Houston, Alaska

Coordinates: 61°36′30″N 149°46′25″W / 61.60833°N 149.77361°W / 61.60833; -149.77361
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Location in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the state of Alaska.
Location in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the state of Alaska.
Houston is located in Alaska
Location in Alaska
Coordinates: 61°36′30″N 149°46′25″W / 61.60833°N 149.77361°W / 61.60833; -149.77361
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedJune 6, 1966[1]
 • MayorCarter Cole
 • State senatorMike Shower (R)
 • State rep.Kevin McCabe (R)
 • Total25.26 sq mi (65.41 km2)
 • Land23.94 sq mi (62.01 km2)
 • Water1.32 sq mi (3.41 km2)
249 ft (76 m)
 • Total1,975
 • Density82.50/sq mi (31.85/km2)
Time zoneUTC-9 (Alaska (AKST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-8 (AKDT)
ZIP code
Area code907
FIPS code02-33800
GNIS feature ID1416613

Houston is a city in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, United States. It is part of the Anchorage, Alaska Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is located roughly 33 miles from downtown Anchorage, although it is a 58-mile drive by car between the two points.[citation needed] The population was 1,975 at the 2020 census, up from 1,912 in 2000.[3]


Houston is located at 61°36′30″N 149°46′25″W / 61.60833°N 149.77361°W / 61.60833; -149.77361 (61.608309, -149.773719).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.5 square miles (61 km2), of which, 22.4 square miles (58 km2) of it is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) of it (4.89%) is water.


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[5]

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 1,202 people, 445 households, and 292 families residing in the city. The population density was 53.7 inhabitants per square mile (20.7/km2). There were 581 housing units at an average density of 25.9 per square mile (10.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.03% White, 0.33% Black or African American, 8.24% Native American, 0.67% Asian, 0.33% Pacific Islander, 0.92% from other races, and 5.49% from two or more races. 2.33% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 445 households, out of which 37.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 4.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.26.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 30.7% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 6.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 113.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 115.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,615, and the median income for a family was $46,818. Males had a median income of $45,000 versus $30,625 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,213. About 13.1% of families and 17.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.8% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.


Houston Siding was first listed on a blueprint map of the Alaska Railroad in 1917. Houston was incorporated as a fourth-class city in 1966. It remained an incorporated city after Alaska overhauled its local government structure in 1972, which saw the elimination of the fourth-class city designation and the dissolution of many cities so incorporated.

Also in 1972, George Boney, the chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court and at the time the youngest chief justice of any U.S. state supreme court, died in Houston (at Cheri Lake) in a boating accident which resulted in drowning.

In June 1996, a wildfire, known as the Miller's Reach fire, covered more than 37,500 acres (15,176 ha) in Houston and adjacent Big Lake. Property losses included 433 buildings and homes valued at $8.9 million.

Legal firework sales[edit]

Houston, Alaska is home to the Gorilla Fireworks Stand along its Parks Highway, providing a wide range of pyrotechnic explosions and products to the public.[7] The city allows the sale of fireworks, which are prohibited throughout the Mat-Su Borough and Anchorage, and the sales taxes generated from those help pay for emergency services. These stands are the only place to purchase fireworks legally in Southcentral Alaska, and provide entertainment to many residents and visitors of the state. Taxes from fireworks sales at Houston's parks highway stands cover 10-15% of the city fire department's budget.[8]

Fireworks buyers are charged a 2% sales tax, plus an additional 2% tax.[9] This policy was approved by the voters of Houston in 2010, and was made permanent by the City Council. The additional tax was meant to “promote increased public safety”, and all the tax take goes to the fire department.[10]

Cannabis legalization[edit]

In 2014, Alaska voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana and its retail sale. However, local governments were given the right to ban commercial grow operations or pot sales within city limits.[11] While Palmer and Wasilla originally banned marijuana sales and grow operations, Houston attempted to bolster its city revenues by allowing marijuana commerce.[12] The mayor of Houston, Virgie Thompson, believed that cannabis excise and sales taxes could cover expenses for a new city police force.[13]

Houston issued the first limited grow room license in the Matsu Valley to Lacey and Ron Bass in 2016. In 2021, marijuana tax revenue alone comprised over 33% of Houston's total collected taxes.[14]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1996 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Municipal League/Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs. January 1996. p. 68.
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  3. ^ "2020 Census Data - Cities and Census Designated Places" (Web). State of Alaska, Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  6. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  7. ^ Schreck, Carly. "Residents flock to Houston ahead of New Year's Eve celebration". alaskasnewssource.com. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  8. ^ Hollander, Zaz (September 28, 2014). "Houston bolsters fire department with fireworks tax take". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  9. ^ Fritts, Janelle (July 3, 2019). "Fireworks Sales Spark an Explosion of Taxes and Fees". Tax Foundation. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  10. ^ "Chapter 8.05 Fireworks Control". www.codepublishing.com. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  11. ^ Andrews, Laurel (July 30, 2016). "Here's how many cannabis plants Alaskans can now legally possess at home". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  12. ^ Hollander, Zaz (April 16, 2016). "Struggling to get by, Houston declares itself open for cannabusiness". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  13. ^ Lockyer, Ellen (March 16, 2016). "Houston at the forefront of Mat-Su marijuana legislation". Alaska Public Media. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  14. ^ https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/Portals/4/pub/OSA/taxable%20reports/2021%20Alaska%20Taxable%20Report%20FINAL%20January%2025%20Errata.pdf?ver=2022-01-25-125017-950

External links[edit]

Media related to Houston, Alaska at Wikimedia Commons