Dallas is the best-known place in the state. Its 1.1 million residents make it the ninth-largest city in the country and second after Houston in Texas. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas; the TV series “Dallas” was filmed here; the Dallas Cowboys football team plays here; and big corporations such as J.C. Penney, and organizations like the Boy Scouts, have their headquarters here.
Dallas has a spectacular skyline designed by top architects, sweltering summers, strong cultural interests, and many colleges. It’s a conservative, white-collar, office metropolis of a commercial bent with more shopping centers and retail space per capita than any other US city. It also takes its religion seriously, as shown by the Methodist and Baptist churches here, which are the largest in the world. “If it doesn’t sell in Dallas, it won’t sell,” say buyers who come to some 32 wholesale fashion and furnishing markets each year. Dallas is the Southwest’s leading banking center, second in the nation in insurance company headquarters, third in the nation in million-dollar Fortune 500 companies, and second nationally in the convention business.
Dallas is also a place of originality. The nation’s first convenience store, 7-Eleven, opened here in 1927. In 1958, engineer Jack Kilby invented the microchip at Texas Instruments. Door-to-door cosmetics sales leaped forward with the “house party” concept of Mary Kay, founded by Dallas housewife and widow Mary Kay Ash in 1963. The company now has hundreds of thousands of salespeople in more than 20 countries and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Balancing its business concentration, Dallas set aside a 60-acre downtown arts district, where historic buildings have been preserved, theater and concert performances are given, and museums and artwork mix past with present. The Dallas Museum of Art is the biggest draw, housing thousands of items ranging from prehistoric art to contemporary painting and sculpture. Permanent exhibits focus on pre-Cortisan, African, nineteenth-century and early modern European, and eighteenth-century to post-World War II American collections. The Museum of the Americas displays North, Central, and South American art from pre-Hispanic times through the mid-twentieth century. A re-created Mediterranean villa presents top silver and European furniture collections, impressionistic paintings, and Chinese porcelain.
Like many American cities, affluent Dallas shops have moved out from downtown. The famous Neiman-Marcus department store is still located downtown, but others have relocated in malls surrounded by suburban housing. More than 200 restaurants and specialty shops are located below ground in a network of tunnels that provide refuge from hot summers and cold winter winds.
The world’s largest steam locomotive, a 1903 depot, and 1930s passenger car are preserved at the Age of Steam Railroad Museum. The Biblical Arts Center features world art from the early biblical era. The Dallas Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies is dedicated to the Jewish experience in Europe during World War II. The African-American Museum, founded in 1974 as part of the Bishop College Library, houses one of the largest collections of African-American art in the country.
Artistic, cultural, and historic items are preserved, and there is a religious center and African-American women’s archives. The Dallas World Aquarium, the Dallas Zoo, a 66-acre arboretum and botanical garden, and a firefighters museum that has an 1884 horse-drawn steamer and a 1936 ladder truck are among other Dallas attractions. Six Flags Over Texas is the city’s theme-park answer to Disney World, while the State Fair of Texas held in the fall draws more than 3 million people to the 277-acre Fair Park.
Dallas is a big professional sports city. The National Football League Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowls in 1993, 1994, and 1996. The major league baseball team, the Texas Rangers, plays at the ballpark in Arlington, which relives earlier days with a red-brick fa\347ade, natural grass, and a pedestrian park in centerfield. It even has jogging paths. The Dallas Mavericks in the National Basketball Association, the Dallas Stars in the National Hockey League, and professional indoor and outdoor soccer teams also play here. The Mesquite Championship Rodeo, with Friday and Saturday night weekly performances from April through September, began in 1958. Barbecue plates of spicy meat dishes are popular rodeo grub. And the New Year’s Day Cotton Bowl is one of college football’s big annual games.
Unlike many American cities, Dallas was not settled because of its port, railroad, fort, or discovery of gold. It began as one log cabin built in north-central Texas in 1840, and was promoted as a place with fertile black farmland with a river connection to the sea—which wasn’t true. Surrounding cotton fields led to its manufacturing of cotton gin machinery, dresses, and women’s hats. Later, railroad lines and oil money helped it continue its ascent as the banking and commercial center of Texas. Dallas has an international airport and can be reached by car by I-20, I-35, I-30, I-45, and by bus or cross-country train, which runs between Chicago and Los Angeles.