Brief History of Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas is a place filled with rich history and has cultivated many great people and moments throughout its existence and continues to be a solid breeding ground for excellence. However, many people outside of its residents do not know much about its humble beginnings so let’s take a look at a brief history of the city nicknamed “The Big D.”

Currently located on the Trinity River right in the center of Dallas County in North Central Texas, it was founded by John Neely Bryan in 1839 in what was originally known as the Three Forks area. Bryan, at the time, was actually on a mission to establish a trading post for Indians and settlers. He quickly recognized the advantages of locating this area as it was the easiest river crossing location and also was placed on what would soon be established as the Preston Trail. Dallas County formed in 1846 and Dallas was assigned as a temporary county seat. It became a permanent county seat through a vote in 1850 over Hord’s Ridge and Cedar Springs. Then in 1856, it was granted its official town charter by the Texas legislature and Dr. Samuel Pryor became its first mayor.

Dallas, during its early stages, was a major service center for the rural areas around with its many amenities such a dry goods store, groceries, a drug store, insurance agency, boot and shoe shop, brickyards and saddle shops. It also had its weekly newspaper known as the Dallas Herald. Businessmen in Dallas were aware that the key to economic expansion came through transportation in and out of the region. So when attempts to navigate the Trinity River, they then focused on securing rail service and was able to attract the Houston and Texas Central in 1872 and the Texas and Pacific in 1873. These acquisitions made Dallas one of the first rail crossroads in Texas. With cotton being the region’s premier cash crop, Dallas found itself in an ideal locational position as Elm Street became the market for cotton.

By the turn of the twentieth century, Dallas had a population of 42,638 saw itself as the leading book, drug, jewelry, and wholesale liquor market in the Southwest. It was also the world’s leading inland cotton market while remaining number one in the world in the manufacture of saddlery and cotton-gin machinery. By 1950 the population grew to 434,462, and during that period, it became the nation’s third-largest technology center due to the growth of companies like Ling-Tempco-Vaught (LTV) and Texas Instruments. During the 1960s’ however, Dallas experienced its most tragic event in the assassination of then-President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, as he was riding through Dealey Plaza. This was only a mere yards from where John Neely Bryan first settled in the city in 1841. Debates swirled as to how they should commemorate the event for about twenty-five years until the Sixth Floor museum opened in the former Texas School Book Depository. Then in 1993, Dealey Plaza was recognized as a National Historic Landmark District and became Dallas’ second after Fair Park.

Currently, Dallas serves a population of over one million and is a hub of transportation for the western US with its two commercial airports, Dallas Love Field and the Dallas Ft-Worth International airport which is the second largest airport in the country.