A newcomer’s guide for how to walk, talk, eat, drink, dress, and act like a native Texan.
Big Bend National Park and the majestic area around it represents the mythos of Texas more than any other part of the state. It is also home to some of the most beautiful vistas the state has to offer, including the Chisos and Chinati mountain ranges and a stretch of the darkest night skies in the continental United States.
The Seventy-seventh Legislature only confirmed what everyone already knew when it declared Whataburger an official Texas Treasure in 2001. Whataburger is more than a fast-food chain, it's a tradition that's been passed between generations of Texans for nearly 65 years.
Hannah Overton was convicted in 2007 of the capital murder of Andrew Burd, the four-year-old boy she was in the process of adopting. Prosecutors were convinced the mother of five had poisoned Andrew, who died of salt poisoning, but new evidence suggests a rare eating disorder contributed to the boy's death. Hannah's conviction was overturned in September 2014. Read all the developments in the Overton case here.
Aside from weather, water is probably the most-discussed topic in the state. For generations, Texans have worried about where it will come from and how much it will cost to pump it into our taps. As our population increases, the state grows thirstier for this limited resource.
The best Texas barbecue, the classic version of which is distinguished by its use of beef brisket and its indirect smoking method, is superior to all other regional varieties of barbecue. There, we said it.
Texas has six state flowers, all of them species of the genus Lupinus, more commonly known as bluebonnets. (The name refers to the flowers’s petals, which resemble a pioneer woman’s bonnet.) They usually begin blooming in late March along roadsides, where families can be found throughout April setting up for the traditional bluebonnet photograph.
The iconic Texas airline, founded in 1967, was instrumental in connecting the state's cities with its frequent discount flights staffed by flight attendants in hot pants. Though it is now one of the largest domestic airlines, it still retains much of its historic identity as a scrappy upstart.
The King Ranch, probably the most famous ranch in America, spans 825,000 acres, an area roughly the size of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio combined.
Long revered in Texas, the Thirty-Sixth Legislature declared the pecan the state nut in 1936. In 2013, the Legislature further honored the nut by naming the pecan pie the official state pie. Texas grows millions of pounds of pecans each year, making the state a leading producer, along with Georgia and New Mexico.
One of the most polarizing figures in contemporary American politics, Bush was the forty-sixth governor of Texas before being elected president. His historic presidency was marked by the 9/11 attacks, two wars, and a global financial collapse. He currently lives in Dallas.
Before she was a mononymous global superstar, Beyoncé Knowles was an adorable kid singing in Houston-area talent shows. Now a Grammy winner many times over, she has sold more than 75 million records.
The Texas Rangers are an elite division of the state police with a storied history—some of it flattering, some less so. Today, the Rangers rely as much on laptops and armored vehicles as guns and horses, though they still wear distinctive circle-on-star badges, cowboy hats, and white shirts.
The most famous site in Texas history, the Alamo has been interpreted and reinterpreted by every generation of Texans. We have a lot to say about it too.
Dr Pepper’s 23 flavors and spices are a total mystery, but the soft drink’s popularity isn’t. Hatched in Dublin in 1861, five months before Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper is enjoyed by Texans at 10, 2, and 4.
A liberal democrat and our forty-fifth governor, Ann Richards is the woman behind one of the most famous quips in politics: “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
Selena Quintanilla Perez, born April 16, 1971, was Tejano music's first superstar and was poised to be an international pop sensation when she was murdered in 1995. Since then she has been the subject of a glossy Hollywood biopic and a touring musical, and her memorial draws thousands each year.
The skinny, bespectacled singer-songwriter from Lubbock was one of the biggest pop icons of the fifties, contributing several Billboard-topping hits to the oldies-music canon, like "That'll Be the Day" and "Peggy Sue." After he died in a tragic plane crash in 1959, at the young age of 22, he became a larger-than-life icon of his generation.
Jeff Skilling will appear in court today to ask for an early release. Learn more about Enron, the energy firm based in Houston that collapsed in a massive accounting scandal in 2001, resulting in convictions for chairman Kenneth Lay and president Jeff Skilling, among others. The crimes perpetrated by these greedy malefactors are now regarded as one of the most shocking examples of corporate fraud in U.S. history.
Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France a record seven times before his titles were stripped when it was revealed that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. A cancer survivor, he started the Livestrong Foundation and introduced the world to the yellow rubber bracelet.
Born in a farmhouse on the Pedernales River, Lyndon Baines Johnson rose to become the thirty-sixth president of the United States. An outsize personality known for manhandling and manipulating other lawmakers (as well as his own staff, the media, and pretty much everyone), Johnson achieved landmark advances in civil rights and social programs. Bitter protests over the Vietnam War caused him not to seek a second term, and he died in 1973.
In 1993, on a ranch near Waco, federal agents raided a compound occupied by members of the Branch Davidians, a heavily armed religious cult led by a guru named David Koresh. A resulting fire killed 74 people, 23 of whom were children, and the tragedy has prompted virulent antigovernment sentiment for many years since.
The franchise known as America's Team started in 1960, and in the years since then it has caused its partisans unfathomable heartache, joy, frustration, elation, pride, rage, happiness, fury, rapture . . .
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has called Texas home since 1963, when the Manned Spacecraft Center opened in Houston. Millions of “Houston, we have a problem” jokes later, NASA is part of the state's iconography.
In 1966 UT student Charles Whitman killed 14 and wounded 32 from the observation deck of the university administration building. It was the first mass campus murder in American history.
The singer-songwriter from Abbott, born this day 80 years ago, has written more than 2,500 songs, released more than 300 albums, and smoked more joints than we care to imagine. He is one of the great natural resources of Texas.
Irving-based ExxonMobil is the country’s largest oil and gas corporation and most profitable company, which proves that in a state known for being the place where everything is bigger, our corporations are no exception.
Born in Paint Creek, Rick Perry is the forty-seventh governor of Texas and the longest-serving governor in state history. Prior to assuming the governorship in 2000, Perry served as a state representative, agriculture commissioner, and lieutenant governor. Despite getting walloped in an unsuccessful run for president in 2012, he is routinely discussed as a potential candidate in 2016.
George H. W. Bush, the forty-first president of the United States, moved to Texas as an adult to seek his fortune in the oil patch. He served as director of the CIA and was Ronald Reagan’s vice president. Bush is generally regarded as a pragmatic, business-minded conservative, though his legacy has been obscured by the two Republican presidents who preceded and followed him—his old boss and his eldest son.
Matthew McConaughey, a Uvalde native, is one of Texas’s most well-known actors. He’s famous for his roles as Wooderson, in “Dazed and Confused”; Dallas, the male stripper in “Magic Mike”; and a bigoted man dying of AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club” (for which he won an Oscar). He’s also famous for being extremely handsome and for the time he was caught playing the bongos naked.
Michael Morton was wrongfully convicted of the 1986 murder of his wife, Christine. After serving nearly 25 years in prison for the crime, he was exonerated in 2011. Executive editor Pamela Colloff has spent months chronicling this story, and she was recently nominated for a National Magazine Award for her pieces about the Morton saga. Read all of her reporting on the developments in Michael's case here.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy, in Dallas in 1963, is one of the defining moments of modern American history. It devastated the country and altered the course of the second half of the twentieth century. Today, on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination, the country once again confronts the tragedy, perhaps this time as the final transition from memory to history.
Loving the Rangers hasn't always been easy. But the American League team, which had suffered from the pain of mediocrity for years, prided itself on self-improvement, redemption, and recovery. And it paid off. The ball club went to the World Series two years in a row (though lost), and it has reinvigorated its fan base, which appears as devoted as ever.
The key ingredient to a good margarita, a potent Mexican martini, or, for the no-nonsense crowd, a straight-up shot.
Founded in 1907, Neiman Marcus was the state's first luxury department store. It quickly gathered a reputation among Texas' most elite shoppers as one of the only places to find ready-to-wear couture from New York, Paris, and Milan. Today the chain has more than forty locations and remains one of the premiere fashion outlets in America.
Texas' annual fair is held in Dallas' Fair Park and has become synonymous with outrageous fried food (like Coca-Cola and butter), and the Red River Rivalry.
The Texas-Mexico border is a cultural melting pot sitting on the bank of the Rio Grande. It is also a divisive political topic in matters of immigration, drug trafficking and national security.