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Houston, Texas
Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States. It is huge, both in population and in land area. “Urban sprawl” is a term tailor-made for this city, due to Houston being the largest unzoned city in the country. Houston is a multicultural city home to some of the nation’s largest Asian, Arab and Latin American populations. But its culture is not limited to diverse population — it also boasts a world class symphony and theater district that includes a full-time ballet company and opera.

Houston Districts

The city has a number of districts. Historically, these districts were called “wards” and they tended to have distinct populations. Redevelopment has rendered most of those distinctions meaningless, but the modern version of Houston still has districts. Houston has three areas that look like a typical downtown in a big city with high-rise buildings and, at street level, concessions to pedestrians that include shops and eating establishments.

Downtown – Center of the city, still the home of high finance and big business. Houston is second only to New York City in corporate headquarters of Fortune 500 companies. Many of them are located downtown including some of the world’s largest energy companies. Downtown Houston also boasts the second largest theatre district in the United States and the city has world class permanent organizations such as the Houston Symphony and Houston Ballet. The Houston Pavillions entertainment district opened in October 2008 between Main St. and the Toyota Center.
Med Center and Rice - To the south and east of downtown lie Rice University, the many attractions of Hermann Park, and the Texas Medical Center (or just “the med center”), including some of the world’s best hospitals. The Rice Village is a highly concentrated area of restaurants, bars, and shopping.
Uptown or The Galleria Area is west of the city center and is known for its namesake, a huge high-end shopping mall complex. It also has the tallest building in the United States outside of a main downtown area, the Williams tower. This area has many great restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and infamous traffic jams during peak hours.

Situated elsewhere in town, between these three pillars of development and surrounding them, are a dozen or more distinct districts that define the more-accessible heart of the people and the city.

Warehouse District – Formerly an industrial zone, the Warehouse District is now full of loft conversions and trendy residents, some good eats and nightlife.
Montrose – Ideally bordered by Midtown, Heights, River Oaks, and the Medical Center, Montrose is both a street name and a neighborhood. Montrose is Houston’s longtime home of its gay and lesbian population, as well as host to the city’s museums. Lower Westheimer (Westheimer in between Montrose Blvd. and Shepherd) offers an array of resale fashion shops, eclectic shopping as well as antique stores. The gay nightlife is centered around Pacific St. and surrounding streets. Many Montrose neighborhood pubs attract an eclectic and diverse crowd.
River Oaks – Houston’s most exclusive and affluent neighborhood, home to eye-popping mansions and the River Oaks Shopping Center, one of America’s first suburban shopping districts and a great display of Art Deco architecture. Notable residence: Lynn Wyatt, Caroline Farb, and Robert McNair
Midtown – The area between Downtown and the medical center. This area experienced serious redevelopment in the 1990′s and is now home to many of Houston’s young professionals, newer restaurants and bars/clubs. The nightlife here is hip and very vibrant.
The Heights - A large district of gingerbread Victorian homes as well as early 20th Century bungalows. Like its sister neighborhood Montrose, The Heights is home to a diverse population from artists and musicians to wealthy professionals. Parts of the Heights are still dry, fostering a large number of BYOB restaurants ideal for those who enjoy their own selected wine. Please see Spec’s Liquor in the SEE section.
Southwest Houston – Despite a plethora of rundown apartment complexes and a reputation for crime, it is also home to some of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods, including Meyerland and the charming City of Bellaire. This area is almost completely outside of the 610 Loop, although the City of Bellaire is partially inside the 610.
New Chinatown – Located southwest of the center, it would be the largest Chinatown in the world area-wise, but the term Chinatown is misleading due to the fact that the majority of the shops and restaurants cater to Houston’s large Vietnamese population. This area is outside the 610 Loop and near the Beltway, Houston’s outer freeway loop.

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