Dallas is one of the major cities in the state of Texas. It is the largest city of Dallas County and sits along the Trinity River, near to the junction of that river’s three forks. It is one of the Lone Star State’s most populous cities, next to Houston and San Antonio.
Dallas is a sprawling metroplex that takes pride in its rich history, signature snacks, and world-renowned architecture. It also boasts a well-rounded arts and culture scene, dynamic sports scene, and exciting nightlife. But if you’re on the lookout of some old-school Texas trademarks such as barbecues, huge steaks, upscale restaurants, and established honkytonks, you’ll also find them in Dallas with little difficulty.
The city is also famous for the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Big Tex and Texas State Fair, and Highland Park Village. The city will also be remembered as the site where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. And of course, who cannot forget the tv show Dallas? The city gained fame as the location of the hit primetime television series during the 1970s and the 1980s.
Dallas has certainly come a long, long way. From a stark and vast prairie land, it has evolved as a prosperous, vibrant, and cosmopolitan city. While Dallas is poised for greater things in the future, it also acknowledges the legacies of its past. For without the past, Dallas won’t become the city that it is today.
The roots of Dallas
While its existence as a city is relatively short compared to the other municipalities, so much has happened in Dallas that have shaped its unique identity. Since its “birth” in the 1830s, Dallas has witnessed so many changes, upheavals, and reformations – all in the name of pushing towards the realization of its ideal form.
Dallas’s home state, Texas, was once inhabited by the so-called American Indians just before the Spanish colonists arrived. In the 1700s, the Spaniards claimed the territory of Texas and established it as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Later, France also claimed the area but never established any settlement there.
When Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1821, it claimed Texas as part of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. In 1836, Texas became independent from Mexico, which led to the establishment of the Republic of Texas.
Three years after Texas gained independence, a man named John Neely Bryan was looking for an ideal location for his planned trading post business when he discovered three forks area of the Trinity River. When he came back in 1841, he established a permanent settlement named (or which he called) Dallas.
Where did Dallas get its name?
There have been several theories that have been attributed to the supposed origins of the name “Dallas.” But as theories they are, none of them has been proven legitimate – and so, the origins of the name remain obscure. Some historians suggest that Bryan chose the name in honor of his friend Dallas. The official historical marker, on the other hand, states that the city was named after the 11th US vice president, George M. Dallas (1845-49). Or it was named after his brothers, Commodore James Dallas, Walter R. Dallas, or James R. Dallas. However, it is still open to dispute.
The initial growth and expansion
The area, now known as Dallas, had been inhabited by the so-called American Indians and then the Spaniards. However, the settlement had now been augmented by other Europeans, such as Swiss, German, and French immigrants. Significant numbers of African-Americans settled in Dallas following the American Civil War.
Like many cities and towns in the United States in the latter half of the 19th century, Dallas began to experience significant growth due to the construction of railroads. A massive wholesale market developed. Not long after, Dallas’ retail industry grew and prospered, with homegrown chains such as 7-Eleven and Neiman Marcus would become internationally known. The annexation of the adjacent communities of East Dallas and Oak Cliff (in 1889 and 1903, respectively) further expanded the city’s size.
Dallas in the 20th century
Like many municipalities in the US at the time, Dallas thrived on agriculture, especially cotton. The Dallas Cotton Exchange was established in 1907, and since then, it had been one of the world’s most important cotton markets in the early decades of the 20th century. Aside from that, Dallas was also the top manufacturer of cotton gins.
Eventually, Dallas’ local industries grew and diversified. Dallas became a center of manufacturing, especially textiles, leather products, food processing, and automobiles. The city also extended its services to insurance and banking. During the 1910s, a branch of the Federal Reserve System was established there. Mexican migrants arrived in Dallas, further contributing to the city’s population growth.
In the 1930s, the great East Texas oil field was discovered, which attracted myriads of investors. It was oil that contributed to Dallas’ exponential growth and made the city a major hub of the petroleum industry.
Economic booms and upheavals
Dallas began a period of spectacular growth after the Depression and the World War II. This was where a number of aircraft manufacturing plants were established in the city and nearby areas. Dallas’ manufacturing sector further thrived with the establishment of electronics and automobile assembly plants.
The city was suddenly thrown into the global spotlight, albeit in a tragic note, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. His motorcade was passing through downtown Dallas when he was shot. Thirty minutes after the shooting, he died at the Parkland Memorial Hospital. His death sent millions into shock and deep mourning – indeed, it was one of the bleakest moments in history, not just of the US but of the world.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport opened on September 23, 1973, which further boosted the city’s economy. Since then, Dallas has become an attractive location for corporate headquarters. Dallas Love Airport is Dallas’s secondary airport, but it was actually the first airport built in the city. It used to be Dallas’ main airport – serving passengers for 60-odd years – until Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport opened.
Dallas also enjoyed the real estate boom during the mid-1970 to mid-1980s, which drew a distinctive contemporary image for the city. Skyscrapers mushroomed in the downtown area, creating a prominent skyline, and were designed by the country’s most renowned architects. This was where Dallas came to be known for its contemporary architecture and design.
But not everything has been bed and roses for Dallas – it has also had its economic ups and downs. After the oil industry reached its peak during the early 1980s, the city’s economy suffered a sharp downturn when the oil sector had gone bust by the end of the decade. The 1986-1995 recession did not help either to rise Dallas from its economic swamp.
Dallas as a contemporary city
In 1996, the telecom industry boomed in Dallas, particularly in areas such as Las Colinas and the Telecom Corridor. The phenomenon caused a crucial economic turnaround for Dallas, which became known as Texas’ Silicon Valley, or the “Silicon Prairie.”
However, the “dot-com bubble burst” and the 9/11 terrorist attacks hurt the city’s economy. But it quickly rose by the construction towers, as well as tens and thousands of residential conversions and smaller housing projects. Soon, more high-rise buildings were erected, and they were either hotels or residences such as apartments or condominiums.
Today, Dallas is known for its striking skyline and a high concentration of shopping centers and restaurants. Aside from being a technological and telco hub in the Southwest, Dallas can also be considered as the center of arts in the region. The art scene there is thriving, especially with the establishment of the Arts District in downtown Dallas, and the AT&T Performing Arts Center (formerly known as the Dallas Center for Performing Arts).
Dallas is a major transportation center in the Southwest. Aside from the two major airports (Dallas/Fort Worth and Dallas Love Field), Dallas also has an extensive network of highways as well as light-rail and commuter-rail systems.
One of Texas’s leading centers of higher education is located in Dallas. The city is home to 337 public schools, 89 private schools, and 38 colleges and universities – including the Dallas Baptist University, University of Dallas, the University of Texas at Dallas, and several community colleges.
Dallas as a cosmopolitan city
While Houston is generally seen as Texas’ gateway to the world, Dallas is otherwise no slouch as a cosmopolitan city. First inhabited by the so-called American Indians, the area was later invaded by the Spanish. In its first moments of independence, Dallas was called home by thousands of European and African-American immigrants. Dallas is a major destination for Mexican immigrants, citing its proximity to Mexico.
Dallas’s population stands at about 1,345,047 (2018 estimate). About one-fourth of Dallas’s residents are African-American, while more than one-third are Hispanic.
Dallas has a sizable Russian-speaking population of Eastern European heritage, most of them having fled from the former Soviet Bloc. Dallas is also the home to a significant number of Asian-Americans, including those of Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, and Vietnamese heritage.
In 1987, Annette Strauss was elected as the first female mayor of Dallas. In 1995, Ron Kirk became the city’s first African-American mayor. These are some of the milestones in Dallas’ history – gestures that the city has taken small but sure steps towards diversity.
The best suburbs and neighborhoods in Dallas
As Dallas is one of the major cities in Texas, it attracts lots of people who wish for a better life. But as it turns out, big city living is not for everyone. On the other hand, it definitely has its perks. That’s why living in the city suburbs strikes a happy balance.
Living in the suburbs offers you some peace and quiet, away from the maddening traffic and the usual metropolitan noise. In general, the suburbs offer reasonably priced housing. While the atmosphere isn’t precisely provincial, the suburbs still give off a semblance of rurality. At the same time, though, suburban living also allows you access to the amenities of the big city nearby: shopping, cosmopolitan cuisine, the arts, the nightlife, the energy, the incomparable urban pizzazz. It is like having the best of both worlds. Here are some of the more popular growing suburbs of Dallas.
Highland Park is always included on (if not tops) the list of the best neighborhoods near Dallas. It is an awesome and friendly neighborhood, although it has a bubble on its own. It has a reputation of being an affluent community: families average about $207,019 per annum, which is the third highest in the Dallas area, and the fourth highest in Texas. Not surprisingly, Highland Park has one of the most expensive real estate and property prices in the Dallas area.
Located in Collin County, it offers residents a genuinely suburban atmosphere and most residents own their homes. There are lots of things to do in Plano – shops, cafes, restaurants, and other amenities. The public schools, in particular, are highly rated. All of these attributes make Plano a great place for professionals and families to live. The northeast part of Plano is Southern Ranch, which became famous as the site for the classic TV drama series Dallas.
University Park is one of the wealthiest suburbs near Dallas. With a population of almost 25,000, it is located in Dallas County and is one of the best places to reside in Texas. University Park is bordered on the north, east, and west by Dallas, so its proximity to the city definitely offers it an advantage. It is bordered on the south by another affluent neighborhood, Highland Park. According to the American Community Survey in 2018, University Park was the second wealthiest city in the United States.
Southlake is a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth. It has gained a reputation as a clean and safe place to live, with good public schools, lots of restaurants, cafes, and parks. Southlake is especially perfect if you plan to raise a family. With a population of 26,575, Southlake is just as affluent as the other Dallas suburbs on this list, and it is famous for its luxury neighborhoods.
Like Southlake, Colleyville is a city and suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth. It is one of the top suburbs in Dallas – its safety, public schools, and rural atmosphere are highly rated. No wonder this city of 22,807 people is the ideal place to raise a family. Some say you won’t find better places around Dallas to raise your kids than in Colleyville.
Another affluent suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is Trophy Club. It is the first premier planned community in the whole of Texas, built around the area’s only golf course designed by golf legend Ben Hogan. The Trophy Club is so named because of the original plan that a country club would house Logan’s golf trophy collections. Like many other suburbs on this list, Trophy Club is known for its wealth, prime housing, safety, and excellent public schools.
Another well-known suburb of Dallas is Highland Village, which is a city in Denton County. It is one of the best places to live in Texas. Incorporated in 1963, it experienced exponential growth as a result of the opening of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport during the 1970s. It is home to the notable arts and cultural events, most notably the annual hot air balloon festival, and the Celebrate Highland Village, whose highlight is the dazzling fireworks show.
Coppell is a suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Despite Coppell’s reputation as a “bedroom community,” it doesn’t exactly mean that it’s a “sleepy town.” There are also lots of places to shop, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. The crime rate in Coppell is particularly low, so it’s absolutely a safe place to live. With its proximity to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Coppell relies much of its economy and livelihood on the area. It has a 116-acre park system which includes two lakes, hike and bike trails, playgrounds, paddle boats, and picnic areas, a community pool, a Frisbee golf course, and fields for soccer, football, and baseball
Flower Mound is an incorporated town located in Denton and Tarrant counties. It gets its name from a 12.5-hectare mound in its central area. Incorporated in 1961, Flower Mound’s reputation is quickly growing as one of the best suburbs in Dallas, and for a good reason. It is a safe place to live, with excellent public schools and several amenities. The cost of living there is pretty reasonable, too, so for professionals working in Dallas or those who want to raise a family, Flower Mound is a great option.
Keller is a mostly residential suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, located in Tarrant County. It is a great city with lots of parks as well as biking and hiking trails, water parks, a farmers’ market, moviehouses, and restaurants. It is consistent in its reputation as a safe city, where crime rate is very low. The city successfully balances big-city comforts and small-town charm.
Frisco is also a suburb in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. It is located 25 miles from Dallas’ two major airports – the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and the Dallas Love Field Airport. If you feel like going on a shopping spree, you should include Frisco to your bucket list. The city has several retail properties, including the regional mall Stonebriar Centre and IKEA, as well as other retail stores that line Preston Road. Sports is also the lifeblood of this city. Frisco is home to several sports venues such as Dr. Pepper Ballpark, Comerica Center, and the Ford Center (which serves as the practice venue for the Dallas Cowboys).
Another affluent suburb in Dallas is Allen, a city in Collin County. Its recent economic success is attributed to the number of tech and cybersecurity companies that have made Allen their new home. Despite the development, the city still has plenty of housing opportunities and attractions, especially for families. Allen has two major recreation centers and at least 60 natural and man-made parks. Allen’s school system is ranked as one of the best in Texas.
McKinney is a city and county seat of Collin County and a suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. One of the fastest-growing cities of late, McKinney is also one of the best places to live in America. Despite being a 30-minute drive away from Dallas, McKinney still retains its small-town charm with pretty parks and a string of family-run businesses. McKinney is also a historic city with several preserved 19th-century buildings that make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Its historic downtown is a charming district, lined with several shops and restaurants. Most of the city’s art, music, and other cultural events are held in McKinney’s famous downtown.