Houston is the biggest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States. It covers an area of 1,600 square kilometers (600 square miles) and has a population of 2.2 million people within the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area which has a population of 5.9 million.
Houston was founded in 1836 by two brothers, Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen, who were real-estate entrepreneurs from New Yock City. It was named after General Sam Houston, who served as the President of the Republic of Texas at that time. The growth of Houston is due to a combination of factors, including its port and railroad as well as the discovery of oil in 1901.
Today Houston has diversified its economy to include energy, manufacturing, aeronautics and transportation. It is also a center for healthcare and medical research, as well as home to the Johnson Space Center. Houston has more Fortune 500 companies than any other city in the United States except New York City.
The growth in population for Houston is often fueled by the rise in oil prices. This was the case in the late 1970's, when people in the Rust Belt states relocated to Houston to tap the better employment opportunities there. This came to an end in the mid-1980's when deflating oil prices pushed the city into recession. To reduce its dependency on the petroleum industry, Houston diversified its economy to include aerospace, health care and biotechnology, fields that have sustained the city well in the following decades.
Travel to Houston
The two major airports serving Houston are the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and the William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Find out which airport your plane will be landing before you arrive.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
George Bush Intercontinental Airport is located 23 miles to the north of downtown Houston. It is the hub of Continental Airlines. The airport opened in June 1969. Originally known as Houston Intercontinental Airport, it was renamed George Bush Intercontinental Airport in 1997.
Houston City Hall http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Houston_City_Hall-1.jpg Mikani
For budget travelers, there is a bus service from the airport run by the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority, or Metro. It is located on the south side of Terminal C. The Metro's Airport Direct bus service runs every 30 minutes and takes you to the Airport Direct Passenger Plaza in downtown Houston. The fare is $15 one way.
Taxi to downtown Houston will cost you anywhere from $38 to $88.50. Payment can be made via credit card.
William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
This is the oldest commercial airport in Houston, and operated as its primary airport until the opening of the George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Budget travelers can take the public bus operated by Metro. It is available at Curbzone 13 outside the baggage claim area at the Lower Level. There are three bus routes that goes to Hobby Airport, namely 50 Harrisburg, 73 Bellfort Crosstown and 88 Hobby Airport. The 88 Hobby Airport goes to Downtown. The full fare is $1.25 one way.
Travel within Houston
The public transport in Houston is provided by the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority, METRO, which runs the bus and light rail transit. The rail service, called METRORail, is a rail line over seven and a half miles through downtown Houston. The fare is a flat $1.25 per ride.
Places of Interest in Houston
Menil Collection Impressive collection of paintings and sculptures endowed by the family of Houston philanthropist Dominique de Menil.
Rothko Chapel Chapel commission by the family of Dominique de Menil.
Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum Housed in a replica of an Eastern Orthodox chapel, this is the only museum in the Western Hemisphere to display Byzantine frescoes.
Museum of Fine Arts Oldest art museum in Texas, and one of the largest in the United States.
Bayou Bend Largest public garden in Houston.
Montrose District Precinct with galleries, shops and nightclubs between Montrose Street and Westheimer Road.
Space Center Houston A visitor center adjacent to Johnson Space Center, with exhibits chronicling the history of the Space Race.
San Jacinto Monument Monument commemorating the final battle for the independence of the Republic of Texas.
Houston Museum of Natural Science A major natural science museum with exhibits ranging from dinosaur fossils to butterflies.
Houston Zoo A place for the whole family to get to know wild animals.
Houston Holocaust Museum Museum honoring the 6 million Jews that perished in the Holocaust and the survivors' legacy.
Downtown Tunnel System Subterranean mall with restaurants connecting the many office buildings in Houston.
Chase Tower Observatory 60th-floor observatory on the tallest building in Texas.
Buffalo Soldiers National Museum Museum dedicated to the colored men and women who served in the many American wars and military campaigns.
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