Sugar Land, Texas

From Academic Kids

Sugar Land, Texas
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Image:Sugar Land seal.jpg

CountyFort Bend County
MayorDavid G. Wallace
 - Total (2005)
 - Water

75.3 km² (29.08 mi²)
2.1 km² (0.8 mi²) 3.33%

 - City (2005)
 - Metropolitan

 - Density


1,015.0/km² (2,629.1/mi²)
Time zoneCentral: UTC-6


29°35'58" N
95°36'51" W

City of Sugar Land website (

The City of Sugar Land is a city located along the Gulf Coast region in the southeastern U.S. state of Texas. It is the largest city and economic center of Fort Bend County. Sugar Land is also the third largest in population and second in economic activities within the Houston—Sugar Land—Baytown Metropolitan Area.

As of the U.S. Census 2000, Sugar Land had a total population of 63,328 and the population estimate for 2005 is 76,904. If including the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), then the current population would be approximately 120,000. This emerging metropolis is the fastest-growing city in Texas. In fact, Sugar Land has grown more than 158 percent in the last decade. It boasts the highest growth among Texas' largest cities. Sugar Land is now a "principal" city of the Houston—Sugar Land—Baytown Metropolitan Area, the eighth largest metropolitan area in the United States with a population of 5,075,733 in 2003 covering ten counties.



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A former char house of the Imperial Sugar Company refinery that was once headquartered in Sugar Land
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"Downtown" Sugar Land

Founded as a sugar plantation in the mid 1800s and incorporated in 1959, Sugar Land is located in northeast Fort Bend County, 25 miles southwest of Houston. Money magazine ranked Sugar Land 17th among its hottest places to live in the United States. In 2004, the city was named the top 100 places to live according to HomeRoute, a national real estate marketing company, identifies top American cities each year through its Relocate-America program. Cities are selected based on educational opportunities, crime rates, employment and housing data. The magazine started with statistics on 271 U.S. cities provided by OnBoard LLC, a real estate information company. These cities had the highest median household incomes in the nation and above average population growth. Also in 2004, Sugar Land was awarded the Fittest City in Texas, population 50,000-100,000. The “Fittest City in Texas” awards program is a part of the Texas Roundup program, a statewide fitness initiative.

Sugar Land was home to the headquarter of the Imperial Sugar Company until 2004 as the company's main refinery was once located in this city. It has since been put out of operation, but its effect on the local economy was minimal, if at all, since Sugar Land today has much more of a reputation as an affluent Houston suburb than the blue-collar, agriculture-dependent town it once was a generation ago.

Throughout much of the 1990s, Sugar Land was considered one of the fastest-growing communities in the nation and the majority of Sugar Landers are white-collar, and college-educated working in Houston's renowned energy industry. An abundance of commercial growth, with numerous low-rise office buildings, banks and high-class restaurants popping up, can be seen along both U.S. Highway 59 and Texas Highway 6, two of the six main traffic arteries in the city. The city expects the ultimate population to eventually exceed 200,000 which will make it the second largest city of the Houston—Sugar Land—Baytown Metropolitan Area, surpassing Pasadena, Texas.

Sugar Land is home to the practice sites for the Houston Aeros and Houston Comets.


The beginning (1820-1908)

Sugar Land has a remarkable heritage, proudly tracing its roots back to the original Mexican land grant to Stephen F. Austin. One of the first settlers of the land, Samuel M. Williams, called this land "Oakland Plantation" because there were many different varieties of oaks on the land, such as Pin Oak, Post Oak, Water Oak, Red Oak, and Live Oak. Williams' brother, Nathaniel, purchased the land in 1838. They operated the plantation by growing cotton, corn, and sugarcane. During these early years, the area that is now Sugar Land was the center of social life along the Brazos River. In 1853, Benjamin Terry and William J. Kyle purchased the Oakland Plantation from the S. M. Williams family. Terry is known for organizing Terry's Texas Rangers during the Civil War and for naming the town. Upon the deaths of Terry and Kyle, Colonel E. H. Cunningham bought the 12,500 acre plantation soon after the Civil War and developed the town around his sugar refining plant around 1879.

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Sugar Land as a company town, circa 1928.
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Ariel view of company town, circa 1939.

In 1906, the Kempner family of Galveston, under the leadership of Isaac H. Kempner and in partnership with William T. Eldridge, purchased the 5,300-acre Ellis Plantation, one of the few plantations in Fort Bend County to survive the Civil War. The Ellis Plantation had originally been part of the Jesse Cartwright league and in the years after the Civil War had been operated by a system of tenant farming under the management of Will Ellis. In 1908, the partnership acquired the adjoining 12,500-acre Cunningham Plantation with its raw sugar mill and cane-sugar refinery. The partnership changed the name to Imperial Sugar Company; Kempner associated the name Imperial, which was also the name of a small raw-sugar mill on the Ellis Plantation, with the Imperial Hotel in New York City. Around the turn of the century, most of the sugarcane crops were destroyed by a harsh winter. As part of the Kempner-Eldridge agreement, Eldridge moved to the site to serve as general manager and build the company-owned town of Sugar Land.

Company town (1908-1959)

As a company town, Sugar Land was virtually self-contained. Imperial Sugar Company provided housing for the workers, encouraged construction of schools, built a hospital for the workers well-being, and provided businesses to meet the workers needs. Many of the original homes built by the Imperial Sugar Company remain today in The Hill area and Mayfield Park of Sugar Land and have been passed down through generations of family members. During the 1950s, Imperial Sugar wanted to expand the town by building more houses. This lead to the creation of a new subdivision of Venetian Estates. The subdivision featured water front homesites fronting Oyster Creek and other man-made lakes.

A city emerges (1959-1969)

As the company town expanded, so did the interest of establishing a municipal government. It resulted in Sugar Land becoming a general law city in 1959 by voters. T. E. Harman became the first mayor of Sugar Land.



In 1981, a special city election was held for the purpose of establishing a home rule municipal government. Voters approved the adoption of a home rule charter. The type of municipal government provided by this Charter was known as "mayor-council government," and all powers of the City were invested in a Council composed of a mayor and five councilmen.

A special city election was held Aug. 9, 1986, to submit the proposed changes to the electorate for consideration. By a majority of the voters, amendments to the Charter were approved which provided for a change in the City's form of government from that of "mayor-council" (strong mayor) to that of a "council-manager" form of government which provides that the city manager be the chief administrative officer of the city. Approval of this amendment provided for the mayor to become a voting member of Council, in addition to performing duties as presiding officer of the Council.


An Amendment on May 5, 1990, changed the composition of the City Council to a Mayor, four councilmembers to be elected by single-member districts and two councilmembers by at-large position.



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Location of Sugar Land, Texas

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 64.5 km² (24.9 mi²). 62.4 km² (24.1 mi²) of it is land and 2.1 km² (0.8 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 3.33% water.

The elevation of most of the city is between 70 and 90 feet. The elevation of Sugar Land Regional Airport is 82 feet (25 meters).

Sugar Land is located at 29°35'58" North, 95°36'51" West (29.599580, -95.614089)Template:GR.

Adjacent cities and towns

Located to the east of Sugar Land are the cities of Missouri City, Stafford, and Meadows Place. Houston, the fourth largest city in the country, is to the north. Richmond, located to the west, is the county seat of Fort Bend County. To the south of Sugar Land are the George Observatory, Brazos Bend State Park, and the town of Thompsons.


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A monument of Stephen F. Austin in front of Sugar Land City Hall

As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 63,328 people, 20,515 households, and 17,519 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,015.0/km² (2,629.1/mi²). There are 21,090 housing units at an average density of 338.0/km² (875.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 66.00% White, 5.20% African American, 0.24% Native American, 23.80% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.32% from other races, and 2.41% from two or more races. 7.98% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 20,515 households out of which 51.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 74.5% are married couples living together, 8.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 14.6% are non-families. 12.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 2.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.06 and the average family size is 3.36.

In the city the population is spread out with 31.2% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 27.2% from 45 to 64, and 6.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females there are 95.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $81,767, and the median income for a family is $88,639. Males have a median income of $63,834 versus $37,498 for females. The per capita income for the city is $33,506. 3.8% of the population and 3.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 3.3% of those under the age of 18 and 8.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

People and culture of Sugar Land

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The CityPlaza at Town Square offers mid-rise living in Sugar Land
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One of many upscale dining in Sugar Land

The majority of Sugar Landers are white-collar, and college-educated working in Houston's renowned energy industry.

Sugar Land is also notable for its affluent minority population, since it is also a popular place of residence among Houston's increasingly influential Asian American community. According to the U.S. Census, a quarter of its residents were Asian American in 2000. Sugar Land could quite possibly have the largest and most affluent Asian American community in Texas.

Famous people

As Sugar Land is widely considered one of the wealthiest suburbs in the state, many celebrities live in and around Sugar Land, including Houston Texans' quarterback David Carr, Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski and Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland. Still, more celebrities simply keep houses in the upscale, but quaintly Sweetwater subdivision in the master-planned community of First Colony, such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and other local luminaries.

Sugar Land is the hometown and an area represented by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of the United States House of Representatives, Texas District 22. As a result of this, it's no surprise that Sugar Land is widely considered to be a predominantly Republican area [1] ( and perhaps one of the largest Republican strongholds in the nation. Another politician from Sugar Land is Charlie Howard. He is another Republican and represents District 26 of the Texas House of Representatives.


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Sugar Land could have a METRORail system in the future like this one shown in Houston. It will most likely run parallel along U.S. Highway 90A.
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One of the many decorative pillars at an overpass along U.S. Highway 59 within Sugar Land

Sugar Land currently does not have a mass transit system. However, this could change as it has been a possible candidate for expansion of Houston's METRORail system by means of a planned commuter rail. Since many of Sugar Land's residents work in Houston, thus creating routine rush hour traffic along the city's main thoroughfare, U.S. Highway 59, there has been large support in the area for such a project.

Major thoroughfares

  • U.S. Highway 59, the major freeway running diagonally through the city, has undergone a major widening project in recent years to accommodate Sugar Land's daily commuters. Currently, widening of U.S. Highway 59 is just west of Texas Highway 6 out to Texas Highway 99. It's also is expected to become Interstate 69, sometime in the near future.
  • U.S. Highway 90A, a major highway running through Sugar Land from west to east and traverses through a historic area of the city, known as "Old Sugar Land". U.S. Highway 90A is currently on its way to be widened to an eight-lane highway with a 30-foot median between Texas Highway 99 and U.S. Highway 59.
  • Texas Highway 6 is a major highway running from north to southeast Sugar Land and traverses through the 10,000-acre master-planned community of First Colony. Construction is about to start on a bridge over University Blvd and U.S. Highway 90A from First Colony Blvd to north of the railroad track at U.S. Highway 90A. When completed, it will have six main lanes and frontage roads.
  • Texas Highway 99 is a new highway opened in 1994 with frontage roads but no main lanes yet. It currently traverses through the New Territory and River Park master-planned communities in Sugar Land's extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), west of Sugar Land's current city limits. Construction will soon to start south of the U.S. Highway 59 at its current terminus. It will eventually passes through the master-planned community of Greatwood and other communites such as Canyon Gate at the Brazos and Tara Colony, all currently in Sugar Land's extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), southwest of the current city limits. There are plans to annex all of these communities in the ETJ into the city limits in the near future.
  • Texas F.M. 1876, widely known as Eldridge Road, is a north-south state highway in north Sugar Land. It traverses through many established areas and acts as the western border of the Sugar Land Business Park. Going north leads into the city of Houston and Harris County.
  • University Boulevard, formerly referred to as Texas Highway 6 Bypass south of U.S. Highway 90A and Burney Road Bypass north of U.S. Highway 90A, is a proposed major north-south to southeast arterial. It will eventually traverses through the master-planned communities of Sugar Mill, First Crossing, Telfair (formerly known as TX DOT Tract 4 & 5), Avalon, and Riverstone. Currently, a portion is completed from south of U.S. Highway 59 to the Commonwealth Blvd intersection, just west of the Avalon master-planned community. The other completed section is east of Texas Highway 6 as it traverses through the First Crossing master-planned commercial development and it dead ends just right before U.S. Highway 90A.


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Sugar Land maintains a large municipal airport, Sugar Land Regional Airport (SGR), formerly known as Sugar Land Municipal Airport, which was purchased from a private interest in 1990. Sugar Land Regional is the fourth largest airport in the Houston—Sugar Land—Baytown Metropolitan Area, and the only general reliever airport in the southwest sector. It briefly handled commercial passenger service during the mid-90's via a now-defunct Texas carrier known as Conquest Airlines. For scheduled commercial service, Sugar Landers rely on Houston's two airports, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).

The airport today mostly serves the city's corporate, governmental, and private clientele. A new 20,000 SF Terminal and a 60-acre GA Complex, are currently under construction, with the Terminal completion expected in Spring 2006.

Interestingly, the city of Houston maintains a park that occupies 750 acres of land directly north of the Sugar Land Regional Airport. It is suspected by local residents that this park is an attempt by the city of Houston to block Sugar Land's airport expansion, especially since Sugar Land Regional is in a prime position to possibly compete with Houston's commercial air traffic.


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Marriott Hotel in Sugar Land Town Square
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Another view of Sugar Land Town Square

Even though still commonly known as a "new money" residential suburb of Houston, Sugar Land does have a significant corporate presence. Like the rest of the Houston area, much of the larger corporations are engaged in the energy industry, specifically oil/gas exploration and refining. As further testaments to its economic growth in recent years, Sugar Land has seen the arrival of its own Mercedes-Benz dealership and Marriott hotel, both of which are located in Fort Bend County's premier business district known as the Sugar Land Town Square. An abundance of commercial growth, with numerous low-rise office buildings, banks and high-class restaurants popping up, can be seen along both U.S. Highway 59 and Texas Highway 6,

Major employers

Law and government

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Sugar Land City Hall

Sugar Land operates under the Council-Manager form of government. Under this system, Council appoints the city manager, who acts as the chief executive officer of the government. The city manager carries out policy and administers city programs. All department heads, including the city attorney, police chief and fire chief, are ultimately responsible to the city manager. Sugar Land's composition of the City Council consists of a Mayor, four councilmembers to be elected by single-member districts and two councilmembers by at-large position.


There have been seven mayors in Sugar Land:


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Albert and Mamie George Building of the UH System at Sugar Land multi-institution teaching center (MITC)

The highly acclaimed Fort Bend Independent School District is the primary school district in the city of Sugar Land. The southwest portion of Sugar Land's extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) is in the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District serving the master-planned communities of Greatwood and River Park. Other communities in the ETJ served by Lamar Consolidated include Canyon Gate at the Brazos and Tara Colony.

There are many private schools in Sugar Land and the surrounding area as well.

Colleges and universities

Sugar Landers have access to higher education right where they live. Currently, there are two institutions located within the city of Sugar Land: Wharton County Junior College and the University of Houston System at Sugar Land.

UHS at Sugar Land is a multi-institution teaching center (MITC) for the four universities within the University of Houston System, which comprises of the University of Houston, UH-Clear Lake, UH-Downtown, and UH-Victoria. Currently, the programs and degrees offered at the Sugar Land teaching center are from UH-Downtown and UH-Victoria.

Media and entertainment

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"Downtown" Sugar Land

Many TV & Radio Stations, whom they say is "Houston-based" actually broadcast from here. Stations such as KPRC (Houston NBC Affiliate), KRIV (Houston's Fox Affiliate), KXTH (Houston's UPN Affiliate), and all of the Clear Channel radio stations in the Houston area are all broadcasting from this large commercialized suburb.

Sugar Land in film and TV

A portion of the 1974 movie, The Sugarland Express, takes place in Sugar Land. Part of the set was filmed in Sugar Land as well. The movie's title spells the name of the city incorrectly, and it was among Steven Spielberg's first films, before he became famous.


External links


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See also: List of Texas counties


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