Settlers came to the area that is now Irving in the 1850s, and communities such as Sowers, Kit Shady Grove, Union Bower, Finley, Estelle and Bear Creek sprang up in the last half of the century. The new town of Irving, founded in 1903 by J.O. Schulze and Otis Brown, eventually swallowed most of these settlements. Irving was officially incorporated April 14, 1914. Schulze and Brown, who were employed by the Chicago, Rock Island & Gulf Railway, arrived in 1902 to survey a railroad route between Fort Worth and Dallas. Having decided that this area would be an ideal town site, they bought 80 acres from the Britian family in 1902. The co-founders sold the first town lots at a public auction on December 19, 1903. The post office at nearby Kit was moved to Irving in 1904.
The Growth of the Town
The City Council adopted author Washington Irving as the city's namesake in 1998. Local historians believe that Irving co-founders Otis Brown and J.O. Schulze decided in 1902 to name the city after Netta Barcus Brown's favorite author. Schulze, a graduate engineer from the University of Iowa and member of the Washington Irving Literary Society, also was partial to the name Irving.
Irving progressed rapidly, and the Texas legislature created the Irving Independent School District in 1909 for a student population of about 190. Four years later, the district built its first brick building for the staggering sum of $15,000. The little town officially came of age in 1914, when its citizens voted 27 to 16 to incorporate. They elected a three-member City Commission, with Otis Brown as their first mayor. Irving was incorporated April 14, 1914.
Irving was a center for cotton growing, truck farming, dairy farming, and poultry production in this period. Farmers often sold their produce in Dallas, and if the Trinity River flooded while they were on the east side of it, they could not get home until the water receded.
By 1920, Irving's population had grown to 357. During that decade, Irving obtained electric service, installed a water system, and organized a volunteer fire department. In 1925, the City Commission appointed Frank Pate the town's first fire marshal. When there was a fire, Pate fired six shots with his pistol to call volunteers to the station.
Despite the depression of the 1930s, Irving continued to grow. Regular bus service replaced the privately run jitney service that had operated from Irving to Dallas since 1914. In 1939, Irving hired its first full-time employee, Town Secretary C.C. Anderson, who keptrecords, assessed and collected water revenues, and served as custodian of all the city buildings.
In 1940, Irving's first paid patrolman joined the elected constable in keeping the peace. The opening of the first public library the next year brought new opportunities for learning to residents of Irving. By the mid-1940's, the Irving School District had 42 teachers and 1,500 students.
At mid-century, Irving with a population of 2,615 stood on the threshold of unprecedented growth. City Commissioners annexed adjacent areas to reach the 5,000-inhabitant minimum required to hold a home rule charter election. On October 15, 1952, the proposed charter passed by a vote of 377 to 96. The charter added four commissioners, provided for a city manager, and gave Irving a greater degree of self-government.
During this decade, Irving welcomed the University of Dallas and hired its first paid fireman. Business continued to move to the city. When Plymouth Park Shopping Center opened in 1955, it was one of the largest shopping centers between Dallas and Fort Worth.Home-building grew apace, and by 1960, Irving's population had skyrocketed to 45,895.
Irving Community Hospital opened its doors in 1964. That same year, the world's largest trucking terminal was built in Irving. Late in that decade, city leaders met with the owner of the Dallas Cowboys football team, who was interested in moving the team to a stadium in Irving. The city financed the stadium with revenue bonds and opened the facility in 1971. The Cowboys held their last game in Texas Stadium in December 2008 before moving to the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The Cowboys handed over the keys to the stadium to city officials on March 31, 2009. A demolition contract was awarded on Aug. 24, 2009 with an implosion scheduled in the first quarter of 2010 to clear the 77-acre site for redevelopment in conjunction with the new DART Orange Light Rail line that will connect DFW Airport with downtown Dallas with light rail service. The former Texas Stadium site is poised to become the premier development location in the metroplex.
Construction of Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport, lying partially within the boundaries of Irving, also began in the late 1960s. When it opened in 1974, it was the country's largest airport. The facility, now known as Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, continues to contribute to Irving's economy.
The population of Irving reached almost 100,000 by 1970. Three years later, Irving landowner Ben Carpenter saw his dream come true with the opening of Las Colinas, a privately funded, master-planned community of 7,000 acres, which has grown to include more than a 1,000 corporations, as well as homes, schools, shopping areas, and recreation facilities. Later in the 1970s the Dallas County Community College District opened North Lake College in Irving.
In the 1980s, Irving built an arts center and a new central library and achieved a coveted AAA bond rating. In 1998, the city has 7,800 businesses and a population of more than 170,000. Irving will celebrate its centennial in 2003.