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History of Dallas

While Dallas is relatively young when compared to many cities, its past is as colorful and eventful as any.

The 19th Century

In 1839, John Neely Bryan, a lawyer from Tennessee with a taste for adventure, wandered into the area. He was impressed with what he believed to be the perfect ingredients for a trading post and eventually a town: plenty of raw land, Indians with whom to do business, and the river. Bryan went to Tennessee to close out his affairs, and he returned to Dallas in 1841. He laid claim to 640 acres and sketched out a town, designating a courthouse square and 20 streets.
 
Gradually and with some adversity, the young city grew. A "can-do" spirit helped bring the railroads to the area in the 1870s, the Federal Reserve Bank in 1914, Southern Methodist University in 1915, Dallas Love Field Airport in 1927, the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in 1973 and the Republican National Convention in 1984 -- to name just a few.
 
For every one of these major public endeavors, there have been countless private enterprise initiatives that have helped put Dallas on the map.

The 20th Century

In 1907, fashion and elegant living were redefined when Neiman Marcus opened in downtown Dallas and J.S. Armstrong opened his exclusive Highland Park shopping development north of the city.
 
In 1930, C.M. "Dad" Joiner struck oil 100 miles east of Dallas. With the discovery and development of the East Texas Oil Field -- the largest petroleum deposit on earth at the time -- Dallas became a center of oil-related activity. Although Dallas County has never had a working oil well, the region's role as the financial and technical center for much of the state's drilling industry has been as good as gold. Commerce and industry have followed suit, adding to the city's success and progress.
 
The 1960s was a time of turmoil in many U.S. cities, and Dallas had its share. The lowest point in Dallas history came on Nov. 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on a downtown street. The event cast the city in an awful light, as people throughout the world asked, "What kind of place is Dallas?"
 
Although history would show that Dallas itself was not to blame, the people of Dallas took it hard and entered a period of deep self-evaluation and introspection. Under the leadership of Mayor J. Erik Jonsson, the city regained its self-esteem.
 
Besides, there was much to be proud of at the time. Football's Dallas Cowboys began their march to fame in the 1960s, as did entrepreneurs such as Ross Perot and Mary Kay Ash. The Dallas Market Center continued to grow, and Six Flags Over Texas opened in nearby Arlington.
 
But most importantly, it was in 1965 that the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth agreed to build an airport to serve the entire region. With the opening of giant Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in 1973, John Neely Bryan's dream of a major inland port was finally realized.
 
As the 1980s came to a close, Fortune Magazine named Dallas/Fort Worth -- site of many major corporate relocations -- the No. 1 business center in the land. Dallas also gained international attention as a dominant force in the convention, meetings and tourism industry. Dallas is one of the leading convention destinations in the U.S., due to the city's outstanding convention and meeting facilities, world-class accommodations, numerous restaurants, and endless variety of entertainment and recreational opportunities.
 
Important to this effort was the rejuvenation of downtown Dallas as a major center for entertainment and other pursuits. The Dallas Arts District, the West End Historic District along with continued renovation and upgrading of downtown hotels, has been a driving force in this renaissance.

The 21st Century

As the 21st century advances, Dallas continues to build on its strengths: friendly people, entrepreneurial spirit, flair for style and innovation, mild climate, excellent accessibility, and outstanding quality of life. Visitors and residents alike enjoy exceptional opportunities.

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