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Houston Skyscrapers, with Buffalo Bayou in the Foreground
The city of Houston originated from a maritime trading post established in 1823 by John Harris. After his death in 1829, his brothers Augustus and John Allen purchased another plot up the Buffalo Bayou and named that trading post after General Sam Houston who had defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto. The Buffalo Bayou was then converted to a ship channel which led to rapid industrial growth and export of cotton, timber, and cattle. Oil was discovered in 1901 and petrochemical and refining industries took up residence in the area. Decline of oil prices in the 1980s crippled Houston's economy, but medical research, international banking, high-tech manufacturing, and the aerospace industry helped speed recovery.
Houston's strong performing arts presence includes theater, symphony, opera, and ballet, as well as many impressive museums. The city is famous as the home of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Space Center Houston offers tours through shuttle and space-module mockups, as well as shuttle-landing simulators and low-gravity units. The Houston Astrodome houses home games for the Houston Astros major league baseball team, as well as the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Visitors will also find a 50-acre zoo.
Summertime in Houston is hot and humid making air conditioning a necessity, but the winters are mild and rainy. Rapid growth has created urban sprawl and crowding that can make navigating the abundance of freeways notoriously difficult. The city has an international airport and can be easily reached by car, bus, train, or air.
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The center of Houston, Texas is located at about 29.75 degrees North (latitude) and 95.35 degrees West (longitude). The city occupies approximately 579.4 square miles in land area; according to the 2010 census, Houston's population was 2,100,263.
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Map of Houston, Texas