Port Arthur, Texas

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Port Arthur, Texas
Port Arthur
Port Arthur
Nickname(s): PA, PAT
Location of Port Arthur, Texas - U.S. Census Map
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
State Texas
County Jefferson
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City Council Mayor Derrick Freeman
Cal J. Jones,
Thomas Kinlaw III
Raymond Scott Jr.
Kaprina Frank
Charlotte Moses
Harold Doucet Jr.
 • City Manager Harvey Robinson, Interim
 • 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 (2010)
 • Total 53,818
 • Density 645.6/sq mi (250.5/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
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 91 mi (146 km) east of Houston. It is host to the largest oil refinery in the United States (the 600,000 bpd Saudi Aramco - Motiva refinery).[3]

The population of Port Arthur 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.[4] 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 mi (23 km) long and 7 mi (11 km) wide. It is a saltwater estuary formed by the confluence of the Neches and Sabine Rivers. Through its tidal outlet 5 mi (8 km) long, Sabine Pass, Sabine Lake drains some 50,000 sq mi (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 4 mi 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.[5]

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 mi (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 later sank 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.[6]


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.[7] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 143.8 square miles (372.4 km2), of which 82.9 sq mi (215 km2) of it is land and 60.8 sq mi (157 km2) of it (42.32%) is covered by 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.[8]

Climate data for Port Arthur, Texas (Jack Brooks Airport) 1981–2010
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
Average relative humidity (%) 79.0 76.6 76.2 77.1 78.7 79.0 80.7 80.3 79.3 76.9 78.0 79.6 78.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 135.5 168.5 188.1 203.2 262.9 284.6 281.7 258.6 231.9 241.3 184.8 148.9 2,590
Percent possible sunshine 42 54 51 53 62 68 66 63 63 68 58 47 58
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)[9][10] The Weather Channel (record temperatures)[11]


2010 census data[edit]

As of the 2010 census,[12] 53,818 people, 20,183 households, and 13,191 families resided in the city. The population density was 654.6 people per square mile (250.5/km²). The 23,577 housing units averaged 284.4 per square mile (109.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 41.7% African American, 37.9% White, 1.2% Native American, 6.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 15.3% from other races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 29.6% of the population.

Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201655,427[13]3.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]

Of the 20,183 households, 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.2% were married couples living together, 19.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were not families; 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.31.

In the city, the population was distributed as 27.0% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 24.7% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.3 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.

2000 census data[edit]

As of the census of 2000,[1] the median income for a household in the city was $26,455, and 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. Of the total people living in poverty, 35.2% were under age 18 and 14.4% were age 65 or over.


Big Arthur crane

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).[15] This $10.0 billion project is the largest US refinery expansion to occur in 30 years.[15] Premcor Refining (now Valero) 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. Port Arthur still suffers, though, from one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.[citation needed]

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.[16]

Central business district disintegration[edit]

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,[17] successive waves of economic recession caused much distress in the town. The central business district has many boarded up and vacant locations.

Hotel Sabine[edit]

The Hotel Sabine opened at 600 Proctor Street in 1929 and operated as the Vaughn Hotel until the mid-1930s. At 118 feet, 10 stories, and the tallest building in Port Arthur,[18] the building is of Beaux-Arts architecture style, built with steel-reinforced concrete and brick on 640 steel-laced wooden cypress pilings driven 60 ft into the ground. It was designed to withstand the most severe coastal storms.[19] The hotel closed down in the mid-1980s.

The Port Arthur News reported August 28, 2010, that "DWA (Digital Workforce Academy) Buys Sabine Hotel",[20] By November 2011, the hotel was reported to be slated for demolition. The cost of renovations were estimated at $10– 12,000,000 dollars and demolition estimates as $500,000 to 1.2 million.[21]

Hurricane Rita struck a direct hit on the Proctor Street Seawall, and damaged many downtown businesses and homes. As economic activity picked up in the region, calls for downtown revitalization have been advanced.[22][23] The true center of commercial activity has gravitated from downtown to other areas.[24] The main shopping center is Central Mall, opened outside the downtown in 1982.

Arts and culture[edit]

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.[25]

The United States Postal Service operates the Port Arthur Post Office,[26] the Port Acres Post Office,[27] and the Sabine Pass Post Office in Sabine Pass.[28]


Primary and secondary schools[edit]

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. Some parts are served by Port Neches-Groves 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.[29]


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. The 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.[30]

Public libraries[edit]

The Port Arthur Public Library, at 4615 9th Avenue at Texas State Highway 73, serves as the public library system for the city.[31]




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


Local bus service is provided by Port Arthur Transit.

Tropical cyclones[edit]

Pleasure Island damage from Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Audrey[edit]

In June 1957, Hurricane Audrey made landfall just east of Port Arthur in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, as a category 3 hurricane. The storm caused extensive wind damage around the city and significant storm surge flooding just east in Southwest Louisiana.

Hurricane Rita[edit]

On September 24, 2005, Hurricane Rita made landfall between Sabine Pass, Texas, and Johnson Bayou, Louisiana, as a category 3 hurricane. A wind gust of 116 mph (187 km/h) was recorded in Port Arthur. The storm caused widespread significant wind damage throughout the city, with power outages lasting several weeks in some locations. Some areas of the city also received flooding due to Rita.[32]

Hurricane Humberto[edit]

On September 13, 2007, Hurricane Humberto made landfall west of Port Arthur as a category 1 hurricane. The storm moved northeast across the Golden Triangle, causing widespread wind damage; however, most of the damage was relatively minor. An 84 mph (135 km/h) wind gust was recorded at the Southeast Texas Regional Airport just northwest of the city.[33]

Tropical Storm Edouard[edit]

On August 5, 2008, Tropical Storm Edouard made landfall just west of Port Arthur. The effects felt in the city were light; however, wind gusts up to 55 mph (89 km/h) were recorded.[34]

Hurricane Ike[edit]

On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall on Galveston Island as a category 2 hurricane. Due to the storm's unusually large size, effects were widespread and were felt across much of Southeast Texas. Port Arthur sustained significant wind damage and many of the city's residents lost power. The Port Arthur seawall protected the city from the major flooding that surrounding cities experienced.

Hurricane Harvey[edit]

On August 29, 2017, after Harvey made a second landfall at tropical storm status, 26 inches of rain fell in a single day at the airport near Port Arthur, triggering widespread flash flooding in the city. According to the Port Arthur mayor Derrick Freeman, 20,000 homes were flooded with up to 6 ft of water. On August 30, Freeman posted on Facebook, "Our whole city is underwater right now."[35]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
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  4. ^ Port Arthur incorporates- Retrieved 2013-09-10
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External links[edit]