Houston is the largest city in the state of Texas and has the fourth-largest population among cities in the United States in an area covering more than 600 square miles. Houston is a vibrant international city where cultural diversity and uninhibited spirit combine to boost the local culinary scene. Dozens of standout, chef-owned restaurants and local institutions dot the landscape, and the dining public embraces them.
Houston is also a power-shopper's paradise. From the high-end choices at the famed Galleria to discount discoveries on Harwin Drive, there are plenty of places to pick up anything and everything on your list. Houston is a land of malls. In fact, every pocket of the city is home to a mall where shoppers will find anchor stores such as Macy's and Dillard's as well as other smaller, national retailers. Museums, galleries, spas -- just name it, and Houston delivers with a Texas-sized smile.
Houston's energy industry is recognized worldwide -- particularly for oil -- and biomedical research, aeronautics, and the ship channel are also large parts of its economic base. The area is the world's leading center for building oilfield equipment.
Much of Houston's success as a petrochemical complex is due to its busy man-made ship channel, the Port of Houston. The port ranks first in the United States in international commerce, and is the 10th-largest port in the world.
When comparing Houston's economy to a national economy, only 21 countries other than the United States have a gross domestic product exceeding Houston's regional gross area product. Houston ranks second in employment growth rate and fourth in nominal employment growth among the 10 most populous metro areas in the United States. Forty foreign governments maintain trade and commercial offices here, and the city has 23 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations. Twenty foreign banks representing 10 nations operate in Houston, providing financial assistance to the international community.
Houston received the official nickname of "Space City" in 1967 because it is home to NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Other nicknames include "H-Town," "The Big Heart," "Bayou City," "Clutch City," "Hustletown," and "Magnolia City."
Houston has an active visual and performing arts scene. The Theater District is located downtown and is home to nine major performing arts organizations and six performance halls. It is the second largest concentration of theater seats in a downtown area in the United States. Houston is one of only five United States cities with permanent, professional, resident companies in all major performing arts disciplines: opera (Houston Grand Opera), ballet (Houston Ballet), music (Houston Symphony Orchestra), and theater (The Alley Theatre).
Houston is home to the Bayou City Art Festival, which is considered to be one of the top five art festivals in the United States. The Museum District is home to many popular cultural institutions and exhibits, attracting more than 7 million visitors a year. Notable facilities located in the district include the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston, and the Houston Zoo.
Many annual events celebrate the diverse cultures of Houston. The largest and longest-running is the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Another large celebration is the annual night-time Houston Pride Parade. Other annual events include the Greek Festival, Art Car Parade, the Houston Auto Show and the Houston International Festival.
Space Center Houston is the official visitors' center of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The Theater District is a 17-block area in the center of downtown Houston that is home to the Bayou Place entertainment complex, restaurants, movies, plazas, and parks. Houston is home to many parks including Hermann Park, which houses the Houston Zoo and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Lake Houston Park, Memorial Park, Tranquility Park, and Sam Houston Park. Other attractions include the Galleria (Texas's largest shopping mall located in the Uptown District), Old Market Square, the Downtown Aquarium, SplashTown and Sam Houston Race Park. The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is the location of the museum battleship USS Texas (BB-35).
Houston has teams for nearly every major professional sport. The Houston Astros (MLB), Houston Texans (NFL), Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Comets (WNBA), Houston Aeros (AHL), Houston Wranglers (WTT), Houston Takers (ABA) and Houston Dynamo (MLS) all call Houston home.
There are more than 55 colleges and universities and dozens of institutions engaged in research and development in Houston. The city is the home to Rice University, The University of Houston, and South Texas College of Law. Other institutions of higher learning in the city include University of St. Thomas, Houston Baptist University, and Texas Southern University.
Master-Planned Communities: Homes in these communities offer a mix of lush scenery and modern conveniences, with locations near wooded acreage and bodies of water enhanced by abundant schools, shopping centers and restaurants. They feature amenities such as plentiful trees and greenbelts, community centers, educational facilities and recreation areas such as pools, ballparks and golf courses. The Houston area offers many vibrant neighborhoods for all kinds of renters. Find Houston rental homes now!