Living in Houston
Founded in 1836, Houston is now the fourth largest city in the nation. Nearly two million people live within its city limits. The eight-county metropolitan statistical area totals 4.4 million. Three million reside in Harris County alone, the third largest county in the nation. Long known for its energy industry, Houston continues to diversify into the rapidly growing areas of science, technology, space and medicine, fields well-suited to complement the city's petro-chemical, finance, retailing, engineering and construction industries. Houston-based Continental Airlines offers more than 475 departures a day from Bush Intercontinental.
Metropolitan transit Authority's (METRO'S) Light Rail project was completed in 2004. The rail line connects Downtown with the Texas Medical Center and Reliant Park area. The renowned Texas Medical Center consists of 42 non-profit institutions on 675 acres and is the largest medical center in the world. The Texas Medical Center has an estimated economic impact of $10.5 billion a year on the Houston's economy. The Port of Houston, a $15-billion petro-chemical complex, is a major U.S. gateway for international trade and ranks number one in the nation in foreign tonnage and second in total tonnage.
The average maximum temperature in the Houston area in the winter is 64º F, summer maximum temperature is 92º F, spring maximum temperature is 78º F, and the fall maximum temperature is 81º F.
A thriving performing arts center has developed here. The Houston Grand Opera is the nation's fifth largest opera company. Classical and contemporary works are performed by the Houston Ballet, a company of international stature. The Houston Symphony Orchestra, the first arts organization in the city, performs throughout the year. These institutions that enliven Houston's downtown area are located in the Gus S. Wortham Theater and the Jesse J. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. Jones Hall is also home to Theater Under the Stars, the largest civic light opera in America in terms of budget, activity, and attendance. The 130,000 square foot Bayou Place Entertainment Complex is home to the Broadway Series of first-run theater and offers a variety of restaurants.
Also downtown are the nationally-recognized Tony-Award winning Alley Theater performances. Special events are featured in the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Houston's Museum District is home to 11 institutions. Art patrons can enjoy exhibits at The Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Menil Collection. More art, music and dramatic events are staged at other museums and theaters, including the Miller Outdoor Theater close to the Texas Medical Center. Events are also featured at the city's 25 colleges and universities, which include the University of Houston, Rice University, and Texas Southern University.
Individuals interested in science and astronomy can visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Burke Baker Planetarium and the IMAX Theater which are located a few blocks north of the Medical Center. Houston's NASA and Johnson Space Center trains all of America's astronauts and coordinates development and design work for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.
Visitors and residents alike enjoy weekend outings at Herman Park's 50-acre zoo and the 265-acre Aline McAshan Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Memorial Park. Houston offers more than 37,000 acres of park land within its nearly 500 parks. Houstonians also look forward to seasonal events such as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Houston International Festival, a springtime celebration of the visual and performing arts.
The Houston Astros baseball team plays home games at Minute Maid Park. The Toyota Center, which seats more than 17,000, is the new home of the Houston Rockets Basketball team. Reliant Park is the new home for the Houston TEXANS football team, and opened in the fall of 2002. Special events such as concerts, circuses, and ice-skating shows are held in these arenas.
Suitable for outdoor activities year-round, Houston is located 50 miles from the beaches of Galveston Island and 30 minutes from Clear Lake, a 2000-acre water playground for boating enthusiasts. The colorful cluster of restaurants, shops, and boat slips at the Kemah Boardwalk lies just 40 minutes from Houston. Just north of the city, The Woodlands and Lakes Conroe and Livingston offer miles of forests and bodies of water, including the new Woodlands Waterway. The greater Houston area offers more than 175 public and private golf courses.