Houston was just a dream to two New York real estate promoters, J. K. and A. C. Allen who searched the south for "a great center of government and commerce." In August of 1836, they bought 6,642 acres of raw land from Mrs. T. F. L. Parrot, near the tidewater on Buffalo Bayou for $9,428. Here the brothers set up a trading post on the bayou that now meanders through the heart of the city. In anticipation of San Houston's election as the first President of the Republic of Texas, they named their dream city, Houston, hoping their city would be selected as the Capital of Texas. Just one week before Houston's election, they also advertised that "Nature seems to have designated this place for the future seat of government, however Austin was named the capital and Houston remained a small trading post.
The Houston Chamber of Commerce recognized the importance of railroads to the Port of Houston. They were instrumental in initiating the first railroad as well as the first telegraph line in Texas. The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos & Colorado Railroad was organized in 1847, but construction was not started for four years, and the first 20 miles of railroad in Texas and the second railroad west of the Mississippi River was inaugurated by the company in 1853. Houston then quickly grew in importance yet by 1860 the population of Houston was only 4,845.
The coming of the railroad boosted the economy in the 1860s and 1870s, but prosperity was not evident until the turn of the century when in 1901 oil was discovered at nearby Spindletop. Houston was now on the financial map. However city's greatest obstacle to growth was its sweltering summer heat, but beginning in the 1930s, the widespread availability of air conditioning made massive downtown development a reality. Beginning in the 1950s, downtown Houston underwent massive skyscraper construction. Along with this building boom was the destruction of older commercial and residential buildings.
Today Houston is the nation's fourth largest city, second only to New York in Fortune 500 headquarters, and the home of NASA's Johnson Space Center. It is one of only six American cities with resident professional companies in all four major performing arts: ballet, opera, theater and symphony.
Population: Metropolitan Houston: 5,628,101, Houston 2,231,000
Land Area: 579.4 square miles.
Flight times: Chicago-2.3 hr, NYC-3.7 hrs, Los Angeles-3 hrs, Miami-2.5 hrs,London-10.5 hrs.
Houston has an almost tropical climate with mild winters but hot and humid summers. Days of sunshine (including partly cloudy days): 200 days, Annual precipitation: 45 inches.
Average Daily High/Low Temperature:
March - May: 77°f / 56°f, 26°c / 14°c
June - Aug.: 92°f / 72°f, 34°c / 22°f
Sept. - Nov.: 79°f / 59°f, 26°c / 15°c
Dec. - Feb.: 65° / 42°f, 18°c / 6°c
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (iah.houstonairportsystem.org): Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), the 8th busiest commercial airport in the US, joined the Houston Airport System in June 1969. It is located approximately 23 miles north of downtown Houston, near the Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8 North).
William P. Hobby Airport (hou.houstonairportsystem.org): Houston's second largest airport, Hobby Airport (HOU), has been serving the Houston for more than 60 years. Hobby Airport is located approximately seven miles south of downtown Houston, near I-45/Gulf Freeway, the major highway heading from the City to NASA and Galveston Island. Hobby Airport is the 41st busiest airport in the nation.
Taxi, bus, and other ground transportation services are available from these airports to Houston and the surrounding area.
Rental Cars: Rent-A-Car Advantage (800) 777-5500, Alamo (800) 327-9633, Avis (800) 331-1212, Hertz (800) 654-3131.
Travel Information Centers of the Texas, Department of Transportation, offers trip routing information and emergency road conditions. (800) 452 9292 (8 am-5 pm daily).
Metro (www.ridemetro.org/homepage.asp): A comprehensive plan that features a variety of transportation solutions for METRO's 1,285-square-mile service area: 72 miles of rail, a all encompassing bus service and more than 250 miles of two-way, all-day Park & Ride service.
Taxis: The First 1/11 mile costs $2.50, each additional 2/11 mile is $0.30, $4 for the first mile and $1.65 per mile for each mile after.
Taxi Fiesta (713) 225-2666
Tomball Taxi (281) 351-8294
Libery Cab (281) 540-8294
Airport Taxi (281) 442-2431
Children's Museum of Houston (www.cmhouston.org): 1500 Binz Houston, TX 77004, (713) 522-1138.
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (www.camh.org):5216 Montrose Blvd Houston, TX 77006, (713) 284-8250.
Houston Museum of Natural Science (www.hmns.org):1 Hermann Circle Dr Houston, TX 77030, (713) 639-4629.
Museum of Fine Arts (www.mfah.org): 1001 Bissonnet St Houston, TX 77005, (713) 639-7300.