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Corpus Christi (), colloquially Corpus (Latin: Body of Christ), is a coastal city in the South Texas region of the U.S. state of Texas. The county seat of Nueces County, it also extends into Aransas, Kleberg, and San Patricio Counties. It is 130 miles southeast of San Antonio. Its political boundaries encompass Nueces Bay and Corpus Christi Bay. Its zoned boundaries include small land parcels or water inlets of three neighboring counties.
The city's population was estimated to be 320,434 in 2014, making it the eighth-most populous city in Texas. The Corpus Christi metropolitan area had an estimated population of 442,600. It is also the hub of the six-county Corpus Christi-Kingsville-Alice Combined Statistical Area, with a 2013 estimated population of 516,793. The Port of Corpus Christi is the fifth-largest in the United States. The region is served by the Corpus Christi International Airport.
The city's name means Body of Christ in Latin. The name was given to the settlement and surrounding bay by Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda in 1519, as he discovered the lush semitropical bay on the Catholic feast day of Corpus Christi. The nickname of the city is "Sparkling City by the Sea", particularly featured in tourist literature.
Corpus Christi was founded in 1839 by Colonel Henry Lawrence Kinney and William P. Aubrey as Kinney's Trading Post, or Kinney's Ranch. It was a small trading post that sold supplies to a Mexican revolutionary army camped about 25 mi (40 km) west. In July 1845, U.S. troops commanded by General Zachary Taylor set up camp there in preparation for war with Mexico, where they remained until March 1846. About a year later, the settlement was named Corpus Christi and was incorporated on 9 September 1852.
The Battle of Corpus Christi was fought between August 12 and August 18, 1862, during the American Civil War. United States Navy forces blockading Texas fought a small land and sea engagement with Confederate forces in and around Corpus Christi Bay and bombarded the city. Union forces defeated Confederate States Navy ships operating in the area, but were repulsed when they landed on the coast.
The Port of Corpus Christi was opened in 1926, and the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station was commissioned in 1941.
The 1919 Storm devastated the city, killing hundreds on September 14. Only three structures survived the storm on North Beach. To protect the city, the seawall was built. The city also suffered damage from Hurricane Celia in 1970 and Hurricane Allen in 1980, but little damage from Hurricane Ike in 2008. The city was impacted in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey.
Corpus Christi is situated on fluvial deposits that are of Holocene – Pleistocene age. Although no solidified rock occurs naturally, the Deweyville Formation of sand, silt, clay, and gravel, is locally indurated with calcium carbonate (caliche) deposits. The large, shallow bay makes Corpus Christi an Ideal feeding place for birds and this is one reason why Corpus Christi is known as the "Bird Capital" of North America. Consequently, the San Diego Audubon Society has designated Corpus Christi as "America's birdiest place."
According to the United States Census Bureau, Corpus Christi has a total area of 460.2 square miles (1,192.0 km2), of which 154.6 mi2 (400.5 km2, 33.60%) is land and 305.6 mi2 (791.5 km2, 66.40%) is covered by water. Drinking water for the city is supplied by three reservoirs, Lake Corpus Christi, the Choke Canyon Reservoir, and Lake Texana. Through an effective regional partnership with the Nueces River Authority and the Port of Corpus Christi Authority, a 101 mi (163 km) pipeline was built which transports water from Lake Texana to the city's O.N. Stevens Water Treatment Plant. It was named the Mary Rhodes Pipeline, after the late mayor. A phase 2 of the pipeline is underway to draw water from the Colorado River. All reservoirs are outside the city limits, but Lake Corpus Christi and Choke Canyon Reservoir are managed directly by the public utility of the City of Corpus Christi. To support future water needs, plans are being completed to build a desalinization plant.
Since its founding, the city has annexed nearby lands and waters for growth and development purposes. The original area encompassed several city blocks in present-day downtown Corpus Christi with the majority of city expansion occurring in the 20th century.
The city has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and very short, mild winters. In November through February, the weather is the coolest. A noticeable warming trend occurs in March through April. The warmest part of the year is June through September with August being the peak of summer. October in the city is very warm, but not as hot as the summer. Corpus Christi is very windy, with wind speeds often reaching to 25 miles per hour (40 km/h; 11 m/s) with gusts reaching more than 35 miles per hour (56 km/h; 16 m/s). The city’s record high temperature is 109 °F (42.8 °C), on September 5, 2000, and the hottest month August 2012 with an average of 88.3 °F or 31.3 °C. Average night-time winter lows in January, the coldest month, are a little less than 50 °F or 10 °C and its record low is 11 °F or −11.7 °C on February 12, 1899, and the coldest maximum 26 °F or −3.3 °C on five occasions, the most recent being on January 30, 1951. Winter and early spring is generally dry, and average monthly precipitation is highest in September, when the threat from hurricanes and other tropical weather systems is greatest. The coolest month on record has been February 1905, with a mean of 45.6 °F or 7.6 °C. In December 2004, the city experienced snowfall on Christmas Eve, the city’s largest recorded snowstorm at 4.4 inches (0.11 m). The snow melted the day after Christmas. Because of the uniqueness of the event, three separate books document the event, Snow, More Snow, and More Snow for Kids, all with the theme of the South Texas Christmas miracle. The city experienced light snowfall a second time, on December 8, 2017, nearly thirteen years later.
Between 1981 and 2010, Corpus Christi averaged 31.73 inches or 805.9 millimetres of rainfall; however, long periods with very little rainfall are normal, and hurricanes can frequently produce daily falls of over 4 inches or 101.6 millimetres. The wettest day on record is July 2, 2007, with 9.86 inches or 250.4 millimetres, while the wettest month on record is September 1967, with 20.33 inches or 516.4 millimetres, including four days with over 3 inches or 76.2 millimetres. Eight months with not even a trace of rainfall have happened, of which the most recent was May 1998, and 21 with merely a trace. The longest spell without measurable rainfall in Corpus Christi has been 55 days from June 23 to August 17 (inclusive) of 1895, and from June 1 to July 25 of 1915, while easily the driest calendar year has been 1917, with a mere 5.38 inches or 136.7 millimetres. The two wettest calendar years have been 1888 with 48.16 inches or 1,223.3 millimetres and 1991 with 48.07 inches or 1,221.0 millimetres, although from August 1967 to July 1968, 59.09 inches or 1,500.9 millimetres fell, and for the 12 months ending January 1918, only 5.22 inches or 132.6 millimetres.
Hurricanes rarely hit the city, and have been destructive, like the 1919 Florida Keys hurricane, and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
At the 2010 Census, 305,215 people resided in Corpus Christi, a 10.0% increase since 2000.
In 2012, Corpus Christi was ranked as the second least literate city in the U.S. in a study by Central Connecticut State University. However, this study has been heavily criticized for its methodology and bias in favor of the Northeastern states in the US.
According to the 2010 Census, 80.9% of Corpus Christi's population was White; 4.3% was African American; 1.8% Asian; 0.1% Pacific Islander; 10.4% of some other race; and 2.5% of two or more races. About 62.23% of Corpus Christi's population was of Hispanic or Latino origin, of any race.
At the census of 2000, 277,454 people, 98,791 households, and 70,437 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,794.2 people per square mile (692.7/km2). The 107,831 housing units averaged 697.3 per square mile (269.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 71.62% White, 4.67% African American, 0.64% Native American, 1.28% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 18.58% from other races, and 3.13% from two or more races. Hispanics of any race were 54.33% of the population.
Of the 98,791 households, 36.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.9% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% were not families. About 23.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.27.
In the city, the population was distributed as 28.1% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.
The median income for a family was $41,672. Males had a median income of $31,863 versus $22,616 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,419. About 14.1% of families and 17.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.9% of those under age 18 and 15.5% of those ages 65 or over.
The majority of the population is employed in the services, wholesale and retail trades, and government sectors. Corpus Christi has an unemployment rate of 5.6% as of November 2016.
The Port of Corpus Christi, which is the fifth-largest U.S. port and deepest inshore port on the Gulf of Mexico, handles mostly oil and agricultural products. Much of the local economy is driven by tourism and the oil and petrochemicals industry. In 2005, the port was ranked as the 47th-largest in the world by cargo tonnage.
Corpus Christi is home to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi providing 6,200 civilian jobs to the local economy, making it the single largest employer in the city. Corpus Christi Army Depot, located on NAS Corpus Christi, is the largest helicopter repair facility in the world. Additionally located on NAS Corpus Christi is the United States Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi.
Corpus Christi is the original home of the headquarters of Whataburger, a fast-food restaurant operator and franchiser with 650 stores in 10 states and Mexico; however, the company relocated its headquarters to San Antonio in 2009. Other large employers include CHRISTUS Spohn Health System at 5,400 local employees, the Corpus Christi Independent School District with 5,178, H-E-B at 5,000, and Bay Ltd. at 2,100. Other companies based in Corpus Christi include Stripes Convenience Stores and AEP Texas.
Corpus Christi became the first major city to offer citywide free wi-fi in April 2005 to allow remote meter reading after a meter reader was attacked by a dog. In 2007, the network was purchased by Earthlink for $5.5 million, and stopped being a free service on May 31, 2007.
Various sections of Corpus Christi maintain distinct senses of identity and community from the city proper, especially the Calallen and Flour Bluff areas. Clarkwood and Annaville have less prominent senses of identity, but the distinction remains. These areas are sometimes mistakenly believed to be separate municipalities.
The city has many demographic groups, ethnicities, and subcultures, each giving it a distinct flavor: the defense bases and the people who work there, the large Hispanic community, the oil-related professionals and workers, the cowboy culture, and the surfers.
In 2015, Men's Health magazine ranked Corpus Christi as the fattest city in the United States, renaming it "Corpulent Christi". Obesity and diabetes rank second and third in the nation, which is culturally related to the Hispanic population.
The city is home to a number of popular destinations for both tourists and residents. The official visitor and tourism information organization is the Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau. Some of the most visited attractions are located on North Beach, where the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay are located.
The USS Lexington was also part of the set for the 2000 film Pearl Harbor. Corpus Christi's museum district is located near the USS Lexington. Some attractions located in the museum district are the Museum of Asian Cultures, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, the South Texas Institute for the Arts, and the Harbor Playhouse Theatre, one of the oldest continually operating community theatres in Texas. Heritage Park is also in the museum district, where a number of older restored houses can be found. The downtown area, of which the museum district is a part, is home to skyscrapers such as One Shoreline Plaza, company offices, various shops, a popular center of marinas, and Mirador de la Flor. Downtown also is home of the Texas Surf Museum, which explores the history of surfing and focuses on surf culture along Texas' 367-mile (591 km) coast, as well as K Space Contemporary, a nonprofit art organization promoting and presenting local, regional, and national contemporary art.
The Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, also located in the city, hosts gardening programs from time to time. On Oso Bay near the Pharaoh Valley subdivision is the Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge, known for seabird-watching. The nearby Pharaohs golf course also serves as a haven for coastal and migratory birds.
Directly east of Corpus Christi are Padre Island and Mustang Island, home to various municipal, state, and national parks, most notably the Padre Island National Seashore. The city is also near King Ranch, one of the world's largest ranches, upon which the movie Giant was based.
The city also celebrates the annual Buccaneer Days Carnival, which is typically held downtown.
South Padre Island Drive (locally abbreviated as "S.P.I.D.", with the letters pronounced individually), is the city's main retail corridor, with two shopping malls, La Palmera (formerly Padre Staples Mall), and Sunrise Mall. Also, a number of other large shopping centers, small strip centers, and restaurants can be found throughout the city.
Corpus Christi also is the home of Midget Ocean Racing Fleet, also known as MORF, which promotes sailing in the Coastal Bend. The Wednesday night races held by MORF are the longest-running weekly races in the United States.
Corpus Christi has professional sports to offer residents and visitors. The city is home to the Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League and the Corpus Christi Hooks are the AA minor league baseball club for the Houston Astros which plays in the Texas League.
Year round NCAA Division I collegiate athletics may be found at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as the Islanders compete in 14 men’s and women’s sports as a member of the Southland Conference.
Sailing races are held weekly off downtown's T-heads every Wednesday, where spectators watch vessels competing during sunset. Additionally, Corpus Christi is also home to the Corpus Christi Rugby Football Club, which is a member of the Texas Rugby Union, an affiliate of the Western Rugby Union and of the United States Rugby Football Union.
The city's location beside Corpus Christi Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and Laguna Madre provides opportunities for water sports and nature tourism. Waterfowl hunting is available in the region for duck, geese, coot, and teal. White-winged dove and mourning dove are also hunted on private leases. The brushland inland from Corpus Christi is also ideal for hunting feral hogs and white-tailed deer.
Fishing is a popular recreational activity in Corpus Christi. Popular fishing activities include fishing from various piers around Corpus Christi Bay, wade fishing in Oso Bay, and fishing from the Gulf of Mexico at Packery Channel or at Bob Hall Pier.
The city has one of the highest average wind speeds of coastal cities in North America. Combined with the Bay Front area along Ocean Drive, making the city an important destination for wind sports such as kite boarding, wind surfing, kite flying, and sailing. In 1990, Corpus Christi hosted the Windsurfing World Championships.
The Corpus Christi Skate Park opened on February 17, 2007. It is located in Cole Park on the shoreline of the Corpus Christi Bay near downtown. The 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) concrete park includes a skating bowl and a street course with stairs, railings, and flat surfaces.
Being a coastal city, Corpus Christi is a good spot for seabird watching. Popular spots include Blucher Park in downtown, the Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge along Oso Bay, Hazel Bazemore County Park along the Nueces River in Calallen, and the South Texas Botanic Garden and Nature Center along the Oso Creek.
In 1852, the City of Corpus Christi was incorporated. Texas' 31st Legislature chartered the city as a political and corporate municipal entity in 1909. By ordinance, the city possesses power to "fix, alter and extend its boundaries."
Corpus Christi is under a council-manager municipal government. The elected city council is the primary authority in municipal matters such as enacting local legislation, determining policies, and appointing the city manager. Together, the city council and city manager execute laws and administer the municipal government. Organized by governmental sectors of city council, city management, city secretary, and several city departments, Corpus Christi is seated in Nueces County. The city council currently consists of these elected members:
Corpus Christi City Manager Margie C. Rose was appointed in 2016, and works alongside Assistant City Manager Mark Van Vleck (public works and utilities) and Jay Ellington (Interim – safety, health, and neighborhoods).The city's Intergovernmental Relations department is under the direction of Tom Tagliabue. Appointed by the city council, Rebecca L. Huerta serves as the city secretary.
The Corpus Christi City Charter was adopted by public referendum in 1987, with amendments to the entire charter conducted January 19, 1991, and April 3, 1993. Further revisions to the charter were conducted on November 2, 2004, November 7, 2006, and November 8, 2016. The charter consists of 10 articles and 41 sections regarding stipulations of home rule government, city council and city manager procedures, administration, planning, boards and commissions, etc. The Code of Ordinances of Corpus Christi was codified through Ordinance No. 028493, and adopted Feb. 23, 2010.
From 2012 to 2016, Nelda Martinez was mayor of Corpus Christi, the first Hispanic woman to the hold the office.
On January 19, 2017, Corpus Christi Mayor Dan McQueen resigned from office after 37 days, an outgrowth of a comment by McQueen claiming that the city council members were only high school graduates and he was an engineer. He does not have an engineering degree and there are college graduates on the city council.
The Texas 13th Court of Appeals is located in the Nueces County Courthouse in Corpus Christi.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice operates the Corpus Christi Parole Office in Corpus Christi.
The United States Postal Service operates the Corpus Christi Post Office, the city's main post office, and several station post offices.
Corpus Christi is home to several institutions of higher learning: Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Del Mar College, Saint Leo University-Corpus Christi and numerous vocational schools, including Southern Careers Institute, South Texas Vo-Tech, Career Centers of Texas-Corpus Christi, and Vogue Cosmetology School. The city is also home to the South Texas School of Christian Studies located on Ward Island alongside Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The school serves as an extension campus on the undergraduate level for Hardin Simmons University and on the graduate level for Logsdon Seminary of Hardin-Simmons.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is a component of the Texas A&M University System. It was formerly known as Corpus Christi State University, Texas A&I University at Corpus Christi, and the University of Corpus Christi.
Saint Leo University-Corpus Christi Education Center is located at Corpus Christi's Naval Air Station.
Del Mar College is a local community college begun in the 1940s at a location behind Wynn Seale Jr. High School. The main campus began with the administration building, which was constructed after World War II on Del Mar. The college grew to encompass a good portion of a residential addition called Southmoreland built from the Bohemian farm lands in the late 1930s. Del Mar now includes a west campus located in the area of Corpus Christi that once was Cliff Maus Airport.
Southern Careers Institute offers career training at two Corpus Christi locations, primarily in the medical, business, and cosmetology fields.
In 2015, WalletHub ranked Corpus Christi near the bottom, 138 out of 150 cities in America, for its low educational level and low income opportunities. In order to improve literacy levels in the city, there has been a multi-year effort to promote reading through annual literacy festivals. Started by First Lady Laura Bush and the Texas Book Festival, a series of book festivals are held each spring. This year's festival features award-winning author Rosemary Wells and revolves around the concept that "literacy is the foundation to a child's academic success."
Six school districts provide primary and secondary education for area residents: Corpus Christi Independent School District, Calallen ISD, Flour Bluff ISD, Tuloso-Midway ISD, West Oso ISD, and London ISD. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi provides the primary and secondary education for Catholic schools. Several Open Enrollment Charter Schools are in Corpus Christi. These public schools are: Accelerated Learning Center, Cesar E Chavez Academy, Corpus Christi College Preparatory HS, Corpus Christi Montessori School, Dr ML Garza-Gonzalez Charter School, GCCLR Institute of Technology, Premier HS of Corpus Christi, Richard Milburn Academy, School of Science and Technology, Seashore Learning Center, and Seashore Middle Academy.
Libraries in the city include:
TexShare card holders also have limited borrowing privileges at these area libraries:
Corpus Christi is served by Corpus Christi International Airport and Interstate 37. Interstate 69E/U.S. Highway 77 connects the city to Brownsville and Victoria. Texas State Highway 44 is a main thoroughfare that connects Corpus Christi to Laredo and the western part of South Texas by way of Interstate 69W/U.S. Highway 59, Interstate 35, and U.S. Highway 83. The inner-city public transportation is provided by Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority with its 28 bus routes. Corpus Christi once had a streetcar system functioning from 1910 to 1931 and a railway station (passenger service ended in 1965). Despite the convenience of a large harbor, the city does not have a passenger port. Plans to bring a cruise service are pending.
The city is accessed by two major bridges, the Harbor Bridge (US 181) and the John F. Kennedy Causeway (PR 22). Both bridges are maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Freight service from San Antonio to Corpus Christi is provided by the Union Pacific Railroad, but the original line, both freight and passenger, was the San Antonio, Uvalde and Gulf Railroad, which operated to Corpus Christi from 1913 to 1956. Then the SAU&G, or "The Sausage", as it was commonly called, was merged into the Missouri Pacific Railroad. It was subsequently procured by the Union Pacific.
Corpus Christi keeps a thriving and active relationship with these sister cities:
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