Dallas, the third-largest city in Texas, is the seat of Dallas County and the cultural and economic center of the 12-county Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area known colloquially as the "Metroplex." A cosmopolitan city, Dallas has a reputation as the well-dressed cousin of Houston and San Antonio. Cowboy hats aren't all that uncommon, but they're hardly the norm.
Dallas began as a trading post on the Upper Trinity River, established in 1841 by John Neely Bryan (just five years after the Republic of Texas broke off from Mexico and became an independent country). The city was named for one of Bryan's friends, but to this day no one knows for certain who that was. Dallas might have remained just another small frontier town if not for the foresight of the city leaders. They paid the Houston and Central Texas Railroad to shift its north-south route through Dallas. They attempted to negotiate a similar deal with the Texas and Pacific Railroad's east-west route, but Texas and Pacific turned down the offer. In the end, the Dallas leaders tricked the railroad by attaching a rider to a state law, stipulating that the tracks had to run through Browder Springs (which, as it turned out, was just south of Main Street). With the intersection of major north-south and east-west railroad routes, Dallas' future as a commercial center was ensured.
The 1963 assassination of President Kennedy is an unfortunate part of Dallas' history, commemorated by a 50-foot monument in John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza is located in the Texas School Book Depository, the site from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired his fateful shots. This moving tribute to that fateful day features artifacts, videos, interpretive displays, and full-wall photographs.
They love their sports in Dallas, and who could blame them? The Dallas Cowboys (NFL) are five-time Super Bowl champions and the Dallas Stars (NHL) took home the Stanley Cup in 1999. Dallas is also home to the Texas Rangers (MLB), of which President George W. Bush was once a managing partner. Other professional teams include the Dallas Mavericks (NBA), the Dallas Desperados (AFL), and FC Dallas (MLS).
Dallas has always had a strong artistic, musical, and counter-cultural presence. A cadre of French, Swiss, and Belgian settlers arrived in 1855 with the intention of building a Utopian colony of scientists, artists, writers, and musicians. The colony was ultimately disbanded, but their influence certainly gave Dallas its air of sophistication. The Arts District in downtown is home to several venues, including the Dallas Museum of Art and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, which hosts the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Deep Ellum, a neighborhood of eclectic clubs, restaurants, and galleries, was the jazz and blues hotspot in the south during the '20s and '30s. The Fair Park complex downtown hosts the State Fair of Texas every fall, and is also home to the Cotton Bowl and the Music Hall.