Harris County was founded in 1836. The area was originally named Harrisburg
County after John Richardson Harris, an early settler of the region.
The county’s name was changed to Harris County in 1839.
Harris County is the nation's third most populous county with 4.5 million people according to 2015 estimates by the U.S. Census bureau. Harris County has a larger population than 26 states.
Harris County is governed by Harris County Commissioners Court. The court
is composed of a county judge and four commissioners. The county judge
is elected countywide, and each commissioner is elected by precinct.
The county judge is the county’s chief executive and a voting member
of Commissioners Court. According to state statute, the county judge
also is the county’s director of emergency management.
Commissioners Court’s main functions are: conducting annual budget
hearings; setting county tax rates; adopting the county budget; the supervision
and control of county courthouses and jails; appointment and employment
of county personnel; appointment of members to numerous boards and commissions;
filling of vacancies in elected and appointed positions; establishing
voting precinct boundaries; calling of county bond elections; letting
of contracts in the name of the county; building and maintenance of county
roads, bridges, parks and libraries.
The city of Houston is the county seat.
Twenty-five Fortune 500 companies have headquarters in Harris County.
Harris County is recognized as the Energy Capital of the world, with
more than 3,000 energy related firms located here.
The world’s largest medical center, the Texas Medical Center,
is located in Harris County and employs 93,500.
Harris County also is home to the Port of Houston, which is ranked first
in the nation in volume of foreign tonnage and second in total tonnage.
The Port of Houston is the seventh-largest U.S. container port and the
second-largest petrochemical complex in the world.
The city’s Houston Airport System is ranked as the fourth-largest
multi-airport system in the nation and sixth worldwide. The system consists
of an international airport, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and
two domestic airports, William P. Hobby Airport and Ellington Field.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center is located in Harris County and is
home to the NASA astronaut corps and conducts training for United States
space explorers and space station partner nations. The Johnson Space
Center’s Mission Control Center directs all space shuttle missions,
including international space station assembly flights.
Houston/Harris County was selected as one of the winners of the 2008 “100
Best Communities for Young People” competition by the America’s
Promise Alliance and Capital One. The competition identifies communities
nationwide that have made the well-being of children and youth a top
priority. The Houston/Harris County area, a three-time winner, was chosen
out of nearly 750 participants from more than 300 communities in all
50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico entered in the 2008