Dallas History

As a frontier post of the Wild West, Dallas established its reputation as a place for entrepreneurs and go-getters.

Dallas County was named after US Vice President George Mifflin Dallas. The little settlement along the river grew from 430 people in 1850 to 2,000 a decade later. Though the Civil War years of 1861-1865 brought difficult times, Dallas grew during reconstruction, drawing Southerners in search of rich farmland.

In the 1870s, two major railroads met at Dallas and inspired the city's rapid development as a trade centre. In 1907 the Neiman Marcus store put Dallas on the fashion map. The Federal Reserve Bank was established in 1911, and WWI established Love Field for aviation training, while the Army trained soldiers at Camp Dick, on Fair Park.

While the whole of America was sinking with the Great Depression, a prospector named Columbus Marion “Dad” Joiner struck oil in 1930 about 100 miles east of the city. Businesses formed or moved to Dallas, banks made loans for oilfield development and the Big D was the financial hub for the oil boom across Texas and Oklahoma.

Dallas, though, will always be remembered for one, if not two, shootings. The first and most shocking occurred on 22 November 1963, when President J F Kennedy was assassinated in downtown Dallas. The second shooting may only have been fictional but, when JR Ewing was shot by an unknown killer in the TV series Dallas, fans across the world were devastated.

Visitors coming to the very modern city today can’t help but be intrigued with the possibilities of star sightings, too: Dallas has been home to actors Luke and Owen Wilson; singers Norah Jones, Erykah Badu and Jessica Simpson; and Dancing with the Stars celebrity, billionaire Mark Cuban. Star-struck film fans can also locations for Hollywood films that were made here, including Silkwood, Places in the Heart, RoboCop, and Born on the Fourth of July.

Today’s Dallas is a glittering, cosmopolitan city – little like the humble camp John Neely Bryan started in 1841. Big fun, though, awaits on most every corner today in Big D.

Did you know?
• The integrated circuit computer chip was invented in Dallas in 1958. It would later become the microchip.
• The Highland Park Village Shopping Center in Dallas became America’s first shopping centre when it opened in 1931.
• Bonnie and Clyde are buried in Dallas after being killed by police in Louisiana in 1934.

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