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Houston,city (1990 pop. 1,630,553), seat of Harris co., SE Tex., a deepwater port on the Houston Ship Channel; inc. 1837.
The fourth largest city in the nation and the largest in the entire South and Southwest, Houston is a port of entry; a great industrial, commercial, and financial hub; one of the world's major oil centers; and the second busiest tonnage-handling port in the United States (after New York). Houston has numerous space and science research firms; electronics plants; giant oil refineries; high-tech and computer-technology industries; one of the world's greatest concentrations of petrochemical works; steel and paper mills; shipyards; breweries; meatpacking houses; and factories manufacturing oil-drilling equipment, clothing, glass, and seismic instruments. More recently, Houston has become a major center of finance with a large number of banks, many of them foreign. The Texas Medical Center is the world's largest hospital complex and a leading medical research facility. Houston is served by two international airports and Ellington Field, a joint use civil and military airport. Cruise ships began sailing from the port in 1997. Because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the city is subject to hurricanes, and its relatively flat geography makes it prone to flooding.
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The city is the seat of Rice Univ., Texas Southern Univ., the Univ. of Houston, the Univ. of St. Thomas, Dominican College, Houston Baptist Univ., Baylor College of Medicine, and the Univ. of Texas Health Science Center. Its many parks include the large Hermann Park, which has a zoo, a museum of natural science, and a planetarium. Houston has several notable art museums including the Museum of Fine Arts and The Menil Collection, the Space Center Houston museum, and a children's museum. The Wortham Theater Center houses the opera and ballet companies; the city's Alley Theatre is one of the country's foremost repertory companies. The civic center includes the Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall; the massive George R. Brown Convention Center, one of the nation's largest; and the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, home of the symphony orchestra. The city is also home to the Astros (baseball), Texans (football), and Rockets (basketball) professional sports teams.
Other tourist attractions include the Galleria, a huge enclosed mall noted for its luxury stores; Old Market Square; and Sam Houston Historical Park, which contains restored homes (built 1824–68) and reconstructed buildings. The San Jacinto battlefield is in nearby PasadenaPasadena
. 1 City (1990 pop. 131,591), Los Angeles co., S Calif., at the base of the San Gabriel Mts.; inc. 1866. The city is a research and technological center with manufactures that include plastics, paints, paper, machinery parts, electronic equipment and systems,
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Harrisburg (now part of Houston) was settled in 1823, and Houston itself, founded in 1836 by J. K. and A. C. Allen and named for Sam Houston, was promoted as a rival to Harrisburg and soon served (1837–39) as capital of the Texas republic. In the course of the 19th cent. Houston grew from a muddy town on Buffalo Bayou to a prosperous railroad center. However, its phenomenal expansion came after the digging (1912–14) of a ship channel on Buffalo Bayou and Galveston Bay, linking it to the Gulf and making it a deepwater port. The development of the coastal oil fields poured quick wealth into the city; the natural gas, sulfur, salt, and limestone deposits also in the area laid the basis for its great chemical production.
Shipbuilding during World War II spurred further growth; and the establishment (1961) nearby of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Manned Spacecraft Center (renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973) brought the aerospace industry. In 1948 several suburbs were incorporated into the city, and it spreads wide across the prairie. In 1981, Kathryn J. Whitmire became the city's first woman mayor. Its first African-American mayor, Lee P. Brown, was elected in 1997. Houston benefited from high oil prices in the 1970s but suffered in the 1980s as oil prices collapsed. Since the early 1980s, Houston has made efforts to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil. Houston hosted the 1992 Republican national convention. The city suffered extensive and devastating flood damage from Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017; in both cases the storms stalled over SE Texas and produced extremely heavy rains.
See J. E. Buchanan, Houston (1975); D. G. McComb, Houston: A History (1981); J. R. Feagin, Free Enterprise City: Houston in Political and Economic Perspective (1988).
a city in the southern USA, in the state of Texas. Population, 1.37 million (1975; including suburbs, 2.25 million). Houston is one of the largest cities and industrial centers of the USA and the leading city on the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico. One of the major ports of the southern USA, it ranks third in the country in freight turnover, which amounted to 72.5 million tons in 1975. Freight mainly consists of oil and petroleum products; sulfur, chemicals, grain, and cotton. A marine canal 80 km in length connects the city with the Gulf of Mexico. Houston is also a transportation junction.
Houston’s labor force consists of 960,000 people (1974), of whom 40,000 are engaged in mineral extraction (more than any other city in the USA) and 170,000 in manufacturing. Houston is an important center of the country’s oil-refining and chemical industry, especially the petrochemical industry. Other branches of industry include the synthesis of organic compounds and the manufacture of plastics, synthetic tar, synthetic rubber, and household chemicals. Also of importance are food processing (especially meat-packing), woodworking, ferrous metallurgy and metalworking, the production of pipes and oil equipment, and shipbuilding. The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, including the Flight Control Center, is located in Houston. The city has a university.