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The Gulf Coast of the United States
United States
is the coastline along which the Southern United States
United States
meets the Gulf of Mexico. The coastal states that have a shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and these are known as the Gulf States. The economy of the Gulf Coast area is dominated by industries related to energy, petrochemicals, fishing, aerospace, agriculture, and tourism. The large cities of the region are (from west to east) Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and increasingly, Sarasota; all are the centers of their respective metropolitan areas and contain large ports. (Baton Rouge is relatively far from the Gulf of Mexico; its port is on the Mississippi River, as is the port of New Orleans.)

Contents

1 Geography

1.1 Climate

2 Economic activities 3 History 4 Metropolitan areas 5 Transportation

5.1 Road

5.1.1 Major Interstates 5.1.2 Major U.S. routes 5.1.3 Other significant routes

5.2 Air

5.2.1 International service

5.3 Rail

5.3.1 Amtrak service

6 See also 7 Notes 8 Further reading 9 External links

Geography[edit] The Gulf Coast is made of many inlets, bays, and lagoons. The coast is also intersected by numerous rivers, the largest of which is the Mississippi
Mississippi
River. Much of the land along the Gulf Coast is, or was, marshland. Ringing the Gulf Coast is the Gulf Coastal Plain
Gulf Coastal Plain
which reaches from Southern Texas
Texas
to the western Florida
Florida
Panhandle while the western portions of the Gulf Coast are made up of many barrier islands and peninsulas, including the 130 miles (210 km) Padre Island
Padre Island
and Galveston Island
Galveston Island
located in the U.S. State of Texas. These landforms protect numerous bays and inlets providing as a barrier to oncoming waves. The central part of the Gulf Coast, from eastern Texas
Texas
through Louisiana, consists primarily of marshland. The eastern part of the Gulf Coast, predominantly Florida, is dotted with many bays and inlets. Climate[edit] The Gulf Coast climate is humid subtropical, although the southwestern tip of Florida, such as Naples, features a tropical climate. Much of the year is warm to hot along the Gulf Coast, while the 3 winter months bring periods of cool (or rarely, cold) weather mixed with mild temperatures. The area is vulnerable to hurricanes as well as floods and severe thunderstorms. Much of the Gulf Coast has a summer precipitation maximum, with July or August commonly the wettest month due to the combination of frequent summer thunderstorms produced by relentless heat and humidity, and tropical weather systems (tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes, while winter and early spring rainfall also can be heavy. This pattern is evident at New Orleans, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama
Alabama
and Pensacola, Florida. However, the central and southern Florida
Florida
peninsula has a pronounced winter dry season, as at Tampa
Tampa
and Fort Myers, Florida. On the central and southern Texas
Texas
coast, winter, early spring and mid-summer are markedly drier, and September is the wettest month on average (as at Corpus Christi and Brownsville, Texas). Tornadoes are infrequent at the coast but do occur; however, they occur more frequently in inland portions of Gulf Coast states. Over most of the Gulf Coast from Houston, Texas eastward, extreme rainfall events are a significant threat, commonly from tropical weather systems, which can bring 4 to 10 or more inches of rain in a single day. In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey
made landfall along the central Texas
Texas
coast, then migrated to and stalled over the greater Houston
Houston
area for several days, producing extreme, unprecedented rainfall totals of over 40 inches (1,000 mm) in many areas, unleashing widespread flooding. Earthquakes
Earthquakes
are extremely rare to the area, but a surprising 6.0 earthquake in the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
on September 10, 2006, could be felt from the cities of New Orleans
New Orleans
to Tampa. Economic activities[edit]

NOAA map of the 3,856 oil and gas platforms extant off the Gulf Coast in 2006.

The Gulf Coast is a major center of economic activity. The marshlands along the Louisiana
Louisiana
and Texas
Texas
coasts provide breeding grounds and nurseries for ocean life that drive the fishing and shrimping industries. The Port
Port
of South Louisiana
Louisiana
(Metropolitan New Orleans
New Orleans
in Laplace) and the Port
Port
of Houston
Houston
are two of the ten busiest ports in the world by cargo volume.[1] As of 2004, seven of the top ten busiest ports in the U.S. are on the Gulf Coast.[2] The discovery of oil and gas deposits along the coast and offshore, combined with easy access to shipping, have made the Gulf Coast the heart of the U.S. petrochemical industry. The coast contains nearly 4,000 oil platforms. Besides the above, the region features other important industries including aerospace and biomedical research, as well as older industries such as agriculture and — especially since the development of the Gulf Coast beginning in the 1920s and the increase in wealth throughout the United States — tourism. History[edit]

Map of the Louisiana
Louisiana
Purchase

Before Europeans arrived in the region, the region was home to several pre-Columbian kingdoms that had extensive trade networks with empires such as the Aztecs and the Mississippi
Mississippi
Mound Builders. Shark and alligator teeth and shells from the Gulf have been found as far north as Ohio, in the mounds of the Hopewell culture.[3] The first Europeans to settle the Gulf Coast were primarily the French and the Spanish. The Louisiana
Louisiana
Purchase and the Texas
Texas
Revolution made the Gulf Coast a part of the United States
United States
during the first half of the 19th century. As the U.S. population continued to expand its frontiers westward, the Gulf Coast was a natural magnet in the South providing access to shipping lanes and both national and international commerce. The development of sugar and cotton production (enabled by slavery) allowed the South to prosper. By the mid 19th century the city of New Orleans, being situated as a key to commerce on the Mississippi
Mississippi
River and in the Gulf, had become the largest U.S. city not on the Atlantic seaboard
Atlantic seaboard
and the fourth largest in the U.S. overall. Two major events were turning points in the earlier history of the Gulf Coast region. The first was the American Civil War, which caused severe damage to some economic sectors in the South, including the Gulf Coast. The second event was the Galveston
Galveston
Hurricane of 1900. At the end of the 19th century Galveston
Galveston
was, with New Orleans, one of the most developed cities in the region. The city had the third busiest port in the U.S.[4] and its financial district was known as the "Wall Street of the South".[5] The storm mostly destroyed the city, which has never regained its former glory, and set back development in the region.

Hurricane Katrina

Since then the Gulf Coast has been hit with numerous other hurricanes. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
struck the Gulf Coast as a Category 5 hurricane. It was the most damaging storm in the history of the United States, causing upwards of $80 billion in damages, and leaving over 1,800 dead. Again in 2008 the Gulf Coast was struck by a catastrophic hurricane. Due to its immense size, Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike
caused devastation from the Louisiana
Louisiana
coastline all the way to the Kenedy County, Texas region near Corpus Christi.[6] In addition, Ike caused flooding and significant damage along the Mississippi
Mississippi
coastline and the Florida Panhandle[7] Ike killed 112 people and left upwards of 300 people missing, never to be found.[8] Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike
was the third most damaging storm in the history of the United States, causing more than $25 billion[9] in damage along the coast, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless, and sparking the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history.[10] Other than the hurricanes, the Gulf Coast has redeveloped dramatically over the course of the 20th century. The gulf coast is highly populated. The petrochemical industry, launched with the major discoveries of oil in Texas
Texas
and spurred on by further discoveries in the Gulf waters, has been a vehicle for development in the central and western Gulf which has spawned development on a variety of fronts in these regions. Texas
Texas
in particular has benefited tremendously from this industry over the course of the 20th century and economic diversification has made the state a magnet for population and home to more Fortune 500
Fortune 500
companies than any other U.S. state. Florida
Florida
has grown as well, driven to a great extent by its long established tourism industry but also by its position as a gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America. As of 2006, these two states are the second and fourth most populous states in the nation, respectively (see this article). Other areas of the Gulf Coast have benefited less, though economic development fueled by tourism has greatly increased property values along the coast, and is now a severe danger to the valuable but fragile ecosystems of the Gulf Coast. Metropolitan areas[edit] The following table lists the 15 largest MSAs along the Gulf Coast.

Metropolitan Statistical Areas
Metropolitan Statistical Areas
on the United States
United States
Gulf Coast

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area 2016 Pop (est.) 2000 Pop Δ Pop Combined Statistical Area

1 Houston- Sugar
Sugar
Land-Baytown, TX MSA 6,772,470 4,715,407 0061+24.43% Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX CSA

2 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA 3,032,171 2,395,997 0155+14.66% ~primary census statistical area

3 New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA MSA 1,268,883 1,316,510 1090-9.61% New Orleans-Metairie-Bogalusa, LA CSA

5 Baton Rouge MSA 835,175 729,361 0114+11.03% ~primary census statistical area

4 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX MSA 849,843 569,463 0114+30.15% primary census statistical area

6 North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL MSA 788,457 589,959 0114+16.64% Sarasota-Bradenton-Punta Gorda, FL CSA

7 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL MSA 722,336 440,888 0015+33.12% ~primary census statistical area

8 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL MSA 485,684 412,153 0258+10.42% ~primary census statistical area

9 Corpus Christi, TX MSA 454,726 403,280 0610+3.18% Corpus Christi-Kingsville, TX CSA

11 Mobile, AL MSA 414,836 399,843 0712+2.97% Mobile-Daphne-Fairhope, AL CSA

10 Brownsville–Harlingen, TX MSA 422,135 335,227 0228+18.24% ~Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, TX CSA

12 Beaumont- Port
Port
Arthur, TX MSA 409,968 385,090 0896-1.72% ~primary census statistical area

14 Naples-Marco Island, FL MSA 318,537 251,377 0039+26.72% ~primary census statistical area

13 Gulfport-Biloxi, MS MSA 365,136 246,190 1017-3.01% Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS CSA

15 Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, LA MSA 211,525 194,477 0590+4.37% ~primary census statistical area

Transportation[edit] Road[edit] Major Interstates[edit]

I-45 and I-10 near Downtown Houston

Highway Significant Cities Served

Interstate 2 Harlingen

Interstate 4 Tampa

Interstate 10 Houston, Baytown, Beaumont, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola

Interstate 37 Corpus Christi

Interstate 45 Galveston, Houston

Interstate 49 New Orleans
New Orleans
(future), Houma (future), Thibodaux (future), Lafayette

Interstate 55 None

Interstate 65 Mobile

Interstate 69 Victoria (future), Houston

Interstate 69E Brownsville, Harlingen, Corpus Christi, Victoria (future)

Interstate 69W Victoria (future)

Interstate 75 Naples, Fort Myers, Bradenton, St. Petersburg, Tampa

Major U.S. routes[edit]

Highway Significant Cities Served

U.S. 11 New Orleans

U.S. 17 Punta Gorda

U.S. 19 St. Petersburg, Tampa

U.S. 29 Pensacola

U.S. 31 Spanish Fort

U.S. 41 Bradenton, Fort Myers, Naples, St. Petersburg, Tampa

U.S. 43 Mobile

U.S. 45 Mobile

U.S. 49 Biloxi, Gulfport

U.S. 51 None

U.S. 59 Houston, Victoria

U.S. 61 New Orleans

U.S. 69 Beaumont, Port
Port
Arthur

U.S. 77 Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Victoria

U.S. 83 Brownsville, Harlingen

U.S. 87 Port
Port
Lavaca, Victoria

U.S. 90 Beaumont, Biloxi, Crestview, Houma, Houston, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Mobile, New Orleans, Pascagoula, Pensacola, Thibodaux

U.S. 92 St. Petersburg, Tampa

U.S. 96 Beaumont, Port
Port
Arthur

U.S. 98 Fort Walton Beach, Mobile, Pensacola, Panama
Panama
City

Other significant routes[edit]

Highway Significant Cities Served

LA 1 Grand Isle, Port
Port
Fourchon, Thibodaux

S.R. 85 Crestview, Fort Walton Beach

S.H. 288 Houston, Lake Jackson

Air[edit] International service[edit]

Louis Armstrong New Orleans
New Orleans
International Airport

International Destinations

George Bush Intercontinental Airport Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Bonaire, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Cayman Islands, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago,Turks and Caicos Islands, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom, Venezuela

Louis Armstrong New Orleans
New Orleans
International Airport Canada, Cuba,[11] Germany, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, United Kingdom

Southwest Florida
Florida
International Airport Canada, Germany

Tampa
Tampa
International Airport Canada, Cayman Islands, United Kingdom, Panama, Switzerland, Cuba, Germany, Bahamas, Mexico, Iceland

Rail[edit] Amtrak service[edit]

Sunset Limited in Houston.

Train Route Gulf Coast Cities Served

City of New Orleans Chicago to New Orleans New Orleans

Crescent New York to New Orleans New Orleans, Picayune, MS, Slidell, LA

Sunset Limited Los Angeles to Orlando (temporarily New Orleans) Bay
Bay
St. Louis, MS, Beaumont, TX, Biloxi, Crestview, FL, Gulfport, MS, Houston, Lafayette, LA, Lake Charles, LA, Baton Rouge, LA, Mobile, New Orleans, Panama
Panama
City, FL, Scriever, LA, Pascagoula, MS, Pensacola

See also[edit]

United States
United States
portal

Emerald Coast Florida
Florida
Panhandle Geography of the United States Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission Houston List of ports in the United States Megaregions of the United States Mississippi
Mississippi
Gulf Coast New Orleans Tampa West Florida

Notes[edit]

^ Rosenberg, Matt (2003-06-14). "Busiest Ports in the World". Retrieved 2006-10-15.  ^ Rosenberg, Matt (June 14, 2003). "Waterborne Commerce Statistics: Tonnage for Selected U.S. Ports in 2004". Archived from the original on November 17, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-15.  ^ Nash, Gary B. Red, White and Black: The Peoples of Early North America Los Angeles 2015. Chapter 1, p. 6 ^ "The 1900 Storm". Archived from the original on 2006-07-11. Retrieved 2006-07-11.  ^ "Galveston, Texas
Texas
History". Galveston.com. Retrieved 2007-10-15.  ^ "Evacuation and Devastation in Southern Texas". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2014-03-28.  ^ "Flooding in Miss. and FL". USA Today. 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2014-03-28.  ^ http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/10/02/ike.missing/ ^ Robbie Berg (2009-01-23). " Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike
Tropical Cyclone Report" (PDF). NHC. Retrieved 2009-09-12.  ^ Ike Evacuation and Rescue Operation Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine. ^ " New Orleans
New Orleans
airport is one of eight given approval for Cuba flights". Retrieved 2012-01-03. 

Further reading[edit]

Drescher, Christopher F., Stefan E. Schulenberg, and C. Veronica Smith. "The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the Mississippi
Mississippi
Gulf Coast: Mental health in the context of a technological disaster." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 84.2 (2014): 142. Smith, F. Todd Louisiana
Louisiana
and the Gulf South Frontier, 1500–1821 ( Louisiana
Louisiana
State University Press; 2014) 304 pages Williamson, James M., and John L. Pender. "Economic Stimulus and the Tax Code The Impact of the Gulf Opportunity Zone." Public Finance Review (2014): 1091142114557724.

External links[edit]

"Map of the Gulf Coast from Florida
Florida
to Mexico" from 1639 via the World Digital Library

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