Whether you are a history buff or just looking to hone your trivia skills, Arlington's history can serve as the ultimate throwback Thursday during your time at home. Here is a list of Arlington historical fun facts and links to online resources to extend your historical knowledge:
- People have been meeting in Arlington for more than 150 years! The Republic of Texas signed it's first Indian peace treaty here in 1843 at what was Bird's Fort. This led the way for new settlement in the area and the eventual establishment of Johnson Station, which is one of the communities that would later become Arlington.
- There is a dispute as to who named the city. Was is Reverend Andrew Shannon Hayter, who helped survey the area and ensured the railroad would pass through? Or was it the Postmaster James Ditto, Sr? Either way, “Arlington” was the name that was officially accepted by the Postal Service on January 22, 1877.
- Arlington was home to many natural springs, making it an ideal location for farming. In fact, a well that was once located in Downtown Arlington was rumored to have healing properties.The chamber of commerce, at the time, even erected a four-sided monument with lion heads so people could access the magic waters. Now there is a commemorative statue near city hall and the downtown library. For the full scoop, check out our blog.
- The University of Texas at Arlington was originally established at Arlington College for grades 1-10 in 1895. Over the next 70 years, it would trace it's history through 7 different schools: Carlisle Military Academy, Arlington Training School, Arlington Military Academy, Grubbs Vocational College (which was part of the Texas A&M System), North Texas Agricultural College, and Arlington State College. The current name was established in 1967 after the school was transferred into the University of Texas System in 1965.
- Tarrant County started the first public library in Arlington in 1922 with 300 books; the first librarian earned a $6 monthly salary. This is a far cry from the state of the art library that now calls downtown home!
- Meadowbrook Park, the city's first park, opened in 1924. The park covered more than 45 acres of land and eventually had the city's first nine-hole golf course and swimming pool. Today, you can still play golf at Meadowbrook Park and experience a little history as you tee off!
- By the late 1930s, Arlington's location on the Bankhead Highway created "Vegas before Vegas" with both a racing track, Arlington Downs, and an illegal casino, Top 'O Hill Terrace. Arlington Downs is long gone, but the legacy and secret tunnels of Top 'O Hill Terrace are still accessible today on the campus of Arlington Baptist University. You can take a tour and learn all about Arlington's more elicit past.
- Six Flags Over Texas opened in Arlington in 1961, creating the anchor for the Arlington Entertainment District that has continued to expand over time. The name "Six Flags Over Texas" refers to the flags of the six different nations that have governed Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. The original admission price was $2.75 for adults and $2.25 for children.
- Within Six Flags Over Texas, you can experience real Texas history by finding the historical markers of the Texas Historical Commission. Some of the markers are found at: a replica of Fort St. Louis, which was originally established in 1685; a "Boom Town" that contains some of the oil rigging and tools used by roughnecks during the 1920s; and an antique hand-carved carousel. Another is located at the park's demonstration of Texas railroads, which provides visitors a view of some of the original narrow-gauge railway tracks used in the nineteenth century.
- Arlington's history of being an entertainment mecca continued into the 1970s with the creation of Seven Seas Marine Life Park. The marine mammal and animal park was owned by the City of Arlington and located near Six Flags Over Texas and Arlington Stadium. The park closed in 1976, but a few remaining buildings and pieces form the Japan Garden outside the Sheraton Arlington Hotel pool area. So when staying at the Sheraton, be sure to spend some time at the pool so you can soak up the history and some sun.
- Take the Pioneer Trail driving tour that highlights the early settlements from Johnson Station and Watson Community.
To explore more history in person, check out the Historic Buildings driving tour that explores Arlington as it grows into the entertainment hub of today.
The City of Arlington offers a four-part video series on the history of Arlington. Check their website for more information on the complete history of Arlington.