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logo graphic of Celebrating The City of Arlington's 130th Anniversary - July 18, 1876

     

 

HISTORY OF ARLINGTON - PART 4
1977 - PRESENT
Arlington and a New Era

1977 saw the end of the Vandergriff era..., Arlington had a new library and was planning for the new City Hall amid tremendous growth... the future was here.

By 1980… Arlington is home to 160 thousand people.

Within a decade, it will become the 61st largest city in the country, with more than a quarter million residents.

In response to continuing growth, Social services make their mark in downtown Arlington in 1985 with the opening of the Arlington Life Shelter. It opened on Division Street with the goal of improving life for those in Arlington who need it most. The founders of Mission Arlington heard the same call. As did Arlington Charities and the Salvation Army.

Arlington’s rapid growth nearly outpaced its infrastructure. City crews scrambled during the seventies, eighties and nineties to turn country roads into city streets.

You know these streets by the names of the pioneers who settled the land around them: Cooper, Bowen, Fielder, Matlock, Collins, Mayfield, Davis and Randol Mill.

Neighborhoods expanded into far North Arlington during the seventies and eighties.

Custom homes nestled in the hills went up by the hundreds. Apartments and businesses followed.

Texas Commerce Bank became an instant landmark in 1982… when it became the tallest building in the city.

By the late 1980’s… the inevitable shift to the south began. Major improvements to South Cooper Street helped ease a growing traffic problem. It also paved the way for development. By the thousands, houses spring up in South Arlington. By the turn of the 21st century, the population south of Interstate 20 alone surpassed the 100,000 mark.

In 1987, the opening of the Parks at Arlington Mall located at Interstate 20 and South Cooper becomes the cornerstone for nearly unprecedented development over the next two decades. But when that development threatened a centuries old Post Oak… it forced change at City Hall.

The Witness Tree was uprooted to make way for a discount store. It was transplanted – but didn’t make it. The outcry over the loss of the tree was heard to City Hall. The commercial tree preservation ordinance was adopted in 1993… it was extended to residential development in 2005.

Through the ‘80s and ‘90s city services such as libraries, fire stations, and parks grow and expand to keep pace with development. Many of the parks honor the city’s rich cultural and natural history.

The parks are an oasis in the fast-growing city… a spot for family activities, picnics, and sports.

Public golf courses expand… along with other recreational facilities.

The city is changing and that change is reflected in its people.

In 1990, Elzie Odom becomes the first African-American elected to the Arlington City Council. In 1993, voters authorize the formation of single-member districts.

That same year, Dan Serna becomes the first Hispanic elected to the council.

Elzie Odom would hold his position as a city councilman until 1997 when he becomes the first African-American mayor for the city of Arlington.

Nowhere is the growth of Arlington more evident than in its schools. The district exploded in the 1980s and ‘90s.

By 2007, the Arlington Independent School District has more than 60,000 students, six high schools, 13 junior high schools, 52 elementary schools and is the largest employer in the city.

Opportunities for higher education expanded during the same era, as well.

In 1995, The University of Texas at Arlington celebrated its 100 year anniversary. By 2007, UT Arlington has more than 50 research institutes and centers and is the second largest campus in the University of Texas system.

For working adults and families - Tarrant County college is the answer to the dream of a college diploma. TCC Southeast campus in Arlington opens in 1995.

The 1990’s saw a renewed interest in the revitalization of Arlington’s downtown. It becomes a destination for those who appreciate the arts.

In '94 Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue moves into the old Arlington Theater… and quickly establishes itself as the place for hot new talent.

The Arlington Museum of Art opened in the old JC Penney building on Main Street.

Theater Arlington also made the move to Downtown….followed by the Miss Persis Dance Studio along with the Arlington Symphony and Ballet.

And so began a slow start to the rebirth of Arlington’s once busy downtown.

It picks up steam in 1995 with the formation of Downtown Arlington, Inc., followed by the Downtown Management Corporation in 2006 with a renewed focus and mission to create a vibrant Downtown University District. The goal is to bring people and business back into downtown Arlington, making it a destination for everyone.

Professional sports take a big leap forward in the nineties in Arlington… with the construction of a state of the art Ballpark. A new home for the Texas Rangers. A decade later…. The city scores a major coup… by wooing the Dallas Cowboys.

In 2004… voters ‘okay’ a tax hike that will help pay for a brand new stadium for the legendary team. The stadium goes up only a half mile from the Ballpark.

With the stadium construction comes a development boom… the likes of which Arlington hasn’t seen in a while. Projects such as Arlington Highlands, an 80 acre retail and residential village is one of the largest developments in North Texas.

In 2007, construction is set to begin on an upscale development called Glory Park featuring mixed-used retail, residential and entertainment destinations.

It is the start of yet another era for Arlington.

It was a similar vision… in a different era that set Arlington on its course.

From a railroad village in 1876 – to a bustling city with rich cultural diversity in the 21st century.

From a town that measured a mere half mile across… to one that has grown to capacity over nearly a hundred square miles.

For the past 130 years, Arlington has continued to redefine itself… in 2007 that pioneer spirit still fuels the courage and foresight to propel a city and its people toward success.

     

  PART 1  
  PART 2  
  PART 3  
  PART 4  

 

 
 

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