Harris County, Texas
Harris County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas, located in the southeastern part of the state near Galveston Bay. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 4,092,459, making it the most populous county in Texas and the third most populous county in the United States. Its county seat is Houston, the largest city in Texas and fourth largest city in the United States. The county was founded in 1836 and organized in 1837. It is named for John Richardson Harris, who founded the town of Harrisburg on Buffalo Bayou in 1826. According to a July 2018 Census estimate, Harris County's population had grown to 4,698,619, comprising over 16 percent of Texas's population.
The Harris County Civil Courthouse in Houston
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
|Coordinates: 29°52′N 95°23′W|
|Named for||John Richardson Harris|
|• Total||1,777 sq mi (4,600 km2)|
|• Land||1,703 sq mi (4,410 km2)|
|• Water||74 sq mi (190 km2) 4.2%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||2,732/sq mi (1,055/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Congressional districts||2nd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 18th, 22nd, 29th, 36th|
Native Americans and early Europeans
Human remains date habitation to about 4,000 BC. Other evidence of humans in the area dates from about 1400 BC, 1 AD, and later in the first millenium. The region became uninhabited from 1 AD until European contact. On the other hand, little European activity predates 1821. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca may have visited the area in 1529. French traders recorded passing through in the 18th century. Spaniards attempted to establish a fort in the area around the same time, but did not persist for long.
The first recorded European settlers in Harris County arrived in 1822. Their schooner sailed into Galveston Bay and ran aground on the Red Fish Bar. Some of those passengers traveled further up the bay system, but it is not known whether they settled up Buffalo Bayou or the San Jacinto River. One of these passengers, a Mr. Ryder, settled at what is now known as Morgan's Point, Texas. Also in 1822, John Iiams settled his family at Cedar Point after sailing from Berwick’s Bay, Louisiana. Dr. Johnson Hunter arrived just after Iiams. He also wrecked his boat near Galveston. He settled at Morgan’s Point and was a grantee of land there. Nathaniel Lynch settled in the area and operated a ferry.
In 1824, the land empresario, Stephen F. Austin convened at the house of William Scott for the purpose of conveying titles for Mexican headrights. He was joined by the land commissioner, Baron von Bastrop, and Austin’s secretary, Samuel May Williams. About thirty families gained legal titles to land in what would later be known as Harris County. A few immigrants settled on Buffalo Bayou in these early years, including Moses Callahan, Ezekial Thomas, and the Vince brothers.
Nicolas Clopper arrived in the Galveston Bay area from Ohio in the 1820s. He attempted to develop Buffalo Bayou as a trading conduit for the Brazos River valley. He acquired land at Morgan’s Point in 1826. John Richardson Harris (1790–1829), for whom the county was later named, arrived in 1824. Harris had moved his family to Sainte Genevieve, Missouri Territory, where they had been residing until the early 1820s.
Harris was granted a league of land (about 4,428 acres) at Buffalo Bayou. He platted the town of Harrisburg in 1826, while he established a trading post and a grist mill there. He ran boats transporting goods between New Orleans and Harrisburg until his death in the fall of 1829.
Republic of Texas
The First Congress of the Republic of Texas established Harrisburg County on December 22, 1836. The original county boundaries included Galveston Island, but were redrawn to its current configuration in May 1838.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,777 square miles (4,600 km2), of which 1,703 square miles (4,410 km2) is land and 74 square miles (190 km2) (4.2%) is covered by water. Both its total area and land area are larger than the state of Rhode Island.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 Census, the population of the county was 4,092,459, White Americans made up 56.6% of Harris County's population; non-Hispanic whites represented 33.0% of the population. Black Americans made up 25.9% of the population. Native Americans made up 0.7% of Harris County's population. Asian Americans made up 6.2% of the population (2.0% Vietnamese, 1.2% Indian, 1.1% Chinese, 0.6% Filipino, 0.3% Korean, 0.1% Japanese, 1.0% Other). Pacific Islander Americans made up just 0.1% of the population. Individuals from other races made up 14.3% of the population; people from two or more races made up 3.2% of the county's population. Hispanics and Latinos (of any race) made up 40.8% of Harris County's population. As of the 2010 census, there were about 6.2 same-sex couples per 1,000 households in the county.
As of the census of 2000, 3,400,578 people, 1,205,516 households, and 834,217 families resided in the county, making it the largest county by population in Texas. The population density was 1,967 people per square mile (759/km²). The 1,298,130 housing units averaged 751 per square mile (290/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 58.7% White, 18.5% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 5.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 14.2% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. About 32.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race; 7.2% were of German, 6.2% American, and 5.3% English ancestry according to Census 2000. About 63.8% spoke only English at home, while 28.8% spoke Spanish and 1.6% Vietnamese.
In 2000, of the 1,205,516 households, 37.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.6% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.8% were not families. About 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.79 and the average family size was 3.38.
In the county, the population was distributed as 29.00% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 33.4% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 7.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.0 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $42,598, and for a family was $49,004. Males had a median income of $37,361 versus $28,941 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,435. About 12.1% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.6% of those under age 18 and 12.2% of those age 65 or over.
According to Children At Risk, a local nonprofit research organization, 21% of the Harris County children live in poverty, 6.5 per 1,000 die before age one, and 38% drop out of high school.
Harris County along with other Texas counties has one of the nation's highest property tax rates. In 2007, the county was ranked in the top 25 at 22nd in the nation for property taxes as percentage of the homes value on owner-occupied housing. The list only includes counties with a population over 65,000 for comparability.
Racial and ethnic demographics
As of 2014 Census estimates, Harris County had a population of 4,441,370 people.
The racial and ethnic makeup of the county was 40.8% Hispanic or Latino. The population was 31.4% non-Hispanic white, 19.5% non-Hispanic black, 1.1% Native American, 7.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander. [Harris County Demographics]
As of 2013, 37% of non-Hispanic Whites in Harris County had college or postgraduate degrees and 36% of them had annual incomes over $75,000. As of 2013, 19% of Blacks in Harris County had college or postgraduate degrees. as did 13% of U.S.-born Latinos and 7% of Latino immigrants.
Altogether, the non-Hispanic white population in Harris County is declining. Steve H. Murdock, a demographer with the Rice University Hobby Center for the Study of Texas and a former director of the U.S. Census Bureau, predicted that by 2040, Hispanic residents of the county will increase by 2.5 million, while the number of non-Hispanic Whites will decrease by 516,000. This assumes that the net migration rate is equal to one half of that of 1990–2000.
The Houston Area Asian Survey of the Kinder Institute of Urban Research Houston Area Survey stated that between 1990 and 2000, the Asian population in Harris County increased by 76%. Between 2000 and 2010, it increased by 45%. The Asian ethnic groups in Harris County have differing levels of educational attainment, religion, political views, and income. During that year, in Harris County, 50% of the county's Asian immigrants have postgraduate degrees. As of 2013 28% of Harris County Asians have household incomes of over $75,000. The report stated that many Asians were in earlier stages of careers and were younger, leading to lower incomes. Of Indian and Pakistani residents, the second most educated Asian group in the county, behind Taiwanese, 71% have university or post-graduate degrees and 2% did not finish high school. Of Vietnamese, the least educated Asian group in the county, 30% have university or post-graduate degrees and 20% did not finish high school.
As of 2012, Vietnamese were the largest group of Asians in Harris County. As of 1995, most Vietnamese, Filipinos, and Chinese stated that they were Republicans, while most Indians and Pakistanis stated that they were Democrats. In 2012, Indians and Pakistanis continue to identify as Democrats, while Chinese, Filipinos, and Vietnamese were increasingly identifying as independents or Democrats.
In 2000, 1,961,993 residents of Harris County spoke English only. The five largest foreign languages in the county were Spanish or Spanish Creole (1,106,883 speakers), Vietnamese (53,311 speakers), Chinese (33,003 speakers), French including Cajun and Patois (33,003 speakers), and Urdu (14,595 speakers). Among those who spoke other languages, 46% of Spanish speakers, 37% of Vietnamese speakers, 50% of Chinese speakers, 85% of French speakers, and 72% of Urdu speakers said that they spoke English at least "very well".
In 2013, Allen Turner of the Houston Chronicle said that residents of Harris County were "consistently conservative in elections" and that they were, according to a Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research opinion poll, "surprisingly liberal on topics such as immigration, gun control and equal matrimonial rights for same-sex couples". Harris is regarded as a moderate or swing county in Texas, and has been a bellwether in Presidential elections, voting for winners of every Presidential election from 2000 through 2012 (both Barack Obama and Texas resident George W. Bush have won the county).
As a result of the Obama sweep in 2008, many Democratic candidates in contests for lower-level offices also benefited, and many Republican incumbents were replaced by Democrats in the Harris County courthouse. Some of the defeated Republican district court judges were later re-appointed to vacant District Court benches by Governor Rick Perry. In 2018, Democrats swept the court capturing all 59 seats on the civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probate courts.
The Kinder Institute's Houston Survey in 2018 found that from 2014 through 2018 the number of Houston residents who supported adoption of children by same-sex couples climbed above 50% and remained there, while in 2017 over 56% of residents reported gay or lesbian persons among their circle of close personal friends. A 2013 opinion poll had found that 46% of Harris County residents supported same-sex marriage, up from 37% in 2001. Just above 82% favored offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship provided they speak English and have no criminal record, holding from 83% in 2013, which was up from 19% in 2009. In 2013, 87% supported background checks for all firearms, the latest year that question was included in the Kinder Houston Survey. This measure has moved up steadily from 60% in 1985 to 69% in 2000.
As of U.S. Census figures current as of 1997, 9% of residents in Harris County did not own automobiles. This figure does not include people who own cars, but do not have enough money to repair the automobiles. As of that year, while the average income of all residents of the county was $41,000 (equivalent to $64,000 in 2018), the average income of households without cars was $13,000 (equivalent to $20,300 in 2018).
In 2011, according to the nonprofit Children at Risk, one-third of students at public high schools in Harris County do not graduate.
Government and politics
County governments serve as agents of the state, with responsibilities defined in the Texas Constitution. Counties are governed by the commissioners' court. Each Texas county has four precinct commissioners and a county judge. Although this body is called a court, it conducts the general business of the county and oversees financial matters. The commissioners court may hire personnel to run major departments, such as health and human services.
Besides the county judge and commissioners, the other elective offices found in most counties include the county attorney, county and district clerks, county treasurer, sheriff, tax assessor-collector, justices of the peace, and constables. As a part of the checks and balances system, counties have an auditor appointed by the district courts.
Historically, Harris County voted Republican at the presidential level from the mid-20th century until 2008; Barack Obama was the first Democrat to win the county since Texas native Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Democratic strength is found in the city of Houston. Suburban areas such as Cypress, Spring, and Katy in the county's western and northern areas, tend to be strongly Republican. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the county by the largest margin for a Democrat since 1964. The Democratic Party performed very strongly in the county during the 2018 elections.
The 1910 county courthouse was renovated in the 1950s to update its systems. Some residents, such as Martin Dreyer, a Houston Chronicle reporter, were disturbed by modernization of the building, saying its character had been ruined. In the 21st century, the facility received another major renovation. Completed in 2011, the $50 million, eight-year project was designed to restore notable historic aspects of the courthouse while providing for contemporary communication and building needs.
The Texas First Court of Appeals and the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals, since September 3, 2010, are located in the 1910 Harris County courthouse. Previously they were located on the campus of the South Texas College of Law.
The Harris County Jail Complex of the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) is the largest in Texas, and one of the largest in the nation. In July, 2012, the facility held 9,113 prisoners. To handle overcrowding in the facility, the county had to ship inmates to other counties and some are housed out of the state.
United States Congress
|Senate Class 1||Ted Cruz||Republican||2012||Junior Senator|
|Senate Class 2||John Cornyn||Republican||2002||Senior Senator|
|Representatives||Name||Party||First Elected||Area(s) of Harris County Represented|
|District 2||Dan Crenshaw||Republican||2018||Atascosita, Huffman, Humble, Kingwood, Spring|
|District 7||Lizzie Pannill Fletcher||Democratic||2018||West Houston, Memorial Villages, Bellaire, West University Place, west and northwest areas of county|
|District 9||Al Green||Democratic||2004||Alief, Southwest Houston, Houston's Southside|
|District 10||Michael McCaul||Republican||2004||Northwest|
|District 18||Sheila Jackson Lee||Democratic||1994||Downtown Houston, Bush IAH, northwest and northeast Houston, inner portions of Houston's Southside|
|District 22||Pete Olson||Republican||2008||Ellington Field,|
|District 29||Sylvia Garcia||Democratic||2018||Aldine, Channelview, East Houston, Fall Creek portion of Humble, Galena Park, Jacinto City, northern Pasadena, North Shore, western Sheldon, South Houston|
|District 36||Brian Babin||Republican||2014||Clear Lake City, NASA Johnson Space Center, southern and central Pasadena, Deer Park, Baytown, Crosby, La Porte, eastern Sheldon, Dayton, Seabrook, Morgan's Point, Shore Acres, El Lago, Nassau Bay, Taylor Lake Village|
|District||Name||Party||First Elected||Area(s) of Harris County Represented|
|4||Brandon Creighton||Republican||2014||Kingwood, far eastern portions of Baytown|
|6||Carol Alvarado||Democratic||2013||Houston Ship Channel, eastern portions of Houston, Jacinto City, Galena Park, northern Pasadena, western portion of Baytown|
|7||Paul Bettencourt||Republican||2014||Memorial Villages, Memorial/Spring Branch area, Addicks Reservoir, northwest portions of county|
|13||Borris Miles||Democratic||2016||Downtown Houston, Texas Medical Center, southwest and northeast Houston, Houston's Southside|
|15||John Whitmire||Democratic||1983||Northwest Houston, Bush IAH, southern portion of Humble, eastern Harris County|
|17||Joan Huffman||Republican||2008||Meyerland, Bellaire, West University Place, much of Greater Katy area, far west Houston, Barker Reservoir|
Texas House of Representatives
|District||Name||Party||First Elected||Area(s) of Harris County Represented|
|126||Kevin Roberts||Republican||2016||Champions/FM 1960 area|
|127||Dan Huberty||Republican||2010||Humble, Kingwood, Lake Houston, Atascocita, Crosby, Wallisville|
|128||Briscoe Cain||Republican||2016||Baytown, Deer Park, La Porte|
|129||Dennis Paul||Republican||2014||Clear Lake City, NASA Johnson Space Center, Southeast Harris County (including Seabrook and Webster)|
|130||Tom Oliverson||Republican||2016||Northwest Harris County (including Cypress, Tomball, Waller)|
|131||Alma Allen||Democratic||2004||far Southwest Houston and far South Side|
|132||Gina Calanni||Democratic||2018||West Harris County (including Greater Katy area)|
|133||Jim Murphy||Republican||2010 (Also served 2006–2008)||West Houston along West Sam Houston Tollway, including western portion of Memorial/Spring Branch and part of the Energy Corridor|
|134||Sarah Davis||Republican||2010||Inner western portions of Houston (including Meyerland, River Oaks and Memorial Park), Texas Medical Center, West University Place, Bellaire, Southside Place, Western Montrose|
|135||Jon Rosenthal||Democratic||2018||Jersey Village and southeastern segments of the Champions/FM 1960 area|
|137||Gene Wu||Democratic||2013||Southwest Houston (including Sharpstown and Gulfton)|
|138||Dwayne Bohac||Republican||2002||Northwest Houston and parts of the Memorial/Spring Branch area north of I-10, Addicks Reservoir|
|139||Jarvis Johnson||Democratic||2016||North Houston and Aldine west of I-45|
|140||Armando Walle||Democratic||2008||North Houston and Aldine east of I-45|
|141||Senfronia Thompson||Democratic||1972||Northeast Houston, Bush IAH, Greenspoint, southern portion of Humble|
|142||Harold Dutton, Jr.||Democratic||1984||East Houston and Northshore area|
|143||Ana Hernandez Luna||Democratic||2006||East Houston within Loop 610, Houston Ship Channel, Galena Park, Jacinto City, northern Pasadena|
|144||Mary Ann Perez||Democratic||2016||Southern Pasadena, far southeast Houston|
|145||Carol Alvarado||Democratic||2008||Inner southeastern portions of Houston (mainly east of I-45), South Houston (not part of the city of Houston)|
|146||Shawn Thierry||Democratic||2016||Inner portions of Houston's South Side|
|147||Garnet Coleman||Democratic||1990||Downtown Houston, inner southeastern portions of Houston (mainly west of I-45), Eastern Montrose, Midtown, Third Ward|
|148||Jessica Farrar||Democratic||1994||North and Northwest Houston mainly within Loop 610 (including Houston Heights)|
|149||Hubert Vo||Democratic||2004||Far west Houston, Alief, unincorporated portions of Katy area east of Fry Rd, Barker Reservoir|
|150||Valoree Swanson||Republican||2016||North Harris County (including Spring and Klein)|
Harris County elected officials
|County Judge||Lina Hidalgo||Democratic|
|Commissioner, Precinct 1||Rodney Ellis||Democratic|
|Commissioner, Precinct 2||Adrian Garcia||Democratic|
|Commissioner, Precinct 3||Steve Radack||Republican|
|Commissioner, Precinct 4||R. Jack Cagle||Republican|
|County Attorney||Vince Ryan||Democratic|
|District Attorney||Kim Ogg||Democratic|
|District Clerk||Marilyn Burgess||Democratic|
|County Clerk||Diane Trautman||Democratic|
|Tax Assessor-Collector||Ann Harris Bennett||Democratic|
|School Trustee, At-Large, Pos. 5||Michael Wolfe||Republican|
|School Trustee, At-Large, Pos. 7||Don Sumner||Republican|
|School Trustee, Pct. 1, Pos. 6||Erica Lee||Democratic|
|School Trustee, Pct. 2, Pos. 1||Marvin Morris||Republican|
|School Trustee, Pct. 3, Pos. 4||Louis D. Evans III||Republican|
|School Trustee, Pct. 4, Pos. 2||Angie Chesnut||Republican|
|Constable, Precinct 1||Alan Rosen||Democratic|
|Constable, Precinct 2||Christopher E. Diaz||Democratic|
|Constable, Precinct 3||Sherman Eagleton||Democratic|
|Constable, Precinct 4||Mark Herman||Republican|
|Constable, Precinct 5||Ted Heap||Republican|
|Constable, Precinct 6||Silvia Trevino||Democratic|
|Constable, Precinct 7||May Walker||Democratic|
|Constable, Precinct 8||Phil Sandlin||Republican|
The Harris County Flood Control District manages the effects of flooding in the county.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office operates jail facilities and is the primary provider of law enforcement services to the unincorporated areas of the county. The sheriff is the conservator of the peace in the county. The Harris County jail facilities are in northern downtown on the north side of the Buffalo Bayou. The 1200 Jail, the 1307 Jail, (originally a TDCJ facility, leased by the county), and the 701 Jail (formed from existing warehouse storage space) are on the same site.
The Community Services Department provides community services. The department maintains the 20 acres (8.1 ha) Oates Road Cemetery (also known as the Harris County Cemetery) for indigents in eastern Houston, near the former Southern Bible College. In March 2010, the county adopted a cremation first policy, meaning that the default preference for most indigents is to have them cremated instead of buried. As of 2010, the county authorized the Community Services Department to purchase about 50 acres (20 ha) of land in the Huffman area so the county will have additional spaces for indigent burials.
The Harris County Housing Authority (HCHA) is a governmental nonprofit corporation which addresses the need for quality affordable housing. The HCHA has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the highest performing housing authority in the region and was recently named one of America's 10 best Public Housing Authorities. Guy R. Rankin, IV is Chief Executive Officer of Harris County Housing Authority (HCHA).
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice operates some correctional facilities in Harris County, including:
- Kegans Unit, located in Downtown Houston, is a state jail for men. It is in the north of downtown along the north side of the Buffalo Bayou, next to the county facilities.
- Pam Lychner Unit, named after Pam Lychner and located in unincorporated northeast Harris County, east of the city of Humble, is a state jail for men.
As of 2001, Kegans and Lychner serves male state jail offenders from Harris County, with Kegans getting lower-risk offenders and Lychner getting higher-risk and special-needs offenders. If both of the male state jails in Harris County are full, excess offenders go to the Gist Unit in Jefferson County. Female state jail offenders from Harris County go to the Plane Unit in Liberty County.
As of 2018 there are over 60 law enforcement agencies operating in the county. They include: the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the Harris County Constable Office, the Houston Police Department, METRO Police Department, other municipal police departments, and school district police departments.
The combined yearly sum spent by these agencies circa 2018 was $1.6 billion. That year the Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research released a report advocating for consolidating several of these agencies as a way of saving taxpayer money.
The University of Houston System's annual impact on the Houston-area's economy equates to that of a major corporation: $1.1 billion in new funds attracted annually to the Houston area, $3.13 billion in total economic benefit, and 24,000 local jobs generated. This is in addition to the 12,500 new graduates the UH System produces every year who enter the workforce in Houston and throughout Texas. These degree-holders tend to stay in Houston. After five years, 80.5% of graduates are still living and working in the region.
In 2009, 20% of the office space in northwest Harris County was vacant. As of that year, more office space is being built; in 2010, northwest Harris will have twice the amount of office space that it had in 2009. The vacancy rate in the area near Farm to Market Road 1960 and Texas State Highway 249 in north Harris County was 53% in 2009.
Various companies are headquartered in incorporated and unincorporated areas throughout Harris County.
Academy Sports and Outdoors, a sporting goods retailer, has its corporate offices and product distribution center in unincorporated western Harris County. Hewlett-Packard operates its United States region office in a complex northwest unincorporated Harris County; the complex formerly belonged to Compaq prior to Compaq's merger with HP. Smith International has its headquarters in the Greenspoint district and in an unincorporated area in Harris County. BJ Services Company has its headquarters in the Spring Branch district and in unincorporated Harris County. Cybersoft Technologies has its headquarters in an unincorporated area. In 2012 Noble Energy announced that it was consolidating its headquarters and two other Greater Houston offices into a 10-story building on the former Compaq headquarters property in unincorporated Harris County. Goya Foods previously had its Texas offices in an unincorporated area in the county.
General Electric operates an aeroderivative division facility on Jacintoport in unincorporated Harris County. Randall's Food Markets, a subsidiary of Safeway Inc., has its distribution center in unincorporated Harris County.
In 2008, KBR announced that it will open a new office facility in an unincorporated area in western Harris County. In December KBR said that it would not continue with the plans due to a weakened economy. In January 2009 KBR announced that it will not open the new office facility.
Various consulates are located in the county, mostly within the city of Houston.
Primary and secondary schools
The Harris County Department of Education, a county division overseeing education by local school districts, with a 2011 budget around $100 million, is headquartered in the Ronald W. Reagan Building in the Northside district in Houston. It has an Adult Education Center in the Northside and an office in the North Post Oak Building in Spring Branch.
Several school districts serve Harris County communities. Among the 26 districts are:
On July 1, 2013 the North Forest Independent School District closed and its territory became a part of Houston ISD.
In addition, state-operated charter schools are in the county. Charter schools in unincorporated areas include:
- Jamie's House Charter School (6–12)
- Richard Milburn Academy Houston (high school) – Of Milburn Schools
- YES Prep North Central of YES Prep Public Schools
Colleges and universities
Four separate and distinct state universities are located in Harris County. The University of Houston is a nationally recognized Tier One research university, and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. The third-largest university in Texas, the University of Houston counted 43,774 (fall 2016) students on its 667-acre campus in southeast Houston. The University of Houston–Clear Lake and the University of Houston–Downtown are stand-alone universities; they are not branch campuses of the University of Houston. Located in the historic community of Third Ward is Texas Southern University, one of the largest historically black colleges and universities in the United States.
Several private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges to a nationally recognized research university—are located within Harris County. Rice University is one of the leading teaching and research universities of the United States and ranked the nation's 17th best overall university by U.S. News & World Report.
Three community college districts exist with campuses in and around Harris County. The Houston Community College System serves most of Houston. The northwestern through northeastern parts of the county are served by various campuses of the Lone Star College System, while the southeastern portion of the county is served by San Jacinto College. The Houston Community College and Lone Star College systems are within the 10 largest institutions of higher learning in the United States.
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) serves several areas within Harris County. An agency of the Harris County government, Harris County Transit, serves communities in Harris County that are not served by METRO.
In Harris County, the average one way commute for a person using an automobile was 25 minutes, while the average commute for a person not using an automobile was 44 minutes, a 76% longer duration than the figure for commuters with cars.
See List of Highways in Harris County for more roadways in Harris County.
Many areas in Harris County are served by Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO), a public transportation agency headquartered in Downtown Houston.
Greyhound Bus Lines operates various stations throughout Harris County.
Two commercial airports, George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, are located in Houston and in Harris County. The Houston Airport System defines Harris County as a part of Bush Intercontinental's service region. The city of Houston operates Ellington Field, a general aviation and military airport in Harris County.
General aviation airports for fixed-wing aircraft outside of Houston include:
- Publicly owned
- Privately owned, public use
- West Houston Airport is a general aviation airport located in unincorporated western Harris County, west of the Houston city limits.
- Dan Jones International Airport in unincorporated northwestern Harris County
- Weiser Air Park in unincorporated northern Harris County
- David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport, a general aviation airport, is located outside of the Tomball city limits in unincorporated northwest Harris County.
- Sack-O-Grande Acroport (also known as Harbican Airport) is located in western unincorporated Harris County.
- Privately owned, private use
- Hoffpauir Airport is located in western unincorporated Harris County.
Incorporated cities operate their own police departments.
Harris County operates the Harris County Sheriff's Office, which serves unincorporated areas and supplements police forces of incorporated areas.
Harris County also has a constable for each of its eight precincts and hundreds of deputies assigned to each. They mainly serve in a patrol function, established to maintain peace in the county as well as providing security to county buildings such as court houses and district attorney's offices.
Municipal Fire/EMS Services
The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office operates an Investigative Branch, an Emergency Response Branch (Hazardous Materials Response) and Prevention Branch (Inspections). The office is headquartered at 2318 Atascocita Road in an unincorporated area. Incorporated cities operate their own fire departments.
The City of Houston operates the Houston Fire Department which provides fire and emergency medical coverage to the City of Houston.
Other municipalities in Harris County may provide their own fire service or may be part of an Emergency Service District that provides service for the city. Cities with municipal fire departments include:
- League City
- Galena Park
- South Houston
- Jacinto City
- Missouri City
- West University Place
- Deer Park
- Jersey Village
- Nassau Bay
- Southside Place
- Memorial Village (Bunker Hill, Piney Point, Hunters Creek)
Emergency Services Districts
Areas outside of municipal city limits (and some smaller municipalities) have fire and emergency medical services provided by Emergency Service Districts, distinct governmental units with the ability to levy property and sales taxes. ESD's may provide fire service, EMS service or both (dual services) and the services they provide determine the limits on their adoptable tax rate.
ESD's may provide services directly or may contract with an agency or agencies for services. Additionally, ESD's may overlap one another to ensure both fire and EMS services are provided.
|ESD||Type||Provider||Sales Tax Rate (2015)||Property Tax Rate per $100 Valuation (2015)|
|Harris County ESD #1||EMS||Harris County Emergency Corps||.10|
|Harris County ESD #2||EMS||South Lake Houston EMS||1%||.0280120|
|Harris County ESD #4 (4A)||Dual||Huffman FD||1% (2%)||.10 (.10)|
|Harris County ESD #5||EMS||HCESD5 EMS||1%||.02|
|Harris County ESD #6||EMS||North Channel EMS||.5%||.0089|
|Harris County ESD #7||Fire||Spring VFD||1%||.06545|
|Harris County ESD #8||EMS||Northwest EMS||.10|
|Harris County ESD #9||Dual||Cy-Fair FD||1%||.055|
|Harris County ESD #10||Fire||Eastex Fire Department||1%||.10|
|Harris County ESD #11||EMS||Cypress Creek EMS||.04185|
|Harris County ESD #12||Fire||Cloverleaf Fire Department||.5%||.03|
|Harris County ESD #13||Fire||Cypress Creek FD||.08826|
|Harris County ESD #14||Dual||Highlands VFD||2%||.05|
|Harris County ESD #15||Fire||Tomball FD||1%||.05|
|Harris County ESD #16||Fire||Klein VFD||1%||.05|
|Harris County ESD #17||Fire||Little York VFD||1%||.10|
|Harris County ESD #19||Fire||Sheldon VFD||.03|
|Harris County ESD #20||Fire||Northwest FD||1%||.10|
|Harris County ESD #21||Dual||Rosehill FD||1%||.10|
|Harris County ESD #24||Fire||Aldine Fire & Rescue||.10|
|Harris County ESD #25||Fire||Westfield FD||.10|
|Harris County ESD #28||Fire||Ponderosa VFD||1%||.10|
|Harris County ESD #29||Fire||Champions VFD||1%||.09032|
|Harris County ESD #46||Dual||Atascocita VFD||1%||.08|
|Harris County ESD #47||Dual||Westlake FD||1%||.095186|
|Harris County ESD #48||Dual||HCESD48 FD||1%||.089|
|Harris County ESD #50||Dual||Channelview FD||1%||.05|
|Harris County ESD #60||Fire||Sheldon VFD||1%||.05|
|Harris County ESD #75||Dual||Baytown FD||1%||.0875|
|Harris County ESD #80||Fire||Crosby FD||1%||.04178|
|Harris-Fort Bend ESD #100||Dual||Community FD||1%||.07951|
|Waller-Harris ESD #200||Other||Multiple Fire/EMS Agencies||.0995|
Administration by judiciary
The chief administrative officer of a Texas County, as set up in the Texas Constitution, is the County Judge, who sits as the chair of the county's Commissioners' Court (the equivalent of a Board of Supervisors in some other states). In 2019, Judge Lina Hidalgo was sworn in as the County Judge. The county is split into 4 geographical divisions called Precincts. Each precinct elects a Commissioner to sit as a representative of their precinct on the commissioners court and also for the oversight of county functions in their area.
Other elected positions in Harris County include a County Attorney, a County Clerk, a District Attorney, a District Clerk, a Sheriff, 8 Constables, a Tax Assessor-Collector, a County Treasurer, and every judge in the county except municipal judges, who are appointed by the mayors and confirmed by city councils of their respective cities.
Many of the organs of the Harris County government reside in the Harris County Campus in Downtown Houston.
Within Harris County, hospital services for the indigent and needy are provided by the Harris County Hospital District, a separate governmental entity. Harris County Hospital District operates three hospitals: LBJ General Hospital, Quentin Mease Community Hospital, and Ben Taub General Hospital, as well as many clinics.
Additionally, numerous private and public hospitals operate in Harris County, including institutions in Texas Medical Center and throughout the county, for example the Harris County Psychiatric Center
Cities (multiple counties)
- Baytown (partly in Chambers County)
- Friendswood (mostly in Galveston County)
- Houston (county seat) (small parts in Fort Bend and Montgomery counties)
- Katy (partly in Fort Bend and Waller counties)
- League City (mostly in Galveston County)
- Missouri City (mostly in Fort Bend County)
- Pearland (mostly in Brazoria County and a small part in Fort Bend County)
- Seabrook (some water surface in Chambers County)
- Stafford (mostly in Fort Bend County)
- Waller (partly in Waller County)
- Bunker Hill Village
- Deer Park
- El Lago
- Galena Park
- Hedwig Village
- Hilshire Village
- Hunters Creek Village
- Jacinto City
- Jersey Village
- La Porte
- Morgan's Point
- Nassau Bay
- Piney Point Village
- South Houston
- Southside Place
- Spring Valley Village
- Taylor Lake Village
- West University Place
- Alief (Partially annexed by Houston, partially unincorporated)
- Beaumont Place
- Cedar Bayou
- Champions Forest
- East Aldine
- Fall Creek
- Houmont Park
- North Houston
- Northcliffe Manor
- Northgate Forest
- Remington Ranch
- Rose Hill
- Timber Meadows
- July 1, 2018 U.S. Census Bureau Estimates for Harris County, Texas
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 25, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
- Henson, Margaret Swett (January 25, 2018) [June 15, 2010]. "Harris County". Handbook of Texas (online ed.). Texas State Historical Association.
- "Harris County". Texas Almanac. Texas State Historical Association. May 22, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
- "Maricopa County Added Over 222 People Per Day in 2016, More Than Any Other County" (Press release). U.S. Census Bureau. March 23, 2017. Press Release Number: CB17-44.
- Jeffrey, Terence P. (March 23, 2017). "Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore Lead Nation in Population Loss; Maricopa County Has Biggest Gain". CNSNews.com.
- Looscan, Adele B. (October 1914). "Harris County, 1822-1845". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 18 (2): 195–207. JSTOR 30234634.
- Sibley, Marilyn McAdams (June 12, 2010). "Clopper, Nicholas". Handbook of Texas (online ed.). Texas State Historical Association.
- Beazley, Julia (February 28, 2017) [June 15, 2010]. "Harris, John Richardson". Handbook of Texas (online ed.). Texas State Historical Association.
- Looscan, Adele B. (April 1928). "The Pioneer Harrises of Harris County, Texas". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 31 (4): 365–373. JSTOR 30242532.
- "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
- "American FactFinder". Retrieved March 23, 2018.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
- "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850–2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
- https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/chs/popdat/st2019.shtm Missing or empty
- Leonhardt, David; Quealy, Kevin (June 26, 2015). "Where Same-Sex Couples Live". The New York Times.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- "Raise the alarm; Two surveys point to the abysmal and deteriorating state of American children's well-being". Houston Chronicle. February 22, 2007. p. B10.
- "Property Taxes on Owner-Occupied Housing by County, 2005–2008, Ranked by Taxes as Percentage of Home Value". Taxfoundation.org. September 28, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- Lee, Renée C. (February 8, 2013). "Report shows Asians a growing force in Houston". Houston Chronicle.
- Scharrer, Gary (February 24, 2011). "Texas demographer: 'It's basically over for Anglos'". Houston Chronicle.
- Rodriguez, Lori (September 18, 2006). "Immigrants confront barriers to English fluency". Houston Chronicle. p. A1. Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
- Turner, Allen (April 24, 2013). "Survey finds area growing in 'tolerant traditionalists'". Houston Chronicle.
- "Republican judges swept out by voters in Harris County election". Houston Chronicle. November 8, 2018. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
- "Kinder Houston Area Survey: 2018 Results". Kinder Institute. April 23, 2018. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- Feldstein, Dan; Kolker, Claudia (June 15, 1997). "Carless in Houston/Going carless/View is different from the slow lane". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on May 3, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
- Mellon, Ericka (December 3, 2011). "What's the real graduation rate in our schools?". Houston Chronicle.
- "County Government Structure". Texas Association of Counties.
- Ura, Alexa (November 11, 2016). "There's no shading it, Harris County went undeniably blue". The Texas Tribune.
- Frosch, Dan (November 20, 2018). "How a Blue Wave Wiped Out Republicans in the Largest County in Texas". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
- Gonzales, J.R. (August 23, 2011). "Crown jewel of Harris County government finally gets to shine". Houston Chronicle.
- "Contact Information Archived July 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." Texas First Court of Appeals. Retrieved on September 12, 2011. "NEW ADDRESS EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 3, 2010 First Court of Appeals 301 Fannin Houston, Texas 77002-2066"
- "Contact Information Archived July 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals. Retrieved on September 12, 2011. "NEW ADDRESS EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 3, 2010 Fourteenth Court of Appeals 301 Fannin, Suite 245 Houston, Texas 77002"
- "Contact Information." Texas First Court of Appeals. Retrieved on March 9, 2010. "Physical Location First Court of Appeals 1307 San Jacinto Street, 10th Floor (intersection of Clay and San Jacinto Streets) Houston, Texas. Contact Information." Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals. Retrieved on March 9, 2010. "Physical Location Fourteenth Court of Appeals 1307 San Jacinto, 11th Floor Houston, TX 77002 "
- "Harris County jail population reductions may be short-lived if Judges, new DA don't act responsibly". Grits for Breakfast Blog. September 14, 2012.
- "Harris County Precinct 4". Hcp4.net. October 3, 2011. Archived from the original on October 11, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- The 1200 Jail Archived February 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine." Harris County, Texas. Accessed September 12, 2008.
- "The 1307 Jail Archived October 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine." Harris County, Texas. Accessed September 12, 2008.
- "The 701 Jail Archived September 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine." Harris County, Texas. Accessed September 12, 2008.
- Taylor, David. "County to purchase land for cemetery." Lake Houston Sentinel. September 2, 2010. Retrieved on September 7, 2010.
- "The Harris County Housing Authority". website. 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "Harris County Housing Authority Honored with Two NAHRO Awards of Merit for Model Housing Solutions". Business Wire. Reuters. August 25, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "Kegans (HM) Archived September 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Accessed September 12, 2008.
- "Saluting Employees January/February 2003 Archived June 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Accessed September 12, 2008.
- "Lychner (AJ) Archived September 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Accessed September 12, 2008.
- "State Jail Evaluation Summary Report Kegans State Jail." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. October 2000. Retrieved on July 2, 2010.
- "SOUTH TEXAS (XM) Archived August 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Accessed September 12, 2008.
- Land, David (September 6, 2018). "Report: Harris County Should Consolidate Law Enforcement Duties". Houston Public Media. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
- "Appendix A: Overview of Law Enforcement Agencies." Collaborations and Overlapping Services in Harris County Law Enforcement. Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research, September 2018. Retrieved on September 11, 2018. p. .
- "Largest Employers in Harris County." Houston Business Journal. Friday June 16, 2000. Retrieved on February 16, 2010.
- TRESAUGUE, Matthew (May 17, 2006). "Study suggests UH degrees are crucial economic factor". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
- "The Economic Impact of Higher Education on Houston: A Case Study of the University of Houston System" (PDF). University of Houston System. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 20, 2011. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- McGuire, Lee. "More Houston office space sitting empty Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine." Texas Cable News. Friday January 23, 2009. Retrieved on November 13, 2009.
- "Contact Academy Sports & Outdoors Archived January 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." Academy Sports and Outdoors. Accessed September 5, 2008.
- "HP Office Locations." Hewlett-Packard. Accessed September 6, 2008.
- "Compaq Offices Worldwide." (December 25, 1996) Compaq. Accessed September 6, 2008.
- "Welcome to SMITH Archived January 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." Smith International. Retrieved on December 8, 2009.
- "Boundary Map Archived October 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." Greenspoint Management District. Retrieved on May 19, 2009.
- "Global Locations." BJ Services Company. July 3, 2007. Retrieved on December 8, 2009.
- "Boundary Map." Spring Branch Management District. Retrieved on December 8, 2009.
- "Contact Us Archived January 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine." Cybersoft Technologies. Retrieved on March 27, 2011. "Cybersoft Technologies, Inc. 4422 FM 1960 West, Suite No. 300 Houston, TX 77068-3411"
- "Noble Energy to move HQ to former HP building." Houston Business Journal. January 20, 2012. Retrieved on January 22, 2012.
- "Contact Us" (Archive). Goya Foods. April 24, 2011. Retrieved on March 26, 2016. "Goya Foods of Texas 5750 Brittmoore Road Houston, TX 77041"
- "GE Energy to provide LM2500+ Gas turbine for south african power plant." General Electric. February 23, 2006. Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
- "Medical Centers U.S." General Electric. Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
- "Distribution Centers Archived July 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine." Safeway Inc. 2. Retrieved on May 13, 2010.
- "KBR Announces Plan for West Houston Campus Location Archived January 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." KBR. May 2, 2008.
- Sarnoff, Nancy. "Economic crunch undercuts real estate projects." Houston Chronicle. January 3, 2009. Retrieved on January 21, 2009.
- "KBR scuttles West Houston expansion." Houston Business Journal. Wednesday January 27, 2010. Modified Thursday January 28, 2010. Retrieved on January 28, 2010.
- "Contact Us." Harris County Department of Education. Retrieved on May 30, 2009.
- "Greater Northside Management District Archived November 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine." Greater Northside Management District. Retrieved on May 30, 2009.
- Barajas, Erik. "North Forest ISD officially closes today Archived December 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine." KTRK-TV. July 1, 2013. Retrieved on July 1, 2013.
- "Richard Milburn Academy – Suburban Houston – Houston, Texas – TX – School overview". Greatschools.net. September 7, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- "Highpoint Schools," and Academic & Behavior Centers East and West (ABC-E) and (ABC-E). Harris County Department of Education. Retrieved on July 17, 2011.
- Bonnin, Richard. "Carnegie Foundation Gives University of Houston its Highest Classification for Research Success, Elevating UH to Tier One Status". University of Houston. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
- "UH achieves Tier One status in research". Houston Business Journal. January 21, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- "UH takes big step up to Tier One status". Houston Chronicle. January 18, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- Khator, Renu (October 4, 2011). "State of the University: Fall 2011" (PDF). University of Houston. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 27, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- Kever, Jeannie (August 21, 2017). "UH Welcomes Record Number of Students for Fall 2017". University of Houston. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
- "Rice University, Best Colleges 2009". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on February 16, 2009. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
- "Vendor Registration Archived June 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." Harris County Transit. Retrieved on January 15, 2010.
- "Welcome To The Harris County Transit Services Division Archived September 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine." Harris County Transit. Retrieved on January 15, 2010.
- "Master Plan Executive Summary." George Bush Intercontinental Airport Master Plan. Houston Airport System. December 2006. 2-1 (23/130). Retrieved on December 14, 2010.
- "About the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office Archived June 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine." Harris County Fire Marshal's Office. Retrieved on May 22, 2009.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Harris County Tax Office".
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Welcome to Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48".
- "Waller Harris ESD 200".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Harris County, Texas.|
- Harris County government's website
- The Handbook of Texas Online: Harris County
- Account of the early days of Harris County, 1824 – 1838 from Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas by John Henry Brown, hosted by The Portal to Texas History
- Accepted design illustration of Court House from the University of Houston Digital Library (1920–1924)