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HISTORY

The first European to visit the Dallas area was probably Athanase de Mezieres, in 1778. De Mezieres, a Frenchman then in the service of the King of Spain, probably crossed the West Fork of the Trinity River (Texas) near present Fort Worth, having followed the western edge of the Eastern Cross Timbers from the Tawakoni Village on the Brazos River near present Waco. He then proceeded north to theRed River (Texas). De Mezieres wrote; " "It is worthy to note that from the Brazos River on which the Tuacanas are established, and until one reaches the river which bathes the village of the Taovayzes (Red River), one sees on the right a forest that the natives appropriately call the Grand Forest. ...it is very dense, but not very wide.

It seems to be there as a guide to even the most inexperienced, and to give refuge in this dangerous region to those who, few in number and lacking in courage, wish to go from one village to another." His biographer, Bolton, was convinced de Mezieres was describing the Eastern Cross Timbers and the route would have him crossing the West Fork of the Trinity River between the present Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas. 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 Indian customs, must also have realized that these Caddo indian trails intersected at one of the few natural fords for hundreds of miles along the wide Trinity floodplain.

At what became known as "Bryan's Bluff" the river, which was an impassable barrier of mud and water between late fall and early spring, narrowed like an hourglass where it crossed a ridge of Austin chalk, providing a hard rock ford that became the natural N-S route between Republic of Texas settlements to the south and those of the expanding USA to the north. The N-S route and the ford at Bryan's Bluff became more important when the US annexed Texas in 1845. 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.

Dallas was so called by its residents at least as early as 1843 and there are four theories as to the origin of the city's name:

* Named after George Mifflin Dallas;
* Named after George Dallas' father Alexander James Dallas, a commodore who was stationed in the Gulf of Mexico and was the United States Secretary of the Treasury around the end of the War of 1812;
* Named in a town-naming contest in 1842;
* Named after the friend of founder John Neely Bryan's son, who later stated that his father had said he had named the town "after my friend Dallas" (a person whose identity is not certain).

Dallas was formally incorporated as a town in 1856, and in 1871 became a city.

In 1855, a group of European artists and musicians set up a utopian community west of Dallas called La Reunion. When that venture collapsed in 1857, many of the artists moved to Dallas where they established the base of the artist culture that exists today in the Deep Ellum neighborhood near downtown. In the 1970s, Reunion Arena and Reunion Tower (a trademark of the skyline) were named in honor of the La Reunion colony. Dallas was a pretty insignificant place until after the American Civil War.

In 1871, railroads were beginning to approach the area and Dallas city leaders did not intend to be left out. They paid the Houston and Central Texas Railroad $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 off the Texas and Pacific Railroad and so tricked it into running its east-west line though Dallas by having 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. The major north-south and east-west Texas railroad routes intersected in Dallas in 1873, thus ensuring its future as a commercial center.

Dallas quickly became the center of trade in cotton, grain, and even buffalo. As it 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. Then in 1958 the integrated-circuit computer chip was invented in Dallas by Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments.

By the 1980s, when the oil industry mostly relocated to Houston, Dallas was beginning to benefit from a burgeoning technology boom (driven by the growing computer and telecom industries), while continuing to be a center of banking and business. In the 1990s, Dallas became known as Texas' Silicon Valley, or the "Silicon Prairie." The long hot summer of '98 again brought Dallas into the news, with temperatures of at least 38°C (100°F) for 29 consecutive days, widespread crop failures and over 100 deaths. Otherwise, the city continues to prosper, having merged through urban sprawl with Fort Worth to anchor a region of about five million people - the most populous in the Lone Star state.

 

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