Harris County, Texas

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Harris County, Texas
County
Harris County
HarrisCountyCivilCourthouseTexas.JPG
The Harris County Civil Courthouse in Houston
Seal of Harris County, Texas.png
Seal
Map of Texas highlighting Harris County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of USA TX.svg
Texas's location within the U.S.
Founded1837
Named forJohn Richardson Harris
Seat Houston
Largest cityHouston
Area
  Total1,777 sq mi (4,602 km2)
  Land1,703 sq mi (4,411 km2)
  Water74 sq mi (192 km2), 4.2%
Population (est.)
  (2018)4,698,619 [1]
  Density2,732/sq mi (1,055/km2)
Congressional districts 2nd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 18th, 22nd, 29th, 36th
Time zone Central: UTC−6/−5
Website www.co.harris.tx.us
Map of Harris County - Northeast one-fourth (circa 1912) Map of Harris County - Northeast One-fourth.jpg
Map of Harris County – Northeast one-fourth (circa 1912)

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, [2] 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. [3] [4] It is named for John Richardson Harris, who founded the town of Harrisburg on Buffalo Bayou in 1826. [3] According to a July 2018 Census estimate, Harris County's population had grown to 4,698,619, comprising over 16 percent of Texas's population. [1] [5] [6]

County (United States) Subdivision used by most states in the United States of America

In the United States, an administrative or political subdivision of a state is a county, which is a region having specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs respectively.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

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.

Contents

Harris County is included in the nine-county Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan statistical area, which is the fifth most populous metropolitan area in the United States.

Greater Houston Metropolitan area in Texas, United States

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, the MSA is the second-most populous in Texas after the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. 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. 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.

History

Firefighters on San Jacinto Street, circa 1914 Firefighters and Carriages.jpg
Firefighters on San Jacinto Street, circa 1914
The Harris County Courthouse in Houston, in 1913. OldHarrisCountyCourthouse.png
The Harris County Courthouse in Houston, in 1913.

Native Americans and early Europeans

Human remains date habitation to about 4,000 BC. Other evidence of humans in the area dates from about 1400 BC, 1 AD, and later in the first millenium. The region became uninhabited from 1 AD until European contact. On the other hand, little European activity predates 1821. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca may have visited the area in 1529. French traders recorded passing through in the 18th century. Spaniards attempted to establish a fort in the area around the same time, but did not persist for long. [3]

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca Spanish explorer of the New World

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer of the New World, and one of four survivors of the 1527 Narváez expedition. During eight years of traveling across the US Southwest, he became a trader and faith healer to various Native American tribes before reconnecting with Spanish civilization in Mexico in 1536. After returning to Spain in 1537, he wrote an account, first published in 1542 as La relación y comentarios, which in later editions was retitled Naufragios ("Shipwrecks"). Cabeza de Vaca is sometimes considered a proto-anthropologist for his detailed accounts of the many tribes of Native Americans that he encountered.

Mexican Texas

The first recorded European settlers in Harris County arrived in 1822. Their schooner sailed into Galveston Bay and ran aground on the Red Fish Bar. Some of those passengers traveled further up the bay system, but it is not known whether they settled up Buffalo Bayou or the San Jacinto River. One of these passengers, a Mr. Ryder, settled at what is now known as Morgan's Point, Texas. Also in 1822, John Iiams settled his family at Cedar Point after sailing from Berwick’s Bay, Louisiana. Dr. Johnson Hunter arrived just after Iiams. He also wrecked his boat near Galveston. He settled at Morgan’s Point and was a grantee of land there. Nathaniel Lynch settled in the area and operated a ferry. [7]

A schooner is a type of sailing vessel with fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts. The most common type has two masts, the foremast being shorter than the main. While the schooner was originally gaff-rigged, modern schooners typically carry a Bermuda rig.

Galveston Bay

Galveston Bay is the seventh largest estuary in the United States, located along the upper coast of Texas. It is connected to the Gulf of Mexico and is surrounded by sub-tropic marshes and prairies on the mainland. The water in the bay is a complex mixture of sea water and fresh water which supports a wide variety of marine life. At an average depth of only 6 feet (1.8 m) it is unusually shallow for its size.

Buffalo Bayou river in Harris County, Texas, United States of America

Buffalo Bayou is a slow-moving river which flows through Houston in Harris County, Texas. Formed 18,000 years ago, it has its source in the prairie surrounding Katy, Fort Bend County, and flows approximately 53 miles (85 km) east through the Houston Ship Channel into Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to drainage water impounded and released by the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, the bayou is fed by natural springs, surface runoff, and several significant tributary bayous, including White Oak Bayou, Greens Bayou, and Brays Bayou. Additionally, Buffalo Bayou is considered a tidal river downstream of a point 440 yards (400 m) west of the Shepherd Drive bridge in west-central Houston.

In 1824, the land empresario, Stephen F. Austin convened at the house of William Scott for the purpose of conveying titles for Mexican headrights. He was joined by the land commissioner, Baron von Bastrop, and Austin’s secretary, Samuel May Williams. About thirty families gained legal titles to land in what would later be known as Harris County. A few immigrants settled on Buffalo Bayou in these early years, including Moses Callahan, Ezekial Thomas, and the Vince brothers. [7]

Stephen F. Austin American empresario, slaveholder, namesake of Austin, Texas

Stephen Fuller Austin was an American empresario. Known as the "Father of Texas", and the founder of Texas, he led the second, and ultimately, the successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States to the region in 1825.

Samuel May Williams Influential Texas patriot and businessman

Samuel May Williams was an American businessman, politician, and close associate of Stephen F. Austin. As a teenager, Williams started working in the family's mercantile business in Baltimore. Later he traveled to South America and learned to conduct business in Spanish. He returned to the United States, this time to New Orleans, working there as a merchant, where he also learned French. About three years later he left New Orleans in debt, fleeing to Mexican Texas in 1822. Stephen F. Austin hired Williams for his colony in 1824, clerking and later adding the title of secretary to the ayuntamiento. He worked for Austin for several years.

Nicolas Clopper arrived in the Galveston Bay area from Ohio in the 1820s. He attempted to develop Buffalo Bayou as a trading conduit for the Brazos River valley. He acquired land at Morgan’s Point in 1826. [8] John Richardson Harris (1790–1829), for whom the county was later named, arrived in 1824. Harris had moved his family to Sainte Genevieve, Missouri Territory, where they had been residing until the early 1820s. [9]

Harris was granted a league of land (about 4,428 acres) at Buffalo Bayou. He platted the town of Harrisburg in 1826, while he established a trading post and a grist mill there. He ran boats transporting goods between New Orleans and Harrisburg until his death in the fall of 1829. [10]

Republic of Texas

The First Congress of the Republic of Texas established Harrisburg County on December 22, 1836. The original county boundaries included Galveston Island, but were redrawn to its current configuration in May 1838. [3]

Weather

The area has had a number of severe weather events, such as:

Hurricanes

Tropical storms both 2007

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,777 square miles (4,600 km2), of which 1,703 square miles (4,410 km2) is land and 74 square miles (190 km2) (4.2%) is covered by water. [11] Both its total area and land area are larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Adjacent counties

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.
1850 4,668
1860 9,07094.3%
1870 17,37591.6%
1880 27,98561.1%
1890 37,24933.1%
1900 63,78671.2%
1910 115,69381.4%
1920 186,66761.3%
1930 359,32892.5%
1940 528,96147.2%
1950 806,70152.5%
1960 1,243,15854.1%
1970 1,741,91240.1%
1980 2,409,54738.3%
1990 2,818,19917.0%
2000 3,400,57820.7%
2010 4,092,45920.3%
Est. 20184,698,619 [12] 14.8%
U.S. Decennial Census [13]
1850–2010 [14] 2010–2014 [2]

2015 Texas Population Estimate Program

As of the 2015 Texas Population Estimate Program, the population of the county was 4,530,268, non-Hispanic whites 1,323,437 (29.2%). Black Americans 817,096 (18.0%). Other non-Hispanic 395,206 (8.7%). Hispanics and Latinos (of any race) 1,994,529 (44.0%). [15]

2010 Census

As of the 2010 Census, the population of the county was 4,092,459, White Americans made up 56.6% of Harris County's population; non-Hispanic whites represented 33.0% of the population. Black Americans made up 25.9% of the population. Native Americans made up 0.7% of Harris County's population. Asian Americans made up 6.2% of the population (2.0% Vietnamese, 1.2% Indian, 1.1% Chinese, 0.6% Filipino, 0.3% Korean, 0.1% Japanese, 1.0% Other). Pacific Islander Americans made up just 0.1% of the population. Individuals from other races made up 14.3% of the population; people from two or more races made up 3.2% of the county's population. Hispanics and Latinos (of any race) made up 40.8% of Harris County's population. As of the 2010 census, there were about 6.2 same-sex couples per 1,000 households in the county. [16]

2000 Census

As of the census [17] of 2000, 3,400,578 people, 1,205,516 households, and 834,217 families resided in the county, making it the largest county by population in Texas. The population density was 1,967 people per square mile (759/km²). The 1,298,130 housing units averaged 751 per square mile (290/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 58.7% White, 18.5% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 5.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 14.2% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. About 32.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race; 7.2% were of German, 6.2% American, and 5.3% English ancestry according to Census 2000. About 63.8% spoke only English at home, while 28.8% spoke Spanish and 1.6% Vietnamese.

In 2000, of the 1,205,516 households, 37.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.6% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.8% were not families. About 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.79 and the average family size was 3.38.

In the county, the population was distributed as 29.00% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 33.4% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 7.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.0 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,598, and for a family was $49,004. Males had a median income of $37,361 versus $28,941 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,435. About 12.1% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.6% of those under age 18 and 12.2% of those age 65 or over.

Poverty

Harris County 1910 Courthouse Restored Harris County 1910 Courthouse Restored Houston Texas.jpg
Harris County 1910 Courthouse Restored

According to Children At Risk, a local nonprofit research organization, 21% of the Harris County children live in poverty, 6.5 per 1,000 die before age one, and 38% drop out of high school. [18]

Taxation

Harris County along with other Texas counties has one of the nation's highest property tax rates. In 2007, the county was ranked in the top 25 at 22nd in the nation for property taxes as percentage of the homes value on owner-occupied housing. The list only includes counties with a population over 65,000 for comparability. [19]

Racial and ethnic demographics

As of 2014 Census estimates, Harris County had a population of 4,441,370 people.

The racial and ethnic makeup of the county was 41.8% Hispanic or Latino. The population was 31.4% non-Hispanic white, 19.5% non-Hispanic black, 1.1% Native American, 7.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander. [Harris County Demographics]

As of 2013, 37% of non-Hispanic Whites in Harris County had college or postgraduate degrees and 36% of them had annual incomes over $75,000. As of 2013, 19% of Blacks in Harris County had college or postgraduate degrees. [20] as did 13% of U.S.-born Latinos and 7% of Latino immigrants. [20]

Altogether, the non-Hispanic white population in Harris County is declining. [20] Steve H. Murdock, a demographer with the Rice University Hobby Center for the Study of Texas and a former director of the U.S. Census Bureau, predicted that by 2040, Hispanic residents of the county will increase by 2.5 million, while the number of non-Hispanic Whites will decrease by 516,000. This assumes that the net migration rate is equal to one half of that of 1990–2000. [21]

The Houston Area Asian Survey of the Kinder Institute of Urban Research Houston Area Survey stated that between 1990 and 2000, the Asian population in Harris County increased by 76%. Between 2000 and 2010, it increased by 45%. The Asian ethnic groups in Harris County have differing levels of educational attainment, religion, political views, and income. During that year, in Harris County, 50% of the county's Asian immigrants have postgraduate degrees. As of 2013 28% of Harris County Asians have household incomes of over $75,000. The report stated that many Asians were in earlier stages of careers and were younger, leading to lower incomes. [20] Of Indian and Pakistani residents, the second most educated Asian group in the county, behind Taiwanese, 71% have university or post-graduate degrees and 2% did not finish high school. Of Vietnamese, the least educated Asian group in the county, 30% have university or post-graduate degrees and 20% did not finish high school. [20]

As of 2012, Vietnamese were the largest group of Asians in Harris County. As of 1995, most Vietnamese, Filipinos, and Chinese stated that they were Republicans, while most Indians and Pakistanis stated that they were Democrats. In 2012, Indians and Pakistanis continue to identify as Democrats, while Chinese, Filipinos, and Vietnamese were increasingly identifying as independents or Democrats.

Language

Harris County Criminal Courts Building Harris County Criminal Courts Building.jpg
Harris County Criminal Courts Building

In 2000, 1,961,993 residents of Harris County spoke English only. The five largest foreign languages in the county were Spanish or Spanish Creole (1,106,883 speakers), Vietnamese (53,311 speakers), Chinese (33,003 speakers), French including Cajun and Patois (33,003 speakers), and Urdu (14,595 speakers). Among those who spoke other languages, 46% of Spanish speakers, 37% of Vietnamese speakers, 50% of Chinese speakers, 85% of French speakers, and 72% of Urdu speakers said that they spoke English at least "very well". [22]

Political views

In 2013, Allen Turner of the Houston Chronicle said that residents of Harris County were "consistently conservative in elections" and that they were, according to a Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research opinion poll, "surprisingly liberal on topics such as immigration, gun control and equal matrimonial rights for same-sex couples". [23] Harris is regarded as a moderate or swing county in Texas, and has been a bellwether in Presidential elections, voting for winners of every Presidential election from 2000 through 2012 (both Barack Obama and Texas resident George W. Bush have won the county). [23]

As a result of the Obama sweep in 2008, many Democratic candidates in contests for lower-level offices also benefited, and many Republican incumbents were replaced by Democrats in the Harris County courthouse. Some of the defeated Republican district court judges were later re-appointed to vacant District Court benches by Governor Rick Perry. In 2018, Democrats swept the court capturing all 59 seats on the civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probate courts. [24]

The Kinder Institute's Houston Survey in 2018 found that from 2014 through 2018 the number of Houston residents who supported adoption of children by same-sex couples climbed above 50% and remained there, while in 2017 over 56% of residents reported gay or lesbian persons among their circle of close personal friends. A 2013 opinion poll had found that 46% of Harris County residents supported same-sex marriage, up from 37% in 2001. Just above 82% favored offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship provided they speak English and have no criminal record, holding from 83% in 2013, which was up from 19% in 2009. In 2013, 87% supported background checks for all firearms, the latest year that question was included in the Kinder Houston Survey. This measure has moved up steadily from 60% in 1985 to 69% in 2000. [25] [23]

Automobile ownership

As of U.S. Census figures current as of 1997, 9% of residents in Harris County did not own automobiles. This figure does not include people who own cars, but do not have enough money to repair the automobiles. As of that year, while the average income of all residents of the county was $41,000 (equivalent to $64,000in 2018), the average income of households without cars was $13,000 (equivalent to $20,300in 2018). [26]

Educational attainment

In 2011, according to the nonprofit Children at Risk, one-third of students at public high schools in Harris County do not graduate. [27]

Government and politics

County governments serve as agents of the state, with responsibilities defined in the Texas Constitution. Counties are governed by the commissioners' court. Each Texas county has four precinct commissioners and a county judge. Although this body is called a court, it conducts the general business of the county and oversees financial matters. [28] The commissioners court may hire personnel to run major departments, such as health and human services.

Besides the county judge and commissioners, the other elective offices found in most counties include the county attorney, county and district clerks, county treasurer, sheriff, tax assessor-collector, justices of the peace, and constables. As a part of the checks and balances system, counties have an auditor appointed by the district courts. [28]

Historically, Harris County voted Republican at the presidential level from the mid-20th century until 2008; Barack Obama was the first Democrat to win the county since Texas native Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Democratic strength is found in the city of Houston. Suburban areas such as Cypress, Spring, and Katy in the county's western and northern areas, tend to be strongly Republican. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the county by the largest margin for a Democrat since 1964. [29] The Democratic Party performed very strongly in the county during the 2018 elections. [30]

Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results [31]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 41.6% 545,95554.0%707,9144.4% 58,243
2012 49.3% 586,07349.4%587,0441.3% 15,468
2008 48.8% 571,88350.5%590,9820.7% 8,607
2004 54.8%584,72344.6% 475,8650.7% 7,380
2000 54.3%529,15942.9% 418,2672.8% 27,396
1996 49.2%421,46245.2% 386,7265.6% 47,705
1992 43.1%406,77838.2% 360,17118.7% 175,998
1988 57.0%464,21742.1% 342,9190.9% 7,024
1984 61.5%536,02938.3% 334,1350.2% 2,003
1980 57.9%416,65538.1% 274,0614.1% 29,298
1976 52.2%357,53647.0% 321,8970.9% 5,831
1972 62.6%365,67236.9% 215,9160.5% 2,943
1968 42.9%202,07938.8% 182,54618.4% 86,412
1964 40.3% 154,40159.5%227,8190.2% 765
1960 51.7%168,17045.6% 148,2752.8% 8,954
1956 61.1%155,55536.9% 93,9612.0% 5,033
1952 57.6%146,66542.3% 107,6040.1% 228
1948 35.2% 43,11747.7%58,48817.1% 21,012
1944 11.4% 11,84368.3%71,07720.4% 21,199
1940 22.0% 20,79777.8%73,5200.1% 136
1936 12.0% 8,08387.7%59,2050.4% 245
1932 15.4% 8,60483.8%46,8860.9% 480
1928 55.7%27,18844.1% 21,5360.2% 86
1924 27.6% 8,95363.6%20,6488.9% 2,878
1920 26.8% 7,73551.4%14,80821.8% 6,294
1916 22.1% 3,00974.2%10,1313.7% 507
1912 8.0% 72670.7%6,40921.3% 1,931

County facilities

The 1910 county courthouse was renovated in the 1950s to update its systems. Some residents, such as Martin Dreyer, a Houston Chronicle reporter, were disturbed by modernization of the building, saying its character had been ruined. In the 21st century, the facility received another major renovation. Completed in 2011, the $50 million, eight-year project was designed to restore notable historic aspects of the courthouse while providing for contemporary communication and building needs. [32]

The Texas First Court of Appeals and the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals, since September 3, 2010, are located in the 1910 Harris County courthouse. [33] [34] Previously they were located on the campus of the South Texas College of Law. [35]

The Harris County Jail Complex of the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) is the largest in Texas, and one of the largest in the nation. In July, 2012, the facility held 9,113 prisoners. To handle overcrowding in the facility, the county had to ship inmates to other counties and some are housed out of the state. [36]

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 Harris County Represented
 District 2 Dan Crenshaw Republican 2018Atascosita, Huffman, Humble, Kingwood, Spring
 District 7 Lizzie Pannill Fletcher Democratic 2018West Houston, Memorial Villages, Bellaire, West University Place, west and northwest areas of county
 District 9 Al Green Democratic 2004Alief, Southwest Houston, Houston's Southside
 District 10 Michael McCaul Republican 2004Northwest
 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 2008Ellington Field,
 District 29 Sylvia Garcia Democratic 2018Aldine, Channelview, East Houston, Fall Creek portion of Humble, Galena Park, Jacinto City, northern Pasadena, North Shore, western Sheldon, South Houston
 District 36 Brian Babin Republican 2014Clear Lake City, NASA Johnson Space Center, southern and central Pasadena, Deer Park, Baytown, Crosby, La Porte, eastern Sheldon, Dayton, Seabrook, Morgan's Point, Shore Acres, El Lago, Nassau Bay, Taylor Lake Village

Texas Legislature

Texas Senate

DistrictNamePartyFirst ElectedArea(s) of Harris County Represented
 4 Brandon Creighton Republican 2014Kingwood, far eastern portions of Baytown
 6 Carol Alvarado Democratic 2013Houston Ship Channel, eastern portions of Houston, Jacinto City, Galena Park, northern Pasadena, western portion of Baytown
 7 Paul Bettencourt Republican 2014Memorial Villages, Memorial/Spring Branch area, Addicks Reservoir, northwest portions of county
 11 Larry Taylor Republican 2013Southeast
 13 Borris Miles Democratic 2016Downtown Houston, Texas Medical Center, southwest and northeast Houston, Houston's Southside
 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 Greater Katy area, far west Houston, Barker Reservoir

Texas House of Representatives

DistrictNamePartyFirst ElectedArea(s) of Harris County Represented
 126 Kevin Roberts Republican 2016Champions/FM 1960 area
 127 Dan Huberty Republican 2010Humble, Kingwood, Lake Houston, Atascocita, Crosby, Wallisville
 128 Briscoe Cain Republican 2016Baytown, Deer Park, La Porte
 129 Dennis Paul Republican 2014Clear Lake City, NASA Johnson Space Center, Southeast Harris County (including Seabrook and Webster)
 130 Tom Oliverson Republican 2016Northwest Harris County (including Cypress, Tomball, Waller)
 131 Alma Allen Democratic 2004far Southwest Houston and far South Side
 132 Gina Calanni Democratic 2018West Harris County (including Greater Katy area)
 133 Jim Murphy Republican 2010 (Also served 2006–2008)West Houston along West Sam Houston Tollway, including western portion of Memorial/Spring Branch and part of the Energy Corridor
 134 Sarah Davis Republican 2010Inner western portions of Houston (including Meyerland, River Oaks and Memorial Park), Texas Medical Center, West University Place, Bellaire, Southside Place, Western Montrose
 135 Jon Rosenthal Democratic 2018Jersey Village and southeastern segments of the Champions/FM 1960 area
 137 Gene Wu Democratic 2013Southwest Houston (including Sharpstown and Gulfton)
 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
 142 Harold Dutton, Jr. Democratic 1984East Houston and Northshore area
 143 Ana Hernandez Luna Democratic 2006East Houston within Loop 610, Houston Ship Channel, Galena Park, Jacinto City, northern Pasadena
 144 Mary Ann Perez Democratic 2016Southern Pasadena, far southeast Houston
 145 Carol Alvarado Democratic 2008Inner southeastern portions of Houston (mainly east of I-45), South Houston (not part of the city of Houston)
 146 Shawn Thierry Democratic 2016Inner portions of Houston's South Side
 147 Garnet Coleman Democratic 1990Downtown Houston, inner southeastern portions of Houston (mainly west of I-45), Eastern Montrose, Midtown, Third Ward
 148 Jessica Farrar Democratic 1994North and Northwest 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 2016North Harris County (including Spring and Klein)

County government

Harris County elected officials

PositionNameParty
 County Judge Lina Hidalgo Democratic
 Commissioner, Precinct 1 Rodney Ellis Democratic
 Commissioner, Precinct 2 Adrian Garcia Democratic
 Commissioner, Precinct 3 Steve Radack Republican
 Commissioner, Precinct 4 R. Jack Cagle [37] Republican
 County Attorney Vince Ryan Democratic
 District Attorney Kim Ogg Democratic
 District Clerk Marilyn Burgess Democratic
 County Clerk Diane Trautman Democratic
 Sheriff Ed Gonzalez Democratic
 Tax Assessor-Collector Ann Harris Bennett Democratic
 Treasurer Dylan Osborne Democratic
 School Trustee, At-Large, Pos. 5Michael Wolfe Republican
 School Trustee, At-Large, Pos. 7 Don Sumner Republican
 School Trustee, Pct. 1, Pos. 6Erica Lee Democratic
 School Trustee, Pct. 2, Pos. 1 Marvin Morris Republican
 School Trustee, Pct. 3, Pos. 4 Louis D. Evans III Republican
 School Trustee, Pct. 4, Pos. 2 Angie Chesnut Republican
 Constable, Precinct 1 Alan Rosen Democratic
 Constable, Precinct 2 Christopher E. Diaz Democratic
 Constable, Precinct 3 Sherman Eagleton Democratic
 Constable, Precinct 4 Mark Herman Republican
 Constable, Precinct 5 Ted Heap Republican
 Constable, Precinct 6 Silvia Trevino Democratic
 Constable, Precinct 7 May Walker Democratic
 Constable, Precinct 8 Phil Sandlin Republican

County services

The Harris County Flood Control District manages the effects of flooding in the county.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office operates jail facilities and is the primary provider of law enforcement services to the unincorporated areas of the county. The sheriff is the conservator of the peace in the county. The Harris County jail facilities are in northern downtown on the north side of the Buffalo Bayou. The 1200 Jail, [38] the 1307 Jail, (originally a TDCJ facility, leased by the county), [39] and the 701 Jail (formed from existing warehouse storage space) are on the same site. [40]

The Community Services Department provides community services. The department maintains the 20 acres (8.1 ha) Oates Road Cemetery (also known as the Harris County Cemetery) for indigents in eastern Houston, near the former Southern Bible College. In March 2010, the county adopted a cremation first policy, meaning that the default preference for most indigents is to have them cremated instead of buried. As of 2010, the county authorized the Community Services Department to purchase about 50 acres (20 ha) of land in the Huffman area so the county will have additional spaces for indigent burials. [41]

The Harris County Housing Authority (HCHA) is a governmental nonprofit corporation which addresses the need for quality affordable housing. [42] The HCHA has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the highest performing housing authority in the region and was recently named one of America's 10 best Public Housing Authorities. [43] Guy R. Rankin, IV is Chief Executive Officer of Harris County Housing Authority (HCHA).

State government

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice operates some correctional facilities in Harris County, including:

As of 2001, Kegans and Lychner serves male state jail offenders from Harris County, with Kegans getting lower-risk offenders and Lychner getting higher-risk and special-needs offenders. If both of the male state jails in Harris County are full, excess offenders go to the Gist Unit in Jefferson County. Female state jail offenders from Harris County go to the Plane Unit in Liberty County. [47]

The South Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility Unit, a parole confinement facility for males operated by Global Expertise in Outsourcing, is in downtown Houston, west of Minute Maid Park. [48]

Law enforcement

As of 2018 there are over 60 law enforcement agencies operating in the county. [49] They include: the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the Harris County Constable Office, the Houston Police Department, METRO Police Department, other municipal police departments, and school district police departments. [50]

The combined yearly sum spent by these agencies circa 2018 was $1.6 billion. That year the Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research released a report advocating for consolidating several of these agencies as a way of saving taxpayer money. [49]

Economy

Hewlett-Packard United States offices, formerly headquarters of Compaq HewlettPackardHarrisCoTX.JPG
Hewlett-Packard United States offices, formerly headquarters of Compaq

In 2000, the largest employers in Harris County were Administaff, Compaq, Continental Airlines, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, and Southwestern Bell. [51]

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. [52] [53] 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. [53]

In 2009, 20% of the office space in northwest Harris County was vacant. As of that year, more office space is being built; in 2010, northwest Harris will have twice the amount of office space that it had in 2009. The vacancy rate in the area near Farm to Market Road 1960 and Texas State Highway 249 in north Harris County was 53% in 2009. [54]

Various companies are headquartered in incorporated and unincorporated areas throughout Harris County.

Academy Sports and Outdoors, a sporting goods retailer, has its corporate offices and product distribution center in unincorporated western Harris County. [55] Hewlett-Packard operates its United States region office in a complex northwest unincorporated Harris County; the complex formerly belonged to Compaq prior to Compaq's merger with HP. [56] [57] Smith International has its headquarters in the Greenspoint district and in an unincorporated area in Harris County. [58] [59] BJ Services Company has its headquarters in the Spring Branch district and in unincorporated Harris County. [60] [61] Cybersoft Technologies has its headquarters in an unincorporated area. [62] In 2012 Noble Energy announced that it was consolidating its headquarters and two other Greater Houston offices into a 10-story building on the former Compaq headquarters property in unincorporated Harris County. [63] Goya Foods previously had its Texas offices in an unincorporated area in the county. [64]

General Electric operates an aeroderivative division facility on Jacintoport in unincorporated Harris County. [65] [66] Randall's Food Markets, a subsidiary of Safeway Inc., has its distribution center in unincorporated Harris County. [67]

In 2008, KBR announced that it will open a new office facility in an unincorporated area in western Harris County. [68] In December KBR said that it would not continue with the plans due to a weakened economy. [69] In January 2009 KBR announced that it will not open the new office facility. [70]

Diplomatic missions

The Consulate-General of Pakistan in Houston in an unincorporated area of Harris County PakistanConsulateHouston.JPG
The Consulate-General of Pakistan in Houston in an unincorporated area of Harris County

Various consulates are located in the county, mostly within the city of Houston.

Education

Primary and secondary schools

Harris County Department of Education - Ronald W. Reagan Building HarrisCoEducationDept.JPG
Harris County Department of Education – Ronald W. Reagan Building

The Harris County Department of Education, a county division overseeing education by local school districts, with a 2011 budget around $100 million, is headquartered in the Ronald W. Reagan Building in the Northside district in Houston. It has an Adult Education Center in the Northside and an office in the North Post Oak Building in Spring Branch. [61] [71] [72]

Several school districts serve Harris County communities. Among the 26 districts are:

On July 1, 2013 the North Forest Independent School District closed and its territory became a part of Houston ISD. [73]

In addition, state-operated charter schools are in the county. Charter schools in unincorporated areas include:

The department of education of the county operates the Highpoint Schools. [75]

Colleges and universities

Ezekiel W. Cullen Building at the University of Houston Ezekiel W. Cullen Building (Alternate).JPG
Ezekiel W. Cullen Building at the University of Houston
Rice University - Sally Port Rice University - Sally Port.JPG
Rice University - Sally Port

Four separate and distinct state universities are located in Harris County. The University of Houston is a nationally recognized Tier One research university, and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. [76] [77] [78] The third-largest university in Texas, [79] the University of Houston counted 43,774 (fall 2016) [80] students on its 667-acre campus in southeast Houston. The University of Houston–Clear Lake and the University of Houston–Downtown are stand-alone universities; they are not branch campuses of the University of Houston. Located in the historic community of Third Ward is Texas Southern University, one of the largest historically black colleges and universities in the United States.

Several private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges to a nationally recognized research university—are located within Harris County. Rice University is one of the leading teaching and research universities of the United States and ranked the nation's 17th best overall university by U.S. News & World Report. [81]

Three community college districts exist with campuses in and around Harris County. The Houston Community College System serves most of Houston. The northwestern through northeastern parts of the county are served by various campuses of the Lone Star College System, while the southeastern portion of the county is served by San Jacinto College. The Houston Community College and Lone Star College systems are within the 10 largest institutions of higher learning in the United States.

Public libraries

Harris County operates its own public library system, the Harris County Public Library.

In addition, Houston has the Houston Public Library, a city-controlled public library system.

The cities of Baytown, Bellaire, Deer Park, and Pasadena have their own city-controlled libraries.

Transportation

Harris County Annex M has the headquarters of the Harris County Transit agency. HarrisCountyAnnexM8410LanternPoint.JPG
Harris County Annex M has the headquarters of the Harris County Transit agency.

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) serves several areas within Harris County. An agency of the Harris County government, Harris County Transit, serves communities in Harris County that are not served by METRO. [83]

In Harris County, the average one way commute for a person using an automobile was 25 minutes, while the average commute for a person not using an automobile was 44 minutes, a 76% longer duration than the figure for commuters with cars. [26]

Major highways

See List of Highways in Harris County for more roadways in Harris County.

Mass transit

Many areas in Harris County are served by Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO), a public transportation agency headquartered in Downtown Houston.

Intercity buses

Greyhound Bus Lines operates various stations throughout Harris County.

Airports

Two commercial airports, George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, are located in Houston and in Harris County. The Houston Airport System defines Harris County as a part of Bush Intercontinental's service region. [84] The city of Houston operates Ellington Field, a general aviation and military airport in Harris County.

General aviation airports for fixed-wing aircraft outside of Houston include:

Emergency Services

Police services

The 1200 Jail, the headquarters of the Harris County Sheriff's Office 1200JailHoustonTX.JPG
The 1200 Jail, the headquarters of the Harris County Sheriff's Office
Little York Volunteer Fire Department Station 81 LittleYorkVFDStation81HarrisCountyTX.JPG
Little York Volunteer Fire Department Station 81
Westfield Fire Station 2 WestfieldStation2HarrisCoTx.JPG
Westfield Fire Station 2

Incorporated cities operate their own police departments.

Harris County operates the Harris County Sheriff's Office, which serves unincorporated areas and supplements police forces of incorporated areas.

Harris County also has a constable for each of its eight precincts and hundreds of deputies assigned to each. They mainly serve in a patrol function, established to maintain peace in the county as well as providing security to county buildings such as court houses and district attorney's offices.

Municipal Fire/EMS Services

The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office operates an Investigative Branch, an Emergency Response Branch (Hazardous Materials Response) and Prevention Branch (Inspections). The office is headquartered at 2318 Atascocita Road in an unincorporated area. [85] Incorporated cities operate their own fire departments.

The City of Houston operates the Houston Fire Department which provides fire and emergency medical coverage to the City of Houston.

Other municipalities in Harris County may provide their own fire service or may be part of an Emergency Service District that provides service for the city. Cities with municipal fire departments include:

Emergency Services Districts

Areas outside of municipal city limits (and some smaller municipalities) have fire and emergency medical services provided by Emergency Service Districts, distinct governmental units with the ability to levy property and sales taxes. ESD's may provide fire service, EMS service or both (dual services) and the services they provide determine the limits on their adoptable tax rate.

ESD's may provide services directly or may contract with an agency or agencies for services. Additionally, ESD's may overlap one another to ensure both fire and EMS services are provided.

ESDTypeProviderSales Tax Rate (2015) [86] Property Tax Rate per $100 Valuation (2015) [87]
Harris County ESD #1EMSHarris County Emergency Corps [88] .10
Harris County ESD #2EMSSouth Lake Houston EMS1%.0280120
Harris County ESD #4 (4A)DualHuffman FD1% (2%).10 (.10)
Harris County ESD #5EMSHCESD5 EMS1%.02
Harris County ESD #6EMSNorth Channel EMS.5%.0089
Harris County ESD #7FireSpring VFD1%.06545
Harris County ESD #8EMSNorthwest EMS [89] .10
Harris County ESD #9DualCy-Fair FD1%.055
Harris County ESD #10FireEastex Fire Department [90] 1%.10
Harris County ESD #11 [91] EMS Cypress Creek EMS [92] .04185
Harris County ESD #12FireCloverleaf Fire Department.5%.03
Harris County ESD #13FireCypress Creek FD.08826
Harris County ESD #14DualHighlands VFD2%.05
Harris County ESD #15FireTomball FD1%.05
Harris County ESD #16FireKlein VFD1%.05
Harris County ESD #17FireLittle York VFD1%.10
Harris County ESD #19FireSheldon VFD.03
Harris County ESD #20FireNorthwest FD1%.10
Harris County ESD #21DualRosehill FD1%.10
Harris County ESD #24FireAldine Fire & Rescue.10
Harris County ESD #25FireWestfield FD.10
Harris County ESD #28FirePonderosa VFD1%.10
Harris County ESD #29FireChampions VFD1%.09032
Harris County ESD #46DualAtascocita VFD [93] 1%.08
Harris County ESD #47DualWestlake FD1%.095186
Harris County ESD #48 [94] DualHCESD48 FD1%.089
Harris County ESD #50DualChannelview FD1%.05
Harris County ESD #60FireSheldon VFD1%.05
Harris County ESD #75DualBaytown FD1%.0875
Harris County ESD #80FireCrosby FD1%.04178
Harris-Fort Bend ESD #100DualCommunity FD1%.07951
Waller-Harris ESD #200 [95] OtherMultiple Fire/EMS Agencies.0995

Administration by judiciary

The chief administrative officer of a Texas County, as set up in the Texas Constitution, is the County Judge, who sits as the chair of the county's Commissioners' Court (the equivalent of a Board of Supervisors in some other states). Since 2007, this position in Harris County is held by Judge Ed Emmett. The county is split into 4 geographical divisions called Precincts. Each precinct elects a Commissioner to sit as a representative of their precinct on the commissioners court and also for the oversight of county functions in their area.

Other elected positions in Harris County include a County Attorney, a County Clerk, a District Attorney, a District Clerk, a Sheriff, 8 Constables, a Tax Assessor-Collector, a County Treasurer, and every judge in the county except municipal judges, who are appointed by the mayors and confirmed by city councils of their respective cities.

Many of the organs of the Harris County government reside in the Harris County Campus in Downtown Houston.

Hospital services

Within Harris County, hospital services for the indigent and needy are provided by the Harris County Hospital District, a separate governmental entity. Harris County Hospital District operates three hospitals: LBJ General Hospital, Quentin Mease Community Hospital, and Ben Taub General Hospital, as well as many clinics.

Additionally, numerous private and public hospitals operate in Harris County, including institutions in Texas Medical Center and throughout the county, for example the Harris County Psychiatric Center

Communities

Cities (multiple counties)

Cities

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

See also

Related Research Articles

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Walker County, Texas County in the United States

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Liberty County, Texas County in the United States

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Galveston County, Texas County in the United States

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Bacliff, Texas Census-designated place in Texas, United States

Bacliff is a census-designated place (CDP) in north-central Galveston County, Texas, United States, 16 miles (26 km) northwest of Galveston. The population was 8,619 at the 2010 census. Bacliff, originally called Clifton-by-the-Sea, began as a seaside resort town. Located on the western shore of Galveston Bay, Bacliff, along with San Leon and Bayview, are the largest unincorporated communities on the Galveston County mainland.

Aldine, Texas Census-designated place in Texas, United States

Aldine is a census-designated place (CDP) in unincorporated central Harris County, Texas, United States, located within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Houston. The population was 15,869 at the 2010 census. The community is located on the Hardy Toll Road, Union Pacific Railroad, and Farm to Market Road 525.

Atascocita, Texas Census-designated place in Texas, United States

Atascocita is a census-designated place (CDP) in an unincorporated area within Harris County, Texas, United States within the Houston metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 65,569. It is located north and south of Farm to Market Road 1960 about 6 miles (10 km) east of Humble and 18 miles (29 km) northeast of downtown Houston in northeastern Harris County.

Humble, Texas City in Texas, United States

Humble is a city located in Harris County, Texas, United States, within the Houston metropolitan area. Famously Humble became an Oil Boomtown in the early 20th century when oil was first discovered there in 1903. By 1905 the Humble oilfield was the largest producing oilfield in Texas. Humble was home of Humble Oil a predecessor of Exxon.

La Porte, Texas City in Texas, United States

La Porte is a city in Harris County, Texas, United States, within the Bay Area of the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 33,800. La Porte is the fourth-largest incorporated city in Harris County.

South Houston, Texas City in Texas, United States

South Houston is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, within Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area and Harris County. The population was 16,983 at the 2010 census. It is bordered by the cities of Houston and Pasadena, and geographically located southeast of Houston.

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.

League City, Texas City in Texas, United States of America

League City is a city in Galveston County, Texas, within the Greater Houston metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, League City's population was 83,560, up from 45,444 at the 2000 census. The city has a small portion north of Clear Creek within Harris County zoned for residential and commercial uses.

Kingwood, Houston community of Houston and Master planned area in Texas, United States

Kingwood is a 14,000 acre (57 km²) master-planned community located in northeast Houston, Texas, United States. The majority of the community is located in Harris County with a small portion in Montgomery County. Known as the "Livable Forest," it is the largest master-planned community in Harris County and second-largest within the 10-county Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area. It was classified as a "census-designated place" during the 1990 census, when the population recorded was 37,397. It is on the east fork of the San Jacinto River.

Alief, Houston Place in Texas, United States

Alief is a large suburban community in southwestern Harris County, Texas, United States, mostly within the city limits of Houston. The Alief Community Association defines the boundaries of Alief as, "Westheimer on the north, Sam Houston Tollway on the east, Fort Bend County Line on the west and Interstate 69/U.S. Highway 59 on the south," while the Alief Independent School District boundaries extend as far east as Gessner in some places. Portions of Alief are in Southwest Houston while other portions of Alief are within unincorporated Harris County.

Politics of Houston

The politics of Houston in the U.S. state of Texas are complex and constantly shifting in part owing to the fact that the city is one of the fastest growing major cities in the United States and that it is the largest without zoning laws. Houston was founded in 1836 and incorporated in 1837. The city is the county seat of Harris County. A portion of southwest Houston extends into Fort Bend County and a small portion in the northeast extends into Montgomery County.

Harris County Sheriffs Office

The Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) is a local law enforcement agency serving the over four million citizens of Harris County, Texas, United States. It is headquartered on the first and second floors in the 1200 Baker Street Jail in Downtown Houston.

East Aldine, Texas human settlement in United States of America

East Aldine is a state management district in Harris County, Texas, United States, mostly in unincorporated areas with some territory in the City of Houston. The East Aldine Improvement District, also known as the Aldine Management District, governs the area. Portions of the district coincide with the boundaries of the Aldine census-designated place. One park owned by the City of Houston, Keith-Wiess Park, is within the district limits.

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Coordinates: 29°52′N95°23′W / 29.86°N 95.39°W / 29.86; -95.39