History of Dallas
In 1841, a self-starting, do-it-yourself Tennessee lawyer settled on 640 acres in what would later be Dallas because he had a hunch that the area would be a great place for a new town. Other families quickly followed his pioneering ways, and locals from other nearby towns decided to join the settlers and move into the new community along the Trinity River. As a result of this can-do spirit (think Rock Hudson in Giant), Dallas’ reputation for breeding tough, take-charge personalities was born. A few years after the settlement was established, with a population of just under 500 people, Dallas County was officially organized. That number steadily grew from hundreds to thousands and then to hundreds of thousands over the next century as businesses, the railroad, banks, local government, universities, and eventually an airport in the early 1920s moved into the area to keep up with the growing population.
In 1930, the largest oil deposit in existence was found 100 miles east of Dallas, turning the city in to a hub for oil tycoons and related businesses.
A few years after this, a new trend in Dallas’ history began – and it’s one that is still taking place today. Corporations, riding in on the coattails of the oil boom, began to establish their headquarters in Dallas. By the early 1970s, over 600 companies, like Texas Instruments, EDS, and Mary Kay Cosmetics Inc., were based out of Dallas. And, with the opening of DFW in 1974, the city saw even more corporate interests move into the area. But, perhaps Dallas has always held some kind of mysterious attraction for business owners and entrepreneurs – from that Tennessee lawyer’s visions in the 1840s of a thriving little town where there was just prairie land to Neiman Marcus, who opened his flagship store in Downtown Dallas, a local favorite even today, that did nothing less than establish the city as a kind of Southern hub for fashion, style, and elegance.
By far Dallas’ lowest point in history came in November of 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated at Dealy Plaza in Downtown. But, with the influx of corporations settling in the area and the establishment of DFW, Dallas quickly recovered, and by the 1980s Fortune Magazine referred to the city as the number one business center in the country. It became known for its fierce political influence, and also established itself as a dominant force in the tourism and convention industries, for which it is still known.
One might wonder, in a state as big as Texas and a city the size of Dallas, is there ever an end to these expanding horizons? Well, there might be one day, but it seems that in Dallas that day is still eons away. The growth that defined the city in the 1800s is still very much a part of its development today as the U.S. Census reported that Dallas experienced the largest population growth of any other city in the United States last year. I guess it’s true – everything really is bigger in Texas!