Houston (pronounced /hjuːstən/) is the fourth-largest city in the United States and the largest city in

the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people

within an area of 579 square miles (1,500 km2). Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic

center of the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area—the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the

U.S. with a population of approximately 6.1 million.

Houston was founded on August 30, 1836, by brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen on land

near the banks of Buffalo Bayou. The city was incorporated on June 5, 1837, and named after then-

President of the Republic of Texas—former General Sam Houston—who had commanded at the Battle of San

Jacinto, which took place 25 miles (40 km) east of where the city was established. The burgeoning port

and railroad industry, combined with oil discovery in 1901, has induced continual surges in the city's

population. In the mid-twentieth century, Houston became the home of the Texas Medical Center—the

world's largest concentration of healthcare and research institutions—and NASA's Johnson Space Center,

where the Mission Control Center is located.

Rated as a beta world city, Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in energy, manufacturing,

aeronautics, and transportation. Houston is also leading in health care sectors and building oilfield

equipment; only New York City is home to more Fortune 500 headquarters in the city limits. The Port of

Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total

cargo tonnage handled. The city has a population from various ethnic and religious backgrounds and a

large and growing international community. It is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, which

attract more than 7 million visitors a year to the Houston Museum District. Houston has an active visual

and performing arts scene in the Theater District and offers year-round resident companies in all major

performing arts.


In August 1836, two real estate entrepreneurs from New York City, purchased 6,642 acres (26.88 km2) of

land along Buffalo Bayou with the intent of founding a city. The Allen brothers decided to name the city

after Sam Houston, the popular general at the Battle of San Jacinto, who was elected President of Texas

in September 1836.

Houston was granted incorporation on June 5, 1837, with James S. Holman becoming its first mayor. In the

same year, Houston became the county seat of Harrisburg County (now Harris County) and the temporary

capital of the Republic of Texas. In 1840, the community established a chamber of commerce in part to

promote shipping and waterborne business at the newly created port on Buffalo Bayou.

By 1860, Houston had emerged as a commercial and railroad hub for the export of cotton. Railroad spurs

from the Texas inland converged in Houston, where they met rail lines to the ports of Galveston and

Beaumont. During the American Civil War, Houston served as a headquarters for General John Bankhead

Magruder, who used the city as an organization point for the Battle of Galveston. After the Civil War,

Houston businessmen initiated efforts to widen the city's extensive system of bayous so the city could

accept more commerce between downtown and the nearby port of Galveston. By 1890, Houston was the

railroad center of Texas.

In 1900, after Galveston was struck by a devastating hurricane, efforts to make Houston into a viable

deepwater port were accelerated. The following year, oil discovered at the Spindletop oil field near

Beaumont prompted the development of the Texas petroleum industry. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt

approved a $1 million improvement project for the Houston Ship Channel. By 1910 the city's population

had reached 78,800, almost doubling from a decade before. An integral part of the city were African

Americans, who numbered 23,929 or nearly one-third of the residents. They were developing a strong

professional class based then in the Fourth Ward.

President Woodrow Wilson opened the deepwater Port of Houston in 1914, seven years after digging began.

By 1930, Houston had become Texas's most populous city and Harris the most populous county.

When World War II started, tonnage levels at the port decreased and shipping activities were suspended;

however, the war did provide economic benefits for the city. Petrochemical refineries and manufacturing

plants were constructed along the ship channel because of the demand for petroleum and synthetic rubber

products during the war. Ellington Field, initially built during World War I, was revitalized as an

advanced training center for bombardiers and navigators. The M. D. Anderson Foundation formed the Texas

Medical Center in 1945. After the war, Houston's economy reverted to being primarily port-driven. In

1948, several unincorporated areas were annexed into the city limits, which more than doubled the city's

size, and Houston proper began to spread across the region.

In 1950, the availability of air conditioning provided impetus for many companies to relocate to Houston

resulting in an economic boom and producing a key shift in the city's economy toward the energy sector.

The increased production of the local shipbuilding industry during World War II spurred Houston's

growth, as did the establishment in 1961 of NASA's "Manned Spacecraft Center" (renamed the Lyndon B.

Johnson Space Center in 1973), which created the city's aerospace industry. The Astrodome, nicknamed the

"Eighth Wonder of the World", opened in 1965 as the world's first indoor domed sports stadium.
During the late 1970s, Houston experienced a population boom as people from Rust Belt states moved to

Texas in large numbers. The new residents came for the numerous employment opportunities in the

petroleum industry, created as a result of the Arab Oil Embargo.

The population boom ended abruptly in the mid-1980s, as oil prices fell precipitously. The space

industry also suffered in 1986 after the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after launch.

The late 1980s saw a recession adversely affecting the city's economy.

Since the 1990s, as a result of the recession, Houston has made efforts to diversify its economy by

focusing on aerospace and health care/biotechnology and by reducing its dependence on the petroleum

industry. In 1997, Houstonians elected Lee P. Brown as the city's first African American mayor.

In June 2001, Tropical Storm Allison dumped up to 40 inches (1,000 mm) of rain on parts of Houston,

causing the worst flooding in the city's history; the storm cost billions of dollars in damage and

killed 20 people in Texas. By December of that same year, Houston-based energy company Enron collapsed

into the third-largest ever U.S. bankruptcy during an investigation surrounding fabricated partnerships

that were allegedly used to hide debt and inflate profits.

In August 2005, Houston became a shelter to more than 150,000 people from New Orleans who evacuated from

Hurricane Katrina.[32] One month later, approximately 2.5 million Houston area residents evacuated when

Hurricane Rita approached the Gulf Coast, leaving little damage to the Houston area. This was the

largest urban evacuation in the history of the United States.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 601.7 square miles (1,558

km2); this comprises 579.4 square miles (1,501 km2) of land and 22.3 square miles (58 km2) of water.

Most of Houston is located on the gulf coastal plain, and its vegetation is classified as temperate

grassland and forest. Much of the city was built on forested land, marshes, swamp, or prairie, which are

all still visible in surrounding areas. Flatness of the local terrain, when combined with urban sprawl,

has made flooding a recurring problem for the city. Downtown stands about 50 feet (15 m) above sea

level, and the highest point in far northwest Houston is about 125 feet (38 m) in elevation. The city

once relied on groundwater for its needs, but land subsidence forced the city to turn to ground-level

water sources such as Lake Houston and Lake Conroe.

Houston has four major bayous passing through the city. Buffalo Bayou runs through downtown and the

Houston Ship Channel, and has three tributaries: White Oak Bayou, which runs through the Heights

neighborhood north of downtown and then towards downtown; Braes Bayou, which runs along the Texas

Medical Center; and Sims Bayou, which runs through the south of Houston and downtown Houston. The ship

channel continues past Galveston and then into the Gulf of Mexico.

Underpinning Houston's land surface are unconsolidated clays, clay shales, and poorly cemented sands up

to several miles deep. The region's geology developed from river deposits formed from the erosion of the

Rocky Mountains. These sediments consist of a series of sands and clays deposited on decaying organic

matter, that over time, transformed into oil and natural gas. Beneath the layers of sediment is a water

-deposited layer of halite, a rock salt. The porous layers were compressed over time and forced upward.

As it pushed upward, the salt dragged surrounding sediments into salt dome formations, often trapping

oil and gas that seeped from the surrounding porous sands. The thick, rich, sometimes black, surface

soil is suitable for rice farming in suburban outskirts where the city continues to grow.

The Houston area has over 150 active faults (estimated to be 300 active faults) with an aggregate length

of up to 310 miles (500 km), including the Long Point-Eureka Heights Fault System which runs through the

center of the city. There have been no significant historically recorded earthquakes in Houston, but

researchers do not discount the possibility of such quakes occurring in the deeper past, nor in the

future. Land in some communities southeast of Houston is sinking because water has been pumped out from

the ground for many years. It may be associated with slip along faults; however, the slippage is slow

and not considered an earthquake, where stationary faults must slip suddenly enough to create seismic

waves.] These faults also tend to move at a smooth rate in what is termed "fault creep", which further

reduces the risk of an earthquake.

Allen's Landing after Tropical Storm Allison, June 2001
Houston's climate is classified as humid subtropical (Cfa in Köppen climate classification system).

Spring supercell thunderstorms sometimes bring tornadoes to the area. Prevailing winds are from the

south and southeast during most of the year, bringing heat across the continent from the deserts of

Mexico and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

During the summer months, it is common for the temperature to reach over 90 °F (32 °C), with an

average of 99 days per year above 90 °F (32 °C). However, the humidity results in a heat index higher

than the actual temperature. Summer mornings average over 90 percent relative humidity and approximately

60 percent in the afternoon.[Winds are often light in the summer and offer little relief, except near

the immediate coast. To cope with the heat, people use air conditioning in nearly every vehicle and

building in the city; in 1980 Houston was described as the "most air-conditioned place on earth".

Scattered afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer. The hottest temperature ever recorded in

Houston was 109 °F (43 °C) on September 4, 2000.

Winters in Houston are fairly temperate. The average high in January, the coldest month, is 62 °F (17

°C), while the average low is 39 °F (4 °C). Snowfall is generally rare. Recent snow events in Houston

include a storm on December 24, 2004 when one inch (2.5 cm) fell and more recent snowfalls on December

10, 2008. However, more recently on December 4, 2009 an inch of snow fell in the city. This was the

earliest snowfall ever recorded in Houston. In addition, it set another milestone marking the first time

in recorded history that snowfall has occurred on two consecutive years, and marks the third

accumulating snowfall occurring in the decade of 2000–2010. The coldest temperature ever recorded in

Houston was 5 °F (−15 °C) on January 23, 1940. Houston receives a high amount of rainfall annually,

averaging about 54 inches a year. These rains tend to cause floods over portions of the city.
Houston has excessive ozone levels and is ranked among the most ozone-polluted cities in the United

States. Ground-level ozone, or smog, is Houston’s predominant air pollution problem, with the American

Lung Association rating the metropolitan area's ozone level as the 6th worst in the United States in

2006. The industries located along the ship channel are a major cause of the city's air pollution.

Further information: Geographic areas of Houston and List of Houston neighborhoods
Houston was incorporated in 1837 under the ward system of representation. The ward designation is the

progenitor of the nine current-day Houston City Council districts. Locations in Houston are generally

classified as either being inside or outside the Interstate 610 Loop. The inside encompasses the central

business district and many residential neighborhoods that predate World War II. More recently, high-

density residential areas have been developed within the loop. The city's outlying areas, suburbs and

enclaves are located outside of the loop. Beltway 8 encircles the city another 5 miles (8.0 km) farther


Though Houston is the largest city in the United States without formal zoning regulations, it has

developed similarly to other Sun Belt cities because the city's land use regulations and legal covenants

have played a similar role. Regulations include mandatory lot size for single-family houses and

requirements that parking be available to tenants and customers. Such restrictions have had mixed

results. Though somehave blamed the city's low density, urban sprawl, and lack of pedestrian-

friendliness on these policies, the city's land use has also been credited with having significant

affordable housing, sparing Houston the worst effects of the 2008 real estate crisis. The city issued

42,697 building permits in 2008 and was ranked first in the list of healthiest housing markets for 2009.

Voters rejected efforts to have separate residential and commercial land-use districts in 1948, 1962,

and 1993. Consequently, rather than a single central business district as the center of the city's

employment, multiple districts have grown throughout the city in addition to downtown which include

Uptown, Texas Medical Center, Midtown, Greenway Plaza, Energy Corridor, Westchase, and Greenspoint.

Government and politics
The city of Houston has a strong mayoral form of municipal government. Houston is a home rule city and

all municipal elections in the state of Texas are nonpartisan. The City's elected officials are the

mayor, city controller and 14 members of the city council. The mayor of Houston is Annise Parker—a

Democrat elected on a nonpartisan ballot who is serving her first term as of January 2010. Houston's

mayor serves as the city's chief administrator, executive officer, and official representative, and is

responsible for the general management of the city and for seeing that all laws and ordinances are

enforced.As the result of a 1991 referendum in Houston, a mayor is elected for a two-year term, and can

be elected to as many as three consecutive terms. The term limits were spearheaded by conservative

political activist Clymer Wright.

The city council line-up of nine district based and five at-large positions was based on a U.S. Justice

Department mandate which took effect in 1979. At-large council members represent the entire

city.Under the current city charter, if the population in the city limits goes past 2.1 million

residents, the current nine-member city council districts will be expanded with the addition of two city

council districts.

The city controller is elected independently of the mayor and council. The controller's duties are to

certify available funds prior to committing such funds and processing disbursements. The city's fiscal

year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30. Ronald Green is the city controller, serving his first term

as of January 2010.

Houston is considered to be a politically divided city whose balance of power often sways between

Republicans and Democrats. Much of the city's wealthier areas vote Republican, while the city's middle

class, and minority areas vote Democrat. According to the 2005 Houston Area Survey, 68 percent of non-

Hispanic whites in Harris County are declared or favor Republicans while 89 percent of non-Hispanic

blacks in the area are declared or favor Democrats. About 62 percent Hispanics (of any race) in the area

are declared or favor Democrats. The city has often been known to be the most politically diverse city

in Texas, a state known for being generally conservative. As a result the city is often a contested area

in statewide elections.


Houston is recognized worldwide for its energy industry—particularly for oil and natural gas—as well

as for biomedical research and aeronautics. Renewable energy sources—wind and solar—are also growing

economic bases in Houston. The ship channel is also a large part of Houston's economic base. Because of

these strengths, Houston is designated as a beta world city by the Globalization and World Cities Study

Group and Network.

Considered to be the energy capital of the world, five of the six supermajor energy companies maintain a

large base of operations in Houston (international headquarters of ConocoPhillips; US operational

headquarters of Exxon-Mobil; US headquarters for international companies Shell Oil (US subsidiary of

Royal Dutch Shell located in London and The Hague, Netherlands), and BP whose international headquarters

are in London, England).The headquarters of Shell Oil Company, the US affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell, is

located at One Shell Plaza. While ExxonMobil maintains its global headquarters in Irving, Texas, its

upstream and chemical divisions as well as most operational divisions, are located in Houston. Chevron

has offices in Houston in a 40-story building originally intended to be the headquarters of Enron.The

company's Chevron Pipe Line Company subsidiary is headquartered in Houston, and more divisions are being

consolidated and moved to Houston each year. Houston is headquarters for the Marathon Oil Corporation,

Schlumberger, Halliburton, Apache Corporation, and Citgo and alternative energy companies such as

Horizon Wind Energy.

The Houston area is a 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.[80] The port ranks

first in the United States in international commerce, and is the tenth-largest port in the world.[11]

Unlike most places, high oil and gasoline prices are beneficial for Houston's economy as many of its

residents are employed in the energy industry.

The Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown MSA's gross area product (GAP) in 2008 was $440.4 billion, slightly

larger than the gross domestic product (GDP) of Belgium, Malaysia, Venezuela or Sweden. Only 21

countries other than the United States have a gross domestic product exceeding Houston's regional gross

area product.[ Houston's MSA gross area product for 2007 is estimated to be 416.6 billion, up 13.8

percent from 2006. Mining, which in Houston consists almost entirely of exploration and production of

oil and gas, accounts for 26.3% of Houston's GAP, up sharply in response to high energy prices and a

decreased worldwide surplus of oil production capacity; followed by engineering services, health

services, and manufacturing.

The Houston area added 42,400 private-sector jobs between November 2007 and November 2008 and registered

the nation’s largest gain in private sector employment among the nation's cities, according to

employment statistics of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.The unemployment rate in the city was 3.8%

in April 2008, the lowest level in eight years while the job growth rate was 2.8%.

In 2006, the Houston metropolitan area ranked first in Texas and third in the U.S. within the Category

of "Best Places for Business and Careers" by Forbes magazine. Foreign governments have established 89

consular offices in metropolitan Houston. Forty foreign governments maintain trade and commercial

offices here and 23 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations. Twenty-five foreign

banks representing 13 nations operate in Houston, providing financial assistance to the international


In 2008, Houston received top ranking on Kiplinger's Personal Finance Best Cities of 2008 list which

ranks cities on their local economy, employment opportunities, reasonable living costs and quality of

life. The city ranked fourth for highest increase in the local technological innovation over the

preceding 15 years, according to Forbes magazine. In the same year, the city ranked second on the

annual Fortune 500 list of company headquarters,ranked first for Forbes Best Cities for College

Graduates, and ranked first on Forbes list of Best Cities to Buy a Home.[94] In 2010, the city was rated

the best city for shopping, according to Forbes.


The annual Houston International Festival spotlights a different culture each year
Houston is a multicultural city, in part because of its many academic institutions and strong industries

as well as being a major port city. Over ninety languages are spoken in the city. Houston has among the

youngest populations in the nation, partly due to an influx of immigrants into Texas. The city has the

third-largest Hispanic and third-largest Mexican population in the United States. It also has more

Hispanics than any other city in Texas. An estimated 400,000 illegal aliens reside in the Greater

Houston area. Houston has some of the largest Indian and Pakistani communities in the United States. The

Nigerian community of Houston, estimated to be over 2.0% of the city's population, is the largest in the

United States.
According to the 2010 Census, Whites made up 50.5% of Houston's population, of which 25.6% were non-

Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 23.7% of Houston's population. American Indians

made up 0.7% of Houston's population. Asians made up 6.0% of Houston's population while Pacific

Islanders made up 0.1%. Individuals from some other race made up 15.2% of the city's population, of

which 0.2% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 3.3% of the city's population.

People of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 43.8% of Houston's population.

As of the 2000 Census, there were 1,953,631 people and the population density was 3,371.7 people per

square mile (1,301.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 49.3% White, 25.3% African American, 5.3%

Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 16.5% from some other race, and 3.1% from two or

more races. In addition, Hispanics and Latinos made up 37.4% of Houston's population while non-Hispanic

whites made up 30.8%.

There were 717,945 households out of which 33.1 percent had children under the age of 18 living with

them, 43.2 percent were married couples living together, 15.3 percent had a female householder with no

husband present, and 36.3 percent were non-families. Twenty-nine percent of all households were made up

of individuals and 6.2 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average

household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.39. The median house price was $115,961 in


In the city, the population was spread out with 27.5 percent under the age of 18, 11.2 percent from 18

to 24, 33.8 percent from 25 to 44, 19.1 percent from 45 to 64, and 8.4 percent who were 65 years of age

or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 99.7 males. For every 100

females age 18 and over, there were 97.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,616, and the median income for a family was

$40,443. Males had a median income of $32,084 versus $27,371 for females. The per capita income for the

city was $20,101. Nineteen percent of the population and 16 percent of families were below the poverty

line. Out of the total population, 26.1 percent of those under the age of 18 and 14.3 percent of those

65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Houston has a large number of immigrants from Asia, including the largest Vietnamese American population

in Texas and third-largest in the United States, with 30,000 people in 2007. Some parts of the city with

high populations of Vietnamese and Chinese residents have Chinese and Vietnamese street signs, in

addition to English ones. Houston has two Chinatowns: the original located in East Downtown, and the

more recent one is in the southwest area of the city. The city has a Little Saigon in Midtown and

Vietnamese businesses located in the southwest area of Houston's Chinatown. The Mahatma Gandhi District

—a "Little India" community—exists along Hillcroft Avenue.

Houston has a large gay community concentrated primarily in and around Neartown and Houston Heights. It

is estimated that the Houston metropolitan area has the twelfth-largest number of lesbian, gay and

bisexual individuals in the United States.

With the election of Annise Parker in 2009, Houston became the largest city in the United States to have

an openly gay mayor.

Houston is a diverse city with a large and growing international community. The metropolitan area is

home to an estimated 1.1 million (21.4 percent) residents who were born outside the United States, with

nearly two-thirds of the area's foreign-born population from south of the United States–Mexico

border.Additionally, more than one in five foreign-born residents are from Asia.The city is home to the

nation’s third largest concentration of consular offices, representing 86 countries.

Many annual events celebrate the diverse cultures of Houston. The largest and longest running is the

annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, held over 20 days from late February to early March, which

happens to be the largest annual Livestock Show and Rodeo anywhere in the world. Another large

celebration is the annual night-time Houston Pride Parade, held at the end of June. Other annual events

include the Houston Greek Festival, Art Car Parade, the Houston Auto Show, the Houston International

Festival,[121] and the Bayou City Art Festival, which is considered to be one of the top five art

festivals in the United States.

Houston received the official nickname of "Space City" in 1967 because it is the location of NASA's

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Other nicknames often used by locals include "Bayou City," "Magnolia

City," and "H-Town."

The Houston Theater District, located downtown, 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 few 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 also home to

folk artists, art groups and various small progressive arts organizations. Houston attracts many touring

Broadway acts, concerts, shows, and exhibitions for a variety of interests.Facilities in the Theater

District include the Jones Hall—home of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and Society for the Performing

Arts—and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

The Museum District's cultural institutions and exhibits attract more than 7 million visitors a year.

Notable facilities the include The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Holocaust Museum Houston, and

the Houston Zoo. Located near the Museum District are The Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, and the

Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum.

Bayou Bend is a 14-acre (5.7 ha) facility of the Museum of Fine Arts that houses one of America's best

collections of decorative art, paintings and furniture. Bayou Bend is the former home of Houston

philanthropist Ima Hogg.

Venues across Houston regularly host local and touring rock, blues, country, dubstep, and Tejano musical

acts. While Houston has never been a widely renowned for its music scene,Houston hip-hop has become a

significant, independent music scene, influencing some larger Southern hip hop communities.[137] Houston

is also the home of chopped and screwed music.

Prominent artists from Houston include rock bands King's X and ZZ Top, sixties psychedelic rock band Red

Krayola, folk-country singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, country and western singers

Kenny Rogers and Clint Black, actors Hilary Duff and Patrick Swayze, and indie piano rock band Blue

October. Houston also had fledgling blues and folk scenes in the sixties and seventies. Notable blues

performers included Lightnin' Hopkins, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "Texas" Johnny Brown, Johnny "Guitar"

Watson, Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, and Joe "Guitar" Hughes; many of whom recorded with hometown

music label Peacock Records. Folk artists playing at Anderson Fair and the Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe in

the sixties and seventies included longtime residents Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury, Rodney Crowell,

Steve Earle and Guy Clark.[138] The eighties and nineties produced punk and alternative rock groups The

Judy's, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, AK-47, Verbal Abuse, Really Red, Culturcide, Dresden 45, the Pain Teens

and the outside musician Jandek. The new millennium has seen a continuance of Houston Noise Bands with

contemporary performers Jana Hunter and Indian Jewelry.

Tourism and recreation

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. Bayou Place is a large multilevel

building containing full-service restaurants, bars, live music, billiards, and art house films. The

Houston Verizon Wireless Theater stages live concerts, stage plays, and stand-up comedy.

Space Center Houston is the official visitors’ center of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The

Space Center has many interactive exhibits including moon rocks, a shuttle simulator, and presentations

about the history of NASA's manned space flight program. Other tourist attractions include the Galleria

(Texas's largest shopping mall located in the Uptown District), Old Market Square, the Downtown

Aquarium, and Sam Houston Race Park. SplashTown Waterpark Houston is a water park located north of

Houston. Earth Quest Adventures is a theme park planned to open in 2012/2013.

Houston is home to 337 parks including Hermann Park, Terry Hershey Park, Lake Houston Park, Memorial

Park, Tranquility Park, Sesquicentennial Park, Discovery Green, and Sam Houston Park. Within Hermann

Park are the Houston Zoo and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Sam Houston Park contains restored

and reconstructed homes which were originally built between 1823 and 1905.

Of the 10 most populous U.S. cities, Houston has the most total area of parks and green space, 56,405

acres (228 km2) The city also has over 200 additional green spaces—totaling over 19,600 acres (79 km2)

that are managed by the city—including the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. The Lee and Joe Jamail

Skatepark is a public skatepark owned and operated by the city of Houston, and is one of the largest

skateparks in Texas consisting of 30,000 (2,800 m2) square foot in-ground facility. The Gerald D. Hines

Waterwall Park—located in the Uptown District of the city—serves as a popular tourist attraction,

weddings, and various celebrations.

Houston has sports teams for every major professional league except the NHL. The Houston Astros (MLB),

Houston Texans (NFL), Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Dynamo (MLS), Houston Aeros (AHL), Houston

Wranglers (WTT), Houston Red Storm (ABA), Houston Energy (IWFL), Houston Leones (PDL), H-Town Texas

Cyclones (also IWFL), Houston Power (WFA), and the Houston Lightning (SIFL) all call Houston home.
Minute Maid Park (home of the Astros) and Toyota Center (home of the Rockets and Aeros), are located

downtown. The city has the Reliant Astrodome, the first domed stadium in the world; it also holds the

NFL's first retractable-roof stadium, Reliant Stadium. Other sports facilities include Hofheinz

Pavilion, Reliant Arena (former home of the WNBA's Houston Comets, now home to the Lightning), and

Robertson Stadium (both used for University of Houston collegiate sports and the Houston Dynamo), and

Rice Stadium (home of the Rice University Owls football team). The now infrequently used Astrodome

hosted World Wrestling Entertainment's WrestleMania X-Seven in 2001, setting an attendance record of

almost 68,000,[141] and Reliant Stadium hosted WrestleMania XXV in 2009. A soccer-specific stadium

for the Houston Dynamo, to be located just east of the George R. Brown Convention Center/Highway 59, is

expected to be finished by 2012.

Houston has hosted the 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the 2000 IHL All-Star Game, the 2005

Big 12 Conference football championship game, the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, the U.S. Men's Clay Court

Championships from 2001 to 2006, and the Tennis Masters Cup in 2003 and 2004, as well as the annual

Shell Houston Open golf tournament. In 2009, Houston hosted the final official event in the LPGA golf

season, the LPGA Tour Championship. The city hosts the annual NCAA College Baseball Minute Maid Classic

every February and NCAA football's Texas Bowl in December. Houston has hosted the Super Bowl

championship game twice: Super Bowl VIII at Rice Stadium in 1974 and Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant

Stadium in 2004. In 2011, Houston will host the Final Four of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball

Tournament at Reliant Stadium.

From 1998 to 2001, the CART auto racing series annually held the Grand Prix of Houston on downtown

streets. After a five-year hiatus, CART's successor series, Champ Car, revived the race for 2006 and

2007 on the streets surrounding Reliant Park. Champ Car merged with rival Indy Racing League (IRL) in

2008, and discontinued the Houston race. Houston Raceway Park is located outside Houston near Baytown,

and hosts the NHRA and other forms of auto racing.