A sprawl of concrete and superhighway? Intense summer heat? Yeah, Houston has some of that. But the nation’s fourth-largest city (5 million in the metro area) is also a multicultural, zoning-free hodgepodge where in one strip mall there might be a Vietnamese grocery, a Venezuelan empanada stand and a big-beef meat market. Eat at great ethnic restaurants or shop in arts-and-antique neighborhoods. See world-class paintings and funky folk car parades. Then just down the road a bit you can walk the beaches of Galveston island and visit the astronauts at Space Center Houston. The interest’s here; you just have to look a little.
Locally produced oil and gas products exported from the Houston Ship Channel have long fueled the city. In 1958, President Lyndon Johnson (a Texan) located the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) here. Houston absorbed approximately 250,000 new residents when Hurricane Katrina pummeled neighboring Louisiana in 2005. A month later Hurricane Rita missed Houston, but spooked millions into evacuating in what may be have been the world’s largest traffic jam.
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