TIMELINE OF DALLAS CITY GOVERNMENT

DATE TIMELINE DESCRIPTION
1841 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 proposed by the Republic of Texas soon converge near Dallas
1844 J. P. Dumas surveyed and laid out a townsite comprising a half mile square of blocks and streets 
1846 Dallas County formed; Dallas designated as the temporary county seat
1850 Voters select Dallas as the permanent county seat over Hord's Ridge (Oak Cliff) and Cedar Springs
1856 The Texas legislature grants 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
1860 Population 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
1861 Dallas voters 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 flocked to Dallas in search of jobs and settled in freedmen's towns on the periphery of the city
1870 Population about 3,000
1871 Dallas City Charter is substituted for town charter
1872 Houston and Texas Central Railroad arrives in Dallas; first City health officer appointed, Dr. Matthew Cornelius
1873 Texas and Pacific Railroad arrives 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 becomes the world center for the leather and buffalo-hide trade
1874 Gaslight street illumination
1880 Population 10,385
1881 Telephone service begins in Dallas
1882 Electricity service begins in Dallas; first electricity plant opened; City acquires water works from Dallas Hydrant Company
1884 First paved streets in Dallas, laid with bois d'arc blocks
1889 First electric streetcars in Dallas
1890 Dallas annexes the neighboring town of East Dallas on January 1; Dallas ranked as the most populous city in Texas, with 38,067 residents
1894 Parkland Hospital opens, City-County joint venture
1900 Population 42,638
1901 Dallas Public Library established
1902 First interurban electric lines begin operation
1904 City of Oak Cliff annexed to the City of Dallas; City purchases Fair Park from its owners in 1904 . although the State Fair of Texas is operated by a private organization
1907 Dallas voters adopt the commission form of city government (Mayor and four commissioners) to replace the alderman system
1908 Disastrous flood of Trinity River
1909 Kessler Plan; White Rock Park acquired; lake created one year later
1910 Population 92,104 by 1910; city doubled in area to 18.31 square miles
1912 Houston Street Viaduct opens, billed as "longest concrete bridge in the world"; Dallas Zoo opens in Marsalis Park
1914 Municipal Building (Dallas City Hall 1914-1978) built
1915 City Welfare Department established
1916 Union Terminal opened
1917 Dallas votes for Prohibition; saloons close October 20
1918 Camp Dick (World War I Army training camp) established at Fair Park
1920 Population 158,976; Dallas ranked as the forty-second-largest city in the nation
1921 Station WRR, first municipal radio broadcasting station in America, established
1927 $23,900 "Ulrickson Plan" city bond issue approved by referendum; Love Field is purchased by the City as municipal airport
1928 Ground broken for Trinity River levee and reclamation project
1930 Population 260,475; Citizens Charter Association wins voter approval for the council-manager form of city government (nine council places); Cotton Bowl built, seating 46,400
1932 City applies jointly with County to Reconstruction Finance Corporation for $450,000 loan to provide relief work programs
1933 Great Depression puts 15,000 Dallasites on relief roles by 1933; City votes for repeal of Prohibition
1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, held in Fair Park; Triple Underpass completed, linking Main, Commerce, and Elm Streets with Oak Cliff; Dallas Aquarium opened
1937 Pan-American Exposition held at Fair Park; W. W. Samuell estate deeded to City
1940 Population 294,734
1941 Farmers Market (established 1939) becomes City entity
1949 An amendment provides for direct election of the mayor
1950 Population 434,462 
1957 Dallas Memorial Auditorium built (Dallas Convention Center, expanded in 1973, 1984, 1994, 2002)
1960 Population 679,684
1961 Racial integration of public and private facilities begins, the work of a biracial committee appointed by the Dallas and Negro Chambers of Commerce
1963 Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
1969 10-1 Council (eleven council places, including mayor)
1970 Population 844,401
1971 Lawsuit forces election by districts rather than at large
1974 Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport opens, a joint project of the City and other local municipal governments
1978 New City Hall opens at 1500 Marilla Street, designed by I. M. Pei
1980 Population 904,078
1982 Dallas Arboretum and Samuell Farm open
1984 Dallas Convention Center hosts Republican National Convention
1989 Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall opens
1990 Population 1,006,877
1992 Amendment expands the council to fourteen single-member districts, with the mayor elected at large
1994 Cotton Bowl hosts six World Cup soccer games
2000 Population 1,188,580
2001 American Airlines Center opens becomes home of Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars
2003 Latino Cultural Center, designed by Ricardo Legorreta, is dedicated
2009 Arts District completed
 

View the list of City Firsts.
View the History of Officers of the City of Dallas.
View the History of the City Seal.