Welcome Home to Katy
Katy is a city in Texas, within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. The city is approximately centered at the tripoint of Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller counties. First formally settled in the mid-1891s, Katy was a railroad town along the Missouri–Kansas–Texas (MKT) Railroad which ran parallel to U.S. Route 90 (today Interstate 10) into Downtown Houston. The fertile floodplain of Buffalo Bayou, which has its source near Katy, and its tributaries made Katy and other communities in the surrounding prairie an attractive location for rice farming.
Beginning in the 1960s, the rapid growth of Houston moved westward along the new Interstate 10 corridor, bringing Katy into its environs. Today, the municipality of Katy lies at the center of a broader area known as Greater Katy, which has become heavily urbanized. While largely subsumed into Greater Houston, the town of Katy is still notable for Katy Mills Mall, the Katy Independent School District, and its historic town square along the former right-of-way of the MKT railroad.
In 1845 James J. Crawford received a land grant that included this area. The hot summers and thick clay soil made it difficult to attract settlers to the area. Crawford, Peter Black, John Sills and the families of former slaves Thomas (Mary) Robinson and Milto McGinnis were the only recorded residents of Cane Island in 1875.
In 1895, James Oliver Thomas laid out a town, and in January 1896 the town of Katy was named through Thomas’s post office application. The name “Katy” was derived from the MKT Railroad Company, which was commonly referred to as “the K-T” (also its stock exchange symbol). This common designation soon evolved into “the Katy.”
The anticipations of prosperity would bring growth to the new town which was developed around the original train stop and railroad tracks. By the early 1900s many families had come by train and wagon to establish Katy. Cotton and peanuts and corn were the first successful crops, but rice soon became the primary commodity crop. Katy later became known for rice farming; the first concrete rice driers in the state of Texas were built here in 1944 and still stand as landmarks. The farming community well supported local businesses as several hotels, stores, livery stables and saloons were prospering.
On September 8, 1900, the town’s early efforts were swept clean by the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the deadliest hurricane in US history. All but two of the original Katy homes were lost in the storm. Despite this, Cane Island rebuilt and continued to grow.
In 1945 the city of Katy was incorporated as a municipality. C. L. Baird was the first mayor. Boundaries were determined by finding the area that contained the most residents and was reasonably sized so that it could be managed by city services.
The construction and opening of Interstate 10 in 1966 allowed for rapid development of the area, as Houston expanded westward. This section was widened in 2008 to an average of 26 lanes, and in some areas 30 lanes total including 6 feeder and 4 HOV lanes for roughly 22 miles, making it the widest Freeway in the world. The population was 9,866 in 1988, 8,005 in 1990, 11,775 in 2000, and 15,591 in 2014. Currently Katy has grown to a population of well over 16,000 residents and almost 270,000 in the Greater Katy area. Katy has won national accolades for growth and sustainability. including the Gadberry Group naming Katy as one of “9 from 2009” most notable high-growth areas in the United States.
Greater Katy includes communities such as Cinco Ranch, Green Trails, Grayson Lakes, Seven Meadows, Pine Mill Ranch, Silver Ranch, Firethorne, Grand Lakes and Cane Island. It also encompasses suburban developments from the 1970s and 1980s, such as Memorial Parkway, Kelliwood and Nottingham Country.
Old Towne Katy’s new upscale communities include Pin Oak Village, The Falls at Green Meadows and The Enclave. Large developments underway include a new residential community boarding the east border of Mary Joe Peckham Park and the anticipated Katy Boardwalk. The City of Katy has recently placed a large focus on the downtown redevelopment plan which includes the new City Hall Building and an upcoming Downtown green space. Further projects include the Katy Museum of Modern Art’s new building, Typhoon Texas Water Park, Katy Independent School District’s Legacy Football Stadium, Katy Independent School District’s Rhodes Stadium, Momentum Indoor Climbing Center, REI Climb Store and the YMCA at Katy Main Street. Large road improvements are underway in Downtown, on Morton Road and Franz Road.
The city of Houston’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) stretches well west of Katy. This means that most of the unincorporated lands in the Katy area may be annexed by the city of Houston at some time in the future. The city of Katy’s ETJ, meanwhile, is limited to parcels of land west and north of the city itself.
Igloo Corporation is headquartered west of Katy in unincorporated Waller County. Academy Sports and Outdoors has its corporate offices and product distribution center in unincorporated western Harris County.
BP America is headquartered in the Houston Energy Corridor and is the area’s largest employer, with 5,500 employees on its Westlake campus as of 2009. BP’s Katy operations include engineering and business support for much of BP’s onshore operations in the contiguous United States, as well as its operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
As of 2017 Amazon is building a 1 million-square-foot distribution center near the intersection of Highway 90 and Woods Road. “We are honored Amazon chose Katy to be the location for their next fulfillment center, and we know the City of Katy will benefit from this relationship through increased job opportunities for our residents and their support of local Katy businesses,” said then Katy Mayor Fabol Hughes during the local announcement.
With the economy improving after 2009, retail centers were developed throughout Katy to accommodate the rapid residential growth. The major retail growth is taking place along Katy Fort Bend Road near the east entrance to the Katy Mills shopping mall. In August 2010, H-E-B Food & Drug opened a new UP format store at I-10 and Pin Oak. In July 2013, Costco announced that it would open a store at the southwest corner of Grand Parkway and I-10 in 2014. Construction began in August 2013. The new store was planned for completion by early spring 2014 and would be Costco’s fourth Houston-area location.
The Katy Area Economic Development Council serves as the economic development organization for the area. Founded in 2003, the Katy Area Economic Development Council’s (Katy Area EDC) mission is to establish the Katy area as the premier location for families and businesses through planned economic growth and economic development. Since its inception, the Katy Area EDC has grown to over 210 members, has a budget of $900,000 and has assisted in the creation of over 16,200 jobs and more than $2.5 billion in capital investment. Katy Area EDC is a full-service private, non-profit, 501 (c) 6 economic development corporation.
Residents within the city limits pay city taxes and receive municipal police, fire, EMS, and public works service. The city has territory in three counties, each of which has its own representative governments. The counties have a greater influence on areaoutside the incorporated city limits.
The Katy area lies in three counties. Residents in unincorporated Harris, Fort Bend and Waller counties are governed by those counties. The county residents elect representative county commissioners who represent them on the county courts of each county, presided over by the county judge of each county.
Harris County Precinct Three, headed by Steve Radack as of 2008, serves the Harris County portion of Katy.The Fort Bend County portion of Katy is under Fort Bend County Precinct Three headed by Andy Meyers.
Primary and secondary schools
People who live in Katy are zoned to schools in the Katy Independent School District. While multiple Katy ISD schools have “Katy, Texas” postal addresses, only a portion are located in and/or serve the Katy city limits.
The elementary schools in the City of Katy are:
- Zelma Hutsell Elementary School
- Katy Elementary School
- WoodCreek Elementary School
- Rylander Elementary School
- Bryant Elementary School
Middle schools in the City of Katy:
- Katy Junior High School
- WoodCreek Junior High School
High schools in the City of Katy:
- Katy High School, the oldest high school, is located nearest to the center city. It was established in 1898, and relocated to its present location in 1947. Katy ISD’s three alternative education schools (Martha Raines High School, Miller Career and Technology Center, and the Opportunity Awareness Center) are all located within the city.
- Aristoi Classical Academy is a charter school in Katy.
The following private schools are located in Katy and serve residents of the City of Katy and Greater Houston:
Mirus Academy is a flexibly-scheduled and gifted-and-talented-friendly private school which allows for students to be placed in classes according to ability. Itl was previously called “The Curious Mind” when it was a homeschooling academy; it transitioned into a private school and took its present name in 2010.
Katy is served by the Houston Community College System. HCC Northwest College operates the Katy Campus in an unincorporated section of Harris County.
The Bible Seminary offers non-denominational college-level Bible study and ministry training, including a variety of graduate-level Master’s programs. These programs include an MA in Biblical Archeology, with dynamic leaders in the field. It also offers a Bible Certificate program for local church members and leaders.
The University of Houston recently purchased the Verde Park Development site, with plans to break ground on a Katy Campus at I10 and 99.
Katy is served by the Katy Branch of Harris County Public Library (HCPL) at 5414 Franz Road. The branch is a partnership between HCPL and the City of Katy. The city joined the county library system in 1921. The Katy Garden Club started the first library, which was housed in several private houses. At a later point it shared space with the Katy Fire Department. The first Katy branch opened in 1940. The Friends of the Katy Library began in 1972. The construction of the current 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) branch began in 2002. The current branch building opened for regular business in Monday April 28, 2003, with its grand opening ceremony on the previous day.
- Harris County operates the Mary Jo Peckham Community Center at 5597 Gardenia Lane, Katy, Texas 77493.
- The City of Katy Dog Park is located at 5414 Franz Road.
- The annual Katy Rice Harvest Festival is two days of continuous live entertainment, craft and food booths, carnival and more.
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) operates the Kingsland Park and Ride (Route 221) east of Katy at 21669 Kingsland Boulevard. In February 2008 METRO opened a new park and ride location at the Cinemark parking lots near the intersection of Grand Parkway and I-10. The new Route is #222. Currently, only these express routes operate to and from downtown Houston during morning and evening commute hours.
METRO opened a six-story garage Park And Ride Bus Depot at the intersection of I-10 west and the Grand Parkway to service commuters.
Greyhound Bus Lines operates the Katy Station at Millers Exxon. Megabus.com stops at Katy Mills en route between Austin, San Antonio and Houston. This serves as a park-and-ride location for riders from the Katy and Greater Houston area.
Privately owned airports for fixed-wing aircraft for public use located near Katy include:
- Sack-O-Grande Acroport (also known as Harbican Airport) in unincorporated Harris County
- Houston Executive Airport in unincorporated Waller County
- West Houston Airport in unincorporated Harris County
Privately owned airports for private use include:
- Hoffpauir Airport in unincorporated Harris County
- Cardiff Brothers Airport in unincorporated Fort Bend County
Area airports with commercial airline service include George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, both of which are in Houston.
As of 2016 the city had about 15 churches. Donald G. Burgs Jr., pastor of Alief Baptist Church, estimated that the downtown area of Katy had six to seven church buildings. The first church established in the city was First Baptist Church; in 1898 reverend T.L. Scruggs held the church’s first meeting. In 2007 it moved to a facility on Pin Oak Road due to growth, and in 2016 it had about 4,000 worshippers. Alief Baptist Church bought the former First Baptist building. The city’s Catholic population began with a group from the modern Czech Republic and has been served by the St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church; the church has regular worship services in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese; this was later followed by Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church. Other churches in the city include Katy First United Methodist Church, and Parkway Fellowship Church.