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Houston is the fourth largest city proper in the United States and the largest in Texas (though the Metroplex is larger overall). Once upon a time, it was even the capital of the Republic of Texas, but that didn't last long. It has many nicknames, amongst them "the Bayou City", as the bayous are a major feature of the city, and it was founded at what was allegedly the head of navigation of Buffalo Bayou, "Space City" (this one actually appeared on police cars once, due to the fact that NASA's Johnson Space Center is located in the city near Clear Lake), and "Magnolia City" (almost exclusively in pre-World War I documents). It's also famous for its oil tycoons and unforgiving climate.

Interestingly, it also has the largest collection of skyscrapers in Texas, including the tallest building outside a central business district, the Williams Tower. The Astrodome is also obviously here, though that may not remain so for long: the place has seen better days and is dwarfed by the neighboring Reliant Stadium.

Traditionally, its sports teams have been hapless, though its professional soccer team, the Houston Dynamo club, has apparently not gotten that memo, winning two MLS championships in its first two years of the franchise and only missing the MLS playoffs once. The Astros did host the first two World Series games played in Texas (unsurprisingly, they lost), the Rockets actually managed a couple of championships back in the 1990's, and Comets (WNBA, now sadly defunct) were their league's first dynasty. The Texans are the other NFL team from the state, though they have made improvements. It may be unwise to mention that Houston ever had another NFL team or what happened to them (for those wondering, here's a hint: Houston native Vincent Young used to play for them). From the way people drive, one might assume that street racing is a popular participator sport amongst the populace. The reality is that in Houston proper, an officer issuing a speeding ticket is likely to get run over by another speeder, and as such, the local police don't even bother anymore. This is not true in the suburbs, though, and some of them are speed traps out of nightmares.

Regrettably, despite the size, there's no highly developed light rail system (a 2004 line runs through downtown and parts south, but a major expansion of the system is getting continual delays) and the only theme park, AstroWorld, was closed in 2005 after years of poor maintenance by Six Flags and declining attendance.

That said, the city does have resident companies in each of the performing arts, and has some interesting takes on art: it's pretty much the art car capital of at least America. Also, the city is fairly well known for its rodeo, the largest such event in the world. Those who know the city's history, though, find this amusing: Houston was never a cow town--it traded in cotton before Spindletop. After Spindletop, oil was its stock in trade and has pretty much remained so ever since, despite efforts to branch out into other sectors such as banking (the banks got bought out), aerospace (there's not as much money here as you'd think), and medicine (actually, those efforts have seen some moderate success).

When New Orleans sank beneath the waves, Houston provided shelter for the bulk of the refugees. A number of them stayed.

The city also has a notable music scene, at least amongst rap and hip hop fans.

Media-wise, there's little set in Houston, but it does have the nation's oldest public television station, KUHT.

Oh, and it's the place to call when you want to inform Mission Control that you have a problem.


Media either set or filmed in Greater Houston

(Famous) People Originally From Houston

Musicians and Bands From Houston


The city provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: METRO Light Rail, due to the number of traffic accidents it caused because of unclear signals, poor planning, and unavailability outside of the hospital and museum districts. The incident which made it this trope involved an ambulance responding to a truck being hit by the Light Rail, and while transporting the injured driver to the nearest hospital being hit by a Light Rail train itself.
    • The continual delays on construction caused by budget problems keep it from reaching its potential.
  • Big Fat Future: More like Big Fat Present: the city was once considered America's fattest city. There's a reason for this.
    • Consider this: The vast majority of Texans were either in agriculture or some profession which required a high amount of manual labor. In these professions a high caloric intake is necessary for a healthy life as the body actually burns it off. Since the local economic crash of the eighties and the subsequent economic diversification policies promoted by the state government, the majority of Texans now work in research, manufacturing and related industries, computer science or the service industry. Even farming has been industrialized, with machines doing most of work instead of laborers/animals. Cultural attitudes + accelerated industrialization + accelerated urbanization + faster pace environment since said industrialization and the ease of purchasing fast food = weight problems in local populace.
      • Interestingly, the reason I was going for is that there are more restaurants per capita in Houston than any other city in the country (yeah, I did a double take when I saw that for the first time) and eating out is insanely cheap. Portion sizes are also incredibly large.
      • Around here you eat out with friends, and business deals often involve at least one meal. There's also a bit more variety, too. I've seen suburbs were they have Mongolian, Vietnamese, Russian and Indian food as well as generic American, Mexican and Chinese places.
  • Big Fancy House: Lots of them, and they're still occupied.
  • Blatant Lies: Pretty much everything the Allen brothers claimed in their original sales pitch to both settlers and the government of the Republic of Texas was demonstrably false.
  • Boom Town: Became this after oil and NASA.
  • Capital City: To the Greater Houston Metropolitian Area, an actual geographic region that officially encompasses 10 counties, 121 cities, 10,062 square miles of land and 5.7 million souls. Also for majority of South East Texas that it's the closest 'big' city to.
  • The Church: And boy howdy, what a church. Lakewood Baptist is one of the most well-known and easily-recognizeable churches in the entire city. As though it's previous stadium-seating campus (complete with in-house televising of its Sunday sermons on local channel 14!) weren't large enough, the church procured an actual stadium - the former home of the NBA team Houston Rockets and transformed it into their new house of worship. YMMV as to whether Lakewood Baptist, along with the other so-called "megachurches" throughout the area, qualify as morally upstanding or ungodly decadent institutions.
  • Company Town: Nearby Sugar Land was once one of these, entirely owned and operated by the Imperial Sugar Company.
  • Cool Spaceship: There was once a Saturn V rocket in full view of drivers on I-45 by NASA. It's since had a shelter built around it, as exposure damaged it.
    • The Space City Houston amusement park is built around this trope.
  • Cut and Paste Suburb: Sugar Land, The Woodlands, Kingswood, Katy, the newer parts of Pearland, Sienna Plantation, Friendswood, Cypress, Klein, the list goes on and on.
  • Dangerous Workplace: Particularly in Pasadena and Texas City, known for their refineries and curious odors.
  • Drives Like Crazy: It is joked that the Sam Houston Toll Road, a controlled access highway that loops around the city about five miles out from the city's proper loop, Interstate 610, is Houstonians' participatory version of NASCAR. Posted speed limits are about 65 mph, but you will be run off the road if you're doing less than 80.
    • This troper (who lives in WI but has family in Houston) is pretty sure that covers everyone; no one drives less an 80 on any freeway. I've seen people drive off the freeways over the grass to the access roads simply to avoid backups. Drives Like Crazy seems to be the rule, not the exception.
    • Indeed, this troper and his former boss, both Houston natives who had recently moved to San Antonio (temporarily in this one's case) once discussed this and reached the conclusion that it's not so much a speed limit as a speed challenge on Houston roads.
    • Red means stop. Green means go. Yellow means go faster.
  • Fan Nickname: Well, not so much fan nickname, but some areas have picked up names, like Greenspoint "Gunspoint", The Woodlands "The Hoodlands", the list goes on.
    • "Space City", "Bayou City", "H-town", "the Big Heart" (post-Hurricane Katrina), Screwston (after the "Chopped and Screwed" style of rap music created by slowing down tempo).
  • Fandom Rivalry: Pick a sport, ANY sport with Dallas. Hell, just about ANYTHING with Dallas in general.
    • Tennessee Titans. The name Bud Adams will garner nothing but absolute contempt here.
    • The I-10 Shootout: Rockets vs. the San Antonio Spurs.
      • Together with the Dallas Mavericks, the three teams form "the Texas Triangle", a three-game road trip that is known to be the most brutal in sports.
    • The Bayou Bucket: University of Houston Cougars vs. Rice University Owls
    • Non-sports example: Houston's local US Federal Reserve district is headquartered in Dallas. Just imagine the shitstorm when they built a branch for the "Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas" just outside of downtown.
      • For the record, they quickly changed the name to something less evocative of Dallas.
  • Flyover Country: Declared such when New York got a retired space shuttle instead of Houston, despite being home to NASA. Why? Houston gets no tourists.
    • This has seriously cheesed many locals (of whom a number are former NASA employees and contractors that specifically worked on the Shuttle program) to the point that petitions are still on-going to bring an orbiter, any orbiter, to the Space City.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: There are two.
  • Gayborhood: Montrose, parts of Westbury and Near Westheimer
  • Heat Wave: We call it August.
    • There are said to be three seasons to Houston: Not Summer, Summer, and August.
      • This troper's often heard the above, but with a fourth merely listed as Christmas.
  • Hospital Paradiso: Played straight to varying degrees with the Texas Medical Center.
  • In Name Only: Both Sugar Land and Katy are Cut And Paste Suburbs, but each have history. Sugar Land was the Imperial Sugar company town (and it still maintains presence there, check the sugar labels at home), and Katy was named after the MKT railroad that went through town. The railroad in question was truncated in the late 1990s so there's only a spur there that doesn't get much traffic as it used to.
    • Not that any railroad sees much use in Houston these days. Try to ride Amtrak to the city and you'll spend half the journey aboard a bus.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Averted with Rice University, considered to be part of the South's version of the Ivy League.
  • NASA: "Houston, we have a problem."
  • Mega Corp: Until quite recently, at least, Haliburton was headquarted in the city - and still has a massive facility hidden behind a treeline alongside the Beltway, just south of Bush International Airport. There's even a series of plaques outside Minute Maid Park (where the Astros baseball team plays) featuring the history of KBR and Haliburton, complete with a heavily-defaced image of Dick Cheney.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "West Mount Houston" is the name of a road. There's nothing even resembling a hill in Houston, much less a mountain. The city doesn't have wards, but don't tell that to residents of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Wards (which do have their basis in the old boundaries of the city's wards). Cut 'n' Shoot is the name of a suburb (yeah, really). Missouri City is nowhere near Missouri, and its residents didn't come from there, either. The same can be said for Iowa Colony (nowhere near Iowa) and Cleveland (granted, further north, but still nowhere near Ohio). There are no pears in Pearland (except for those at the Kroger's). There's no sugar in Sugar Land anymore, either (though as mentioned before, the city was a company town, and that company did refine sugar there until 2003). South Park is nothing like South Park and is nowhere near Colorado (though it is to the south of MacGregor Park and does predate the television series). Clear Lake is neither clear nor a lake. And none of this is anywhere near Houston County, Texas. Neighborhood names are frequently idiosyncratic at best.
    • Though West University Place is indeed a place immediately to the west of Rice University. The Woodlands is also full of trees (such that it's difficult to spot signs or businesses, and those unfamiliar with the area are likely to get lost).
    • Toilet Humor: The town of Clute is jokingly said to be named for the sound of a worker's turd hitting the water after he decided that defecating off the side of the bridge they were building was faster and easier (and possibly cleaner) than actually finding a portapotty. The town was actually just named after yet another founding guy, but that doesn't get any reaction from the tourists.
  • New Old West: Invoked in city, tourist and election campaigns and Up to Eleven for Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, one of the world's biggest events. Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Plus concerts.
  • Noodle Incident: Cultural. Major hurricanes will be referenced by name without any other background.
    • Specific examples include:
      • "Allison" - Tropical Storm Allison (note the lack of the word 'Hurricane' here) dumped around 40 inches of rain throughout the Houston region, causing over 5 BILLION dollars of damage! The Texas Medical Center alone lost nearly $2 billion in lost/damaged equipment and samples. Allison is the only Atlantic storm name to be retired without ever being a hurricane.
      • "Ike" - The hurricane that left millions without power and empty store shelves for weeks, caused millions of dollars in damage, almost wiped out the Bolivar Peninsula and had Galveston Island see destruction unseen since 1900. In other words, the one that SHUT DOWN THE ENTIRE. FREAKING. TOWN.
      • "Rita" - Hurricane Rita (which was set for landfall mere months after the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) threw the city into panic and an attempted mass exodus ensued - attempted being the key word. The roads leading out of town were so congested that many cars ran out of gas simply waiting on the freeways to get out of town. The kicker? Rita veered north and missed Houston nearly completely. This incident was a large reason why so many people failed/declined to evacuate later when the above-mentioned Ike hit, reasoning that the outcome would have just been the same.
  • Weather Dissonance: High in the 80's during fall and mild and temperate in the winter. And those mosquitoes? They'll start showing in April.
    • More like, they become prevalent in March-April. We have them year-round to one degree or another.
    • And apart from that - high 80's? Try the upper 90's and low 100's, complete with overwhelming humidity. There's a reason corporate personnel that wind up transferred to Houston from calmer climes often receive generous relocation bonuses.
  • When It Rains, It Pours
  • Wretched Hive: A few examples.
    • Sugarland has an absurd crime rate and is heavily populated by gangs. It isn't a pleasant place to live.
      • 'Sugar Land? The safest city in Texas?
      • The same. City ratings are run on officially reported numbers, which may have no bearing on actual numerical incidence. The Southwest Cholos, a prolific Hispanic and Latin American gang, are well entrenched there. Police presence in the area is also markedly lower than in other locations near Houston. Even audible repeated gunfire is often considered Somebody Else's Problem.
      • Sharpstown is similar.
    • There is a neighborhood known as Lakewood somewhere in the Houston area; it is, quite literally, a wretched hive of scum and villainy. It's basically Roanapur but somehow smack dab in the middle of Houston.
    • The Woodlands; see Crap Saccharine World above.
    • The Fifth Ward was also essentially Roanapur in Houston during the 80s and 90s, although there has recently been a sharp decrease. While crime is nowhere where it once was, it maintains a reputation as one of the hardest places to do police work in the Houston area and many major chains will not establish shops there.
    • This Troper is surprised that nobody mentioned Little York.
    • Acres Homes, Independence Heights (not the good Heights), and Aldine. They all look like various versions of the third world. Acres Homes had no sewage systems until the 1970s.
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