I have joked for years that Houston is like the illegitimate stepchild of the country. Tell someone you live in Texas, and they immediately ask if you’re from Dallas, or they tell you how “cool” Austin is and that they want to go there. They dismiss Houston, off to the side.
And I’ll admit, it has taken me a LONG time to love Houston. (I still don’t love the heat, and the drought last year really sucked, and the mosquitos are crazy.) I’ve even written about it here before. But over the past few years, and thanks a lot to my awesome friends here, I love Houston now. I’m proud to call it home. I am happy to actually live in Houston proper now – I can see downtown from the bike trail just blocks from my house, I can easily hop on two of the major freeways and quickly get anywhere … the list goes on and on.
So I was SUPER excited to see Mayor Annise Parker on the Colbert Report. She said some things that might just blow the lid off of what you thought about Houston:
- Houston is the FOURTH largest city in the nation. The largest city in Texas and in the southern U.S. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and then HOUSTON.
- This is a DIVERSE city. We are not the cliche conservative city you might assume we are.
- We have JOBS. A great standard of living. The cost of living is so much better than most of the cities I’ve visited this year.
- We have parts of Houston that are JUST LIKE Austin. Plus we have so much more. And better traffic. The cost of living is lower. (Stop telling me that you’re skipping visiting Houston because you’d rather visit Austin instead.)
- We have a GREAT food culture, and an amazing variety of restaurants. It is finally getting the national recognition it deserves.
- The Third Quarter 2010 ACCRA Cost of Living Index shows that Houston’s overall after-taxes living costs are 9% below the nationwide average, largely due to housing costs that are 21% below the average. [via The City of Houston.]
- Houston has a Theater District second only to New York City with its concentration of seats in one geographic area.
- Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, with a local economic impact of $10 billion. More than 52,000 people work within its facilities, which encompass 21 million square feet. Altogether 4.8 million patients visit them each year. [via The City of Houston.]
- The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled. It is the tenth largest port in the world.
- We elected an openly gay mayor. Yes, Houston.
Oh! And one more addition! On July 20, 1969, Houston was the first word said on the moon! “Houston, Tranquility Base here, The Eagle has landed.” (How is that for random coincidence that this would be an anniversary post?!)
Hopefully that will help you see that there is more to Houston than you realized. I’m pretty proud to call it home…