Houston, Alaska

Coordinates: 61°36′30″N 149°46′25″W / 61.60833°N 149.77361°W / 61.60833; -149.77361
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Houston
Location in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the state of Alaska.
Location in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the state of Alaska.
Houston is located in Alaska
Houston
Houston
Location in Alaska
Coordinates: 61°36′30″N 149°46′25″W / 61.60833°N 149.77361°W / 61.60833; -149.77361
CountryUnited States
StateAlaska
BoroughMatanuska-Susitna
IncorporatedJune 6, 1966[1]
Government
 • MayorCarter Cole
 • State senatorMike Shower (R)
 • State rep.Kevin McCabe (R)
Area
 • Total25.26 sq mi (65.41 km2)
 • Land23.94 sq mi (62.01 km2)
 • Water1.32 sq mi (3.41 km2)
Elevation
249 ft (76 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total1,975
 • Estimate 
(2022)[3]
2,100
 • Density82.50/sq mi (31.85/km2)
Time zoneUTC-9 (Alaska (AKST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-8 (AKDT)
ZIP code
99694
Area code907
FIPS code02-33800
GNIS feature ID1416613
Websitewww.houstonak.com

Houston is a city in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, United States. It is part of the Anchorage, Alaska Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is located roughly 33 miles from downtown Anchorage, though it is a 57-mile drive between the two points.[4] The population was 1,975 at the 2020 census, up from 1,912 in 2000.[5]

Geography[edit]

View of a highway surrounded by forest.
View from aboard an Alaska Railroad train, looking at the George Parks Highway near its crossing of the Little Susitna River.

Houston is located at 61°36′30″N 149°46′25″W / 61.60833°N 149.77361°W / 61.60833; -149.77361 (61.608309, -149.773719).[6] This places it along the George Parks Highway and the Little Susitna River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.9 square miles (62 km2), of which, 22.4 square miles (58 km2) of it is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) of it (4.89%) is water.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
197069
1980370436.2%
199069788.4%
20001,20272.5%
20101,91259.1%
20201,9753.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]

As of the census of 2020 and the 2022 American Community Survey,[8] there were 1,975 people and 726 households. The population density was 82.5 inhabitants per square mile (31.9/km2). There were 581 housing units at an average density of 25.9 per square mile (10.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 80.4% White, 1.4% Black or African American, 4.0% Native American or Alaska Native, 1.1% Asian, and 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Another 9.1% were from two or more races, and 4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

In the 726 households, 39.9% were married couples, 30.6% were a male householder with no spouse, and 20.9% were a female householder with no spouse. The average household size was 2.21. The average family size, however, was 2.85: 411 of the 726 households were categorized as families. About 20%, or 145, family households included children under 18 years old.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 20.3% under the age of 18, and 15% over the age of 65, some of whom live alone (14.2% of all householders living alone were over age 65). The median age was 43.3 years old. For women, the median age was higher than the overall median age at 47.7 years old. There are also far more men than women as for every 100 females, there were 128.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $53,750, and the median income for a family was $75,096. Males had a median income of $40,417 versus $28,207 for females.[9] The per capita income for the city was $35,792. About 20% of the population fell below the poverty line, including 33.3% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.[10]

A number of Houston residents are also veterans: 14% of residents are veterans,[11] compared to 10.1% of Alaska's population as a whole and 6.2% of Americans more generally.[12]

History[edit]

Houston Siding was first listed on a blueprint map of the Alaska Railroad in 1917 as part of the growing mining operations in the area. It was heavily used by the U.S. Navy during World War II, after which the mines were abandoned.[4]

Houston was incorporated as a third-class city in 1966, and later re-designated as a second-class city in 1973.

Other notable events in the city's history include:

  • On August 30, 1972, George Boney, the chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court and at the time the youngest chief justice of any U.S. state supreme court, died in Houston (at Cheri Lake) in a boating accident which resulted in drowning.[13]
  • On June 3, 1996, the Miller's Reach wildfire covered more than 37,000 acres (14,973 ha) in Houston and adjacent Big Lake. Property loss included 454 buildings; it cost over $16 million USD.[14]

Legal firework sales[edit]

Houston, Alaska is home to the Gorilla Fireworks Stand along its Parks Highway, providing a wide range of pyrotechnic explosions and products to the public.[15] The city allows the sale of fireworks, which are prohibited throughout the Mat-Su Borough and Anchorage, and the sales taxes generated from those help pay for emergency services. These stands are the only place to purchase fireworks legally in Southcentral Alaska, and provide entertainment to many residents and visitors of the state. Taxes from fireworks sales at Houston's parks highway stands cover 10-15% of the city fire department's budget.[16]

Fireworks buyers are charged a 2% sales tax, plus an additional 2% tax.[17] This policy was approved by the voters of Houston in 2010, and was made permanent by the City Council. The additional tax was meant to “promote increased public safety”, and all the tax take goes to the fire department.[18]

Cannabis legalization[edit]

In 2014, Alaska voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana and its retail sale. However, local governments were given the right to ban commercial grow operations or pot sales within city limits.[19] While Palmer and Wasilla originally banned marijuana sales and grow operations, Houston attempted to bolster its city revenues by allowing marijuana commerce.[20] The mayor of Houston, Virgie Thompson, believed that cannabis excise and sales taxes could cover expenses for a new city police force.[21]

Houston issued the first limited grow room license in the Matsu Valley to Lacey and Ron Bass in 2016. In 2021, marijuana tax revenue alone comprised over 33% of Houston's total collected taxes.[22]

Notable Person[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1996 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Municipal League/Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs. January 1996. p. 68.
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  3. ^ https://www.akml.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Houston.pdf
  4. ^ a b "About Us". www.houstonak.us. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  5. ^ "2020 Census Data - Cities and Census Designated Places" (Web). State of Alaska, Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  7. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "U.S. Census website - Houston city, 2020". United States Census Bureau. 2020. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  9. ^ "Individual median earnings by sex". data.census.gov. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  10. ^ "Poverty and income data". data.census.gov. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  11. ^ "Veterans in Houston city, Alaska". data.census.gov. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  12. ^ "Veterans in US". data.census.gov. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  13. ^ "Chief Justice George Boney Of Alaska Supreme Court". The New York Times. August 31, 1972. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 5, 2024.
  14. ^ Media, Ellen Lockyer, Alaska Public (June 10, 2016). "Big Lake recognizes 20th anniversary of Miller's Reach fire". Alaska Public Media. Retrieved January 5, 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Schreck, Carly (December 31, 2022). "Residents flock to Houston ahead of New Year's Eve celebration". alaskasnewssource.com. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  16. ^ Hollander, Zaz (September 28, 2014). "Houston bolsters fire department with fireworks tax take". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  17. ^ Fritts, Janelle (July 3, 2019). "Fireworks Sales Spark an Explosion of Taxes and Fees". Tax Foundation. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  18. ^ "Chapter 8.05 Fireworks Control". www.codepublishing.com. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  19. ^ Andrews, Laurel (July 30, 2016). "Here's how many cannabis plants Alaskans can now legally possess at home". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  20. ^ Hollander, Zaz (April 16, 2016). "Struggling to get by, Houston declares itself open for cannabusiness". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  21. ^ Lockyer, Ellen (March 16, 2016). "Houston at the forefront of Mat-Su marijuana legislation". Alaska Public Media. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  22. ^ https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/Portals/4/pub/OSA/taxable%20reports/2021%20Alaska%20Taxable%20Report%20FINAL%20January%2025%20Errata.pdf?ver=2022-01-25-125017-950

External links[edit]

Media related to Houston, Alaska at Wikimedia Commons