Nicknames of Houston

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The skyline of the city of Houston

There are many nicknames for the city of Houston, the largest city in Texas and fourth-largest city in the United States. The city's nicknames reflect its geography, economy, multicultural population, and popular culture, including sports and music. They are often used by the media and in popular culture to reference the city.

Houston currently has one official nickname, "Space City", signifying the city's global importance to space exploration and historical role as a prominent center of activity by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Cities adopt official nicknames such as this one to establish a civic identity, promote civic pride, and build community unity.[1] Houston has had other nicknames in the past which have faded in common usage, going as far back as the 1870s.

The city has recently accumulated several unofficial nicknames from among sub-groups within the city, including several whose origins are in the local hip-hop subculture. The most recently added nickname is "The Big Heart", which refers to assistance given by Houston and its citizens to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and 2006.

Space City[edit]

Houston received its official nickname of "Space City" in 1967 because it is home to NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.[2][3]

NASA's center in Houston has its origins in legislation shepherded to enactment in 1958 by then-U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, who was from Texas. Then called simply the "Manned Spacecraft Center", it was opened in 1961. It was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in 1973, the year Johnson died. The control center coordinates and monitors all human spaceflight for the United States and directs all Space Shuttle missions and activities aboard the International Space Station. The visitor's center of JSC is Space Center Houston.[4]

The first words transmitted by Neil Armstrong from the moon, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed", are written in 15 languages on bronze plaques placed along the main entrance of Tranquility Park in downtown Houston. A replica of one of the footprints left on the moon by Neil Armstrong is also on display inside the park.[5]

Popular nicknames[edit]

Bayou City[edit]

Houston is popularly known as "The Bayou City"[6] (and less frequently as "Baghdad on the Bayou")[7] because it is home to ten winding waterways that flow through the surrounding area. Buffalo Bayou is the main waterway flowing through the city and has a significant place in Texas history, not only due to the founding place of the City of Houston, but also because the final battle for Texas Independence was fought along its banks.[8] Other major bayous in the city include White Oak Bayou, Brays Bayou and Sims Bayou.[9]

H-Town[edit]

"H-Town" is a widely popular modern nickname for Houston.[10] It is commonly used in reference to the city both locally and internationally, especially within the entertainment community. In addition, the H-Town Blues Festival is a music festival held each year in the city,[11] and the H-Town Arena Theatre has hosted a variety of performing artists from around the country since the 1970s.[12] H-Town (with the "H" standing for Houston) is also the name of an R&B hip hop band from Houston that was formed in 1992.[13]

Historic nicknames[edit]

A Magnolia flower in bloom

Magnolia City[edit]

"Magnolia City" is one of the earliest of Houston’s many nicknames. The Texas World, a newspaper first published in 1900, is said to have labeled Houston "the Magnolia City",[14] but the nickname had been in use among the locals since the 1870s.[15] Areas of east Houston, particularly Harrisburg and Magnolia Park, were once natural Magnolia forests that were wiped out by urban sprawl by the 1920s. The nickname is still sometimes used in media stories about the city.[14]

1912 pamphlet with illustrations of Houston

Capital of the Sunbelt[edit]

The nickname "Capital of the Sunbelt" (also "Golden Buckle of the Sunbelt")[16] appeared during the boomtown years when the city experienced rapid growth. In the late 1970s, Houston was experiencing a population increase, as people from Rust Belt states moved en masse into Texas.[17] The new residents mostly came for the numerous employment opportunities in the petroleum industry, resulting from the Arab Oil Embargo.[18]

Clutch City[edit]

Main article: Clutch City

The nickname of "Clutch City" was given to the city of Houston after the Houston Rockets won the 1994 and 1995 NBA championships. The moniker was adopted in response to a front-page headline in the Houston Chronicle declaring Houston to be "Choke City".[19] It was revived in 2005, as the Houston Astros had a late-season rally to win the pennant and clinch their first-ever World Series appearance, and again in 2006, when the Houston Dynamo won the MLS Cup in their inaugural season.[20]

The Rockets' mascot, "Clutch the Bear", was named the 5th-most recognizable mascot in sports by USA Today in February 2005, and was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006.[21]

Katrina evacuees shelter at the Reliant Astrodome.

The Big Heart[edit]

The "Big Heart" is a nickname Houston earned in 2005–06 among many of the refugees from Louisiana and other areas who sought refuge there in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.[22] Angelo Edwards, vice chair of the ACORN Katrina Survivors Association, said, "No other city really provided the resources and assistance Houston has."[22]

Houston housed, fed and mended more than 150,000 survivors in an effort that won acclaim throughout the United States, mounting what is believed to be the biggest shelter operation in the country's history, including Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH)-like mega-clinics that took on problems ranging from emergency care to eyeglass prescriptions.[22]

"This has been a real success story", said Houston Mayor Bill White. "So many Houstonians stepped up to help our neighbors from Louisiana. It was humbling, and it showed the world the big heart and the incredible talent of our city."[23]

Subculture and groups[edit]

Screwston[edit]

"Screwston" is a popular modern nickname for the city of Houston.[24] Although it is not an official nickname, it is widely known by fans of local hip-hop artist DJ Screw and his style of music, known as "chopped and screwed".[25]

Hustletown[edit]

The nickname "Hustletown", which originated from "H-town", which in turn is a contraction of Houston, is often heard in the Houston hip hop culture. H-town was reformed to "Hustletown" by an unknown word evolution process.[26]

City of Syrup[edit]

The "City of Syrup" nickname (also "Syrup City") refers to the enjoyment of codeine-laced cough syrup, sometimes called purple drank, that has been popular in Houston and is associated with some rap artists.[27][28] Houston rap artist Big Moe used this nickname for the title of his 2000 album City of Syrup, whose cover featured an image of purple ooze being poured over the Houston skyline.[29]

Marketing slogan[edit]

An oil well in Texas

The Energy Capital of the World[edit]

Houston is considered by many to be "The Energy Capital of the World"[30] (also "Oil Capital of the World"), because the city is home to more than 5,000 energy-related firms.[31] The city is a leading domestic and international center for virtually every segment of the oil and gas industry—exploration, production, transmission, marketing, service, supply, offshore drilling, and technology.[32][33]

Houston dominates U.S. oil and gas exploration and production and is unrivaled in the American energy industry.[34] It is home to more than 3,600 energy-related establishments. Houston is also home to 13 of the nation’s 20 largest natural gas transmission companies, 600 exploration and production firms and more than 170 pipeline operators.[32][33] Houston also hosts the annual Offshore Technology Conference which is the world's largest energy-related trade show.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Muench, David "Wisconsin Community Slogans: Their Use and Local Impacts", December 1993, accessed April 10, 2007.
  2. ^ "JSC Celebrates 40 Years of Human Space Flight". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved February 18, 2007. 
  3. ^ http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2010/03/houston_101_yet_another_new_ni.php
  4. ^ "About Us". Space CenterHouston. Retrieved January 22, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Tranquility Park". Parks and Outdoors, What to do, Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Retrieved March 27, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Houston". Travel Guide, www.VCarious.com (2007). Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Bayous and Waterways". Environmental News, Citizens' Environmental Coalition – Houston. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  8. ^ John Perry. "Born on the bayou: city's murky start". Houston Heritage, City Savvy, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Online Ed. 2006). Archived from the original on January 24, 2007. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  9. ^ Eric Ruckstuhl. "Canoeing Houston's Bayous and Creeks". Bayou Preservation Association. Archived from the original on June 8, 2007. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  10. ^ "H-Town". The Big Apple, www.barrypopik.com. Retrieved September 27, 2007. 
  11. ^ William Michael Smith. "The H-Town Blues Festival". Houston Press (February 1, 2007). Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  12. ^ "Events at H-Town Theatre". www.GoTickets.com. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  13. ^ "H-Town Lead Singer Dies". MTV. Retrieved January 22, 2008. 
  14. ^ a b "Bayou City has a long, full history of print journalism". 100 Years, Houston Chronicle (Oct. 10, 2001). Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Magnolia City (Houston nickname)". The Big Apple, Entry from August 13, 2006. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  16. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (March 1, 2004). "A Hummer Alongside a Horse? The Rodeo Must Be in Houston". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Polish-Texans". Texas Almanac (2004-2005), www.texasalmanac.com. Retrieved February 6, 2007. 
  18. ^ "The Impact of World Events on the Petroleum Industry of Houston, Texas in the 1970s and 1980s". University of Houston Mathematics Department. Retrieved January 22, 2008. [dead link]
  19. ^ Dave Winder. "1994: From Choke City to Clutch City – Looking back". www.Rockets.com, NBA Media Ventures. Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  20. ^ David J. Warner. "Houston Dynamo Wins MLS Cup, Nobody Outside of RFK Stadium Sees It Happen". www.sports.aol.com. Retrieved January 22, 2008. 
  21. ^ "2006 Inductees". The Official Mascot Hall of Fame (2007). Retrieved January 8, 2008. 
  22. ^ a b c "Katrina's Latest Damage". Newsweek on post-Katrina Houston (March 5, 2006). Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  23. ^ "George R. Brown Convention Center Closes its Doors Having Placed All Residents in Housing or Other Shelters". Mayor Bill White – Press Releases, City of Houston (September 21, 2005). Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  24. ^ "Screwston". The Big Apple, www.barrypopik.com. Retrieved September 27, 2007. 
  25. ^ "Chopped and Screwed, A History". MTV. Retrieved January 22, 2008. 
  26. ^ Suzanne Kemmer. "Hustletown". The Rice University Neologisms Database (1998–2005). Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  27. ^ "city of syrup". The Big Apple, www.barrypopik.com. Retrieved September 27, 2007. 
  28. ^ National Drug Intelligence Center (2007). "Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis". Retrieved January 24, 2008. 
  29. ^ From Bayou City to "city of syrup" by Kristen Mack, Houston Chronicle, February 10, 2002, 2 Star edition, Section A, Page 37 MetFront
  30. ^ "Publication Website". Energy Capital Houston. Retrieved January 30, 2008. 
  31. ^ "Facts and Figures". About Houston, City of Houston (2007). Retrieved June 27, 2007. 
  32. ^ a b "Energy Industry Guide". Greater Houston Partnership. Archived from the original on December 22, 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2008. 
  33. ^ a b Greater Houston Partnership, 2005 – 2015 Strategic Plan, page 27.
  34. ^ Simon Romero (September 6, 2005). "Houston Finds Business Boon After Katrina". Business, New York Times (September 6, 2005). Retrieved June 27, 2007. 

External links[edit]