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Houston

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Houston Rodeo

Houston:

city in southeastern Texas and seat of Harris County. Houston is an inland seaport at the head of the Houston Ship Channel, 92 km (57 mi) northwest of Galveston Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. During the 20th century Houston grew rapidly, becoming the fourth largest city in the United States and the largest city in Texas and in the South.

Houston is one the most cosmopolitan cities in United States. The city lodges peoples from different countries such as Hispanics (being those from Mexican nationality the majority, since they are neighbors), Hindues, Arabs, Polish, Checks, Eslovacs, Iranians, Black Americans and Africans; people of Asian background (China, Taiwan, Vietnan), and Native Americans.

Economy:

Houston is the major financial and commercial center of Texas and the southern United States and is one of the nation's leading manufacturing centers. Situated near a major petroleum and natural-gas field, Houston is a center of the national petroleum industry. The metropolitan region is the country's largest petrochemical manufacturing area, and is among the national leaders in the manufacture of synthetic rubber, insecticides, and fertilizers. Houston is also the world's leading center for the manufacture of oil-field equipment. Other important manufactures include paper products, electrical and electronic machinery, and iron and steel, as well as milled rice, which is the dominant crop of the surrounding agricultural region.

Points of Interest:

The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, administered by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is also important to the economy. The center is the mission control headquarters for staffed U.S. space flights.

Moon capsule

The Houston Ship Channel allows oceangoing vessels to travel within 3.2 km (2 mi) of the downtown area; the city ranks among the busiest U.S. ports. Exports include petroleum, petrochemical products, and sulfur, as well as cattle and local agricultural products such as rice, cotton, and sorghum grain.

Several major railroad lines and major highways like IH10, IH45, IH610,US59, US290 serve Houston. The Houston Intercontinental Airport (George Bush), in the northern part of the city, was opened in 1969. The older William P. Hobby Airport, southeast of the city center, handles domestic flights.

Moon vehicle

Houston covers a land area of about 1365 sq km (527 sq mi). It is situated on the flat Gulf Coastal Plain in an area drained by short, sluggish streams, known locally as bayous.

Rising dramatically above the plain are the skyscrapers of the central business district, or downtown. This district occupies the site of Houston's original settlement, just south of Buffalo Bayou, and is enclosed by a freeway loop (IH610). Although the city is making attempts to expand its public bus system, public transportation facilities are limited, and private automobiles remain the primary means of transportation. A rail system has been added recently but only serves downton area and Medical Center.

Sports:

Hermann Park, south of the central business district, contains the city zoo. The Astrodome, the world's first enclosed sports stadium, was the home of the city's professional baseball team, the Houston Astros who now plays at the new ballpark in downtown Houston baseball stadium Minute Maid Park, located on the east side of downtown Houston adjacent to Union Station and near the George R. Brown Convention Center. The ballpark has a retractable roof and a natural grass playing surface. The Astrodome also was the home of the Houston Oilers who moved to Tennesse. It also houses the Rodeo during the month of February. The Houston Rockets and Comets two professional basketball teams that won the championship two years back to back, play at The Toyota Center.
The Texans (Houston's new football team) play at the new Reliant Stadium, the world's first retractable roof NFL stadium with a total seating capacity of 69,500, club seating, private suits, spacious club lounges, restaurants and other features.

Educational and Cultural Institutions:

Among Houston's numerous institutions of higher education are the state-supported University of Houston (1927) and Texas Southern University (1947) and private universities such as Rice University (1891), the University of Saint Thomas (1947), and Houston Baptist University (1960). The huge complex of the Texas Medical Center is world renowned for its pioneering work in cardiac and organ-transplant surgery and cancer treatment. The Civic Center complex, located in the central business district, includes the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Gus Wortham Theater Center, and the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, which is the home of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Grand Opera, and the Houston Ballet. The nearby Alley Theatre is a professional repertory acting company. Major museums include the Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum, and the Museum of Natural Science. The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake promotes cultural enrichment through unification of visual, literary and performing arts for 32 municipalities in the borders of Harris, Galveston and Brazoria.

History:

The Karankawa people lived on the Gulf Coast before white settlers arrived. The first European settlement in the Houston area was made by John Harris in 1826. Harrisburg, as the settlement was known, was destroyed in 1836 by the Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna, shortly before his defeat by the Texan army of San Jacinto . That same year, two land speculators, the brothers Augustus and John Allen, laid out a new settlement, named in honor of the victorious military commander at San Jacinto, General Sam Houston. The community served as the capital of Texas from 1837 to 1839.

Houston was incorporated as a city in 1839 and until 1900 grew slowly as the transportation center of southeastern Texas, taking advantage of the confluence of rail and water routes. Modern industrial growth began after the discovery of major petroleum deposits in nearby salt domes in 1901, and the completion of the Houston Ship Channel in 1914. The construction of refineries and other petroleum-related industries began during World War I (1914-1918); further industrial expansion was spurred by World War II (1939-1945). The absence of strict zoning laws and a positive attitude toward industrialization by local leaders have encouraged the city's rapid growth since World War II; between 1950 and 1970 Houston's population doubled. NASA established its Manned Spacecraft Center at Houston in 1963. In the 1980s Houston experienced an economic recession because of the drop in oil prices. As a result, city officials worked to diversify the economy.


Created on April 18, 2000
Updated on January 12, 2005

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