Studded with glass and steel skyscrapers, the Houston skyline is America’s 3rd tallest. The absence of zoning laws has also made it one of the most eclectic. The JPMorgan Chase Tower is the Lone Star State’s tallest structure and the world’s highest five-sided building, while the original JP Morgan Chase Building still stands as a Gothic Revival Art Deco masterwork. Houston City Hall is another revered souvenir of the Art Deco era. The 64-story Williams Tower stands out for being raised conspicuously outside the central business district.
Mission Control Center in the Johnson Space Center continues to define Houston in the public imagination and Hollywood movies. The Astrodome that was the world’s first domed sports stadium in 1965 is now a Texas State Antiquities Landmark. The heroic equestrian statue of city namesake General Sam Houston commands the landscape of Hermann Park. The Fred Hartman cable-stayed bridge over the Houston Ship Channel reminds Houstonians that the Port of Houston handles more cargo than any other in the United States. Allen’s Landing preserves the original dock where city founders landed in 1837.
Houston’s long-time reputation for affordable home prices has spawned 641,649 single-family homes. The city’s consistently upwards-swinging job market has created an appetite for apartments for sale – Houston now contains 60,647 condo units. Another 13,781 multi-family properties are available in the real estate market.
Lax zoning laws have also encouraged the construction of 4,541 other residential properties. Investors can sort through the median sale prices of 44,241 commercial properties and 2,472 industrial properties. Another 80,707 vacant lots are brimming with possibility.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County tackles 1,285 square miles with an armada of buses, light rail, and paratransit services. The Quickline bus rapid transit service looks towards the future with modern vehicles and computer-generated routing. Houston B-Cycle puts bikes out from 29 stations across 160 miles of the city’s bikeway network.
The Houston Independent School District is the largest in Texas with 17 school districts and 112 specialized magnet school campuses. More than 300 private schools are also accredited in the city. Three community college districts supplement the city’s 4 state universities. Rice University is the most selective college in the state.
The Texas Medical Center in Houston boasts 13 hospitals, 2 specialty facilities and dozens of research and medical schools. The Memorial Hermann Hospital operates the largest air emergency medical transport system in the country.
FBI statistics reveal a higher risk of property crime in Houston than the rest of the state – a 1 in 22 chance in Houston to 1 in 35 in Texas. Violent crime is twice as common in the state’s largest city as elsewhere in the Lone Star State – 1 in 103 versus 1 in 243.
There is serious culture in Houston. The Theater District gives a choice of 6 performance halls and 9 major performing arts organizations – that’s the second highest concentration of theater seats in the country. The Museum District packs more than 20 museums into a 12-block radius, and these complement scores of art galleries. Multicultural destinations in the city include Chinatown and the Mahatma Gandhi District.
There are over 11,000 restaurants to choose from, although this being Texas, Tex-Mex is the local go-to fare. Pappas Bar-B-Q has been doing the state dish for over 50 years and now has 17 locations to satisfy that Texas passion. Houstonians can relax and play in 337 parks. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world’s largest with competitions for 20 days every March.
Houston is major league in football (Texans), baseball (Astros), basketball (Rockets), and soccer (Dynamo). All play in state-of-the-art downtown facilities.