Commerce is a Texas city located in Hunt County, Texas, United States, inNorth Texas. The population was 9,100 residents at the 2010 census. Commerce is the second largest city in Hunt County and is situated in the heart of the Texas Blackland Prairies, in the northeastern part of theDallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, 60 miles from Dallas, Texas, and 45 miles south of the Texas/Oklahoma border. The rural city is home to Texas A&M University–Commerce, a major 4-year University of over 12,000 students that has been in the town since 1894. Commerce is one of the smallestcollege towns in Texas.
The town of Commerce was formed when two merchants named William Jernigan and Josiah Jackson established a trading post and mercantile store located where the present day downtown area is. The rural area just to the northeast of the area was an open prairie area originally known as Cow Hill. The town was established in 1872 and named Commerce due to the thriving economic activity, and cotton fields and ideal farm and ranch lands between the Middle and South Sulphur rivers on the rich, black gumbo prairie in northeast Hunt County. The town incorporated in 1885. Two years later, a railroad was built through Commerce to transport merchandise fromFort Worth, and nine years later, William L. Mayo, a college educator, moved East Texas Normal College from the Northeast Texas town of Cooper to Commerce after the original school in Cooper was destroyed in a fire. Mayo continued as president of the college, now known as Texas A&M University–Commerce, until his death in 1917 and is buried on the campus grounds.
Commerce was named the “Bois d’Arc Capital of Texas” (pronounced "bow-dark") by the Texas Legislature because of its location in the geographic center of the indigenous range of the bois d’arc tree. The second largest bois d’arc tree in Texas “Big Max”, recognized by the National Forests Famous and Historic Trees, is located within the city limits. Held every September, the annual festival Bois d’Arc Bash pays homage to bois d’arc trees which played a vital part in the frontier days, providing foundations, fences and weapons of the Native Americans. The Bash celebrates with arts & crafts vendors, food, parade, kid's game area, pageant, wine tasting, musical entertainment, 5K run, and car & truck show.
Due to being a rural college town with proximity to Dallas, Commerce has an economy that remained steady for years, but recently has seen some increase with a few new businesses opening and others being renovated. Most of the bigger businesses of the town surround the local university, and the university's student body is bigger than the town itself. Therefore, it is no surprise that the university also happens to be the top employer of the city as shown in the chart below. The downtown area is approximately one mile from the University and is the hub for town festivities. The downtown area includes bars, dining, a fashion retailer, a pet store, an office supplies retailer, a thrift shop, real estate offices, tax preparation offices, an insurance agency, the Chamber of Commerce, banks, and loft style living.
The most notable landmark of the city of Commerce is the high-rise 12 story building located on the A&M-Commerce campus. This building is called Samuel H. Whitley Hall and is the tallest building between Dallas and Texarkana. The building is named in honor of former university president Samuel Whitley, who served as president of the university from 1924-1946. This 146 foot tall building serves as a dormitory for traditional freshmen on campus.