Red October 2022

Houston has shorter commute times, Philly is more walkable: How the World Series cities stack up

They may have NASA, but we have Wawa.

Minute Maid Park in Houston and Citizens Bank Park in Philly

Minute Maid Park in Houston and Citizens Bank Park in Philly

Wikimedia Commons; Mark Henninger

The Phillies are facing off against the Astros in the World Series this year, starting off with Game 1 in Houston on Friday.

The Astros are the early favorites, and a Houston victory could add another entry in the handful of one-ups the Texas city already has on Philadelphia, statistically speaking — like a bigger population, shorter commute times, or number of NASA outposts (they have one, we don’t).

But Philly flourishes in underdog positions, and if we win, we could add it to our collection of comparably great stuff — a higher Walk Score, lower rents, and, as one person pointed out on Twitter, a lot more Wawas.

Philadelphia and Houston are the fourth- and sixth-biggest cities in the U.S., and each has different things going for it beyond having championship baseball teams this year (other years… well, that’s a different story).

How do they stack up? Here are some fast facts that offer a glimpse into some of the things that make each city unique, along with what the two have in common.


Founded: Philadelphia – 1682; Houston – 1836

Name origin:

  • Philadelphia – The Greek words “phileo” (love) and “adelphos” (brother), combined by William Penn
  • Houston – Named for Sam Houston, a leader in the Texas Revolution and later a U.S. Senator

City nicknames:

  • Philadelphia – Philly, The City of Brotherly Love, The Birthplace of America, The Quaker City, The City That Loves You Back
  • Houston – Space City, Bayou City, H-Town, Hustle Town, Crush City


Population (2020 census): Philadelphia – 1,603,797; Houston – 2,304,580

Population ranking among U.S. cities: Philadelphia – 6th; Houston – 4th

Land area: Philadelphia – 134 square miles; Houston – 640 square miles

People per square mile: Philadelphia – 11,937; Houston – 3,598


Racial/ethnic demographics:

  • Philadelphia – 39.3% white alone, 41.4% Black alone, 0.3% American Indian / Alaska Native alone, 7.4% Asian alone, 0% Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander alone, 4.3% two or more races, 15.1% Hispanic or Latino, 34.1% Non-Hispanic white alone
  • Houston – 51.5% white alone, 22.8% Black alone, 0.3% American Indian / Alaska Native alone, 6.9% Asian alone, 7.0% two or more races, 44.5% Hispanic or Latino, 24.1% Non-Hispanic white alone

Residents who speak a language other than English at home: Philadelphia – 23.4%; Houston – 48.4%

Residents born outside of the United States: Philadelphia – 14.3%; Houston – 28.9%

Veterans (2016-2020): Philadelphia – 56,232; Houston – 69,023

People over 65: Philadelphia – 14.4%; Houston – 11.0%

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Work and economy

Median household income (2016-2020): Philadelphia – $49,127; Houston – $53,600

Top 5 regional employers:

  • Philadelphia metro area – University of Pennsylvania / Penn Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University / Jefferson Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The Giant Company, Comcast Corporation
  • Houston metro area – H-E-B Grocery Company, Houston Methodist, Memorial Hermann Health System, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Walmart

Mean travel time to work (2016-2020): Philadelphia – 33.4 minutes; Houston – 27.6 minutes

Regional unemployment rate (August 2022): Philadelphia area – 4.5%; Houston area – 4.6%

Politics and government

Mayor: Philadelphia – Jim Kenney (Democrat); Houston – Sylvester Turner (Democrat)

County: Philadelphia – Philadelphia County (same as city boundaries); Houston – Harris County (larger than just the city)

City Council structure:

  • Philadelphia – 17 seats (10 district, 7 at-large)
  • Houston – 16 seats (11 district, 5 at-large)

City Council current party control: 

  • Philadelphia – 10 Democrats, 2 Republicans, 1 Working Families Party, 4 vacant
  • Houston – 11 Democrats, 5 Republicans (though city-level elections are officially nonpartisan)

2020 presidential county voting breakdown:

  • Philadelphia County – 81.4% Biden/17.9% Trump
  • Harris County – 56.0% Biden/42.7% Trump


Median gross rent (2016-2020): Philadelphia – $1,084; Houston – $1,086

Median owner-occupied home value (2016-2020): Philadelphia – $171,600; Houston – $186,800

Number of homes sold in September 2022: Philadelphia – 1,309 (-21.1% year-over-year); Houston – 2,310 (-20.6% year-over-year)

Median sale price of a home in September 2022: Philadelphia – $255,000 (-1.9% year-over-year); Houston – $310,000 (+6.9% year-over-year)

Rowhomes in Spring Garden

Rowhomes in Spring Garden

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn


Walk Score/Transit Score/Bike Score: Philadelphia – 75/67/67; Houston – 47/36/49

Acres of park land: Philadelphia – 10,794 (13% of city area); Houston – 44,480 (12% of city area)

Tallest building: Philadelphia – Comcast Technology Center (60 stories / 1,121 ft.); Houston – JP Morgan Chase Tower (75 stories / 1,049 ft.)


Average temperature in January 2022: Philadelphia – 30.7°F; Houston – 54.9°F

Average temperature in July 2022: Philadelphia – 81.2°F; Houston – 88.0°F


Number of public schools (K-12): Philadelphia – 217; Houston – 288

High school graduates (of people ages 25+): Philadelphia – 85.7%; Houston – 79.7%

Four-year degree holders (of people ages 25+): Philadelphia – 31.2%, Houston – 34.3%

The Phanatic at Pass & Stowe, the beer garden at Citizens Bank Park

The Phanatic at Pass & Stowe, the beer garden at Citizens Bank Park

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Sports and tourism

Major league professional sports teams:

  • Philadelphia – Phillies (MLB), Eagles (NFL), Union (MLS), 76ers (NBA), Flyers (NHL)
  • Houston – Astros (MLB), Texans (NFL), Dynamo (MLS), Rockets (NBA), Dash (NWSL)

Professional major league championship victories this millennium:

  • Philadelphia – 2 (Phillies in 2008, Eagles in 2018)
  • Houston – 3 (Dynamo in 2006 and 2007, Astros in 2017)

Lowest secondary market price for a World Series home game ticket: Philadelphia – $1,202; Houston – $730

Top 5 attractions, according to Tripadvisor:

  • Philadelphia – Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Foundation, Reading Terminal Market, Independence Hall
  • Houston – The Houston Museum of Natural Science, Minute Maid Park, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Children’s Museum Houston, Houston Zoo

Want some more? Explore other Red October 2022 stories.

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