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Dallas History

Dallas history owes its good fortune—and plenty of its fortunes—to its lucky location. First established as a permanent settlement by Tennessee lawyer John Neely Bryan in 1841, the new town had 2,000 inhabitants by 1860. The railroad opened up the growing city to yet new inhabitants and to plenty of colorful characters, including horse dealer Belle Starr and Doc Holliday. Thought of as the edge of the West and built partially on the riches of the cattle barons, much of the Big D's longhorn traffic snaked in from Austin, courtesy of branches of the Shawnee Trail. The Great Depression made very little of a dent on the Big D—oil was struck 100 miles east of the city in 1930 and Dallas became a boomtown, with banks and businesses rushing to get in on the action and art deco buildings carving a distinctive skyline. Everything seemed to swing in Dallas’ favor until Nov. 22, 1963, the day JFK was assassinated in Dealey Plaza, casting a pall over Dallas history. Big-name sports teams injected a much-needed burst of energy to the city in the 1970s and regeneration has brushed up Edwardian architecture, breathed new life into Downtown’s art deco buildings and added a world-class cultural scene and a slew of modern landmarks to this thriving city—all the more reason to check it out.