Port Arthur, Texas

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Port Arthur, Texas
City
City of Port Arthur
Port Arthur
Port Arthur
Nickname(s): PA, PAT
Location of Port Arthur, Texas - U.S. Census Map
Location of Port Arthur, Texas - U.S. Census Map
Coordinates: 29°53′6″N 93°56′24″W / 29.88500°N 93.94000°W / 29.88500; -93.94000Coordinates: 29°53′6″N 93°56′24″W / 29.88500°N 93.94000°W / 29.88500; -93.94000
Country  United States of America
State  Texas
Counties Jefferson
Government
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City Council Mayor Deloris "Bobbie" Prince
Robert Troy
Elizabeth "Liz" Segler
Morris Albright III
Willie "Bae" Lewis Jr.
Raymond Scott Jr.
Robert E. Williamson
Derrick Freeman
Kerry "Twin" Thomas
 • City Manager Floyd T. Johnson
Area
 • Total 143.8 sq mi (372.3 km2)
 • Land 82.9 sq mi (214.8 km2)
 • Water 60.8 sq mi (157.6 km2)
Elevation 7 ft (2 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 57,755
 • Density 696.5/sq mi (268.9/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 77640-77643
Area code(s) 409
FIPS code 48-58820[1]
GNIS feature ID 1384151[2]
Website PortArthur.net
Aerial view of Port Arthur

Port Arthur is a city in Jefferson County within the Beaumont−Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area of the U.S. state of Texas. The population was 53,818 at the 2010 census.

Port Arthur was founded by Arthur Stilwell in 1895, on the western bank of Sabine Lake, and incorporated in 1898.[3] The Rainbow Bridge across the Neches River connects Port Arthur to Bridge City.

History[edit]

Aurora was located near the mouth of Taylor Bayou on Sabine Lake, at the site of present-day Port Arthur. The town was conceived as early as 1837, and by 1840 promoters led by Almanzon Huston were advertising town lots. Although some lots were sold, Houston's project failed to materialize. The area came to be known as Sparks after John Sparks and his family moved to the shores of Sabine Lake near the Aurora townsite. The Eastern Texas Railroad, completed between Sabine Pass and Beaumont just before the outbreak of the Civil War, passed about four miles west of Sparks. The railroad passing track at this point was named Aurora after the Houston project. The rails were removed during the Civil War. A few scattered settlers remained until 1886, when a destructive hurricane led residents to dismantle their homes and move to Beaumont.

By 1895, Aurora was a ghost town,[4] and the abandoned community became the site of Stilwell's new city. Port Arthur was incorporated in 1898, and was once the center of the largest oil refinery network in the world.[5]

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway runs past the city, separated from Sabine Lake by Pleasure Island. The 18.5-mile (29.8 km) man-made island was created from dredged material from 1899 and 1908 Corps of Engineers projects. Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company, formed by Arthur Stilwell, opened the port of Port Arthur with the arrival of the British steamer Saint Oswald in 1899. This same ship sank after colliding with the French battleship Suffren in 1915.

Geography[edit]

Port Arthur is located at 29°53′6″N 93°56′24″W / 29.88500°N 93.94000°W / 29.88500; -93.94000 (29.884864, −93.939902) east of Houston.[6] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 143.8 square miles (372.3 km²), of which, 82.9 square miles (214.8 km²) of it is land and 60.8 square miles (157.6 km²) of it (42.32%) is water.

Communities[edit]

Communities in Port Arthur include:

Climate[edit]

Port Arthur is tied with Lake Charles, Louisiana and Astoria, Oregon, as the most humid city in the contiguous United States. The average relative humidity is 90% in the morning, and 72% in the afternoon.[7]

Climate data for Port Arthur, Texas (Jack Brooks Airport)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 86
(30)
90
(32)
95
(35)
94
(34)
101
(38)
106
(41)
108
(42)
108
(42)
105
(41)
99
(37)
94
(34)
86
(30)
108
(42)
Average high °F (°C) 62.1
(16.7)
65.4
(18.6)
71.9
(22.2)
78.2
(25.7)
84.7
(29.3)
89.7
(32.1)
91.7
(33.2)
92.2
(33.4)
88.3
(31.3)
80.7
(27.1)
71.7
(22.1)
63.8
(17.7)
78.4
(25.8)
Average low °F (°C) 43.4
(6.3)
46.8
(8.2)
52.5
(11.4)
59.3
(15.2)
67.2
(19.6)
72.9
(22.7)
74.4
(23.6)
74.2
(23.4)
69.9
(21.1)
60.7
(15.9)
51.9
(11.1)
44.9
(7.2)
59.8
(15.4)
Record low °F (°C) 11
(−12)
10
(−12)
20
(−7)
32
(0)
45
(7)
53
(12)
61
(16)
58
(14)
45
(7)
30
(−1)
22
(−6)
12
(−11)
10
(−12)
Precipitation inches (mm) 5.25
(133.4)
3.58
(90.9)
3.53
(89.7)
3.21
(81.5)
5.22
(132.6)
7.09
(180.1)
5.94
(150.9)
5.35
(135.9)
5.93
(150.6)
5.58
(141.7)
4.40
(111.8)
5.28
(134.1)
60.37
(1,533.4)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.5 8.7 7.4 6.2 6.6 10.0 11.4 11.1 8.9 7.5 8.1 9.5 104.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 136.4 169.5 189.1 204.0 263.5 285.0 282.1 257.3 231.0 241.8 186.0 148.8 2,594.5
Source: NOAA (1981−2010)[8] HKO (sun only, 1961−1990)[9] The Weather Channel (record temperatures)[10]

Demographics[edit]

As of the 2000 census,[1] there were 57,755 people, 21,839 households, and 14,675 families residing in the city. The population density was 696.5 people per square mile (268.9/km²). There were 24,713 housing units at an average density of 298.0 per square mile (115.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 43.70% African American, 39.01% White, 0.45% Native American, 5.89% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 8.88% from other races, and 2.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.45% of the population.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 900
1910 7,663 751.4%
1920 22,251 190.4%
1930 50,902 128.8%
1940 46,140 −9.4%
1950 57,530 24.7%
1960 66,676 15.9%
1970 57,371 −14.0%
1980 61,251 6.8%
1990 58,724 −4.1%
2000 57,755 −1.7%
2010 53,818 −6.8%

There were 21,839 households out of which 33.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 19.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.25.

In the city the population had 28.7% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males. The median income for a household in the city was $26,455, and the median income for a family was $32,143. Males had a median income of $30,915 versus $21,063 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,183. About 22.9% of families and 25.2% of the population were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 35.2% were under age 18 and 14.4% were age 65 or over.

Economy[edit]

Big Arthur crane

After decades of stagnation and neglect in the area economy, Port Arthur is in the early stages of an economic boom.[citation needed] Several large projects involving the energy infrastructure are underway or proposed, the two largest being the Golden Pass and Sabine Pass LNG terminals. These separate projects under construction in neighboring Sabine Pass have brought cumulative initial investments of $2 billion, and will employ thousands at peak construction.[citation needed]

Home to a large portion of United States refining capacity, Port Arthur is now seeing renewed investment in several key installations. Motiva Enterprises is undertaking a major addition to its western Port Arthur refinery, expanding capacity to 600,000 barrels per day (95,000 m3/d).[11] This $10.0 billion project is the largest US refinery expansion to occur in 30 years.[11] Premcor Refining (now Valero) recently[when?] completed a $775 million expansion of its petrochemical plant, and BASF/Fina commenced operations of a new $1.75 billion gasification and cogeneration unit on premises of its current installation, which had just completed its own $1 billion upgrade. These operations are supported by the Port of Port Arthur, one of Texas' leading seaports. However, during and at the finalization of these multibillion dollar projects, Port Arthur still suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

The city was the site of an oil spill in 2010, when an oil tanker and barge collided, causing 450,000 gallons of oil to spill into the Sabine/Neches waterway alongside the city.[12]

Central business district disintegration[edit]

Long past its heyday in the early 1900s, beginning in 1960, until 1974,[13] successive waves of economic recession have delivered a nearly vacant, boarded up, and sometimes dangerous central business district.

Hotel Sabine[edit]

The Hotel Sabine opened at 600 Proctor Street in 1929 and operated as the Vaughn Hotel until the mid-1930s. At 118 feet, ten stories, and the tallest building in Port Arthur,[14] the building is of Beaux-Arts architecture style, built with steel-reinforced concrete and brick on 640 steel-laced wooden cypress pilings driven 60-foot into the ground, with the promise that it could withstand the most severe coastal storms.[15] The hotel closed down in the mid-1980s.

The Port Arthur News reported August 28, 2010, that DWA (Digital Workforce Academy) Buys Sabine Hotel,[16] but on Nov 11, 2011, My Fox Houston reported, Notable Port Arthur Hotel Could Meet its Demise, with discussions on bids for demolition. The cost of renovations are placed around $10– 12,000,000 dollars and demolition estimates may be between $500,000 to 1.2 million.[17]

Hurricane Rita struck a direct hit on the Proctor Street Seawall, and damaged many downtown businesses and homes. As economic activity picks up in the region, calls for downtown revitalization have been advanced.[18][19] The true center of commercial activity has gravitated from downtown to other areas.[20]

Arts and culture[edit]

Port Arthur's Museum of the Gulf Coast is recognized as the area's definitive collection of items and displays for personalities from Port Arthur and the surrounding communities. Notable residents of Port Arthur included singer Janis Joplin, golfer/track star Babe Didrikson Zaharias, born in Port Arthur but raised in Beaumont, Rapper Earnest Heron, casting director/producer Whitney Valcin, artist Robert Rauschenberg, and former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, professional athletes Stephen Jackson of the San Antonio Spurs, Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs. In the last two decades, Port Arthur's profile has risen on the hip-hop scene with the emergence of rap duo UGK. Both members, Bun B and the late Pimp C, are from Port Arthur and often refer to their hometown in their songs.

The main shopping center is Central Mall, opened in 1982.

Government[edit]

Delta Queen moored in front of City Hall

The Mayor of Port Arthur is Deloris "Bobbie" Prince.

The county operates the Port Arthur Sub-Courthouse in Port Arthur.[21]

The United States Postal Service operates the Port Arthur Post Office,[22] the Port Acres Post Office,[23] and the Sabine Pass Post Office in Sabine Pass.[24]

Education[edit]

Primary and secondary schools[edit]

Most of the City of Port Arthur is served by the Port Arthur Independent School District. The portion around Southeast Texas Regional Airport is served by the Nederland Independent School District. The Sabine Pass community is served by the Sabine Pass Independent School District.

The Bob Hope Charter School is located in Port Arthur.[25]

Colleges[edit]

Lamar State College–Port Arthur, located in downtown Port Arthur; celebrated its 100th birthday in 2009. Offering a full variety of basic core curriculum classes that are transferrable throughout Texas public universities, Lamar State College is recognized for associate programs in Commercial Music, Nursing, Legal Assistant and Process technology. Lamar State College also fields competitive teams in Men's Basketball and Women's Softball. The section of Port Arthur within the Sabine Pass School District is assigned to Galveston College in Galveston.[26]

Public libraries[edit]

The Port Arthur Public Library, at 4615 9th Avenue at Texas State Highway 73, serves as the public library system for the city.[27]

Infrastructure[edit]

Transportation[edit]

Air[edit]

The Southeast Texas Regional Airport in Port Arthur serves Beaumont and Port Arthur.

Bus[edit]

Local bus service is provided by Port Arthur Transit.

Tropical cyclones that have affected Port Arthur[edit]

Pleasure Island damage from Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Betsy[edit]

In August 1965's Hurricane Betsy, Port Arthur sustained very little damage. The city was in one of the weak spots of the hurricane. Winds only reached 26 miles per hour (42 km/h). Tides reached 2.4 feet (0.73 m) above sea level. A mere 0.02 inches (0.51 mm) of rain was recorded. Port Arthur was the only area in Texas to be damaged.

Hurricane Rita[edit]

In September 2005's Hurricane Rita, Port Arthur sustained major wind damage and some flooding.

Hurricane Humberto[edit]

Struck in the early hours of September 13, 2007. It formed in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico and intensified faster than any other tropical cyclone on record before making landfall at High Island, Texas. The path of the eye continued northeastward and passed over Port Arthur, Nederland, Port Neches, Groves, and Bridge City, Texas at Category 1 hurricane strength. This was the second time within two years (following Hurricane Rita on September 24, 2005) that these cities experienced a direct hit from a hurricane. Hurricane Hunters reported sustained winds of 85 mph (137 km/h) about two hours after landfall. However, post-storm analysis later determined that the winds were a bit stronger—about 90 mph (140 km/h).

Tropical Storm Edouard[edit]

On the morning of August 5, 2008, Port Arthur saw the effects of Tropical Storm Edouard. The tropical storm made landfall to the west of the city, and wind speeds of 55 mph (89 km/h) were recorded.[28]

Hurricane Ike[edit]

In September 2008, Port Arthur again sustained major wind damage, with several areas experiencing major flooding. Ike made its final landfall near Galveston, Texas as a strong Category 2 hurricane, with Category 4 equivalent storm surge, on Sept. 13, 2008, at 2:10 a.m. CDT. Hurricane-force winds extended 120 miles (190 km) from the center. Due to its immense size, Ike caused devastation from the Louisiana coastline all the way to the Kennedy County, Texas region near Corpus Christi, Texas. The hurricane also resulted in the largest evacuation of Texans in that state's history. It became the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history. The seawall of Port Arthur protected the city from the storm surge that devastated surrounding communities such as Bridge City, but water did flow over the top of the seawall for about 30 minutes, flooding some of homes along its length with over a foot of water.

Notable people[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ Port Arthur incorporates- Retrieved 2013-09-10
  4. ^ Wooster, Robert. "AURORA, TX (JEFFERSON COUNTY)," Handbook of Texas Online". Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  5. ^ Hunt, Herschiel. The History of Port Arthur. Southern Publishing Concern, 1926.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ "Average Relative Humidity - Morning (M), Afternoon (A)". Comparative Climatic Data for the United States Through 2012. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: U.S. Dept. of Commerce. 2013. 
  8. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 16, 2013. 
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  10. ^ "Monthly Averages for Southeast Texas Regional Airport, TX". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  11. ^ a b The Economy of Southeast Texas Home Page
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  13. ^ "Retirement and Looking Back to "the Way it Was" (economic tailspin)- Retrieved 2013-09-10
  14. ^ Sabine Hotel- Retrieved 2013-09-10
  15. ^ The Port Arthur News; Hotel Sabine foundation
  16. ^ News report; DWA buys Sabine Hotel- Retrieved 2013-09-10
  17. ^ Port Arthur hotel could meet its doom- Retrieved 2013-09-10
  18. ^ Sanders, Ashley. "Plant expansions to create a housing boon." The News. August 21, 2006. Retrieved on September 23, 2010.
  19. ^ Rappleye, Christine. "The Beaumont Enterprise - Those who recall bustling downtown Port Arthur are still around; old way of life isn't." The Beaumont Enterprise. September 23, 2007. Posted June 11, 2008. Retrieved on September 23, 2010.
  20. ^ Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities- Retrieved 2013-09-10
  21. ^ "Jefferson County, Texas Phone Director." County of Jefferson. Retrieved on August 22, 2010.
  22. ^ "Post Office Location - PORT ARTHUR." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  23. ^ "Post Office Location - PORT ACRES." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  24. ^ "Post Office Location - SABINE PASS." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on August 22, 2010.
  25. ^ Pastorella, Cody. "New PA Charter School provides Hope to area students." The Port Arthur News. September 20, 2010. Retrieved on September 23, 2010.
  26. ^ Texas Education Code, Section 130.179, "Galveston College District Service Area".
  27. ^ http://www.pap.lib.tx.us/
  28. ^ Port Arthur,Texas Hurricanes
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  42. ^ "Jimmy Johnson". National Football Foundation. Retrieved November 2013. 
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External links[edit]