Municipal Archives

Timeline of Dallas City Government

Date Event Description


North Texas area containing the future Dallas becomes part of Peters Colony, land settlement grant made by the Republic of Texas to American and English investors led by William S. Peters; City founded by John Neely Bryan, who settled on the east bank of the Trinity near a natural ford (November).  Two highways, the Central National Highway and the Military Road, proposed by the Republic of Texas soon converged near Dallas.
1844J. P. Dumas surveyed and laid out a town site comprising a half mile square of blocks and streets.
1846Dallas County formed; Dallas designated as the temporary county seat.
1850Voters selected Dallas as the permanent county seat over Hord's Ridge (Oak Cliff) and Cedar Springs.  Population about 430.
The Texas legislature granted Dallas a town charter on February 2.  Dr. Samuel Pryor, elected the first mayor, headed a town government consisting of six aldermen, a treasurer-recorder, and a constable.
1860Population 678, including ninety-seven African Americans as well as French, Belgians, Swiss, and Germans.  On July 8, 1860, a fire originating in the W. W. Peak Brothers Drugstore spread to the other buildings on the square and destroyed most of the businesses.  Suspicion fell on slaves and Northern abolitionists; three slaves were hanged, and two Iowa preachers were whipped and run out of town.
1861Dallas voted 741 to 237 to secede from the Union.  Dallas selected as one of eleven quartermaster and commissary posts in Texas for the Trans-Mississippi Army of the Confederacy.  After the war, freed slaves moved to Dallas in search of jobs.  They settled in freedmen's towns, which grew in multiple locations around Dallas.
1870Population about 3,000.
1871Town of Dallas upgraded to City of Dallas.  A new city charter is written.
1872Houston and Texas Central Railroad arrives in Dallas; Dr. Matthew Cornelius appointed first City health officer.  First firefighting unit, "Company Number One," established.
1873Texas and Pacific Railroad arrived in Dallas making it one of the first rail crossroads in Texas.  Cotton became the region's principal cash crop, and Elm Street in Dallas was its market.  Dallas became the world center for the leather and buffalo-hide trade.
1874Gaslight street illumination.
1880Population 10,385.
1881Telephone service begins in Dallas.
1882Electricity service began in Dallas; first electricity plant opened; City acquired water works from Dallas Hydrant Company.
1884First paved streets in Dallas, laid with bois d'arc blocks.
1889First electric streetcars in Dallas.
1890 Dallas annexed the neighboring town of East Dallas, which was larger in both land and population than Dallas, on January 1; Dallas ranked as the most populous city in Texas, with 38,067 residents.
1894 Parkland Hospital opened, City-County joint venture.
1900 Population 42,638.
1901 Dallas Public Library established.
1902 First interurban electric lines began operation.
1904City of Oak Cliff annexed to the City of Dallas; City purchased Fair Park from its owners in 1904; State Fair of Texas operated by a private organization.
1907 Dallas voters adopted the commission form of city government (Mayor and four commissioners) to replace the alderman system.
1908Disastrous flood of Trinity River.
1909 Kessler Plan developed; White Rock Park acquired; lake created one year later.
1910 Population 92,104 by 1910; city doubled in area to 18.31 square miles.
1912Houston Street Viaduct opened, billed as "longest concrete bridge in the world"; Dallas Zoo opened in Marsalis Park.
1914Municipal Building (Dallas City Hall 1914-1978) built.
1915 City Welfare Department established.
1916Union Terminal opened.
1917Dallas votes for Prohibition; saloons close October 20; Love Field is created as US Army pilot training camp.
1918Camp Dick, World War I Army training camp, established at Fair Park.
1920Population 158,976; Dallas ranked as the forty-second-largest city in the nation.
1921Station WRR, first municipal radio broadcasting station in America, established.
1926Love Field incorporated into the national airmail flight routes.
1927$23,900 Ulrickson Plan city bond issue approved by referendum; Love Field is purchased by the City as municipal airport; Charles Lindbergh participates in dedication.
1928Ground broken for Trinity River levee and reclamation project.
1930Population 260,475.  Citizens Charter Association won voter approval for the council-manager form of city government (nine council places); Cotton Bowl built, seating 46,400.
1932City applied jointly with County to Reconstruction Finance Corporation for $450,000 loan to provide relief work programs.
1933 Great Depression put 15,000 Dallasites on relief roles by 1933.  City voted to repeal Prohibition.
1936Texas Centennial Exposition, held in Fair Park; Triple Underpass completed, linking Main, Commerce, and Elm Streets with Oak Cliff; Dallas Aquarium opened.
1937Pan-American Exposition held at Fair Park; W. W. Samuell estate deeded to  City.
Population 294,734.
1941Farmers Market (established 1939) became City entity.
1949A Charter amendment provided for direct election of the mayor.
1950 Population 434,462.
1957Dallas Memorial Auditorium built (Dallas Convention Center, expanded in 1973, 1984, 1994, 2002).
1960Population 679,684.
Racial integration of public and private facilities began, the work of a biracial committee appointed by the Dallas and Negro Chambers of Commerce.
Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
196910-1 Council (eleven council places, including mayor).
1970Population 844,401.
1971Lawsuit forced election by districts rather than at-large.
1974Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport opened.  The airport was a joint project of the City and other local municipal governments.
1978New City Hall, designed by I. M. Pei, opens at 1500 Marilla Street.
1980 Population 904,078.  Reunion Arena, a 17,000-20,000-seat, $27-million, multi-purpose event space, built.
1982 Dallas Arboretum and Samuell Farm opened. 
1984Dallas Convention Center hosted Republican National Convention.
1989Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall opened.
1990 Population 1,006,877.
1992Amendment expanded the council to fourteen single-member districts, with the mayor elected at large.
1994The Cotton Bowl at Fair Park hosted six World Cup soccer games.
2000Population 1,188,580. 
American Airlines Center, an 18,000-21,000-seat, $420-million, multi-purpose event space, opened; it became home of Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars.  
2003Latino Cultural Center, designed by Ricardo Legorreta, is dedicated.
2009Arts District completed.  Reunion Arena, former home of Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars, demolished.
2010Population 1,197,816.
2012 Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, designed by Santiago Calatrava and spanning the Trinity, completed.  Klyde Warren Park opened.  The park was a 5.2-acre public park built over Woodall Rodgers Freeway that connects uptown with downtown Dallas.
2014 Wright Amendment repealed, renewing use of Dallas Love Field.
2015 Love Field $519-million major renovation and expansion – Phase I completed.