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
Arlington’s rapid growth nearly outpaced its
infrastructure. City crews scrambled during the seventies,
eighties and nineties to turn country roads into city
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
The city is changing and that change is reflected in its
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
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
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
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