City population: 2.1 million; it is the fourth most-populated city in the U.S.

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown MSA population: 5.6 million, making it the sixth most-populated metro region in the U.S.

Demographics: 43 percent non-Hispanic white; 33 percent Hispanic or Latino (of any race); 16 percent African-American; 6 percent Asian; 2 percent other.

Unemployment rate: 4.1 percent

Number of Fortune 500 companies in Houston: 26

Median house price: $170,900

Median family income: $50,250

Employment status: Houston gained the most jobs of all U.S. metro areas (80,100) and posted the highest job growth rate (3.2 percent) from March 2007 to March 2008.

Notable Houstonians: George and Barbara Bush; George Foreman; heart surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley; Olympian Mary Lou Retton; Grammy winner Oscar de la Rosa; “Project Runway” winner Chloe Dao.

– Houston has the most affordable housing of the 10 most-populated metropolitan areas and second-lowest cost of living among major American cities. 

– The 25-mile-long Port of Houston complex is the busiest port in the U.S. in terms of foreign tonnage, second-busiest in overall tonnage, and 10th busiest in the world. 

– Houston is home to more than 3,600 energy-related businesses employing 87,900 workers. Oil and gas exploration, production and related services account for 20.8 percent of Houston’s $308.7 billion gross area product.

– Houstonians dine out 4.2 times a week, the most of any major metropolitan market.

– Sam who? Houston was founded in August 1836 by two New York real estate developers determined to build a commercial center in the four-month-old Republic of Texas. They named the area after Sam Houston, who months before had led 500 volunteers to a decisive victory over the much larger Mexican army.

– The Houston metro area covers 8,778 square miles, making it as large as the nations of Israel and El Salvador, larger than the state of New Jersey and the single biggest region in the U.S.

This story first appeared in the May 15, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Sources: Handbook of Texas Online, housingtracker.net, Greater Houston Partnership, U.S. Census, Texas Workforce Commission, CNNMoney.com, Zagat Survey, Wcities.com, About.com

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