Culture of Houston
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2009)|
Houston is a multicultural city with a thriving international community supported by the third largest concentration of consular offices in the United States, representing 86 nations.  Officially, Houston is nicknamed the "Space City" as it is home to NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, where Mission Control Center is located. "Houston" was the first word spoken on the moon. Many locals refer to Houston as "Bayou City." Other nicknames include "H-Town", "Clutch City", and "Magnolia City".
About 90 languages are regularly spoken in the Houston area. Some neighborhoods with high populations of Vietnamese and Chinese residents have Chinese and Vietnamese street signs in addition to English ones. Houston has two Chinatowns—the original located in East Downtown and the other along Bellaire Boulevard in the southwest area of the city. The city also has a Little Saigon in Midtown and Vietnamese businesses located in the southwest Houston Chinatown.
There are many popular events held in the city celebrating cultures of Houstonians. The largest is the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo that is held over 20 days from late February through early March. The event begins with trail rides that originate from several points throughout the state, all of which convene at Reliant Park for a barbecue cook-off. The rodeo includes typical rodeo events, as well as concert performances from major artists and carnival rides. Another large celebration is the annual Gay Pride Parade held at the end of June to commemorate the struggle for gay liberation, gay rights, gay pride, and the Stonewall riots of the late 1960s in New York City. The event is held along Westheimer Road within Neartown—home to many gay establishments, such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and coffeehouses. Other events held annually include the Houston Greek Festival and Houston International Festival.
Arts and theatre
Houston's Theater District is ranked second in the country (behind New York City) in the number of theatre seats in a concentrated downtown area with 12,948 seats for live performances and 1,480 movie seats. The Theater District is located in the heart of downtown and is home to nine of Houston's performing arts organizations and six performance halls. Houston is one of only five cities in the United States with permanent professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines: opera (Houston Grand Opera), ballet (Houston Ballet), music (Houston Symphony Orchestra), and theatre (Alley Theatre). The city has visual and performing arts organizations, along with a dose of homegrown folk art such as Art Cars. Houston is widely recognized as an important city for contemporary visual arts. The city is a stop for touring companies from Broadway, concerts, shows, and exhibitions for a variety of interests, ranging from the nation's largest quilting show to auto, boat, home, and gun shows.
Adjacent to the Texas Medical Center is the Museum District, which is home to most of the city's major museums: the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Cullen Sculpture Garden, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Holocaust Museum Houston, the Children's Museum of Houston, Lawndale Art Center, the Houston Zoo, the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science, and The Menil Collection. Approximately 4 million people visit institutions in the Museum District every year.
Houston is also home to several multicultural arts organizations including: MECA (Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts), Kuumba House Dance Theatre, and Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say.
Tourism and recreation
Space Center Houston is the official visitors’ center of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Space Center Houston includes many interactive exhibits—including moon rocks and a shuttle simulator—in addition to special presentations that tell the story of NASA's manned space flight program.
The Theater District, a 17-block area in the heart of downtown Houston, is home to Bayou Place Entertainment Complex, restaurants, movies, plazas, and parks. Bayou Place is a large multilevel building that is home to restaurants, bars, live music, billiards, theatres, and art house films. The Houston Verizon Wireless Theatre stages a variety of live concerts and the Angelika Theatre presents the latest in art, foreign, and independent films.
Houston is home to many parks including Hermann Park, which houses the Houston Zoo and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and Memorial Park. What was once the Houston Civic Center was replaced by the George R. Brown Convention Center, one of the nation's largest; and the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, home of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. The Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall have been replaced by the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
Other tourist attractions include the Galleria, Texas' largest shopping mall located in the Uptown District; Old Market Square; Tranquility Park; and Sam Houston Historical Park, which contains restored homes (built between 1824 and 1868) and reconstructed buildings. The San Jacinto Battlefield is in the nearby city of Deer Park.
Houston hosted Super Bowl VIII in 1974 and Super Bowl XXXVIII 30 years later in 2004, the 1989 NBA All-Star Game, the 1981, 1986, 1994 and 1995 NBA Finals (The hometown Houston Rockets winning the latter 2), 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, 2005 World Series, the 2005 Big 12 Conference championship game, the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, and the Tennis Masters Cup in 2003 and 2004, and the annual Shell Houston Open. The city hosts the NCAA College Baseball Minute Maid Classic every February. Houston formerly hosted the NCAA football's Houston Bowl in December, but now hosts the Texas Bowl in January.
Houston has a franchise in nearly every major professional sports league including: Houston Dynamo (MLS), Houston Astros (MLB), Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Comets (Now Defunct)(WNBA), Houston Aeros (AHL), and Houston Texans (NFL).
In early 2006, the Champ Car auto racing series returned to Houston for a yearly race, held on the streets of the Reliant Park complex. The city had previously been home to a Champ Car round from 1998 to 2001.
Minute Maid Park (home of the Astros) and Toyota Center (home of the Rockets, Comets, and Aeros) are located downtown. The city has the first domed stadium in the United States, the Astrodome, and also holds the NFL's first retractable roof stadium—Reliant Stadium. Other sports facilities in Houston are Hofheinz Pavilion, Reliant Astrodome, Robertson Stadium, and Rice Stadium. The now infrequently used Reliant Astrodome hosted World Wrestling Entertainment's WrestleMania X-Seven on April 1, 2001.
Houston has not had very much success when it comes to its sports teams, at least not lately. Its only successful team was the Houston Rockets, who won 2 consecutive championships from 1994-95. The Houston Oilers won 2 back-to-back AFL championships in 1960 and 1961, but never competed in the Super Bowl since the NFL-AFL merger. The Astros have one World Series appearance in 2005.
The Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area is served by a public television station and two public radio stations. KUHT (HoustonPBS) is a PBS member station and the first public television station in the United States. Houston Public Radio is listener-supported radio with two NPR member stations: KUHF (KUHF News) and KUHA (Classical 91.7). KUHF is news/talk radio and KUHA is a classical music station. The University of Houston System owns and holds broadcasting licenses to KUHT, KUHF, and KUHA. The stations broadcast from the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting, located on the campus of the University of Houston.
Houston is served by the Houston Chronicle, its only major daily newspaper with wide distribution. The Hearst Corporation, which owns and operates The Houston Chronicle, bought the assets of the Houston Post—its long-time rival and main competition—when it ceased operations in 1995. The only other major publication to serve the city is the Houston Press, a free alternative weekly with a circulation of more than 300,000 readers.
KTRK's Marvin Zindler was the most recognized television journalist in Houston and Texas. His week-long expose on the Chicken Ranch brothel became the basis for the Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and his consumer and health reports on local restaurants have made the phrase "slime in the ice machine" immediately recognizable to any local.
KHOU-TV's investigative team, "The 11 News Defenders", began an investigation into the failure of Firestone Wilderness AT tires on several vehicles (including the Ford Explorer). These reports garnered the station and the team of Anna Werner, investigative producer David Raziq, and investigative photojournalist/editor Chris Henao several national awards, including the Edward R. Murrow, George Foster Peabody, and Columbia University DuPont Award. Among the journalists who have worked for KHOU, the best known are former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, Linda Ellerbee, and Jessica Savitch.
KXLN Houston's Spanish language Univision and its "En Su Defensa" (in your defense) segments have garnered regional acclaim, and "En Su Defensa" month was proclaimed by Mayor Bill White in 2004. Led by Investigative reporter Patricio Espinoza, the segment generated strong community following and historic ratings along with several Emmy awards through 2005.
Houston Not-For-Profit News is a subsidiary of World Internet News Cooperative. It is one of Houston's few non-profit news sources which receives no money from advertising. It totes itself as being unbiased with the ability to be more objective than the commercial news media due to the fact that it is not tied to advertisers. Stories covered by the cooperative range from consumer rights, to corporate welfare, to working-class issues. Their work has also been nominated for a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial journalism award.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2010)|
Automobiles of all kinds have had enormous influence on Houston culture, largely a result of the urban sprawl and sparse public transportation that has followed the dismantling of the city's former trolley system. Many of the Houston's business districts, such as Uptown and Greenspoint began their development as edge cities. Furthermore, many notable neighborhoods began as streetcar suburbs, including the Heights and Sharpstown.
Car culture is often celebrated by residents, especially during the annual Art Car Parade where many uniquely modified cars are paraded through the Heights neighborhood. Another car culture celebrated in Houston is the slab culture, usually found in Houston's inner city neighborhoods (including former Houston-area suburban communities, e.g., South Park, Sunnyside, Acres Homes, and enclaves in Missouri City). The cars used for slabs are usually restored and/or customized full-size GM vehicles (Cadillac Fleetwood, Eldorado, Buick, or a restored Oldsmobile, e.g., Cutlass, Delta 88). The slab culture is associated with Houston hip-hop musicians.
In recent years Houston's love affair with the car has cooled somewhat, with car usage falling by 15.2% since 1995 and heavy investment in public transport, including a light rail system opened in 2004, effectively signalling the return of the streetcar.
Ben Westhoff, author of Dirty South: Outkast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers who Reinvented Hip-Hop, said that Houston is geographically isolated from other cities that have rap music traditions, so Houston rap music has its own slang and sound which does not "translate" in other regions. Many DJs like to severely slow down music and repeat lines several times, a style known as "screwed and chopped." Westhoff says that the style, which slurs the speeches of the rappers, gives the music an "extraterrestrial quality."
By 2005 USA Today referred to Houston as "the dining-out capital of the nation." Houstonians ate out at restaurants more often than residents of other American cities, and Houston restaurants have the second lowest average prices of restaurants of major cities. Tex-Mex cuisine is very popular in Houston. Many Mexican cuisine restaurants in Houston have aspects that originate from Texas culture.
Corporate involvement in culture
Members of the oil and gas industry are representatives of most of the boards of Houston's arts bodies, charities, and museums. The energy companies spent funds in order to make Houston a more attractive community for their employees to live in.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2011)|
Lakewood Church is located in Houston.
In 1911 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston brought the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a series of priests intended to minister to the Mexican population of Houston. In 1972 the church leaders and lay Hispanics in Houston participated in the Encuentro Hispano de Pastoral ("Pastoral Congress for the Spanish-speaking"). Robert R. Treviño, author of The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston, said that the event "stands as a watershed in the religious history of Mexican American Catholics in Houston". Treviño also said that Mexican-American Catholics "competed for cultural space not only with the Anglo majority, which included various groups of white Catholics, but also with a large black population and a Mexican protestant presence as well."
While the majority of the city's population is Christian, Houston is also home to a significant number of Muslim Americans. Of the religious madrassas in the area, as of 2011, the Madrasah Islamia was the first established and the largest.
- Houston Facts. City of Houston
- Rohleder, Anna. "Finest Places Houston." Forbes. 2006. Retrieved on October 17, 2012.
- About Houston Theater District. Houston Theater District
- Houston: Have a Blast. WorldWeb.com Travel Guide
- Art Car Museum - Houston, TX, 77007 - Citysearch
- WWE: TV Shows > WrestleMania XXIV > History > WrestleMania XVII
- Slabs are hip-hop on wheels, Houston Chronicle, January 7, 2013
- Slabs are hip-hop on wheels, Houston Chronicle, January 7, 2013
- Westhoff, Ben. Dirty South: Outkast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers who Reinvented Hip-Hop. Chicago Review Press, 2011. 61.
- Gattis, Tory. "Why does Houston have such a great restaurant scene?" Houston Chronicle (originally posted in the "Houston Strategies" blog). Thursday, June 02, 2005. Re-posted in the Houston Chronicle on July 9, 2010. Retrieved on July 11, 2010.
- Walsh, Robb. "The Authenticity Myth." Houston Press. October 26, 2000. Retrieved on November 16, 2009.
- McNulty, Sheila. "Houston: where energy is king." Financial Times. March 25, 2010. Retrieved on March 31, 2010.
- "Houston has largest Methodist church." Associated Press at The Victoria Advocate. Saturday March 10, 2001. 4D. Retrieved from Google News (25 of 27) on October 16, 2012.
- Treviño, Robert R. The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston. UNC Press Books, February 27, 2006. 9. Retrieved from Google Books on November 22, 2011. ISBN 0-8078-5667-3, ISBN 978-0-8078-5667-3.
- Treviño, Robert R. The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston. UNC Press Books, February 27, 2006. 10. Retrieved from Google Books on November 22, 2011. ISBN 0-8078-5667-3, ISBN 978-0-8078-5667-3.
- Ravat, Safiya. "Muslim-American youth carry on tradition of Islamic study." Houston Chronicle. June 2, 2011. Retrieved on June 5, 2011.
- The Italian Cultural and Community Center in Houston
- Opera in the Heights
- Asian Focus - Houston Chronicle
- Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
- Raindrop Turkish House, Houston
- Dominic Walsh Dance Theater