Houston Lingo

Houston is one of the country’s most diverse cities with an abundance of people from cultures from around the world. While this definitely counts as a positive, it also means Houston hasn’t had a ton of time to create a lot of its own words and phrases unique to the region. Nevertheless, here are a few terms you should familiarize yourself with before heading into H-Town.

Nicknames for Houston: H-Town, Space City, Bayou City, Clutch City, The Big Heart, Energy Capital of the World, Capital of the Sunbelt

Feeders: In Houston, the service roads that run adjacent to freeways are referred to as feeders. If you’re not from Houston, you may be more familiar with the terms frontage road, access road, or parallel road.

The Loop: Interstate 610 runs in a large loop around the city of Houston. Generally speaking, areas of Houston can be categorized as either inside or outside “the loop”.

The Bayou looks high: “Hey Jim, do you know how much rain we got last night?” “I don’t know, but the bayou looks pretty high.” The Buffalo Bayou and several other waterways and bayous crawl through Houston, meaning you’ll probably drive over a few on any given day. Looking down at the water level is a good indicator at how much it rained and the possibility of flooding later.

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The Houston Metro

Starting in 2004, Houston invested in a five stage light rail system that allows residents across the region to get between major sections of the city without having to battle traffic. We break down the three existing lines and the two lines coming in the next few years.

Existing Lines

Red Line: The original line of the Houston Metro opened in 2004 with just under 8 miles of at-grade level track that ran from downtown Houston to the Texas Medical Center, NRG Park terminating at the Fannin South station. The southern terminus is a designated parking station. In 2013, the northern red line extension was opened, running from downtown to Houston Community College and Northline Transit Center Station.

Purple Line: The 6.6 miles of the purple line opened in 2013 and runs southeast from downtown to Palm Center near MLK and Griggs. The purple and green line share tracks from downtown to the stadium station (BBVA Compass Stadium), where riders can transfer to the green line. Major destinations along the purple line include University of Houston, BBVA Compass Stadium, and Texas Southern University.

Green Line: The green line is the shortest stretch at 3.3. miles that run east along Harrisburg from its split with the purple line at stadium station. It currently terminates at Altic/Howard Hughes, though it will eventually terminate at Magnolia Park Transit Center Station once construction is complete after the construction of the Harrisburg Bridge.

Proposed Future Lines

Blue Line: The blue line, also known as University line, is a proposed future line that extends off of the red line in an east-west orientation. To the east, blue line would intersect with the purple line, but continue moving east to Eastwood Transit Center. To the west, the blue line would terminate at Hillcroft Transit Center.

Gold Line: The gold line, also referred to as the uptown line, would run north off of the blue line starting around the intersection of I-69 and I-610. It would terminate just north of I-10 and Memorial Park.

Both the gold and blue lines are pending additional funding before construction of lines and stations begins.

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Houston at a Glance

Houston is a big place with a rich history, so there’s a lot to know about it. But we’ve taken the liberty of providing easy access to the basics below.

Founded: 1836

Incorporated: June 5th 1837

Land Area:

City: 627.8 square miles

Metro: 10,062 square miles

Population:

City: 2,099,451 (2010)

Urban: 4,944,332 (2010)

Metro: 6,313,158 (2010)

Elevation: 43 ft above sea level

MSA Gross Area Product: $325.5 billion (2006)

Airports: George Bush Intercontinental Airport, William P Hobby Airport, Ellington Airport

Higher-Education: 40+ colleges, universities and institutions

Mayor: Sylvester Turner

Primary Industries: Energy, Medical

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Instagram Accounts in Houston Worth Following

Get to know Houston a little better through the eyes of real, live Houstonians.

Space

@nasa – Houston is the proud home of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Space Center, the headquarters for human spaceflight activities. Though NASA isn’t technically headquartered in Houston, space is certainly an important part of the region’s identity. Follow this account for breathtaking pictures and videos of places beyond Earth (and of Earth itself).

Food

@bestfoodhouston – As one of the larger Instagram accounts revolving around Houston’s food scene, @bestfoodhouston provides a quick visual guide to what to eat and where to eat it in Houston.

@hungerhouston – Though smaller than the account above, @hungerhouston also provides a mouth-watering look at a great variety of dishes with various prices and locations around Houston.

Sports

@houston_sports_htown – Your one stop shop for all things Houston Sports, with a leaning to the humorous side.

@astrosbaseball – Official account of the Houston Astros MLB baseball team.

@houstontexans – Official account of the Houston Texas NFL football team.

@houstondynamo – Official account of the Houston Dynamo MLS soccer team.

@houstonrockets – Official account of the Houston Rockets NBA basketball team.

City

@downtownhouston – Houston is a big place, so this account specifically focuses on highlighting activities, events, and businesses happening downtown.

@houstoncity – The official Instagram account for the city of Houston, highlighting the places and people that make Houston a great place to live.

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Houston: the Un-zoned City

Houston is the largest city in the US that does not have zoning laws. While the prospect of free-for-all development might seem intimidating, development isn’t quite as chaotic as one might imagine.

Zoning laws generally determine what kinds of buildings can be built in specific locations. In simple terms, land zoned as residential cannot have a superstore built upon it, but property zoned as industrial can’t have homes built on it either. Most cities and towns have zoning laws to create cohesive neighborhoods and to protect the integrity of specific areas; you wouldn’t want a nightclub to move into your quiet tree lined street, right? So if Houston doesn’t have zoning laws, what’s to stop the nightclub from moving in?

Despite Houston’s well-known lack of zoning, methods other than law have successfully helped to keep development in check. Many deeds have restrictions which limit future use of the land in some way, similar to the effect of a zoning law. Homeowner associations may have restrictions as to what can be built within a certain community. The city has also enacted regulations on standard setbacks, parking, and restrictions on the subdivision of lots. There are also laws that restrict the proximity of schools to certain commercial locations such as liquor stores and adult businesses. The city can also pass ordinances that change how land is used in order to enact specific changes to development, such as restrictions on density levels based on location within the city.

Though you may find the occasional high-rise in the inner-ring suburbs or restaurants in residential areas, the developmental layout of Houston is very similar to other sprawling Sunbelt cities that grew up in the age of the automobile. Lack of zoning laws may seem like the city has a “do-what-you-will” stance towards development, but laws and ordinances other than zoning have ensured that residents, workers and businesses of Houston can enjoy good quality of life.

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How to Find Your Property Line

Whether you’re just curious, planning on erecting a fence or other structure, or you’re having a dispute with a neighbor, knowing how to find where your property ends and another begins is useful. Here are a few ways that can help you determine the boundaries of your property.

Check the Appraisal District Website/Office

Some maps are available through the Harris County Appraisal District website (or the website for your local). Using these maps, you can attempt to draw out the property lines yourself, though this method is not going to be as accurate as a surveyor. If the website doesn’t offer a solution, venture into the office in person and ask to see what maps are publicly available.

Look at Your Deed

Some deeds will included a description of the property boundaries in relation to landmarks, such as streets. Using the description from the deed, you can walk around your property with a tape measure and mark out the exterior lines of your property.

Use Your Property Survey

When you buy a home, you’ll receive a survey of your property that you should always keep safely filed. This survey will include descriptions of the property boundaries which you can use to mark out your property lines.

Hire a Surveyor

If you can’t get your hands on a map or property description, or you simply need to ensure complete accuracy, it’s best to hire a trained, professional surveyor who can use their equipment to mark out the property boundary for you.

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Community Spotlight – Pasadena

Pasadena, TX lies southeast of downtown Houston. Known for the Armand Bayou Nature Center, the area is a haven for lush greenery and relaxing atmosphere.

Reconnect with nature by visiting this beautiful pocket of Texas’s Gulf Coast. The Armand Bayou Nature center in Pasadena works toward preserving the wetlands prairie, forest and marsh habitats surrounding the area.

At a point, Pasadena was known as Strawberry Capital of the World, shipping as many as 28 train carloads of strawberries each day. To honor that history, Pasadena holds an annual Strawberry Festival with live music, tournaments, a parade and more!

Immerse yourself in Pasadena’s rich history and nature by visiting today!

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Movies Filmed in Houston

Houston has it all when it comes to scenery and locations. With a sprawling downtown metropolis, a National Forest and the Gulf of Mexico only miles outside the city, it’s no wonder filmmakers flock here to capture bits and pieces of the city for scenes in films. Here is a list of a few films that have used Houston as a backdrop.

Boyhood (2013) – Nominated for six Academy Awards. Won for Best Supporting Actress.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) – 3rd installment of the Transformers franchise directed by Michael Bay.

The Tree of Life (2011) – Drama starring Sean Penn and Academy Award nominees Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.

Independence Day (1996) – Science Fiction cult favorite starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Mary McDonnell.

Apollo 13 (1995) – Nominated for nine Academy Awards and was #1 in the box office opening and weekend and the following two weeks.

Robocop 2 (1990) – Set in Detroit, but filmed in Houston, TX.

Twins (1988) – Cult classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.

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What’s happening in Houston – January 2016

Start off 2016 with a bang by enjoying some of the fun activities the Houston area has to offer throughout the month of January.

Opening Day at Sam Houston Race Park

When: January 15th; Gates Open at 10:30 am

What: Beginning of the 2016 season of live thoroughbred horseracing

Cost: $4-$29.95 depending on age and seat

Where: Sam Houston Race Park

Bridal Extravaganza Show

When: January 9-10

What: 32nd Annual Bridal Extravaganza Show; fashion shows, wedding seminars, 400+ booths from wedding companies around Houston

Cost: $15-45

Where: George R. Brown Convention Center

Houston international Boat, Sport & Travel Show

When: January 8-17th

What: 61st Annual Houston Boat Show, featuring vendors, displays, shows, activities for the whole family and more

Cost: $5-children 6-12; $12-adults; Free-Children 5 and under

Where: NRG Center

Chevron Houston Marathon

When: January 17th

What: The 44th Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon; come out to watch the runners and give your support

Cost: Sold Out

Where: Start – Congress and San Jacinto; Finish – Lamar and Crawford

Galveston Restaurant Week

When: January 9th – 23rd

What: 5th Annual Galveston Restaurant Week; showcase of Galveston’s best culinary establishments across two whole weeks of delicious food

Cost: $10-$40 depending on meal and restaurant

Where: Participating Restaurants

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Resolutions for the Home – Part 2

Are you one of the 46% of Americans who make New Year’s Resolutions? Many people resolve to get healthy, quit smoking, lose weight or save money. Many people seem to neglect the place where they prepare meals, spend time with family and most importantly, sleep! That’s right, we’re talking about your home! Whether you own your own home or rent, it’s important to make sure you’re content within the place you dwell.

– Clear out the Clutter

Go through your closets and pantry and get rid of anything you haven’t used in 6-12 months!

– Make It Safe

Protect your loved ones by making your home safer. Install an alarm system, make sure your smoke detector is working, and go over family safety plans.

– Keep it Clean

Commit to a schedule to keep your home clean! Why not clean one room per day, or create a cleaning routine that you go through every morning? Try this weekly cleaning schedule or make your own!

– Go Green

Replace your light bulbs with Energy Star bulbs, invest in new eco-friendly cleaning products, or go big and update your windows or siding! It may end up saving you money in the long run.

What are some of your resolutions? Share with us!

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