Houston, Texas Urban Development

By | December 6, 2022


City Population (2021)
Houston 2.288.000
Sugar Land 109.000
The Woodlands 116.000

Suburban residential areas as found everywhere in Houston.

Unlike, for example, Dallas, Houston has fewer suburbs with large populations. Many suburbs are much smaller and many places are still governed by the relevant counties, and therefore do not have their own municipal government. This leads to the Houston area having many “unincorporated communities”, some of which number over 100,000 residents. Many built-up areas fall under the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) of the city of Houston and may be annexed in the future. This is usually a zone of 8 kilometers outside the municipal boundaries. Like almost all post-World War II urban areas, the city is largely suburban in character, with expansive low-rise and detached homes. The population density is not that high, but not distinctive from many other US cities. In many residential areas, trees have been planted en masse, so that the residential areas have a green appearance and a good living climate. This makes the industrial areas and concrete highways stand out much more, as can be seen on aerial and satellite photos.

Harris County

According to localcollegeexplorer, Harris County is the largest and the central county of the metropolitan area in which the city of Houston is located. Like many cities that did not develop on a large scale until after 1950, Harris County is almost entirely suburban in character. The eastern part of Harris County is industrial in character, with the Port of Houston and a lot of petrochemical industry. The west of Harris County is the wealthiest part and is predominantly suburban, although there is also a lot of employment, especially in Uptown Houston. Also here is the ‘Energy Corridor’ along I-10 where there are many offices. The corridor of US 290 (Northwest Freeway) is also industrial in character. Houston Airport is located in northern Harris County. NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is located in southern Harris County.

Galveston County

Galveston County is located southeast of Houston and borders the Gulf of Mexico. On an island off the coast is the city of Galveston, which was originally a separate city outside the Houston area, but along I-45 and Galveston Bay is a corridor of urbanization. There is a very large oil refinery in Texas City. Western Galveston County is more exurban in character with a low density.

Brazoria County

Northern Brazoria County, south of Houston, is suburbanized, with the suburbs of Pearland and Alvin. This turns south into exurbs, but much of Brazoria County is still classically rural. The city of Freeport is located on the Gulf of Mexico, where there is a lot of petrochemical industry. However, Freeport does not belong to the continuously built-up area of the Houston metropolitan area, it is located about 60 kilometers outside the urban area.

Fort Bend County

Fort Bend County is located southwest of Houston and is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. It is mostly suburban area as far as Rosenberg, but west and south of Fort Bend County is still rural. Suburbanization is advancing to the southwest here, but the region has little exurban area.

Waller County

Waller County is located west of Houston and is still mostly rural. The westernmost suburb Katy is partly located in Waller County and has the potential to develop into an Edge City. Beginning in 2015, expansion neighborhoods began to be built around Katy in Waller County. For now, however, Waller County is still largely undeveloped countryside.

Montgomery County

Montgomery County is located north of Houston and is quite densely forested. The area has evolved from dormant exurbs to a burgeoning edge city since the late 1990s, centered around The Woodlands and adjacent Spring in Harris County. This is one of the fastest growing parts of the Houston area. The city of Conroe, which was originally far from Houston, is now almost part of the continuously built-up area. Montgomery County does have contrasts, the master-planned The Woodlands is fairly densely built, but outside it are many small developments that are not well integrated.

Liberty County

Liberty County is located northeast of Houston. Apart from some small-scale ex-urban areas, there is hardly any suburbanisation, partly because this part of the agglomeration is not growing so fast.

Chambers County

Chambers County is located east of Houston. Only the westernmost part of this belongs to the urban area. This is mainly industrial in character, with heavy industry around Mont Belvieu. The rest of Chambers County is mostly sparsely populated countryside.

Houston, Texas Urban Development