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Pasadena is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the city’s population is 149,043, making it the seventeenth most populous city in the state of Texas, as well as the second-largest city in Harris County. The area was founded in 1893 by John H. Burnett of Galveston, who named the area after Pasadena, California, because of the perceived lush vegetation.
The Pasadena Volunteer Fire Department is the largest of all volunteer municipal fire departments in the United States.
The city’s key economic sectors include exploration for petroleum and gas, petroleum refining, petrochemical processing, solar panel manufacturing, maritime shipping, aerospace, and healthcare. The city’s economy is closely linked to the nearby Houston Ship Channel and the Bayport shipping terminal and industrial district, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in the bordering Clear Lake Area. The Pasadena Refining System, a partnership of Petrobras and Astra Holding USA, is headquartered in Pasadena.
The nearby Bayport Industrial District, one of the nation’s largest chemical processing complexes, is vital to employment in Pasadena. High-tech businesses in the area related to the JSC have developed as well, and the opening of the Bayport shipping terminal is rapidly adding to the municipal economic base.
The Government of Pasadena operates under a Mayor-Council form of government with a mayor and eight council members who are responsible for enacting legislation, adopting budgets and setting policies.
The city has its own police department, which employs approximately 260 Officers, with 1 Police Chief, 3 Assistant Chiefs and other supervisory positions.
The city has several museums, including the Pasadena Historical Museum, the Bay Area Museum and Armand Bayou Nature Center. Pasadena also has a community theater, an annual rodeo, and the Pasadena Philharmonic. The city’s newspaper is the Pasadena Citizen.
The Champion paper mill closed in 2005. Because of the odor from the plant, Pasadena had been dubbed by locals with the nickname “Stinkadena.” Several country music songs have been recorded with “Pasa-get-down-dena” as the title including Kenefick on their album “Hard Road.”
John Travolta, Debra Winger and other actors came to the city to film the 1980 hit movie Urban Cowboy, which depicted life and young love in Pasadena. The film centered on the city’s honky-tonk bar Gilley’s, which was co-owned by country music star Mickey Gilley. In 1989, Gilley’s suffered an arson fire that gutted the interior of the building, including the mechanical bull used in Urban Cowboy. The shell of the building stood until 2006, when it was demolished by the Pasadena Independent School District, its current owner. Only the old sound recording studio remains. Gilley still resides in Pasadena. The old address of Gilley’s is a used-car lot.
Clara Barton of the American Red Cross purchased 1.5 million strawberry plants and sent them to Pasadena to help victims of the flood get back on their feet. By the 1930s those crops had flourished so much that Pasadena was claiming the title of Strawberry Capital of the World. At its height, the city’s strawberry growers shipped as many as 28 train carloads of strawberries each day. To honor that history, the city still holds an annual Pasadena Strawberry Festival. Strawberry Road stretches through much of the city near where the old strawberry crops grew. Attendance at the annual Strawberry Festival was 56,000 in 2008.
Pasadena Philharmonic Society and Orchestra is a combination of two groups. The Society is composed of members of the local community that support the fine arts and classical music. The Orchestra is composed of local music educators, musicians, college students and selected high school students. The Orchestra presented its first performance in the fall of 1982. The Philharmonic has presented performances ever since.
Colleges and universities
Institutions of higher education include:
- University of Houston–Clear Lake
- San Jacinto College (Central Campus and System Headquarters) a community college system which serves all of Pasadena as well as all and portions of several other school districts.
- Texas Chiropractic College – Founded in 1908, Texas Chiropractic College is the fourth oldest chiropractic college in the nation. TCC is accredited as a Level V doctoral degree granting institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. TCC has maintained continuous accreditation since 1971. Its first-of-its-kind Interprofessional Education Rotations Program is a pioneer in the Interprofessional Education & Collaboration field. The program provides interns the opportunity to rotate in hospitals, clinics and physicians offices throughout the Houston metropolitan area, including the Texas Medical Center.
Primary and secondary schools
Most of city of Pasadena is served by the Pasadena Independent School District. Some of the eastern part is served by Deer Park Independent School District, some of the southern part is served by Clear Creek Independent School District and La Porte Independent School District.
Pasadena owns the Pasadena Public Library with the Main Library at 1201 Jeff Ginn Memorial Drive and the Fairmont Library, a branch, at 4330 Fairmont Parkway between Panama Street and Watters Road.
The city operates 15 tennis courts, several baseball fields, and a total of 43 parks total. These include over 14 miles (23 km) of trails, four Youth Recreation Centers, an Adaptive Recreation center, three pools for Swimming or Aquatics, an Athletics department, a Dog Park, Party Rentals, a Golf Course, an Historical Museum, and a Senior Citizen Center.
Harris County operates several community centers in Pasadena.
- East Harris County Activity Center
- Bay Area Community Center
- Clear Lake Water Front (Pasadena Section)
Local residents have access to tennis courts, soccer fields, jogging tracks, walking tracks, picnic tables, family gathering pavilions at Pasadena’s 47 parks, 5 swimming pools, and 5 game room buildings, museum, recreation center, 15 tennis courts and 21 ball fields.
Armand Bayou Nature Center (ABNC) is a 2,500 acres (1,000 ha) preserve on the western shore of Galveston Bay in Pasadena. It is the only remnant of this region’s original eco-systems: coastal tallgrass prairie, bottomland forest and bayou. A diversity of plant life has taken root here, including bottomland hardwoods. Hundreds of species of wildlife thrive in the narrow wooded streams and scattered lakes, ponds and marshes. Armand Bayou also is a breeding and nursery ground for many finfish and shellfish and a haven for rarely seen species such as bobcats and owls.
As of 2010 ABNC has been designated as one of five preserves under the Texas Coastal Preserve Program of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Pasadena is served by three freeway systems. Interstate 45 is the closest interstate to the Pasadena city limits. The main freeway artery is the Pasadena Freeway (State Highway 225). The east side of the Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8) runs through the eastern portion of the city.
The Harris County Toll Road Authority sells EZ Tags in the city.
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) operates a park & ride service from the Plaza Paseo Mall. This joint venture between Harris County, the city of Pasadena and METRO extended select trips. METRO operates four trips during the morning and five trips during the afternoon rush hours. Harris County Transit operates a bus route that runs through most of the city, stopping at health centers, shopping centers, colleges, and other venues, with connections to neighboring cites. The Pasadena Park and Ride lot is located on the north side of the mall.
Harris County Youth Village, a juvenile detention facility, is located in far southern Pasadena, but it has a Seabrook postal address.