Kingwood, Texas is a planned community of nearly 15,000 acres approximately 30 miles northeast of downtown Houston. A joint venture formed by the King Ranch and Friendswood Development Company established Kingwood in 1967 on undeveloped land purchased from the Foster Lumber Company, which had owned it since 1892.
Captain Richard King established the King Ranch in 1853. The ranch grew steadily over the years and diversified, becoming known as the "Birthplace of American Ranching." At over 800,000 acres, it exceeds the state of Rhode Island in size and is one of the oldest and largest continuously operating ranches in the United States.
Friendswood Development Company is a subsidiary of Exxon, which began operating in 1911 as the Humble Oil and Refining Company in nearby Humble, Texas. New Jersey Standard Oil acquired the company in 1919 as Exxon Company, USA, but allowed Humble to remain autonomous while retaining partial ownership to avoid antitrust proceedings. Humble built one of the world’s largest natural gas storage and processing facilities near the King Ranch and the future community of Kingwood in 1960. The company created the Friendswood Development Company in 1967 and partnered with the King Ranch to form a joint development venture for the purpose of establishing the master-planned community known today as Kingwood.
Originally home to a few thousand Exxon executives and workers, the population of Kingwood increased dramatically to 19,000 in 1990, and exceeded 65,000 in 2005. This rapid growth forced the community to become increasingly reliant on resources and services from the nearby city of Houston, which seized this opportunity to increase its tax base. Despite local opposition, Houston officially annexed Kingwood in 1996.