Texas is a big state. No seriously, it's really big (for you European tropers, it's about the size of the entirety of France). So big, in fact, that there are several cities with very large populations, none of which are within 50 miles (80 km) of each other, some of which get mentioned in fiction. Texas is so big that back in the 1950s through the 1970s when it was nearly impossible to get a license to operate an airline at the Federal level (the major airlines already in business did not want new competitors), there were several smaller airlines which managed to make enough money to operate by serving cities within the state of Texas, which meant they did not need a federal license. After the government deregulated the airline industry in the late 70s, one of those carriers, Southwest Airlines, began expanding outside the state, and now carries more domestic passengers than any other U.S. airline. California was the only other state big enough to have successful intrastate airlines.
AmarilloThe second-largest city in the Texas Panhandle, and the largest city between Oklahoma City and Albuquerque. The center of Texas' massive beef industry, and home to the largest reserve of helium in the world, wrestler Terry Funk, and actress Carolyn Jones.
AustinThe capital of Texas. Home of the University of Texas (or texas university to the Aggiesnote ), which is the state's largest in terms of enrollment, as well as a traditional powerhouse in all of the Big Three sports (American football, basketball, baseball). Austin is famous for being a notorious pocket of liberalism and counterculture in what is otherwise one of the most conservative states in the country; Patton Oswalt referred to it as "a bubble of sanity", while the rest of the state (including Austin itself) calls it the People's Republic of Austin with either derision or Self-Deprecation. It's well known for all kinds of colorful characters, some of whom will run for mayor (look up the name Leslie Cochran if you're feeling brave). Organic supermarket chain Whole Foods Market is based here, as are a host of high-tech companies such as Dell, making it something of Texas's Silicon Valley — Austin and the surrounding area are sometimes referred to as "Silicon Hills". A related claim to fame is Austin's massive live music scene, making it known as the "live music capital of the world". There are a number of famous music festivals that take place there, including South by Southwest (or simply SXSW) and the Austin City Limits festival hosted by the PBS television series, and its home to many underground rock musicians. These factors combine to give Austin a level of offbeat quirkiness not commonly associated with Texas; the residents proudly Keep Austin Weird.
College StationThe home of Texas A&M University and the Aggies.
Corpus ChristiSeaport city, and hometown of the ever multiracial Lou Diamond Phillips (bet you didn't know he was Asian). Also notable for its significant Mexican-American population, and for being the hometown of slain Tejano singer Selena
El PasoTexas's answer to Sacchin — it rarely gets mentioned in fiction, probably due in part to its isolation (at least from anything American; the closest major non-Mexican city is Albuquerque. Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio are all 8-10 hours away by car.). El Paso is in the Mountain Time Zone, while the rest of Texas keeps Central Time. It's a very large city that's right across the border from the even bigger Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, known to anybody who reads/watches the news as one of the most violent cities on earth due to all those drug cartels fighting for control of cross-border smuggling channels. For what it's worth, crime rates in El Paso itself do not seem to be too far above the norm for an American city its size; if anything, reports suggest that crime (violent crime especially) is unusually low in El Paso. In addition to its geographical isolation, it also has a noticeable lack of suburbs (Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth have a ton of suburbs, and Austin is very close to San Antonio). Eddie Guerrero's hometown. Also home to the University of Texas at El Paso, most famous for being home to the 1966 NCAA basketball championship team (back when the school was Texas Western College) depicted in the film Glory Road.
GalvestonOceanfront resort town located on a narrow island about forty miles south of Houston. It was once one of the largest cities in Texas, and one of the busiest ports on the Gulf of Mexico, until it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1900. Although the city was rebuilt, development shifted north to Houston and Southeast Texas' economy shifted from cotton to oil and the city never really recovered its former glory. It later became a Mafia controlled Vice City from 1920 to 1957, when it lost the title to Las Vegas. The city is also known, in Texas at least, for being chock full of honestly nice people.
LaredoFamous border town across the Rio Grande from the drug-war-torn city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. The southern terminus of Interstate 35, which runs all the way to Duluth, Minnesota. A major hub of transportation and shipping.
LubbockThe largest city in the Texas Panhandle, and also the largest city in an extremely flat, barren stretch of land called the Llano Estacado, or 'Palisade Plains'. Home to Texas Tech University. Also home to a very large prairie dog town.
New BraunfelsGerman-founded town in central Texas, roughly equidistant from Austin and San Antonio. Named after the town of Braunfels in Hesse, it was mostly a German-speaking farm town until the United States cracked down on the use of German in public in 1917. note It later became a bedroom town for both Austin and San Antonio. Small Soldiers was filmed and set here.
Odessa-MidlandHome to Claire Bennet and the Permian High School Panthers and was also the boyhood home of George W. Bush. Their economy is driven by the oil industry, so it follows the oil booms and busts. As such, they were hit hard during the 1980s, when the easily-accessible oil started to get tapped out, but in recent years they have have had a resurgence, with new finds and drilling techniques leading to more oil production, as well as the development of natural gas and wind energy. This has produced a vastly expanding economy and an exploding population in both cities. The downside of this is that the housing market is through the roof, with individuals with high-paying jobs barely able to keep a roof over their heads. In addition, the traffic has substantially increased on roads that were not intended to handle that amount. From 2012 to 2013, traffic fatalities increased over 300%. On top of that, the region is currently in a severe drought, so more people puts additional strain on nearly depleted reservoirs.
The Rio Grande Valley citiesIn rough west-to-east order: Mission, McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr, Weslaco, Harlingen, and Brownsville. A major agricultural center and gateway to both Spring Break mecca South Padre Island and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The Valley is the third largest producer of citrus fruit in America behind California and Florida. Birthplace of football coach Tom Landry, Iwo Jima flag raiser Harlon Block, musician Freddy Fender, and replacement John Connor Nick Stahl.
San AngeloKnown as the Oasis of West Texas (it has three rivers and three lakes), and once known as the Mohair Capitol of the World, San Angelo is a mid-sized city in the west-central portion of the state, and lies almost exactly halfway between Interstates 20 and 10.note San Angelo came into national promenence a few years ago during the 2008 YFZ Ranch raid, as many of the associated criminal trials took place in San Angelo. Currently undergoing a smaller oil boom than the one in Odessa-Midland. San Angelo has a university and an Air Force base, a burgeoning art and live music scene (Los Lonely Boys are from San Angelo), and is somewhat cynically known by locals as a town of bad driving and meth labs.
San AntonioTexas's second-largest city as of the 2010 Census (passing Dallas), and the seventh-largest in the US, though the metropolitan area is much further down the list. It's billed as Texas's premier tourist destination — there's Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Sea World, the Riverwalk, and of course, the Alamo. It also is — or was at one point — considered the sweatiest city in the US. Historically speaking, there's still quite a bit of Mexican influence in the town. San Antoinio also has a huge military presence - at one point it was the home of four Air Force bases (Lackland and Randolph are still active, Brooks has been closed and Kelly was absorbed into Lackland) and an army post (Fort Sam Houston). If you were in the Air Force and not an officer, you very likely started out at Lackland. Also notable for the San Antonio Spurs, who generally put up a good team year in and year out, and for being the home of Shawn Michaels, Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Talley, and Summer Glau, which makes it ten times more awesome. Located about eighty miles southwest of Austin, meaning that the two cities are sometimes conflated together — and between San Antonio's tourist spots and Austin's, well, Austin-ness, it makes life a lot easier for tourists looking to go to a lot of Texas' big attractions.
WacoA small city located in the middle of the "Texas Triangle" between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio/Austin. Home to Baylor University. In 1953, it got destroyed by the eleventh-deadliest tornado in US history (with a death toll of 114note ), which stalled its economic growth while cities of similar size like Austin boomed. Forty years later, it was doomed to have its name forever associated with a bunch of doomsday cultists who got into an armed standoff with the ATF and FBI at their compound right outside the city, making the word "Waco" a rallying cry for Right Wing Militia Fanatics for years. Poor town. Also, regardless of one's views on the man, George W. Bush's "ranch", the "Western White House", is located a couple dozen miles outside the city. On the positive side, Steve Martin's from here.