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Overview of Dallas,  Texas

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Dallas Texas Overview

Dallas, Texas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dallas is the second-largest city in the state of Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The city covers almost 400 square miles and is the county seat of Dallas County. As of 2005, U.S. Census estimates put Dallas at a population of 1,213,825. The city is the main cultural and economic center of the 12-county Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area, which has over 5.8 million people. Dallas is one of 11 U.S. world-class cities, as ranked by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network.

Dallas was founded in 1841 and formally incorporated as a city on 2 February 1856. The city is known globally as a center for telecommunications, computer technology, banking, and transportation. It is the core of the largest inland metropolitan area in the United States and lacks any navigable link to the sea-Dallas's prominence despite this comes from its historical importance as a center for the oil and cotton industries, its position along numerous railroad lines, and its powerful industrial and financial tycoons.

History

Native Americans inhabited the Dallas area before it was claimed, along with the rest of Texas, as a part of the Spanish Province of New Spain in the 1500s. The area was very close to French territory, but the boundary of the Spanish-speaking territory was moved upward a bit in 1819 with the Adams-Onís Treaty. Present-day Dallas remained under Spanish rule until 1821, when Mexico declared independence from Spain. The land that would become Dallas became part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas in the new nation. The Republic of Texas broke off from Mexico in 1836 (and remained an independent country for nearly 10 years); and this is when Dallas's development began.

The city of Dallas was founded by John Neely Bryan in 1841 after first surveying the area in 1839. Bryan, who shared Sam Houston's insight into the wisdom of Native American customs, must also have realized that these Caddo trails intersected at one of the few natural fords for hundreds of miles along the wide Trinity floodplain. Dallas County was established in 1846 and was named after George Mifflin Dallas, who was the eleventh United States Vice President at the time. However, the origin of the city's name is debatable; Bryan stated only that it was named "after my friend Dallas."

Dallas was formally incorporated as a town in 1856. The city had a few slaves, mostly brought by settlers from Alabama and Georgia. It was a fairly insignificant place until after the American Civil War in which it was part of the Confederate States of America, and only legally became a city in 1871. The city paid the Houston and Central Texas Railroad US$5,000 to shift its route 20 miles (32 km) to the west and build its north-south tracks through Dallas, rather than through Corsicana as planned. A year later, Dallas leaders could not pay the Texas and Pacific Railroad to locate there, so they devised a way to trick the Railroad. Dallas had a rider attached to a state law which required the railroad to build its tracks through Browder Springs-which turned out to be just south of Main Street. In 1873, the major north-south and east-west Texas railroad routes intersected in Dallas, thus ensuring its future as a commercial center.

By the turn of the twentieth century Dallas was the leading drug, book, jewelry, and wholesale liquor market in the Southwestern United States. It also quickly became the center of trade in cotton, grain, and even buffalo. It was the world's leading inland cotton market, and it still led the world in manufacture of saddlery and cotton gin machinery. As it further entered the 20th century, Dallas transformed from an agricultural center to a center of banking, insurance, and other businesses.

In 1930, oil was discovered 100 miles (160 km) east of Dallas and the city quickly became the financial center for the oil industry in Texas and Oklahoma. In 1958 the integrated circuit was invented in Dallas by Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments; this event punctuated the Dallas area's development as a center for high-technology manufacturing (Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor independently invented the integrated circuit a few months later). During the 1950s and 1960s, Dallas became the nation's third-largest technology center, with the growth of such companies as Ling-Tempco-Vought (LTV Corporation) and Texas Instruments. In 1957 two developers, Trammell Crow and John M. Stemmons, opened a Home Furnishings Mart that grew into the Dallas Market Center, the largest wholesale trade complex in the world. On 22 November 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Elm Street while his motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Dallas underwent the building boom which produced a distinctive contemporary profile for the downtown area and a prominent skyline, influenced by nationally acclaimed architects. By the 1980s, when some oil industry companies relocated to Houston, Dallas was beginning to benefit from a burgeoning technology boom (driven by the growing Computer, Microchip, and Telecommunications industries), while continuing to be a center of banking and business. Also in the mid-to-late 1980s, many banks, especially in Dallas, collapsed during the Savings and Loan crisis, nearly destroying the city's economy and scrapping plans for hundreds of structures. Because of the immense worldwide success of the hit television series Dallas, the city became one of the most internationally recognizable U.S cities during the 80s. In the 1990s, Dallas became known as the "Silicon Prairie", similar to California's Silicon Valley.

Like many major US cities, Dallas has experienced an "urban renewal" in the 2000s. From 1988 to 2005, not a single high-rise structure was built within the downtown freeway loop, and most new and upscale homes and subdivisions were being built in Richardson and Plano. In 2005, three towers began construction amid residential conversions and smaller residential projects. By the year 2010, the North Central Texas Council of Governments expects 10,000 residents to live within the loop. Just north, Uptown continues to be one of the hottest real estate markets in the country.

Climate

Dallas receives approximately 37.1 inches (941.1 mm) of rain per year, much of which is delivered in the spring.

Dallas has a humid subtropical climate, yet this part of Texas also tends to receive hot, dry winds from the north and west in the summer. In the winter, strong cold fronts from the north pass through Dallas, plummeting temperatures well below freezing. The average annual snowfall in Dallas is 2.5 inches (6.35 cm), with snowfall seen six days out of the year and snow accumulation seen two days out of the year. Occasionally, warm and humid air from the south overrides cold, dry air, leading to freezing rain, which usually causes major disruptions in the city for a day or two if the roads and highways become dangerously slick. Regardless, winters are relatively mild compared with the Texas Panhandle and with other states to the north. Dallas winters are occasionally interspersed with Indian summers.

Spring and fall, and the moderate, pleasant temperatures accompanying these seasons, can sometimes be shorter-lived than residents would like. However short the seasons are, residents and visitors appreciate the beauty of the vibrant wildflowers (such as the bluebonnet, Indian paintbrush and other flora) which bloom in spring and are planted around the highways throughout Texas . In the spring the weather can also be quite volatile and change quickly in a matter of minutes. The cliché about volatile climates popular in various parts of the US-"if you don't like the weather, wait a little while and it'll change"-applies well to Dallas's spring weather. The sporadic volatility of the spring season is coupled with a very pleasant "normality"-barring storms, Dallas in spring is very mild and enjoyable. Similarly, late September, October, and early November is very pleasant and is typically storm-free.

Dallas lies near the southern end of Tornado Alley, which runs through the prairie lands of the Midwest. In the spring, cool fronts moving from Canada collide with warm, humid air streaming in from the Gulf Coast. When these fronts meet over Dallas, severe thunder storms are generated with spectacular lightning shows, occasional torrents of rain, hail, and, at times, tornadoes.

Although uncommon, with the last touch-down in 1957, Tornadoes are perhaps the biggest threat to the city of Dallas. They are common to the North, in Oklahoma, in the spring and summer, but the city itself is on the fringe of Tornado Alley, and because of this, has a small chance of being hit by tornado. Dallas was last hit by a tornado on April 2, 1957 that likely would have registered as an F3, but it luckily missed downtown. In May 2000, the "Fort Worth Tornado" hit neighboring Fort Worth's downtown, causing damage to a pair of the city's skyscrapers.

The Metroplex experiences a particularly acute springtime "monsoon" season every year-around the middle of March-that rapidly feeds a unique region-wide runoff that swells Johnson Creek (in Arlington and Grand Prairie), as well as the West and Elm Forks of the Trinity River, onto several square miles of flood plain inside the metro area, much of it inhabited. Every March, many neighborhoods in these cities have 4 or more feet of water inside dwellings, and low-lying developed areas adjacent to the Stemmons Corridor and Oak Cliff in Dallas experience severe flooding.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture places the city of Dallas in Plant Hardiness Zone 8a. Dallas has the 12th worst ozone air pollution in the nation according to the American Lung Association, ranking it ahead of Los Angeles and Fresno, California, and Houston. In reality, much of the air pollution in Dallas, and the DFW Metroplex in general, comes from a hazardous materials incineration plant in the southern-most suburb of Midlothian, as well as concrete installations in neighboring Ellis County.

The average daily low in Dallas is 57 F (14 C) and the average daily high in Dallas is 77 F (25 C).

Culture

The city itself has historically been white but has diversified over the past century. The city is a major destination for Mexican immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States while staying close to their home in Mexico. For the most part, the southwest area of the city is predominantly Hispanic, the southern and southeastern area of the city is predominantly black, the northern part of the city is predominantly white and the northwestern portion of the city is Hispanic and Asian. These definitions are of course quite generalized, and the city boasts a high degree of diversity in all of its neighborhoods.

On average, Dallasites eat out about four times every week, which is the third highest rate in the country; Dallas has twice as many restaurants per capita as New York City. Dallasites are very fond of their local sports teams especially "America's Team," the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys-five time Super Bowl champions-are well loved by locals, even during losing seasons, and even if another local team is a leader in its sport. Sports calendars and other memorabilia are very common, and on Sundays people tend to watch sports games on television.

Arts

Some areas known especially for the local art and culture include:

The Arts District of downtown is home to several arts venues, both existing and proposed. Notable venues in the district include the Dallas Museum of Art, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University, and nearby The Dallas Contemporary. Venues currently under construction or planned include the Winspear Opera House and the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts. The district is also home to DISD's Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, which is currently being expanded.

Deep Ellum originally became popular during the 1920s and 1930s as the prime jazz and blues hotspot in the south. Artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, and Bessie Smith played in original Deep Ellum clubs such as The Harlem and The Palace. Today, Deep Ellum is home to hundreds of artists who live in lofts and operate in studios throughout the district alongside bars, pubs, and concert venues. One major art infusion in the area is the city's lax stance on graffiti; consequently, several public ways including tunnels, sides of buildings, sidewalks, and streets are covered in murals.

The Cedars is home to a growing population of studio artists and an expanding host of entertainment venues as well. The area's art scene began to grow in the early 2000s with the opening of Southside on Lamar, a Sears warehouse converted into lofts, studios, and retail. Current attractions include Gilley's Dallas and Poor David's Pub. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban recently purchased land in the area near Cedars Station, and locals speculate that he is planning an entertainment complex.

The Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff is home to a growing number of studio artists living in converted warehouses. Walls of buildings along alleyways and streets are painted with murals and the surrounding district is home to many eclectic restaurants and shops.
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