There Was Nowhere to Go but Up

If the world's economic leaders had visited Houston a few years ago, they would have found a down-at-the-heels oil town. Not anymore. Across the city last week, thousands of bag-toting volunteers scoured streets and back alleys for litter. Others painted over graffiti and planted hundreds of red begonias. Freshly remodeled hotels stocked up on ethnic food; civic workers conducted courtesy classes for taxi drivers; and the police readied 125 new patrol cars for escort duty.

All that pizazz, however, is only frosting on the cake for Houston. The city is in the third year of a brisk economic recovery that is...

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