The massive metropolis of Houston is almost twice the size of the entire state of Rhode Island. Even with this heavy urban concentration, Houston is green and lush, situated at the end of a belt of forest coming down from the North and characterized by marshlands and bayous lined with cypress trees in the southern reaches.
Houston, named after former Republic of Texas president Sam Houston, is hot and humid. To make life more bearable in the close-packed downtown area, much activity has gone underground. The city centre sports an air-conditioned seven-mile pedestrian tunnel system full of restaurants and shops. Unlike most cities, downtown Houston is the hub of residential development, so it remains busy and bustling long after dark.
Texas' largest city is not generally a sought after tourist destination, being concerned more with business than pleasure and leisure. Computer manufacture, gas and oil, and a huge concentration of medical institutions account for most of the economic activity.
But all the hard-working citizens have to play sometimes, and there are some good attractions like excellent museums, the amazing Astrodome sports pavilion, some wonderful theatres, and, thanks to the cosmopolitan mix of its residents, some ethnically diverse cuisine on offer in its many restaurants. For visitors, the absolute must-see in Houston is the famed Space Center, mission control for the US space program.