When Houston, Texas, dubbed itself Space City, it was referring to its connection to the stars (via nearby NASA's Johnson Space Center, built in 1961). But the nickname could just as well refer to the enormous amount of earthbound space the town occupies within the city limits, much less the metro area's sprawl. Houston is bigger than the state of New Jersey, so don't plan on seeing it all in one trip.
Houston's attractions and immense size also bring a certain magnificence: The city is headquarters to more than two dozen companies on the Fortune 500 list, its port is ranked second in the U.S. in total tonnage, and 41 foreign governments maintain trade and commercial offices there.
Oil money and corporate largesse enable Houston to have professional resident companies in all four areas of the performing arts: ballet, opera, theater and symphony. Additionally, more than 200 institutions are dedicated to the arts, history and science, and Houston is also home to professional sports teams for five major-league sports—the Houston Astros (baseball), the Houston Rockets (basketball), the Houston Texans (football), the Houston Dynamo (men's soccer) and the Houston Dash (women's soccer).
One surprise for most Houston visitors is how green the city is. The subtropical climate (it's approximately the same latitude as northern Florida) causes lush growth in grass, trees and plants, and the mild winters leave plenty of greenery untouched.
Houston's cultural diversity (more than 90 languages are spoken there) and its low cost of living also have made it one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S.
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