in the United States. The county was founded in 1836 and organized in 1837. It is named for John Richardson Harris, who founded the town of Harrisburg on Buffalo Bayou in 1826. According to a July 2017 Census estimate, Harris County's population had grown to 4,652,980, comprising over 16 percent of Texas's population.

Galveston County, Texas County in the United States

Galveston County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas, located along the Gulf Coast adjacent to Galveston Bay. As of the 2010 U.S. Decennial Census, the population was 291,309. The county seat is the City of Galveston, founded the following year of 1839, located on Galveston Island; the most populous municipality in the county is League City, a suburb of Houston at the northern end of the county, which surpassed Galveston in population during the early 2000s. The county was founded in 1838.

Fort Bend County, Texas County in the United States

Fort Bend County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 585,375, making it the 10th-most populous county in Texas. In 2015 Fort Bend County had become the wealthiest county in Texas, with a median household income of $95,389 and a median family income of $105,944, having surpassed Collin and Rockwall Counties since the 2000 census. The county seat is Richmond, and its largest city is Sugar Land.

Alvin, Texas City in Texas, United States

Alvin is a city in the U.S. state of Texas within the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area and Brazoria County. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the city population was 24,236. Alvin's claim to fame is Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, who moved with his family to the city in 1947 as an infant and lived there until he moved to Round Rock in 2003. The Nolan Ryan Museum is in the Nolan Ryan Foundation and Exhibit Center on the campus of Alvin Community College.

Rosenberg, Texas City in Texas, United States

Rosenberg is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area and Fort Bend County. The population was 30,618 at the 2010 census, up from 24,043 at the 2000 census. As of 2015, the population had risen to an estimated 35,510.

Sugar Land, Texas City in Texas, United States

Sugar Land is a city in Fort Bend County, Texas, United States, located in the southwestern part of the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. Located about 19 miles (31 km) southwest of downtown Houston, Sugar Land is a populous suburban municipality centered around the junction of Texas State Highway 6 and U.S. Route 59. Beginning in the 19th century, the present-day Sugar Land area was home to a large sugar plantation situated in the fertile floodplain of the Brazos River. Following the consolidation of local plantations into Imperial Sugar Company in 1908, Sugar Land grew steadily as a company town and incorporated as a city in 1959. Since then, Sugar Land has grown rapidly alongside other edge cities around Houston, with large-scale development of master-planned communities contributing to population swells since the 1980s.

Pasadena, Texas City in Texas, United States

Pasadena is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the city's population is 149,043, making it the seventeenth most populous city in the state of Texas, as well as the second-largest city in Harris County. The area was founded in 1893 by John H. Burnett of Galveston, who named the area after Pasadena, California, because of the perceived lush vegetation.

Baytown, Texas City in Texas, United States

Baytown is a city within Harris County and partially in Chambers County in the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. state of Texas. Located within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area, it lies on the northern side of the Galveston Bay complex near the outlets of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou. It is the sixth-largest city within this metropolitan area. Major highways serving the city include State Highway 146 and Interstate 10. As of 2010, Baytown had a population of 71,802, and it had an estimated population of 75,992 in 2016. As of 2018 Baytown had an estimated population of 85,000 people.

Texas Medical Center Business district and neighborhood of Houston in Harris County, Texas, United States

The Texas Medical Center (TMC) is a 2.1-square-mile (5.4 km2) medical district and neighborhood in south-central Houston, Texas, immediately south of the Museum District and west of Texas State Highway 288. Over sixty medical institutions, largely concentrated in a triangular area between Brays Bayou, Rice University, and Hermann Park, are members of the Texas Medical Center Corporation—a non-profit umbrella organization—which constitutes the largest medical complex in the world. The TMC has an extremely high density of clinical facilities for patient care, basic science, and translational research.

Southeast Texas

Southeast Texas is a sub-region of East Texas located in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Texas. The sub-region is geographically centered on the Houston–Sugar Land–The Woodlands, and Beaumont–Port Arthur metropolitan areas.

Clear Lake (region) region in Texas, United States

Clear Lake, or the Clear Lake Area, is a region in parts of Harris and Galveston County in Texas, United States. It is part of the Galveston Bay Area, which itself is a section of the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. The area is geographically characterized by the bodies of water in it and around it, including Clear Lake, Taylor Lake, Clear Creek, and Galveston Bay.

Geographic areas of Houston

The geographic areas of Houston are generally classified as either being inside or outside Interstate 610, known as the "Loop." Inside the loop generally encompasses the Central business district and the "island cities" of West University Place, Southside Place and a portion of Bellaire.

Economy of Houston

The economy ofHouston is based primarily on the energy industry, particularly oil. However, health care, biomedical research, and aerospace also constitute large sectors. In 2012, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was $449 billion, the fourth-largest of any metro area in the United States. The Houston metropolitan area comprises the largest concentration of petrochemical manufacturing in the world, including for synthetic rubber, insecticides, and fertilizers. It is the world's leading center for oilfield equipment construction, with the city of Houston home to more than 3,000 energy-related businesses, including many of the top oil and gas exploration and production firms and petroleum pipeline operators. As of 2011, 23 companies on the Fortune 500 list have their headquarters in, or around, Houston.

Geography of Houston

Houston, the most populous city in the Southern United States, is located along the upper Texas Gulf Coast, approximately 50 miles (80 km) northwest of the Gulf of Mexico at Galveston. The city, which is the ninth-largest in the United States by area, covers 601.7 square miles (1,558 km2), of which 579.4 square miles (1,501 km2), or 96.3%, is land and 22.3 square miles (58 km2), or 3.7%, is water.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is a governmental agency and its purpose is to "provide safe, effective, and efficient movement of people and goods" throughout the state. Though the public face of the agency is generally associated with maintenance of the state's immense highway system, the agency is also responsible for aviation in the state and overseeing public transportation systems.

Greater San Antonio Metropolitan area in Texas, United States

San Antonio–New Braunfels is an eight-county metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Texas defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Colloquially referred to as Greater San Antonio, the metropolitan area straddles South Texas and Central Texas and is on the southwestern corner of the Texas Triangle. The official 2017 U.S. Census estimate showed the metropolitan area's population at 2,473,974—up from a reported 1,711,103 in 2000—making it the 24th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Austin–Round Rock lies about 80 miles northeast of Greater San Antonio.

Galveston Bay Area Region in Texas, United States of America

The Galveston Bay Area, also known as Bay Area Houston or simply the Bay Area, is a region that surrounds the Galveston Bay estuary of Southeast Texas in the United States, within Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. Normally the term refers to the mainland communities around the bay and excludes Galveston as well as most of Houston.

Texas Triangle Megaregion of the U.S. in Texas, United States ----

The Texas Triangle is one of 11 megaregions in the United States. These are urban areas that are much greater in scale than a metropolitan statistical area (MSA), defined by the US Census Bureau. These regions also are known as megapolitan areas. The Texas Triangle is formed by the four main cities, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin, connected by Interstate 45, Interstate 10, and Interstate 35. The area is sometimes also referred to as the Texaplex.


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Further reading