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Katy is a city located in Harris, Fort Bend and Waller Counties in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. The population was 14,102 at the 2010 census.
In the mid-1800s Katy was known as Cane Island. Named for the creek that still runs through the area (now a branch of Buffalo Bayou).The creek was filled with cane presumed to have been planted for fur trapping by earlier residents. In the middle of the flat coastal prairie – this ‘island’ of cane was surrounded by an ocean of tall grass; thus the area became known as Cane Island. The trail from Harrisburg to San Antonio known as the San Felipe Road; ran right through it.
In 1845 James J. Crawford received a land grant that included this area. Hot summers, cold winters, thick mud and voracious mosquitoes made the area quite difficult to settle. Thirty years later Crawford, John Sills and freed slaves Thomas and Mary Robinson were the only recorded residents of Cane Island. In 1893 the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (now a part of Union Pacific) started laying rails through Cane Island. The railroad began operation in 1895. That same year James Oliver Thomas laid out a town and in January 1896 the town of Katy was named through Thomas’s post office application. The name was based on appreciation for the MKT Railroad (which was called ‘the Katy’ by railroad officials) and the expected prosperity its arrival would bring to the new town. Today, the original train stop and railroad tracks are still very much a part of the town. By the early 1900s many families had come by train and wagon to establish Katy. Several hotels, stores, livery and saloons were prospering and farms and ranches were replacing the wild prairie. Cotton and peanuts were the first successful crops but rice soon became the favorite. Katy later became known for rice farming, the first concrete rice driers in the state of Texas were built here in 1944 and still stand as landmarks.
In 1945 the City of Katy was incorporated as a municipality. Boundaries were determined by finding the area that contained the most residents and was reasonably sized so that it could be managed by city services. The City of Katy is now the anchor for the greater Katy area, defined by the boundaries of 181 sq mi (470 km2). Katy Independent School District.
The opening of IH-10 in 1966 allowed for rapid development of the area as Houston expanded westward. The city has grown to a population of approximately 15,000 residents who enjoy state of the art support and services. Almost 270,000 people live in the Katy area, which has won national accolades for growth and sustainability.
In 2009 the Gadberry Group named Katy as one of nine “9 from 2009” most notable high growth areas in the United States.
Several corporations are headquartered in areas surrounding Katy.
Igloo Corporation is headquartered west of Katy in unincorporated Waller County. Academy Sports and Outdoors has its corporate offices and product distribution center in unincorporated western Harris County.
BP America is headquartered in the Energy Corridor and is the Corridor’s largest employer with 5,500 employees on its Westlake campus as of 2009. BP’s Katy operations include engineering and business support for much of BP’s onshore operations in the Contiguous United States as well as its operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 2008 KBR announced that a new office facility would appear at the intersection of the Grand Parkway and Interstate 10 in unincorporated western Harris County, Texas, between Houston and Katy. The new complex would have been be in close proximity to the Energy Corridor area of Houston. KBR planned to continue to have a corporate presence in Downtown. In December KBR said that it would not continue with the plans due to a weakened economy.
Retail centers are springing up all throughout Katy to accommodate the rapid residential growth. The major retail growth is now being focused on the Katy Fort Bend Road near the east entrance to the Katy Mills shopping mall.
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