Demographics of Houston

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A map of racial/ethnic distribution in the City of Houston and Greater Houston, 2010 U.S. Census - Each dot represents 25 people. Red dots represent White people, orange dots represent Hispanic people, blue dots represent Black people, green dots represent Asian people, and gray dots represent other people

This article on the demographics of Houston contains information on population characteristics of Houston, Texas, including households, family status, age, gender, income, race and ethnicity.

Population and households[edit]

City of Houston
Past censuses
Year Population Rank
1850 2,396  ?
1860 4,845  ?
1870 9,332  ?
1880 16,513  ?
1890 27,557  ?
1900 44,633 85
1910 78,800 68
1920 138,276 45
1930 292,352 26
1940 384,514 21
1950 596,163 14
1960 938,219 7
1970 1,232,802 6
1980 1,595,138 5
1990 1,630,553 4
2000 1,953,631 4
2010 2,099,451 4

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 1,953,631 people, 717,945 households, and 457,330 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,371.7 people per square mile (1,301.8/km²). There were 782,009 housing units at an average density of 1,349.6 per square mile (521.1/km²). If the city of Houston were a U.S. state, it would rank 36th in population—its 2.01 million residents in 2004 would place it behind Nevada and ahead of New Mexico.[3][4] In 2005, the Greater Houston area had a population over 5.7 million.[5]

There were 717,945 households out of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. Twenty-nine percent of all households were made up of individuals and 6.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.39. The median house price was $115,961 in 2009.[6]

In the city, the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 33.8% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 99.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,616, and the median income for a family was $40,443. Males had a median income of $32,084 versus $27,371 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,101. Nineteen percent of the population and 16% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 26.1% of those under the age of 18 and 14.3% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

As of 2002, 38,000 people living in Houston also live in Fort Bend County; this makes Houston the third-largest city within Fort Bend County, after Missouri City and Sugar Land.[7]

Race and ethnic origins[edit]

Houston is a diverse and international city, in part because of its many academic institutions and strong biomedical, energy, manufacturing and aerospace industries. According to the U.S. Census 2000, the racial makeup of the city was 49.3% White (including Hispanic or Latino), 25.3% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 5.3% Asian, 0.1&% Pacific Islander, 16.5% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. 37% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

The Daily Mail stated, in regards to the 2000 census data, that the racial and ethnic diversity in Houston and Greater Houston increases further from the center of the city.[8]


The Supermercado de Walmart store in the Spring Branch area is designed to accommodate Hispanic customers

The Hispanic population in Houston is increasing as more immigrants from Latin American countries look for work in the area. As of 2006 the city has the third-largest Hispanic population in the United States. As of the same year Karl Eschbach, a University of Texas Medical Branch demographer, said that the best possible estimate for the number of illegal aliens in the Houston area was about 400,000.[9] This influx of immigrants is partially responsible for Houston having a population younger than the national average.[citation needed]

As of 2011, the city is 44% Hispanic. As of 2011, of the city's U.S. citizens that are Hispanic, half are at voting age or older. Many Hispanics in Houston are not U.S. citizens, especially Hispanics living in Gulfton and Spring Branch. As a result, Hispanics have proportionally less representation in the municipal government than other ethnic groups. As of April 2011 two of the Houston City Council members are Hispanic, making up 18% of the council.[10]

History of Hispanics[edit]

In the early 1980s there were an estimated 80,000 illegal immigrants from Mexico, along with 300,000 native Hispanics.[11]

In 1985, Harris County had about 500,000 Hispanics. Eschbach said that, historically, Hispanics resided in specific neighborhoods of Houston, such as Denver Harbor, the Houston Heights, Magnolia Park, and the Northside. Between 1985 and 2005, the county's Hispanic population tripled, with Hispanics making up about 40% of the county's residents. In most communities inside and outside of Beltway 8, Hispanics became the predominant ethnic group. Some communities in Greater Houston which still do not have Hispanics as the predominant ethnic group include expensive non-Hispanic white communities including Memorial, Uptown, and West University Place; and historically African-American neighborhoods located south and northeast of Downtown Houston. Eschbach said, "But even these core black and white neighborhoods are experiencing Hispanic inroads. Today, Hispanics live everywhere."[12]

In 1990, there were 192,220 foreign-born Hispanic residents of Houston, with 132,596, or 69%, being Mexican immigrants. 39,289 were from Central America, 12,250 were from South America, and 8,085 were from the Caribbean.[13] The 1990 U.S. Census stated that, of the adult Houstonians who use bicycles to get to work, 32% are Hispanic. In 1997, Hispanic men tended to use bicycles, while, due to Latin American social customs, Hispanic women tended to walk, use public buses, or stay in their houses.[14]

In 1991, most Hispanic-owned businesses in Greater Houston involved industries with lower profits, such as construction, distribution, and services. The largest Hispanic-owned business was RioStar Corp., which operated Ninfa's. The business generating the highest number of sales was Solvents & Chemicals and Packaging Services of Pearland, Texas.[15]

In 1995 about 100,000 immigrants from Central America resided in Houston.[16] As of 2001, Hispanics were almost 38% of Houston's population and 8% of the city's voting electorate. As of the same year, most Hispanics and Latinos elected to public office in Houston are Mexican Americans who are members of the Democratic Party. Most Hispanics and Latinos in public office are politically liberal. Lori Rodriguez of the Houston Chronicle said in 2001 that "the top tier of Latino politicos mainly walk in lock step."[17] According to Richard Murray, a political scientist of the Center for Public Policy of Rice University, the Hispanic middle class of 2001 is larger than in previous years, and that Hispanic voters are present in every Houston voting precinct, including River Oaks and Tanglewood.[17]

In 2001 Orlando Sanchez made a bid to become Mayor of Houston. Lori Rodriguez of the Houston Chronicle said that this was the first well-funded and focused campaign for Houston mayor by a Hispanic candidate. Sanchez, a Cuban American, was a member of the Republican Party and politically conservative.[17]

Around 2002 some Hispanics in Houston became converts to Islam. They said that many people mistake them to be of Pakistani or Middle Eastern origin because they are Muslim.[18]

In a period before 2005, many Hispanic and Latino Americans had moved into traditional African American neighborhoods. Between 1990 and 2000, the numbers of Hispanic and Latino Americans in Kashmere Gardens, South Park, Sunnyside, and the Third Ward increased.[19] After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, many ethnic Hondurans moved to Houston.[20]

In 2007 most of the Hispanic and Latino political power was Mexican American, aligned with the Democratic Party, and concentrated in eastern Houston. Many of the most vocal Hispanic and Latino leaders who participated in immigration rallies were of Central American origin and originated from Southwest Houston.[21]

By 2011 the new city council District J was organized to reflect changing demographics and better represent Hispanics in Houston .[22] Though a large majority of Hispanics are from Mexico, there are increasingly significant number of Hispanics from El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Guatemala, Cuba, and Nicaragua.[citation needed]


When Houston was first settled, it had relatively few Mexican Americans.[23] Mexican migration into Houston increased with the expansion of the railroad system and the installation of Porfirio Díaz as the President of Mexico.[24] In the early 20th century the population further increased due to the 1910 Mexican Revolution, the use of enganchadores (labor agents), unemployment of Mexican-Americans in rural areas, a labor shortage during World War I. and the lack of immigration restrictions during the 1920s.[25]

In the book Ethnicity in the Sunbelt: A History of Mexican Americans in Houston, author Arnoldo De León described the relationship between Houston Mexican-Americans and newly arrived immigrants from Mexico. De León said that the traditional residents disliked how they believed that the new immigrants were giving the Mexican-American community in Houston a bad reputation but added that that, at the same time, the new immigrants kept the entire community in touch with the Mexican community.[26]

Central Americans[edit]

Houston office of TACA Airlines in Gulfton

In 1990, there were 39,289 immigrants from Central America in Houston.[13] At that time Southwest Houston developed infrastructure that catered to Central Americans.[27]


Since the mid-1990s changes in immigration from Cuba to the United States occurred due to the wet feet, dry feet policy and other policy changes; many Cubans immigrated through Mexico and people who did not have relatives in Miami settled in Houston; this caused an expansion of Houston's Cuban American community.[28] In 2013 Peter Stranges, the supervisor of refugee services of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said that often Cuban refugees arrive with no possessions other than immigration documents and the clothes they are wearing.[29]

From May 2012 to February 17, 2013, counselors at the refugee services office of the Galveston-Houston Catholic charities assisted 450 Cuban immigrants coming to the Houston area. Stranges said "We used to see two or three [Cubans] a week, and we've started seeing groups of 25 or 30 at a time and there were weeks when we have 60 border crossers coming to our offices. It's unprecedented. What's challenging is we don't want to turn down anyone who comes to our doors, so we've really scrambled to come up with a team to handle this surge."[29]

Asian Americans[edit]

Ranchester Police Storefront in Chinatown - The Chinese name is the Chinatown Police Station (中國城警察局 Zhōngguóchéng Jǐngchájú)

Houston also has large populations of immigrants from Asia. In addition, the city has the largest Vietnamese American population in Texas and third-largest in the United States.[30][31]

In 1910 30 Asians lived in Houston. 20 were Japanese and 10 were Chinese.[32] The Chinese were the only ethnic group with a significant settlement pattern in Houston until the 1970s. The lack of Asian immigration in Greater Houston was due to historical restrictions on Asian Americans. According to the 1980 U.S. census, 484 Chinese immigrants currently living in the area had lived there prior to 1950, of twelve Asian nationalities other than Chinese listed by the census for the Houston area, there were fewer than 100 immigrants who had settled before 1950. The 1965 Immigration Act, which had ended the restrictions, allowed an increase in Chinese Americans. Chinese residents. The number increased to 121 by the start of World War II. During the war, many Chinese from southern states migrated to take advantage of the economy and the population increased by more than twice its size.[33]

In the 1970s large-scale Asian immigration to Houston began. In 1980 48,000 Asians lived in Greater Houston. The amount of Asian immigration increased in the 1980s. In 1990 90,000 Asian immigrants lived in Harris County, and 48,000 Asians lived in Greater Houston.[34] As of 1990 the largest two Asian immigrant groups to Houston were the Chinese and the Vietnamese,[35] making up 46% of all Asian immigrants,[36] with 15,568 Vietnamese and 10,817 of Chinese from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The others were 7,044 Indians, 4,807 Filipinos, 3,249 Koreans, 2,419 Iranians, 2,411 Pakistanis, 1,950 Japanese, 1,489 Lebanese, and 1,146 Cambodians.[34]

In the 1990s the Asian immigration rates exceeded those of Hispanics. A U.S. Census survey conducted in 1997 stated that in Harris County and Fort Bend County, there were 202,685 Asians combined.[34] In 1998 Betty Ann Bowser, a reporter for PBS Newshour, said that many Southeast Asians came to Houston because "its hot humid climate reminded them of home."[37]

According to a 2002 survey of 500 Asian Americans in Harris County overseen by Stephen Klineberg, a professor at Rice University, Asian immigrants have substantially lower household income than Anglo residents and other immigrant groups, while they have higher levels of education.[38]

As of 2004 Houston had the fifth largest Indonesian population in the United States; this helps sustain the Consulate-General of Indonesia, Houston.[39]

In 2007 Houston had 16,000 Asian American businesses. A 2006 U.S. Census Bureau report stated that the annual revenues of those businesses totaled to $5.5 billion ($6434219214.26 in today's money).[40]


Vietnamese culture memorial at Baldwin Park in Midtown

In 2005 Greater Houston had 32,000 Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans, making it the second largest Vietnamese American community in the United States after that of San Jose, California.[41]


According to the American Community Survey, as of 2013, Greater Houston (Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area) has 72,320 residents of Chinese origin.[42]

South Asian Americans[edit]

Harris County had almost 36,000 Indian Americans as of the 2000 Census. The population had a $53,000 ($72581.84 in today's money) median yearly household income, $11,000 ($15064.15 in today's money) more than the county average. Almost 65% of the Indian Americans in Harris County had university and college degrees, compared to 18% of all of the Harris County population. Indian Americans in Fort Bend County, as of the same census, numbered at almost 13,000 and had a median annual income of $84,000 ($115035.36 in today's money). 62% of Indian Americans in Fort Bend County had university and college degrees, compared to 25% of all residents of Fort Bend County. An estimate from the 2009 American Community Survey stated that Harris County had 46,125 Indian Americans and that Fort Bend County had 25,104 Indian Americans. Katharine Shilcutt of the Houston Press said that the high education and income levels of Indian Americans caused businesses in the Mahatma Gandhi District, an Indian American ethnic enclave in Houston, to thrive.[43]

Half a dozen Indian American and Pakistani American newspapers are offered in stores and restaurants. The publications include India Herald and the Voice of Asia. The city has Masala Radio, a South Asian radio station. Indian singers often make tour stops in Houston. The Bollywood 6 movie theater on Texas State Highway 6 plays Indian films. The Houston area has Indian dance schools, including the Abhinaya School of Performing Arts and the Shri Natraj School of Dance.[44]

In 1971 the Bangladeshi American community in Greater Houston consisted of about 10 university students; 1971 was the year when Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan. As of 2011 the Bangladeshi American population of Greater Houston includes over 10,000 people. The Bangladesh Association bought 4 acres (1.6 ha) of land in southwestern unincorporated Harris County in 2001. By 2011 the association announced plans to develop the $2.5 million ($2620931.95 in today's money) facility Bangladeshi American Center, which will include auditoriums, classrooms, a playground, and an outdoor sports complex.[45]

Japanese Americans[edit]

A few Japanese, mostly working as laborers, were present in Houston by 1900,[46] and due to a lack of required English knowledge some Japanese in Houston opened small restaurants that catered to working-class people and served inexpensive American meals. In the 1890s a man named Tsunekichi Okasaki, who took the American name "Tom Brown", opened a Japanese restaurant in Downtown Houston, which employed many recently arrived Japanese Texans.[47]

In 1902 Sadatsuchi Uchida visited Houston in 1902. There, city leaders of Houston told him that they were interested in allowing Japanese people to operate and own rice colonies. In Japan Uchida talked about the information with friends and published literature in that told about the rice-growing opportunities.[47] Seito Saibara arrived in 1903 and, after meeting newspaper editors, bank presidents, and a Southern Pacific Railroad "colonization agent", he purchased land on a railroad near Webster, Texas, using Saibara's advice. Saibara convinced Japanese men to work for him, and paid bonuses for men who brought wives with them. Saibara was the first Japanese person who Uchida had convinced to establish a rice plantation in Texas. After the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, prominent Japanese people visited his colony and other Japanese attempted to start rice farming. Sen Katayama, a socialist, started a rice colony and failed, while Rihei Onishi, a journalist, succeeded with his venture with his cousin Toraichi.[48] Shinpei Mykawa, who had visited Texas in 1904 during a trip to the World's Fair, returned there in 1906. After he died in an accident that year, the Santa Fe railroad officials renamed the railroad stop in his community from Erin Station to "Mykawa" and Mykawa Road received its name from Mykawa.[49]

Okasaki later began a rice farming operation by 1907, established two more restaurants including one Japanese restaurant, and in 1911 established the Japan Art and Tea Company.[47] After World War I the price of rice fell.[48]

For a period Mykawa had a community of Japanese rice farmers. John M. Moore of the Houston Post said that it "seems to be" that salt water and waste oil introduced by a nearby oil field destroyed some rice field crops cultivated by the Japanese farmers, causing them to leave the area before World War II; Moore said that area residents erroneously believed that the farmers left as a result of World War II.[50] By 1951 the nearest Japanese farmers were located near Minnetex. During that year many of the Japanese farmers formerly in Mykawa resided in north Harris County.[50]

The Japanese Language Supplementary School of Houston (ヒューストン日本語補習校 Hyūsuton Nihongo Hoshūkō?), a supplementary Japanese school, is located in the city. Its classes are held at the Westchester Academy for International Studies.[51] The school, operated by the Japanese Educational Institute (JEI), is for children between ages 5 and 18 who are Japanese speakers.[52] Houston has one Japanese market, the Nippan Daido at Westheimer Road at Wilcrest,[53] in the Westchase area.[54] It is a branch of a chain based in White Plains, New York.[55]

Black Americans[edit]


African American Library at the Gregory School, located in the Fourth Ward in Houston

Historically Houston has always had a significant African-American population, as this area of the state had plantation agriculture dependent on slaves. In 1860 nearby Fort Bend County had a population with twice as many black slaves as white residents, and was one of six majority-black counties statewide. From the 1870s to the 1890s, black people were almost 40% of Houston's population. Before being effectively disfranchised by imposition of a poll tax in 1902, they were politically active and strongly supported the Republican Party. Between 1910 and 1970, the black population ranged from 21% to 32.7% and were virtually without political representation until after 1965 and passage of the federal Voting Rights Act, which enforced their constitutional rights of suffrage.[32]

In 1970, 90% of the black people in Houston lived in mostly African-American neighborhoods. With increasing diversity, by 1980 this decreased to 82%.[56]

African immigrants[edit]

A significant number of African immigrants have made the Houston area home.[57] As of 2003 Houston does not have as many African immigrants as Hispanic and Asian immigrants. The African immigrants in Houston have higher education levels than other immigrant groups and US-born whites. According to Stephen Klineberg, a sociology professor at Rice University, as of 2003, almost 35% of African immigrants have university degrees, and 28% of African immigrants have postgraduate degrees. In the Houston area, 28% of US-born Whites have university degrees, and 16% have postgraduate degrees.[58]

Charles W. Corey of the U.S. Department of State said that it has been estimated that Greater Houston has the largest Nigerian expatriate population in the United States. [57] As of 2003 Houston has 23,000 Nigerian Americans. Many Nigerian Americans choose Houston over other American destinations due to its warmer climate and the ease of establishing businesses.[58] Until Continental Airlines began nonstop flights to Lagos from George Bush Intercontinental Airport in November 2011, many Nigerians had to fly through Europe to travel between Texas and Nigeria.[59] Jenalia Moreno of the Houston Chronicle said that the Nigerian community and the energy companies in Houston have worked for a long time to get a flight to Nigeria from this city.[60]

European Americans[edit]

The historic St. Peter's United Church, founded by German settlers in Spring Branch

White Americans of northern and western European origin, particularly those of German and British origins, founded the City of Houston. Roberto R. Treviño, author of The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston, said that German Americans "historically played a central role in Houston, far outnumbering other whites such as the British, Irish, Canadians, French, Czechs, Poles, and Scandinavian groups who historically have comprised a smaller part of the city's ethnic mosaic."[32] German immigrants arrived in number following the revolutions of 1848 in the German states; they tended to oppose slavery and supported the Republican Party through the Reconstruction era. In 1910 members of White American groups who founded Houston numerically outnumbered other ethnic groups who had arrived in Houston.[32] German settlers had settled Spring Branch in the mid-1800s, a community that later become a part of Houston,[61]

By the 1970s, white flight occurred in Houston as wealthier people moved to new housing in suburbs and worked to avoid economic and racial integration of schools.[62] The city government used annexation as a strategy to mitigate White flight by forcefully annexing areas where White Americans moved.[63] Between the 1970-1971 and the 1971-1972 school years, enrollment at the Houston Independent School District decreased by 16,000. Of that number, 700 were African Americans.[62]

An analysis of the 2000 U.S. Census of the University of Houston Center for Public Policy by demographers Max Beauregard and Karl Eschbach said that white flight continued to occur in the 1990s. In the decade prior to the 2000 U.S. Census, White Americans left communities within Houston such as Alief, Aldine, Fondren Southwest, Gulfton, and Sharpstown. Other communities in Houston that lost large numbers of Whites by the 2000 census include Inwood Forest, Northline, Northside, and Spring Branch. Communities in other parts of Greater Houston that lost large numbers of Whites include Channelview, Cloverleaf, Galena Park, and Pasadena. Lori Rodriguez said, regarding the movement of white people in Greater Houston leading up to the year 2000, "Picture a stone dropped on the urban core and ripples of people spreading from within the Loop to the second-ring suburbs between the Loop and Beltway 8; and then beyond, to the outer-ring settlements and even unincorporated perimeter; Kingwood, The Woodlands, FM 1960."[64]

In the period between the 1990 and 2000 censuses, the largest growth of non-Hispanic White Americans within Greater Houston occurred in mostly-White communities such as Clear Lake City, Kingwood, northwest Harris County, the FM 1960 corridor, and The Woodlands.[64]

European residents and immigrants[edit]

Norway House, which houses the Consulate-General of Norway in Houston

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Houston received numerous immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe; as in other southern cities, Houston's European immigrants were "overflow" from cities in the eastern seaboard and the Midwestern United States, which received larger numbers of Eastern and Southern Europeans. In 1910 Houston had groups of Austro-Hungarians, Greeks, Italians, Russians, and Europeans from other groups. Those groups were smaller than Houston's group of Mexican-Americans. By 1930 Houston had 8,339 first and-second generation Eastern and Southern European people in Houston. This was almost half of the size of Houston's Mexican American population.[32]

Lasse Sigurd Seim, the consul general of the Norwegian Consulate General, Houston, described the estimated 5,000–6,000 Norwegians in the Houston area around 2008 as the largest concentration of ethnic Norwegians outside of Scandinavia. Jenalia Moreno of the Houston Chronicle said during that year that the influx of Norwegians into Greater Houston was "relatively new."[65] Seim said that in the late 1800s, of all of the ports in the United States, with the exception of Ellis Island in New York City, more Norwegians arrived at the port of Galveston than any other port. Many of the Norwegians who were processed through Galveston migrated to Minnesota and other areas in the Midwestern United States.[65]

In a 2004 Houston Chronicle article, Nikolai V. Sofinskiy, the first consul general of the Consulate-General of Russia in Houston, stated that the Houston area had around 40,000 Russian speakers.[66]

Annette Baird of the Houston Chronicle said that, as of December 2000, the number of British citizens in Greater Houston was estimated to be over 40,000. Grainne O'Reilly-Askew, the first headmistress of the British School of Houston, said that before the school was established, British companies encountered difficulty in convincing their executives to relocate to Greater Houston, since the area previously did not have a school using the British educational system.[67] John Major, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, attended the school's official opening.[68]


As of 1990 most Iranians/Persians in Houston are not religious.[69]

Refugee populations[edit]

Since the 1970s, when Houston began absorbing refugees after the Fall of Saigon, Houston became a magnet for refugee resettlement. About 1,600 refugees arrive at George Bush Intercontinental Airport per year. Refugees from Afghanistan, Bhutan, El Salvador, Cuba, Iraq, Myanmar, and Somalia have settled in Houston; Burundians from Rwanda have also settled in Houston. Over the three years leading to 2009, Houston took about 2,200 Burmese.[70]



As of 1990 the main Sunni mosque in Houston is the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH). As of that year, the Iranian Shia in Houston primarily used the mosque for occasional needs including marriages and funerals. The ISGH had multiple branches in Houston.[69]

Around 2002 some Hispanics in Houston were converts to Islam. They said that many people mistake them to be of Pakistani or Middle Eastern origin because they are Muslim.[18]

The 1950s marked the first known organized Muslim community in Houston. That community met in the barber shop of Charlie Boyd. In 1978 they established the Houston Masjid of Al-Islam. This historic mosque was made possible by heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, who donated the funds needed to purchase the Christian Scientist Church to convert as Houston’s first mosque. Thirty-three years later, the mosque was rebuilt due to damage from Hurricane Ike. In 2011 the historic Houston mosque was renamed Masjid Warithudeen Mohammed in honor of one of America’s pioneering Muslim leaders. This community has always focused on local activism and interfaith outreach, addressing issues of social justice and the uplifting of disfranchised people that continues to this day.[citation needed]

In 1969 a small group of immigrant Muslims, mostly students, some engineers and doctors established regular prayers and salat ul jummah (Friday congregational service) at a small house near the Medical Center. This led to the founding of ISGH, one of the most unique Islamic organizations in America. Always growing, ISGH currently operates nineteen community centers, six full-time private schools, four community health clinics, three full-service funeral homes and burial ground, along with weekend Islamic schools, recreational facilities, and a hifz program, with over 150 students who have memorized the Qu’ran.[citation needed]

ISGH quickly gained success as a platform for all Houston Muslims because of its structure and bylaws. Although most of ISGH’s constituents are Sunnis, its commitment to all the Muslims in Houston dates back to the first elected President, Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, a Shi’a Muslim.[citation needed]

As Houston grows, so does its Muslim community. The first generation of ISGH leadership recognized the size of the greater Houston area and planned accordingly. ISGH operates through five primary “zones” across the area. These zones divide the distances among sections of town as follows: North, Northwest, South, Southeast and Southwest. Each zone, like the organization as a whole, has elected leadership who work to coordinate the activities and needs of the community in their areas.[citation needed]

In total the greater Houston area is home to about 100 Muslim and Islamic organizations, including many independent mosques and community-service focused nonprofits.[citation needed]


Of the Zoroastrian groups in Houston, as of 2000, the main ones are Iranians and Parsis. As of that year the total number of Iranians in Houston is, on a 10 to 1 basis, larger than the total Parsi population.[71] As of 2000 within Houston there were about 12 Zoroastrian priests there. Yezdi Rustomji, author of "The Zoroastrian Center: An Ancient Faith in Diaspora," stated that they were "variously divided in matters of Zarathushtrian orthodoxy."[72]

As of 2000 The Zoroastrian Association of Houston (ZAH) is majority Parsi. Rustomji wrote that because of that and the historic tensions between the Parsi and Iranian groups, the Iranians in Houston did not become full members of the ZAH. Rustomji stated that Iranian Zoroastrians "attend religious functions sporadically and remain tentative about their ability to fully integrate, culturally and religiously, with Parsis."[71] In 1996 the Iranian population had its largest attendance at a ZAH event when it attended Jashne-e-Sade, an event the community created for ZAH. By 2000 some Muslim Iranians who were opposed to fundamentalism in the mosques began attending Zoroastrian events. Rustomji wrote in 2000 that between 2000 and 2005, Iranians were expected to make up a greater proportion of ZAH.[71]

Ethnoreligious groups[edit]


As of around 1987 about 42,000 Jews lived in Greater Houston.[73] In 2008 Irving N. Rothman, author of The Barber in Modern Jewish Culture: A Genre of People, Places, and Things, with Illustrations, wrote that Houston "has a scattered Jewish populace and not a large enough population of Jews to dominate any single neighborhood" and that the city's "hub of Jewish life" is the Meyerland community.[74]


Several streets in the Midtown district have Vietnamese names

In the 2000 U.S. Census, 938,123 residents of the City of Houston said that they spoke English only. The largest foreign languages in Houston included Spanish and Spanish creole (679,292 speakers), Vietnamese (26,125 speakers), Chinese (24,234 speakers), African indigenous languages (11,603 speakers), and Urdu of Pakistan (10,669 speakers). Percentages of the non-English groups who said that they spoke English at least "very well" include 42% of the Spanish speakers, 32% of the Vietnamese speakers, 49% of the Chinese speakers, 72% of the speakers of indigenous African languages, and 70% of the speakers of Urdu.[75]

In 2000, 1,961,993 residents of Harris County spoke English only. The five largest foreign languages in the county were Spanish or Spanish Creole (1,106,883 speakers), Vietnamese (53,311 speakers), Chinese (33,003 speakers), French including Cajun and Patois (33,003 speakers), and Urdu of Pakistan (14,595 speakers). Percentages of language groups who said that they spoke English at least "very well" include 46% of Spanish speakers, 37% of Vietnamese speakers, 50% of Chinese speakers, 85% of French speakers, and 72% of Urdu speakers.[75]

National origin[edit]

As of 2011, 21.94% of Greater Houston residents were born in another country. The percentage is the fifth largest in Texas.[76]

LGBT people[edit]

According to Ray Hill, a Montrose resident quoted in the Houston Press, before the 1970s, the city's gay bars were spread around Downtown Houston and what is now Midtown Houston. Gays and lesbians needed to have a place to socialize after the closing of the gay bars. They began going to Art Wren, a 24-hour restaurant in Montrose, a community of empty nesters and widows. Homosexuals were attracted to Montrose as a neighborhood after encountering it while patronizing Art Wren, and they began to gentrify the neighborhood and assist the widows with the maintenance of their houses. Within Montrose, new gay bars began to open.[77] By 1985, the flavor and politics of the neighborhood were heavily influenced by the LGBT community.[77] and in 1990, according to Hill, 19% of the residents of Montrose were homosexual.[77] Paul Broussard was murdered in Montrose in 1991.[77]

By 2011 many homosexual people moved to the Houston Heights and to suburbs in Greater Houston, and according to Hill, less than 8% of Montrose's population was gay. Decentralization of Houston's homosexual population with the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in the city caused business at gay bars in Montrose to decline. Hill stated that "Gay bars used to be places where we had to go to get refuge because we were not welcome anywhere else. Well, guess what? There's nowhere we're not welcome anymore."[78] The suburbs especially attracting gays are Pearland, Sugar Land, and Missouri City.[citation needed]


In 2010 the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston released a Health of Houston Survey. Based on the survey results, 20% of area residents consider themselves to be in poor or fair health. Half of the Houston area residents do not have dental insurance. The area's percentage of individuals who report having psychiatric distress is twice the U.S. national average. Of the racial groups, after excluding illegal immigrants, Hispanics have the lowest rates of health insurance.[79]


Allen Turner of the Houston Chronicle said that residents of Harris County were "consistently conservative in elections." According to a Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research 2013 opinion poll, they were "surprisingly liberal on topics such as immigration, gun control and equal matrimonial rights for same-sex couples".[80]



  1. ^ Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States: 1790 to 1990. Campbell Gibson, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau. Published June 1998. Last accessed January 11, 2007.
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
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