Dallas is the second-largest city in Texas and the seat of Dallas county. Situated on the Trinity River on the rolling prairie of the state's north central plain, it is approximately 225 miles (360 km) northwest of Houston, the largest Texas city. The Dallas climate is characterized by long, mild winters (broken occasionally by cold "northers"), short seasons of spring and fall, and a few months of torrid summer heat.
1. The Dallas skyline rises abruptly from the surrounding prairie. Among the dominant features are downtown skyscrapers, including the 72-story Bank of America Plaza (formerly, NCNB Plaza) building and the 50-story Reunion Tower; high-rise apartments; and the Dallas Convention Center. A network of freeways radiates out from and loops the central business district, linking the city with its suburbs.
2. Dallas underwent a period of spectacular growth following World War II, resulting in a tripling of the population by 1970. Until the late 1950s the area had problems with sporadic water shortages, but new reservoirs remedied the problem, and their surroundings now also serve as recreation areas. Some 25% of the city's people are black and about 42% are of Hispanic ancestry; other groups include people of Asian, European, and Native American heritage. Public schools and facilities have been integrated relatively smoothly. Like many other large American cities, Dallas has experienced both great affluence and varying stages of urban decline in the latter part of the 20th century.
3. From its beginning, Dallas has been a marketing center, and today trade remains the core of the economy. The city ranks among the top wholesale markets of the United States in apparel, gifts, and furniture, and hosts a large number of trade shows each year. The Dallas Market Center Complex covers 150 acres (60 hectares) in the northwest sector of the city. It houses the World Trade Center, Dallas Trade Mart, Market Hall, Apparel Mart, Menswear Mart, Home Furnishings Mart, Decorative Center District, and Informart. A leading fashion center of long standing, Dallas is renowned not only for the manufacturing and wholesaling of apparel but also for its fine retail stores, such as Neiman Marcus.
4. Dallas became an important center for the cotton trade in the 1870s, and by the late 19th century it was the largest inland cotton market in the United States. The Dallas Cotton Exchange was organized in 1907 and today remains one of the world's leading cotton markets.
5. Nearby oil fields also brought Dallas much of its early wealth. With the discovery of the East Texas oil fields in the 1930s, petroleum assumed a primary role in the city's economy. More than 75% of the known U.S. oil reserves, excluding those in Alaska, are found in the region, and more oil companies are headquartered in Dallas than in any other U.S. city.
6. The emergence of Dallas as a manufacturing city in the 1940s modified its earlier dependence upon the agricultural and mineral resources of the surrounding area. World War II marked the turning point, ushering in the city's most rapid period of development. The aircraft industry, more than any other, accelerated Dallas's growth as an industrial center. Chance Vought aircraft manufacturers moved to Dallas in 1948 and later merged into Ling-Temco-Vought (now LTV Corporation). The 1950s saw the emergence of the electronics industry as a major factor in the Dallas economy, along with automobile assembly plants and garment factories. In the succeeding decades other manufactures have included oil-field equipment, missile parts, electrical equipment, and food products.
7. As headquarters for the 11th district of the Federal Reserve Bank, Dallas is the leading banking and financial center for the Southwest. More than 100 banks are located within its metropolitan area, as well as large number of major investment firms. The city is also a popular convention site, an important distribution point for commercial motion pictures, and the principal publishing, printing, and advertising center in the Southwest. Numerous state and U.S. government departmental offices are also located in Dallas, as are the headquarters of several scientific and medical organizations, such as the American Heart Association.
8. Agriculture-related industries, although not proportionately so important as they once were, still provide a major element in the city's prosperity. The distribution of farm implements, cotton gin machinery, feeds, chemicals, and farm publications all contribute substantially to the diversified economy.
9. Dallas is a crossroad point between the four largest population centers on the continent -New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Mexico City. It has always been important as a focus of transportation routes. The arrival of the first railroad in 1872 gave the city its initial surge of growth. By the 1920s Dallas was becoming a major hub of the U.S. highway system. The Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport, which lies about midway between the two cities, was opened in 1974. It is the largest airport in the United States in area and is also one of the country's busiest. A second airport, Love Field, is located about 5 miles (8 km) north of Dallas.
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10. The city has one major daily newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, and numerous local publications. It is also served by a number of television and radio stations.
11. The oldest and most renowned of Dallas's institutions of higher learning is Southern Methodist University (SMU), established in 1911. Beginning in the late 1960s, SMU's enrollment was limited to about 9,000 students. The University of Dallas, founded in 1955, is a four-year liberal arts college sponsored by the Dallas-Fort Worth Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. Bishop College, Dallas Baptist University, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the DeVry Institute of Technology all play significant roles in the higher education of the community. The Southwestern Medical Center of the University of Texas is located in Dallas, as is the Baylor University College of Dentistry. The Dallas County Community College System (initiated in 1965) is made up of seven two-year community colleges in the Dallas area.
12. The Dallas Public Library System is composed of the main library building located downtown and 15 branches throughout the city. Other notable libraries are those of the Dallas Historical Society (located in the Hall of State) and the Museum of Fine Arts. The SMU library includes several special collections, such as the Everett De Golyer Library of Western Americana, the Petroleum Library in the Science Information Center, and the Bridwell Library in the Perkins School of Theology.
13. The Museum of Fine Arts, on the grounds of the State Fair of Texas, has a permanent collection of modern art, particularly American painting, along with a number of excellent examples of ancient and pre-Columbian art. In the Owen Fine Arts Center on the SMU campus are the Meadows Museum, which specializes in Spanish painting; the Meadows Sculpture Court, displaying contemporary Italian sculpture; and the Pollock Galleries, which accommodate traveling exhibits and student shows.
14. Dallas has had some kind of theater ever since 1873, when Tom Field opened his Opera House on the second floor of a frame structure on Main Street. From 1920 until 1943 the Dallas Little Theater operated with considerable success, but it was forced to disband during World War II. In 1947 Margo Jones opened her famous Theater-in-the-Round on the Fair Grounds. Before her death in 1955, she presented the world premiers of Summer and Smoke by Tennessee Williams and Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. The Margo Jones Memorial Theater is on the SMU campus.
15. The Dallas Theater began operation in 1959 in the Kalita Humphreys Theater, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. A second building, the Arts District Theater, designed by Eugene Lee, was added in 1983. The repertory programs of the center offer an 11-month season of classical and contemporary plays, some of the latter being original scripts. An independent endeavor, Theater Three, has met with considerable success since its inception in 1961.
16. The Dallas Symphony, founded in 1900, has become an internationally known orchestra since World War II. Among its former conductors have been Antal Dorati, Walter Hendl, Paul Kletzki, and Georg Solti. New York's Metropolitan Opera began presenting spring performances in the State Fair Music Hall in 1939, and the Dallas Civic Opera has earned an international reputation since its initial production in 1957. It has presented such outstanding artists as Maria Callas, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and Renata Tebaldi and has witnessed the American debut of singers Joan Sutherland, Monserrat Caballé, Teresa Berganza, and Jon Vickers.
17. The Civic Music Association, the Chamber Music Society, and the Civic Ballet also serve important roles in the community's cultural life. Summer musicals have been offered since 1941—first alfresco, as the Starlight Operettas, and later in the air-conditioned Music Hall as the State Fair Musicals. Broadway shows, featuring New York and Hollywood stars, are also presented.
18. The State Fair of Texas, where the annual 16-day exposition draws nearly 3 million people, also serves as an amusement park and civic center. Founded in 1886, it was completely altered in 1936 for the Texas Centennial. The Park was enlarged and landscaped, and modern buildings were erected around a central lagoon. Located there are the Museum of Natural History, the Aquarium, the Dallas Garden Center, the Hall of State, the Health and Science Museum, and the Cotton Bowl. The Bowl was the site of SMU's home football games and was home to the postseason collegiate classic; the university built a new stadium for their team in 2009. In 2010 the venue for the Cotton Bowl was changed to Cowboys Stadium.
19. Professional sports are a big part of the Dallas community. The Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League play at Cowboys Stadium in nearby Arlington. The Texas Rangers, a major league baseball team, compete at the Rangers Ballpark, also located in Arlington. Both the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association and the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League, play at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas.
20. Other points of interest in metropolitan Dallas are Lee Park, White Rock Lake, Marsalis Park Zoo, and Six Flags over Texas. At Six Flags, a Texas version of California's Disneyland located between Dallas and Fort Worth, are reenacted incidents from the state's colorful history under the flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Texas Republic, the United States, and the Confederacy.
21. Dallas is the largest city in the United States operating under the council-manager form of government. Adopted in 1931, and subsequently revised, the plan calls for a mayor and 10 council members to serve as the policymaking body for municipal business, with a city manager appointed by the council as chief administrative and executive officer.