Houston is a city of endless possibilities: our history has been marked with achievements like the first word heard from the moon and the first artificial heart transplant. Nationally recognized parks, professional sports, fine dining, and other attractions make Houston a great place to call home. Living in Houston means affordable housing options, excellent school districts and employment opportunities in numerous industries throughout the region.
At over 6 million people, Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, the largest city in the southern United States, and is growing at an incredibly fast rate - we are poised to overtake Chicago as the third largest city within the next decade. Over 90 different languages are spoken in the city making it a melting pot of different cultures. Houston also has the third largest Hispanic and Mexican population in the nation. With 23% of the population being younger than 14 it has one of the youngest populations in the nation.
The Texas Medical Center located in the heart of Houston, is the largest medical complex in the world. The medical center encompasses 23 hospitals, eight research institutions, six nursing programs, three medical schools, two universities, two pharmacy schools, and one dental school.
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Only 21 countries other than the United States have a gross domestic product exceeding Houston’s regional gross area product. Houston also has more than 5,000 energy related firms- giving it the nickname “Energy Capital of the World”. 23 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Houston, and the Port of Houston ranks first in the US in international waterborne cargo.
The Museum District, located southwest of downtown, is home to over 20 museums, galleries and cultural centers including: Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Children’s Museum of Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Rice Gallery, Rothko Chapel, Health Museum, Jung Center, The Menil Collection, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston along with several others.
The Theater District boasts nine world recognized performing arts theaters and organizations which include: Jones Hall, Wortham Center, Alley Theatre, and Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Houston is one of the few cities with permanent performing groups in all major performing arts disciplines: music (Houston Symphony), theater (The Alley Theater), ballet (The Houston Ballet) and opera (Houston Grand Opera).
Hermann Park is located between Rice University, the Museum District and the Medical Center. The park’s 400 acres includes the Hermann Park Golf Course, Miller Outdoor Theatre, The Houston Zoo, The Museum of Natural Science, Japanese Gardens, and more.
The Miller Outdoor Theater is a free outdoor theater that hosts a diverse arrangement of entertainment. The theater is located in on a sloping lawn in Hermann Park perfect for picnics.
Discovery Green is located in the center of Downtown Houston and includes 12-acres of green lawns, a one acre lake, a playground, an interactive fountain, a performance stage, various artwork, the Grove restaurant and gardens.
Memorial Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. The park has facilities for golf, tennis, swimming, track, croquet, volleyball, skating, cycling and running.
The Houston Arboretum is a 155 acre non-profit urban nature sanctuary, located on the edge of Memorial Park. The Arboretum plays a large role in protecting native plants and animals in the heart of the city.
The Houston Zoo attracts more than 2 million people a year to see its over 2,000 animals.
The Gerald D. Hines Water Wall Park, located in Uptown Houston, is a unique 64- ft. semicircular fountain that circulates 11,000 gallons of water per minute!
The Johnson Space Center is located in the Clear Lake area about 25 miles south of downtown Houston. Space Center Houston, the visitor’s center, houses an actual spacecraft and state-of-the-art simulators.
The San Jacinto Battleground east of downtown is where Texas won its independence from Mexico. There you will find the San Jacinto Monument, The San Jacinto Museum of History and Battleship Texas.
BBVA Compass Stadium is a state-of-the-art open stadium that opened in 2012 and hosts the Houston Dynamo (men's) Soccer Team and Houston Dash (women's) Soccer Team, and additional sporting and concert events.
The Toyota Center, located in the center of downtown, was first opened in 2003 and is home to the Houston Rockets basketball team and houses many concerts and events throughout the year.
The Houston Texans Football Team began their first season at Reliant Stadium in 2002, now called the NRG Stadium.
Houston is home to the Houston Rodeo, the world's largest livestock show and rodeo, and it attracts over 2 million people each year. The Rodeo was created for charitable, educational and scientific purposes and encourages the breeding, raising and marketing of better livestock and farm products.
The Light Rail was opened on January 1, 2004. The Red Line runs from NRG Park to the University of Houston-Downtown with 16 stops in between, and stops just adjacent to the Rice campus, near the Texas Medical Center and Hermann Park. The Green Line runs through the East End through the Theater District, with 6 stops in between. The Purple Line runs from the Theater District through the Third Ward to the Palm Center Transit Center, with 10 stops in between. In addition to the Light Rail, Houston has an expansive bus system.
Houston is home to two major airports: William P. Hobby Airport, located southeast of downtown, and Houston International Airport, located just north of Houston.
*Image Courtesy of Ron Kikuchi