Port Arthur, Texas

For the Australian suburb, see Port Arthur, Tasmania.
For other uses, see PAT (disambiguation).
Port Arthur, Texas

Port Arthur
Nickname(s): PA, PAT

Location of Port Arthur, Texas - U.S. Census Map
Coordinates: 29°53′6″N 93°56′24″W / 29.88500°N 93.94000°W / 29.88500; -93.94000Coordinates: 29°53′6″N 93°56′24″W / 29.88500°N 93.94000°W / 29.88500; -93.94000
Country  United States of America
State  Texas
County Jefferson
  Type Council-Manager
  City Council Mayor Derrick Freeman
Osman Swati
Tiffany Hamilton
Morris Albright III
Willie "Bae" Lewis Jr.
Raymond Scott Jr.
Kaprina Frank
Charlotte Moses
Stephen Mosely
  City Manager Brian McDougal
  Total 143.8 sq mi (372.3 km2)
  Land 82.9 sq mi (214.8 km2)
  Water 60.8 sq mi (157.6 km2)
Elevation 7 ft (2 m)
Population (2000)
  Total 57,755
  Density 696.5/sq mi (268.9/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
  Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 77640-77643
Area code(s) 409
FIPS code 48-58820[1]
GNIS feature ID 1384151[2]
Website PortArthur.net
Aerial view of Port Arthur

Port Arthur is a city in Jefferson County within the Beaumont−Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area of the U.S. state of Texas. A small portion extends into Orange County. It is ninety-one miles east of Houston. The population was 53,818 at the 2010 census.

Early attempts at settlements in the area had all failed. However, in 1895 Arthur Stilwell founded Port Arthur, and the town quickly grew. Port Arthur was incorporated as a city in 1898 and soon developed into a seaport. It eventually became the center of a large oil refinery network.[3] The Rainbow Bridge across the Neches River connects Port Arthur to Bridge City.


Aurora was an early settlement attempt near the mouth of Taylor Bayou on Sabine Lake, about 14 miles (23 km) long and 7 miles (11 km) wide. It is a saltwater estuary formed by the confluence of the Neches and Sabine rivers. Through its tidal outlet 5 miles (8 km) long, Sabine Pass, Sabine Lake drains some 50,000 square miles (100,000 km2) of Texas and Louisiana into the Gulf of Mexico.

The town was conceived in 1837, and in 1840 promoters led by Almanzon Huston were offering town lots for sale. Some were sold, but Huston's project failed to attract many settlers. The area next was known as Sparks, after John Sparks, who moved his family to the shores of Sabine Lake near the site of Aurora. The Eastern Texas Railroad, completed between Sabine Pass and Beaumont, Texas, passed four miles west of Sparks. However, the American Civil War soon began, and rail lines were removed. In 1886, a destructive hurricane hit the coast, causing the remaining residents to dismantle their homes and move to Beaumont. By 1895, Aurora had become a ghost town.[4]

Arthur Stilwell led the resettling of the area as part of his planned city of Port Arthur. Pleasure Island now separates the city from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The 18.5-mile (29.8 km) man-made island was created between 1899 and 1908 by the Corps of Engineers to support development of the port.

Arthur Stilwell founded the Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company to manage the port facilities. The port officially opened with the arrival of the British steamer Saint Oswald in 1899. (The ship would later sink in 1915, after colliding with the French battleship Suffren during World War I.)

When oil was discovered in the region, Port Arthur developed for a time as the center of the largest oil refinery network in the world.[5]


Port Arthur is located at 29°53′6″N 93°56′24″W / 29.88500°N 93.94000°W / 29.88500; -93.94000 (29.884864, 93.939902) east of Houston.[6] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 143.8 square miles (372.3 km²), of which, 82.9 square miles (214.8 km²) of it is land and 60.8 square miles (157.6 km²) of it (42.32%) is water.


Communities in Port Arthur include:


Port Arthur is tied with Lake Charles, Louisiana and Astoria, Oregon, as the most humid city in the contiguous United States. The average relative humidity is 90% in the morning, and 72% in the afternoon.[7]

Climate data for Port Arthur, Texas (Jack Brooks Airport)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 86
Average high °F (°C) 62.1
Average low °F (°C) 43.4
Record low °F (°C) 11
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.25
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.5 8.7 7.4 6.2 6.6 10.0 11.4 11.1 8.9 7.5 8.1 9.5 104.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 136.4 169.5 189.1 204.0 263.5 285.0 282.1 257.3 231.0 241.8 186.0 148.8 2,594.5
Source: NOAA (1981−2010)[8] HKO (sun only, 1961−1990)[9] The Weather Channel (record temperatures)[10]


As of the 2000 census,[1] there were 57,755 people, 21,839 households, and 14,675 families residing in the city. The population density was 696.5 people per square mile (268.9/km²). There were 24,713 housing units at an average density of 298.0 per square mile (115.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 43.70% African American, 39.01% White, 0.45% Native American, 5.89% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 8.88% from other races, and 2.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.45% of the population.

Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201555,340[11]2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]

There were 21,839 households out of which 33.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 19.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.25.

In the city the population had 28.7% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males. The median income for a household in the city was $26,455, and the median income for a family was $32,143. Males had a median income of $30,915 versus $21,063 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,183. About 22.9% of families and 25.2% of the population were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 35.2% were under age 18 and 14.4% were age 65 or over.


Big Arthur crane

After decades of stagnation and neglect in the area economy because of a decline in the oil industry, Port Arthur is reviving in the 21st century. Several large projects involving the energy infrastructure are underway or proposed, the two largest being the Golden Pass and Sabine Pass LNG terminals. These separate projects under construction in neighboring Sabine Pass have brought cumulative initial investments of $2 billion, and will employ thousands at peak construction.

Home to a large portion of United States refining capacity, Port Arthur is now seeing renewed investment in several key installations. Motiva Enterprises is undertaking a major addition to its western Port Arthur refinery, expanding capacity to 600,000 barrels per day (95,000 m3/d).[13] This $10.0 billion project is the largest US refinery expansion to occur in 30 years.[13] Premcor Refining (now Valero) recently completed a $775 million expansion of its petrochemical plant, and BASF/Fina commenced operations of a new $1.75 billion gasification and cogeneration unit on premises of its current installation, which had just completed its own $1 billion upgrade. These operations are supported by the Port of Port Arthur, one of Texas' leading seaports. But, Port Arthur still suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

The city was the site of an oil spill in 2010, when an oil tanker and barge collided, causing 450,000 gallons of oil to spill into the Sabine/Neches waterway alongside the city.[14]

Central business district disintegration

The commercial center of Port Arthur was at its peak in the early 1900s. Together with the effects of suburbanization, which drew off wealthier residents to new housing away from town, gradually taking businesses with them, from 1960 until 1974,[15] successive waves of economic recession caused much distress in the town. The central business district has many boarded up and vacant locations.

Hotel Sabine

The Hotel Sabine opened at 600 Proctor Street in 1929 and operated as the Vaughn Hotel until the mid-1930s. At 118 feet, ten stories, and the tallest building in Port Arthur,[16] the building is of Beaux-Arts architecture style, built with steel-reinforced concrete and brick on 640 steel-laced wooden cypress pilings driven 60-foot into the ground. It was designed to withstand the most severe coastal storms.[17] The hotel closed down in the mid-1980s.

The Port Arthur News reported August 28, 2010, that "DWA (Digital Workforce Academy) Buys Sabine Hotel",[18] But by November 2011, there were reports that the hotel was slated for demolition. The cost of renovations were estimated at $10– 12,000,000 dollars and demolition estimates as between $500,000 to 1.2 million.[19]

Hurricane Rita struck a direct hit on the Proctor Street Seawall, and damaged many downtown businesses and homes. As economic activity picks up in the region, calls for downtown revitalization have been advanced.[20][21] The true center of commercial activity has gravitated from downtown to other areas.[22] The main shopping center is Central Mall, opened outside the downtown in 1982.

Arts and culture

Port Arthur's Museum of the Gulf Coast is recognized as the area's definitive collection of items and displays for figures from Port Arthur and the surrounding communities.


Delta Queen moored in front of City Hall

The Mayor of Port Arthur is Derrick Ford Freeman

The county operates the Port Arthur Sub-Courthouse in Port Arthur.[23]

The United States Postal Service operates the Port Arthur Post Office,[24] the Port Acres Post Office,[25] and the Sabine Pass Post Office in Sabine Pass.[26]


Primary and secondary schools

Most of the City of Port Arthur is served by the Port Arthur Independent School District. The portion around Southeast Texas Regional Airport is served by the Nederland Independent School District. The Sabine Pass community is served by the Sabine Pass Independent School District.

The Bob Hope Charter School is located in Port Arthur.[27]


Lamar State College–Port Arthur, located in downtown Port Arthur; celebrated its 100th birthday in 2009. Offering a full variety of basic core curriculum classes which credits are transferable throughout Texas public universities, Lamar State College is recognized for associate programs in Commercial Music, Nursing, Legal Assistant and Process technology. Lamar State College also fields competitive teams in Men's Basketball and Women's Softball. The section of Port Arthur within the Sabine Pass School District is assigned to Galveston College in Galveston.[28]

Public libraries

The Port Arthur Public Library, at 4615 9th Avenue at Texas State Highway 73, serves as the public library system for the city.[29]




The Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Port Arthur serves Beaumont and Port Arthur.


Local bus service is provided by Port Arthur Transit.

Tropical cyclones that have affected Port Arthur

Pleasure Island damage from Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Betsy

In August 1965's Hurricane Betsy, Port Arthur sustained very little damage. The city was in one of the weak spots of the hurricane. Winds only reached 26 miles per hour (42 km/h). Tides reached 2.4 feet (0.73 m) above sea level. A mere 0.02 inches (0.51 mm) of rain was recorded. Port Arthur was the only area in Texas to be damaged.

Hurricane Rita

In September 2005's Hurricane Rita, Port Arthur sustained major wind damage and some flooding.

Hurricane Humberto

Struck in the early hours of September 13, 2007, it had formed in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico and intensified faster than any other tropical cyclone on record before making landfall at High Island, Texas. The path of the eye continued northeastward and passed over Port Arthur, Nederland, Port Neches, Groves, and Bridge City, Texas at Category 1 hurricane strength. This was the second time within two years (following Hurricane Rita on September 24, 2005) that these cities experienced a direct hit from a hurricane. Hurricane Hunters reported sustained winds of 85 mph (137 km/h) about two hours after landfall. However, post-storm analysis later determined that the winds were stronger—about 90 mph (140 km/h).

Tropical Storm Edouard

On the morning of August 5, 2008, Port Arthur saw the effects of Tropical Storm Edouard. The tropical storm made landfall to the west of the city, and wind speeds of 55 mph (89 km/h) were recorded.[30]

Hurricane Ike

In September 2008, Port Arthur again sustained major wind damage, with several areas having major flooding. Ike made its final landfall near Galveston, Texas as a strong Category 2 hurricane, with Category 4 equivalent storm surge, on Sept. 13, 2008, at 2:10 a.m. CDT. Hurricane-force winds extended 120 miles (190 km) from the center. Due to its immense size, Ike caused devastation from the Louisiana coastline all the way to the Kennedy County, Texas region near Corpus Christi, Texas. The hurricane resulted in the largest evacuation of Texans in that state's history. In the aftermath, officials conducted the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history. The seawall of Port Arthur protected the city from the storm surge that devastated surrounding communities such as Bridge City. Water did flow over the top of the seawall for about 30 minutes, flooding some of homes along its length with over a foot of water.

Notable people

See also


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  3. Port Arthur incorporates- Retrieved 2013-09-10
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  5. Hunt, Herschiel. The History of Port Arthur. Southern Publishing Concern, 1926.
  6. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
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  8. "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
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