The city of Pasadena, Texas is the second-biggest city within Harris County with a population of roughly 150,000 people. It lies in the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area and is famous for having the biggest volunteer fire department in the country.
Before Pasadena was discovered and inhabited by European people in 1893, the area was inhabited by the Atakapan and Karankawa peoples, mainly the Akokisa. The founder of the original village was John H. Burnett, who named the town Pasadena after the California community as it also shared green and lush plant growth. The Spanish were early explorers of the area and charted the bay. The pirate Jean Lafitte dominated the area during the early part of the 19th century until the United States Navy forced him out during the year 1821. Lafitte and his crew had hide-outs all over the bay and Clear Lake.
Petrochemicals are the foundation of Pasadena's economy. Petroleum refining and petrochemical processing are important industries. The Pasadena Refining System has its head office in Pasadena. Shipping, aerospace and healthcare are strong industries. The city benefits from its nearness to the Houston Ship Channel and the Bayport shipping terminal. The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's center for space training, situated within nearby Clear Lake.
There is much history of the region preserved for visitors at the Bay Area Museum, the Armand Bayou Nature Center and the Pasadena Historical Museum. The City of Pasadena has a thriving arts community including theater companies and the Pasadena Philharmonic. A rodeo is held there yearly. The Pasadena Citizen is the city's main newspaper.
The City of Pasadena has many refineries, giving it the affectionate nickname "Stinkadena." One more nickname is "Pasa-get-down-dena"; the fact is, there are more than a few country songs with that as their title.
A while ago, Pasadena was known as the Strawberry Capital of the World. The start of strawberry growing within the city started after a destructive flood, when the American Red Cross shipped over one million strawberry plants into Pasadena. The strawberry crops grew abundantly and growers shipped dozens of train carloads of strawberries every day during the height of the season. The Pasadena Strawberry Festival attracts over 50,000 tourists every year to celebrate the historic importance of the crop. A central road in Pasadena is called Strawberry Road, because it cuts through the former strawberry fields.