Dallas, city (1990 pop. 1,006,877), seat of Dallas co., N Tex., on the Trinity River near the junction of its three forks; inc. 1871. The second largest Texas city, after Houston, and the eighth largest U.S. city, Dallas is a commercial, industrial, and financial center. Its manufactures include aerospace and electronic equipment, cosmetics, textiles, chemicals, and leather goods, as well as aircraft, automobiles, and other transportation equipment. The Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area (known as the Metroplex) is a leader in high-technology industries—its computer manufactures have given the area the nickname "Silicon Prairie"— and receives many defense contracts. Oil is refined, and there are meatpacking plants. Its banks and insurance company headquarters make Dallas the Southwest's center for those industries. Publishing and printing are also important. The Dallas–Fort Worth airport is one of the busiest in the nation; regional airlines continue to use Love Field.
Founded c.1841, Dallas was early populated by French artisans and gentlemen who abandoned a nearby Fourierist community, La Réunion. The city was named in 1846 after Vice President George M. Dallas. Developing as a cotton market in the 1870s, Dallas later became known as a center for retail stores, including Neiman-Marcus Co., which was founded in 1907. The oil industry boomed in the 1930s; aircraft production in the 1940s. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Rapid metropolitan-area growth in the 1980s was evidenced by construction of postmodern office buildings that dramatically changed the city's skyline. North Dallas, sprawling, affluent, and almost entirely white, continues to expand.
Southern Methodist Univ., a branch of the Univ. of Texas, the Univ. of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, a theological seminary, and Texas A&M Univ.'s Baylor College of Dentistry are in the Dallas area. A fashion center, the city is also known for its museums (e.g., Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Perot Museum of Science and Nature), and for its interest in music, literature, and drama (the Dallas Theatre Center boasts the only public theater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright). In the 1980s, Dallas helped revitalize its downtown through the creation of an "arts district," which includes the Dallas Museum of Art (1984) and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (1989). The Texas State Fair and the annual Cotton Bowl football game are held in the art deco Fair Park. The city is home to the Mavericks (basketball) and Stars (hockey); the Cowboys (football, in Arlington) and Texas Rangers (baseball, in Arlington) play in nearby suburbs.
See S. Acheson, Dallas Yesterday (1977); P. M. Seib, Dallas: Chasing the Urban Dream (1985); D. Tomlinson and D. Dillon, Dallas Architecture, 1936–1986 (1985).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.