If you are in Houston and you ever get sick, you are in luck! Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world. The medical center is located about 4 miles south of downtown, and is almost a city unto itself. A giant hospital city! :) With over 60,000 employees and 5 million patients visiting it annually from all corners of the globe, the Med Center is a vital part of the city. It has a long history dating back to the 1920's when Hermann Hospital was first built. Other important institutions have followed over the years, including Baylor College of Medicine, Methodist Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the world's leading cancer treatment institutes. With all these employees and patients here, many hotels and businesses have also been built in the Med Center to accommodate them. And the city's Metrorail train has 3 stops here for easy access to the Houston Museum District and Downtown. 4 star hotels, fine dining restaurants, and thousands of people. Really does sound like a city all it's own. Heck, all that and world-class heathcare. Go figure!
The image that most people have of Texas is something out of the old wild west movies. Yes, there are cows, and yes people do wear cowboy boots and hats. However, Houston and the rest of Texas is growing in many ways; from the medical center in Houston to the latest agricultural devlopements at Texas A & M. I think the abilty us Texans have to be immensely proud of our past, both good and bad, is what is helping us to keep the future insight.
Houston's economy has diversified quite a bit from the 1980's, and oil is just half or less of the local economy today.
Although Houston is known for the oil industry and for its large port, new heavy hitters are biotech, computer technology, nanotech, and anything related to medical science.
In fact, the Texas Medical Center district just outside of downtown Houston is the largest medical district in the nation and houses some of the top-rated hospitals around. Collectively, the institutions that make up the Medical Center serve as Houston's largest employer. Research done in the medical center is some of the most the cutting edge in the nation. Medical care and medical research are very important in Houston.
Houston is also home to Compaq (now HP) and many other computer and software related businesses.
And don't forget that NASA mission control and the manned space flight program are headquartered in Houston.
Houston's universities are heavily involved in these endeavors. Rice University, one of the top ranked universities in the nation, is on the forefront of nanotechnology. University of Texas Houston and Galveston, and Baylor College of Medicine are leaders in biomedical science. University of Houston Clear Lake is located across the street from NASA Johnson Space Center.
Just among these, Houston is home to a large number of scientists, physicians, researchers, and engineers.
So please remember that although Houston is still considered to be the "energy capital", this industry is no longer the only large one in the city. And one of the worst things you can do is generalize the east side industrial areas (i.e. refineries and the such) of the Houston metro to the entire city, as many outsiders not very familiar with the city sometimes do.