Inflation: As measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), Houston prices rose 3.4% in 1994, versus a national increase of 2.6%.
Religion: Episcopalians established the first congregation in Houston in 1839, followed by Presbyterians, also in 1839, Methodists, Roman Catholics, and Baptists in 1841, and Lutherans in 1851. Jews received a state charter to form a congregation in 1859; the first synagogue was built in 1870. Today, virtually every denomination is active in Houston. The Houston 1994-1995 Yellow Pages has 17 pages of listings for churches and other places of worship, classified under 121 denominational or quasi-denominational headings.
Restaurants: Houston restaurants feature outstanding regional and traditional American dishes and diverse international cuisine. The Houston Yellow Pages restaurant classifications include 32 national or regional categories.
Cultural Attractions: Houston is one of the few U.S. cities with resident companies in all four major performing arts--drama, ballet, opera, and symphony. Houston's dynamic arts community receives broad-based support from the general public and from many special-purpose organizations, including:
Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County--A nonprofit agency that distributes public funds for the arts and advocates a vital arts community accessible to all.
Business ArtsFund--Provides operational support for major art institutions.
The Houston International Festival--Each spring, presents a major international celebration centered on the arts. The 25th Houston International Festival, in 1996, salutes West Africa.
Houston Municipal Art Commission--A city advisory group on art and aesthetics.
Business Volunteers for the Arts/Houston--Provides volunteer business expertise, management, and technical support to Houston area arts organizations.
Museum District Development Assn.--Promotes public participation in and appreciation of the arts and other cultural amenities in the Museum District.
Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts--Provides free
legal and accounting services to arts organizations and artists throughout
Performing Arts Facilities: Houston offers many performance halls to support cultural activities. Downtown's Theater District includes:
Wortham Theater Center, built entirely with private funds and opened in 1987, is home to the opera and ballet companies. Its two halls seat 2,200 and 1,100.
Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, home to The Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts, seats 3,000.
The Alley Theatre, with two stages, is home to Houston's major repertory company.
The Music Hall, which seats 3,036, is home to Theatre Under The Stars, and provides space for other performance attractions.
The Woodlands' Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion offers outdoors performance space and seats 10,000.
Symphony: Founded in 1913, the Houston Symphony maintains an internationally acclaimed orchestra of 98 musicians. It presents a full season of concerts in Jones Hall, free summer concerts in Miller Theatre, and concerts on tour. Its musicians accompany most Houston Grand Opera performances, and are active locally in music education and chamber music.
Other symphony ensembles include Houston Youth Symphony and the orchestras of Houston Baptist University, Rice University, Texas Southern University, and the University of Houston.
Opera: Houston Grand Opera, founded in 1955, is one of the nation's five largest opera companies. It is recognized internationally for the balance between contemporary works and classics in its standard repertoire. HGO will present six mainstage productions during its 1995-1996 season.
HGO's Houston Opera Studio, a major international apprenticeship center, bridges the gap between university training and professional career. HGO also conducts educational programs with local schools. To reach new audiences, HGO established Opera New World with a $1 million NEA grant to develop programming appealing to Houston's diverse cultures.
Other music: Theatre Under The Stars offers lavish musicals in free summer productions and in a winter subscription season. It also operates the Humphreys School.
Other major musical groups include The American Pops Orchestra, J.S. Bach Society, Da Camera Society, Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Houston, Greater Houston Chorus, Houston Friends of Music, Houston Harpsicord Society, and Houston Masterworks Chorus.
Theater: Houston is one of the nation's foremost centers of live dramatic and musical theater. The famed Alley Theatre, founded in 1947, is one of the country's three oldest resident theaters. Its facility features an 824-seat thrust main theater and a 296-seat arena theater. The Alley stages an extended professional season, typically mounting 12 or 13 major productions per year. Stages Repertory Theatre offers southwestern and world premieres, experimental productions of classic works, and revivals of American masterpieces. Notable nonequity professional companies include Main Street Theater, A.D. Players, Actors Theatre, Actors Workshop, Texas Mime Theatre, Theatre LaB, and The Ensemble, one of the nation's most respected black theaters. Area universities and the High School for the Performing & Visual Arts present regular theatrical programming. A summer Shakespeare Festival, produced by the University of Houston and performed in English and Spanish, is held annually in Miller Theatre.
Dance: Houston Ballet, founded in 1955 and established as a professional company in 1969, presents a season of local and touring performances, and enjoys critical acclaim on international tours. Its Ballet Academy offers classes for children and adults.
Other dance groups offering performances and instruction include Allegro Dance Group, City Ballet of Houston, Chrysalis Dance Company, Cookie Joe and the Jazz Company, Discovery Dance Group, Several Dancers Core, and Delia Stewart Dance Company.
Multi cultural programming: Houston's cultural diversity is manifest in a variety of culture-specific arts organizations:
Kuumba House, founded in 1983, is a multi disciplinary, Multi cultural arts center serving inner city populations through dance, theatre, singing, experimental art performances, and classes.
Talento Bilingue de Houston, created in 1977, provides cultural enrichment in the Hispanic community through educational programs and through bilingual (English-Spanish) productions of works by major Spanish-language writers and translations of more familiar works.
Multi cultural Education and Counseling through the Arts (MECA), a center of arts education in the inner city, exposes youth to the arts through in-school, after-school, and summer programs offering low-cost or free instruction in ballet, jazz, ethnic dance, vocal and instrumental music, and visual and theater arts.
The Ensemble Theatre offers programs and productions to aid in developing black theater professionals.
Other Multi cultural arts groups include Ancestral Films, Community Artists' Collective, Community Music Center of Houston, Festival Chicano, Houston Caribbean Festival, and Jazz Education, Inc. For information on Multi cultural groups, contact the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County at 713-527-9330.
Museums: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1001 Bissonnet), the first art museum founded in Texas, opened in 1924 with fewer than 50 objects on display. Today, MFAHouston houses more than 27,000 works from antiquity to the present, and ranks as the largest collection in the Southwest. Highlights include the Straus Collection of Renaissance and 18th-century works, the Beck Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, and post-World War II American art. Ground breaking on the Audrey Jones Beck Building--a $100 million, 185,000-sq.ft. exhibition hall designed by Rafael Moneo, is scheduled in late 1996, with completion in 1999. With the addition of the Beck's 85,400 sq.ft. of gallery space, MFAHouston will rank seventh nationally in gallery space (158,150 sq.ft.), up from 30th.
MFAHouston's Glassell School of Art offers art history and studio classes for adults and children.
Between the museum and the school lies the one-acre Lillie and Hugh
Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, created by Isamu Noguchi. It features
works by such masters as Giacometti, Matisse, and Rodin.
Bayou Bend (1 Westcott), the fully-restored mansion of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg, is the decorative arts wing of MFAHouston. It contains one of the nation's finest collections of American furniture, paintings, glass, and textiles from 1620 to 1870.
The Contemporary Arts Museum, near the MFA, is a noncollecting museum for visual arts of the present and recent past. It documents new directions in art through ever-changing exhibitions and publications.
The Menil Collection (1515 Sul Ross) features a highly-acclaimed privately-assembled collection of some 10,000 art objects concentrated in antiquities, medieval and Byzantine art, tribal art, and 20th-century paintings and sculpture. Its permanent Cy Twombly Gallery showcases 35 works of that contemporary artist. Rothko Chapel displays oils by Mark Rothko and "The Broken Obelisk," a Barnett Newman sculpture.
Farish Gallery and Sewall Art Gallery, both on the Rice campus, and the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston feature touring and locally curated exhibits. A wide range of commercial art galleries further enhances the depth and diversity of the region's art scene.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science, Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham IMAX Theatre, and Cockrell Butterfly Center occupy a single facility in Hermann Park. The Museum has exhibit halls devoted to space science, energy, petroleum science/technology, chemistry, medicine, communications, gems and minerals, Texas coastal habitats, archaeology, paleontology (including Quetzalcoatlus northropis, the largest flying creature ever discovered), entomology, malacology, Africa, and the American Indian. Its collection of gems and minerals, one of the world's best, is of major scientific importance and great aesthetic appeal.
In Sam Houston Park, the Harris County Heritage Society has restored and furnished six early Houston homes (a seventh is in progress) and a church, and has reconstructed the historic Long Row Building with its general store, barbershop, and first Houston lending library. The Society's adjacent Museum of Texas History chronicles Texas history since 1519.
The San Jacinto Museum of History, adjacent to the Battleship Texas at San Jacinto State Park, offers a wealth of historical Texas artifacts and documents.
Space Center Houston, the state-of-the-art, $70-million, Disney-designed visitors center for Johnson Space Center, opened in 1992. It features retired Apollo, Mercury, and Gemini spacecraft, up-to-the-minute briefings by active duty astronauts and NASA scientists and engineers, hands-on simulators, live demonstrations, and giant-screen films with spectacular NASA footage. A tram tour visits JSC's Mission Control (when no missions are in orbit), the Weightless Environment Training Facility, and other JSC facilities.
American Funeral Service Museum--a $1-million collection of funeral paraphernalia (415 Barren Springs)
Children's Museum of Houston--hands-on activities for children (1500 Binz)
Holocaust Education Center and Memorial Museum of Houston (2425 Fountainview; 1996 opening scheduled)
Houston Center for Photography (1441 W. Alabama)
Houston Fire Museum (2403 Milam)
Houston Police Museum (HPD Academy, 17000 Aldine-Westfield Rd.)
Museum of Health & Medical Science--dynamic, interactive health education (1515 Hermann Dr.; opens March 1996)
Museum of Printing History (1324 West Clay)
Texas Golf Hall of Fame Museum in The Woodlands
Sports: Houston's professional teams include: Astros (National Baseball League, Astrodome); Oilers (American Conference, National Football League, Astrodome); Rockets (National Basketball Assn. '94 and '95 champions, The Summit); Aeros (International Hockey League, The Summit); Hotshots (Continental Indoor Soccer League, The Summit).
Houston collegiate teams compete in most major sports--Rice and the University of Houston in the Southwest Conference, Texas Southern in the Southwest Athletic Conference, and Houston Baptist in the Trans America Athletic Conference.
The Houston PMSA has over 100 golf courses, including Tour 18, a public course that replicates 18 of the nation's most famous golf holes.
Racing facilities include Sam Houston Race Park (Class 1 thoroughbred/quarter horse racing), opened Apr. 1994, and Gulf Greyhound Park, opened Nov. 1992.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the world's largest livestock show and richest regular-season rodeo, is presented annually in February. Begun in 1932, this charitable event moved to the Astrodome complex in 1966. In 1995, it drew a record general attendance of 1,810,007, up 12% from 1994, and a record rodeo attendance of 1,068,447, up 8%. The 1995 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo set six world auction sales records, including $500,000 for the Grand Champion Steer. Livestock auction sales totaled $7,516,206. 501 rodeo contestants competed for shares in $634,757 in prize money. The 1995 show attracted 2,047 foreign visitors--many of them livestock buyers--from 63 countries. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is providing more than $8 million in educational support in 1995 through scholarships, junior show premiums, graduate assistantships, endowments to Texas colleges and universities, research, and other educational programs. It provided more than $4.1 million during the 1994-1995 academic year in college scholarships for more than 1,000 Texans, and supports more than 30 research projects in such areas as cardiovascular disease and dietary deficiencies.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo built and paid for the Astrohall, the Astroarena, and a warehouse facility at the Astrodomain complex, all of which it donated to Harris County. Estimated replacement cost of these buildings exceeds $115 million.
Parks: Houston's 307 municipal parks and 122 open spaces encompass 20,362 land acres and 12,236 water-covered acres and include:
Seven 18-hole golf courses
45 swimming pools (6 Olympic-sized)
Three tennis centers (60 total courts)
150 more neighborhood tennis courts
197 baseball/softball fields
86 football/soccer/rugby fields
144 practice backstops
66 covered, 96 open air basketball courts
38.4 miles of nature or hike and bike trails
54 community recreation centers
Major City of Houston parks:
Cullen Park, at 10,534 acres one of the largest U.S. municipal parks--Alkek Velodrome (one of 19 in the U.S.), 7 game fields, hike and bike trails, picnic areas
Hermann Park--Houston Zoological Gardens (Wortham World of Primates, Children's Zoo, Brown Education Center), Houston Garden Center, Museum of Natural History (IMAX Theatre, planetarium), Miller Outdoor Theatre (free musicals and concerts), Japanese Garden, 18-hole golf course, 2 miniature golf courses, paddle boats, hike and bike trail
Memorial Park--1,431 acres; Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, golf course, tennis center, driving range, three-mile jogging trail, playing fields
Eisenhower Park, on the San Jacinto River below Lake Houston Dam--fishing (stocked with rainbow trout)
Keith-Weiss Park, south of IAH--tennis courts, five game fields, picnic areas; a large portion to be retained in natural state
Herman Brown Park--tennis courts, basketball, eight playing fields,
Major downtown parks:
Sam Houston Park, the City's first, acquired in 1899 (tours of seven restored historical buildings; Texas Museum, Harris County Heritage Society)
Buffalo Bayou Park--covers 120 acres along Buffalo Bayou west of downtown
Harris County maintains 105 parks containing 19,595 acres and offering 28 miles of hike and bike trails. Since 1980, Harris County has contributed over $21 million for acquisition and development of county parks. The County is working to make all parks accessible to the handicapped. Major parks:
Armand Bayou Park & Nature Center--wilderness preserve, nature trails, scenic boat tours on Armand Bayou, working turn-of-the-century farm
Clear Lake Park--boating, fishing
Cullen-Barker Park--shooting range, model aircraft field, picnic facilities, special playground for the handicapped
Alexander Deussen Park--boating, fishing, overnight camping facilities on Lake Houston
Mercer Arboretum & Botanical Garden--seasonal and specialized gardens, wilderness preserve, guided tours
Bear Creek Park--golf, aviary, picnic facilities in Addicks Reservoir lands
Bay Area Park--canoeing, boat tours, marsh walkway
Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center--especially designed to accommodate the handicapped; nature trails and boardwalks through cypress swamps
Tom Bass Regional Park--playground designed for the handicapped, barbecue pavilion, basketball facilities, tennis courts, fishing piers
Cypress Creek Parks--29 sites with 2,700 acres along Spring and Cypress Creeks; an innovative use of flood plain land
Three other Harris County cities--Pasadena, Baytown, Bellaire--offer park systems with 1,290 acres in 95 parks, 12 swimming pools, 12 recreation buildings, and many other facilities.
San Jacinto State Park, three miles east of Pasadena, features
the San Jacinto Monument--taller than the Washington Monument--and an historical
museum adjacent to the Battleship Texas.
Back to the Houston
Diane C. Moser
Referral & Relocation Certified