15 Awesome and Unusual Facts You Must Know About Houston
Many things draw people from all over the world to Houston. This includes its cultural, ethnic and religious diversity as well as its bustling economy.
If you want to learn more about this wonderful city, here are more facts about H-Town that would surely make you fall in love with this place:
1. The Allen brothers bought Houston’s founding site for $1.40 per acre
Three months after Texas gained its independence from Mexico, land investors Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen began surveying the Buffalo Bayou and Galveston for a place to build their envisioned city.
Luckily, they found a suitable piece of land–a 6,600-acre tract at the confluence of Buffalo and White Oak Bayous. They bought this area for around $5,000 or $161,963.04 in today’s currency.
Slowly, the city grew from a humble settlement to a commerce hub due to its strategic location. Buffalo Bayou served as a waterway for ships sailing from the Gulf of Mexico, enabling farmers to sell their goods to traders.
After a year, Houston became incorporated into the Texas Republic. It served as its capital from 1837 to 1839 until the government decided to relocate to Austin.
2. The city is named after a key figure in the Texas Revolution
When the Allen brothers were deciding on a name for their newly-built settlement, they turned to their friend and decorated war hero Sam Houston for inspiration.
Sam Houston is an interesting figure in the history of America. Aside from his exploits as a general, he’s also an experienced politician.
Before he became the first president of the former Republic of Texas, Houston led the Texan army against Mexico in the Battle of San Jacinto in 1936. His win against the Mexican troops enabled Texas to gain independence.
3. H-Town is home to NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center
“Space City” is one of Houston’s famous nicknames because of its contribution to the field of aerospace in the country.
Located southeast of the Downtown area is NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC), the Administration’s center for manned spaceflight, providing support through aeronautic research, astronaut training, and flight control.
The Space Center serves as the mission control site for many of NASA’s projects, including the famous Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
Today, the JSC serves as the nerve center of the International Space Station (ISS), a research facility in low Earth orbit that conducts experiments for future spaceflight missions.
What’s also interesting about this space station is it has a Houston area code (281). Although you can’t call the number directly, the ISS can make outcalls to mission control in the JSC.
4. “Houston” is technically the first word uttered by astronauts on the Moon
Speaking of the Apollo missions, many Houstonians brag that their city is the first word said by Neil Armstrong on the Moon’s surface back in 1969.
This actual quote is: “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed,” which Armstrong uttered to notify mission control of their status.
However, there is some debate surrounding this, as some pointed out that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin said some technical terms when checking the spacecraft, particularly the word “control.”
Despite this, it’s widely considered that the quote above is the first message said by the Apollo 11 crew to the mission control back on Earth.
5. The largest medical facility in the world is located in Houston
If you go to a cardiologist or rheumatologist in Houston, you don’t need to look far as the city has the biggest medical center in the world.
Texas Medical Center is a district that has a total of 5.4km² of land located in the area of Brays Bayou, Hermann Park, and Rice Univerity. It holds over 60 medical institutions that can accommodate 9,200 patients in a single day.
The medical facility also includes applied research centers and schools for dentistry, medicine, nursing pharmacy, and public health.
6. Houstonians eat out more than average American citizens
Although they’ve dropped a few notches down in ranking today, Houston was 1st place when it comes to dining out according to Zagat’s 2018 Dining Trends Survey.
According to their study, Houstonians eat at restaurants 7 times per week, which is above the 5.9 times average Americans do.
One of the reasons for this is the wide variety of food options in the city, as there are more than 10,000 restaurants and food craws to choose from, including Mexican, Indian, and other cuisines.
7. The world’s first domed sports stadium is constructed in Houston
Opened in 1965, the NRG Astrodome served as the home of Houston’s Major League Baseball team, The Astros.
The Astrodome has a seating capacity of more than 70,000. The original architects opted for a dome to protect crowds from the sweltering heat of Houston during the daytime.
Unfortunately, the NRG Astrodome closed its doors to the public for code violations and structural problems.
During its historic 43-run, the stadium accommodated several personalities including former president Lyndon B. Johnson, Judy Garland, and The Supremes.
8. There is a pedestrian tunnel system in the Downtown area linking together 95 city blocks
While traveling in the Downtown Houston area, you may have noticed several entryways leading to underground passages weaving around the area.
The “Underground,” as locals call it, is a climate-controlled tunnel system 20 feet below the streets of Houston. It has a total length of 9.65 km, connecting 95 full city blocks in this area.
Initially, the tunnel only connected two movie theaters but the City expanded it to link key areas like offices, restaurants, and retail shops!
9. Approximately 145 languages are spoken by the residents of Houston
The city population’s diversity can be seen in many aspects of their life. One of these is the languages spoken within the community.
According to the US Census Bureau’s 2009 to 2013 data, there are around 145 different languages spoken in the Houston Metropolitan Area excluding English.
|Language||Number of Speakers|
Source: US Census Bureau 2009-2013 Data
Around 37% of Houstonians in the metro area speak languages other than English in their home. The most prevalent languages aside from Spanish are Asian and Pacific Island languages like Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino, and Urdu.
10. This city hosts one of the largest rodeo shows in the world
H-Town is also the host of the famous Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HSLR), which spans for months and draws in a crowd of 2.5 million people from all over the country.
Originally, the show only featured a livestock exposition in its early days. But as the event grew, it integrated many fun events into its lineup like rodeo performances.
Also, this event is famous for its iconic concerts. Throughout the years, many famous acts performed in the HSLR like Cardi B, Selena, and even the King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley.
11. The first Hindu Mandir in America was built in Houston
Houston has around 120,000 people practicing Hinduism, as seen through the various Hindu temples scattered across the city. One of these is the magnificent BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.
On July 25, 2004, the city inaugurated the first traditional Hindu temple (mandir) in North America. It was built by the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan denomination of Hindus in the city.
The temple is surely a wonderful sight with its dazzling white Italian marble and Turkish limestone exterior. The area also has an Understanding Hinduism exhibit where you can learn about the religion and the resident’s rich culture.
12. Many movies and TV shows are filmed in the Houston area
Because of the city’s aesthetic appeal, many directors chose Houston as the filming location of their movies and TV shows.
Given that NASA has a site in Houston, many space-related scenes are filmed here like the discovery of the asteroid in Armageddon (1998) and the Apollo 11 flashback in Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011).
Another film that shows the beauty of Houston is Boyhood (2014), which is a collection of footage that spans 12 years documenting the early life of Mason Evans Jr. while growing up in Texas.
In this movie, you can see familiar sights like Minute Maid Park, the Houston Museum of Natural History, and the University of Houston.
13. You can make the Buffalo Bayou “burp” with a press of a button
If you ever find yourself in the Buffalo Bayou, look for a little red button on the south side of Preston Street Bridge for an interesting surprise.
If you press this button, big bubbles will rush to the surface of the water, almost like the Bayou is “burping.”
This burp button isn’t a secret drain system or a flood control device. It’s an ecological art installation that prevents the water of the Bayou from going stagnant and growing nasty things like mosquitoes and noxious odors from bacteria.
While it’s an interesting feature, it’s not currently working because of the damage it incurred during Hurricane Harvey. Nonetheless, finding the big red button that activates it is a worthwhile activity.
14. Almost half of the total Houston population is aged under 35
One out of 2 Houstonians is either Millennials or Gen Z, with these groups composing almost half of the city’s total population.
|Age Group||Number of People||Percentage of population|
Source: Houston State of Health
Based on the table above, around 49.74% of Houstonians are aged under 34, with the bulk of the population being around 25 to 34 years of age.
It’s also notable that for the past years, the total population of the country is stagnating in terms of population growth as most of the people here are slowly aging, particularly the Baby Boomer and the Gen X generation.
15. There are 19 interesting exhibits you can visit in the Houston Museum District
A trip to the city isn’t complete without visiting the well-known Houston Museum District. From the usual exhibits to the macabre ones, one can certainly learn a lot about different topics in the 19 museums in this area.
One of the magnificent exhibits in the district is the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, which has a collection of more than 70,000 artworks from around the globe.
It also features works of famous Latin American, Texas Latino, and Asian artists ranging from paintings, photographs, and decorative art.
If you want to see spooky artifacts, you can visit the National Museum of Funeral History. There are exhibits here dedicated to the art of death care, including funeral practices of different ancient civilizations to their presidential memorial exhibits.
You can never run out of things to do in Houston. All you need to have is the drive for adventure and some facts you may use during your journey here.
Just remember to enjoy yourself and take a lot of pictures during your stay!