History of Grand Prairie, TX
The history of Grand Prairie, TX is an interesting one. It is currently estimated to have the fifteenth largest population in Texas, but it started out as little more than a land grant back in 1841. These land grants were attractive to early settlers, who came searching for land to build houses and graze cattle and horses. The city was first created as Dechman (although it was not an actual city quite yet) in 1863 by Alexander McRae Dechman.
Dechman in Texas
Before the Civil War, A. M. Dechman filed title for his property and established the beginnings of the community. To ensure that the railroad that was under construction would go through the town, he sold half of his property so the railroad would be able to travel through the land. During the tedious construction of the railroad, people continued to gradually settle in Dechman.
The railroad tracks became operational in 1876 and ran until they hit Fort Worth. This opened up lines of communication and made traveling much easier, and this all contributed to the growth of Dechman. In 1877 Dechman got its first post office, but they changed the spelling to “Deckman.” However, shortly after this change the railroad had decided to rename the town Grand Prairie. The post office also changed its name to that to avoid confusion. The new name derived from maps from that time, because the location of the community was right along the eastern edge of what was labeled “the grand prairie of Texas” on maps.
The City of Grand Prairie, TX
The town was incorporated as a city after much debate. The first attempt to do this was made in 1908, but the majority voted no. But on the up side, the very next year the majority vote flipped and Grand Prairie became a city!
The city’s fire department had horse drawn engines until their first purchase of an automobile engine, which was pretty exciting. However, this was only the beginning of the city’s upgrades. The city covered Main Street with decorative poles and lights, and they also paved the street with solid concrete by 1926. They also became a hub for the nation’s aviation and defense industry during World War I and beyond.
The City’s Growth
The City Council was fortunately able to beat annexation limitation laws and increase the area of the city from 16 to almost 60 square miles. This vast expansion resulted in the growth of the city, and notably increasing the city’s population. By 1970, the population had grown to the same size as their neighbor, Arlington (over 50,000 people).
Grand Prairie has developed a lot since it was founded, but it has also stayed very much the same in some ways. For example, the environmental scene and the wildlife – residents today are greeted by similar wildlife and foliage as original settlers. This city has a proud history that has shaped and molded it into what it is today, while still maintaining a small hometown atmosphere.
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