Plano has come a long way

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The 9th largest city in Texas, Plano features high-rise buildings, Fortune 500 businesses, an active arts community, and some of North Texas’s most sought-after real estate. Plano frequently tops national lists of “best cities”, recognizing it for its network of parks, job opportunities, and great place to raise a family, among other characteristics.

But have you ever wondered how it all started? Using information compiled by the city and Texas State Historical Association, we will give you a brief overview of the history of Plano.

The beginnings of Plano

The area that later became Plano was developed by a Kentucky farmer, William Forman, who moved to Texas with his family after a scouting trip in the 1840s, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

The development of Plano began on the heads of Joseph Clepper and Sanford Beck, according to the association. Beck’s survey was purchased by Forman in 1851. A general store, post office, and several businesses formed the basis of the small community.

At the time, names considered for the city included Forman and Fillmore, the latter being a nod to President Millard Fillmore. The heads of the posts, however, chose Plano, which means “flat” in Spanish, which provides an appropriate description of the terrain of the region.

Plano’s early industries included plumbing and stove factories, a garment factory, and an electrical wire factory.

Longhorn cattle became another source of income in the area in 1872, as the Houston and Texas Central Railroad linked Plano to Dallas. The Shawnee Trail, which ran through western Collin County, became a main route for bringing cattle on foot to the line heads.

Plano was formed and incorporated in 1873 and elected a mayor and council of aldermen that year. In 1891, the public school system was organized.

A timeline of the development of Plano

11,000 BC AD to 1840: According to historical information compiled by the city, the area now known as Plano was inhabited by Native American tribes from around 11,000 BC to 1840.

1840 to 1872: The first pioneer settlers established farms, businesses and institutions. The Houston and Texas Central Railroad is approaching the end of the era.

1874: J. Crittenden Son and EK Rudolph published Plano’s first journal, the Plano News.

1872 to late 1890s: Downtown Plano was growing and Plano emerged as a business center. Agriculture and railways are also developing.

1881: A fire destroyed 52 buildings and Plano temporarily became a tent city before it could rebuild itself.

1888: New markets opened when the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway Company crossed paths with Houston and Texas Central, according to the Texas State Historical Association. Plano has also become a retail outlet for Blackland Prairie farmers, the report says.

1890: The population of Plano was 1,200. There were “two railroads, five white and one black churches, two steam ginning plants, three schools and two newspapers,” according to the Texas State Historical Association.

1908: Plano has become an intercity stopover on the Texas Electric Railroad.

1900-1960: The population of Plano has grown from approximately 1,304 to 3,695. There was an average increase of about 400 new residents moving to Plano each decade.

1970s: A revaluation of land in 1970 led to an increase in taxes and contributed to the disappearance of agriculture.

The population has grown dramatically as more and more people have moved to the southern states. In 1970, the population was 17,872, according to the association. By 1975 it had more than doubled, then doubled again in 1980, reaching over 72,000.

Mid 80s: Plano has experienced business growth and overtook McKinney as the Collin County hub with about 1,000 companies, according to the association. Among the companies that came to Plano were the Frito-Lay Corporation, a satellite communication system and computer manufacturers.

1990: Plano became a town of 72 square miles and its population expanded to 128,713. The Heritage Museum began to serve as a memory for the small farming community of Plano.

2000 to today: The Dallas Area Rapid Transit system has contributed to the expansion of the downtown area. Major venues such as Legacy Town Center and The Shops at Willow Bend opened earlier in the years. In 2021, the population of Plano was approximately 286,000.

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