Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square
|Nickname(s): Little D, Redbud Capital of Texas|
Denton is a city in the U.S. state of Texas and the county seat of Denton County. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 113,383,making it the 27th most populous city in Texas and the 11th-largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.
A Texas land grant led to the formation of Denton County in 1846, and the city was incorporated in 1866. Both were named after pioneer and Texas militia captain John B. Denton. The arrival of a railroad line in the city in 1881 spurred population, and the establishment of the University of North Texas in 1890 and Texas Woman's University in 1901 distinguished the city from neighboring regions. After the construction of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport finished in 1974, the city saw more rapid growth; as of 2011, Denton was the seventh-fastest growing city with a population over 100,000 in the country.
Located on the north end of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex in North Texas on Interstate 35, Denton is known for its active music life; the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo, Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, and 35 Denton Music Festival attract over 300,000 people to the city each year. The city experiences hot, humid summers and relatively few extreme weather events. Its diverse citizenry is represented by a nonpartisan city council, and numerous county and state departments have offices in the city. With over 45,000 students enrolled at the two universities located within its city limits, Denton is often characterized as a college town. As a result of the universities' growth, educational services play a large role in the city's economy. Residents are served by the Denton County Transportation Authority, which provides commuter rail and bus service to the area.
The formation of Denton is closely tied with that of Denton County. White settlement of the area began in the middle of the 1800s when William S. Peters of Kentucky obtained a land grant from the Texas Congress and named it Peters Colony. After initial settlement in the southeast part of the county in 1843, the Texas Legislature voted to form Denton County in 1846. Both the county and the town were named for John B. Denton, a preacher and lawyer who was killed in 1841 during a skirmish with Kichai people in what is now Tarrant County. Pickneyville and Alton were selected as the county seat before Denton was named for that position in 1857. That year, a commission laid out the city and named the first streets.
Denton incorporated in 1866; its first mayor was J.B. Sawyer. As the city expanded, it became an agricultural trade center for the mill and cottage industries. The arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1881 gave Denton its first rail connection and brought an influx of people to the area. North Texas Normal College, now the University of North Texas, was established in 1890, and the Girls' Industrial College, now Texas Woman's University, was founded in 1903. As the universities increased in size, their impact on Denton's economy and culture increased.
Denton grew rapidly from a population of 26,844 in 1960 to 48,063 in 1980. Its connection to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex via I-35E and I-35W played a major role in the growth, and the opening of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airportin 1974 led to an increase in population. In the 1980s, heavy manufacturing companies like Victor Equipment Company andPeterbilt joined older manufacturing firms such as Moore Business Forms and Morrison Milling Company in Denton. The population jumped from 66,270 in 1990 to 80,537 in 2000.In May 2006, Houston-based real estate company United Equities purchased the 100-block of Fry Street and announced that several of the historic buildings would be demolished to accommodate a new mixed-use commercial center. The proposal drew opposition from some residents, who sought to preserve the area as a historic and cultural icon for the city. The Denton City Council approved a new proposal for the area from Dinerstein Cos in 2010.
Denton is home to several annual artistic and cultural events that cater to residents and tourists. The annual North Texas State Fair and Rodeo began in 1928 and promotes the cowboy culture of Texas. In addition to a rodeo, the event features several local country-rock performances, pageants, and food contests. Hosted by the North Texas State Fairgrounds since 1948, the fair brings in over 150,000 people during its nine-day run. The Denton Municipal Airport has hosted the annual Denton Airshow since 1998. The event includes aerial demonstrations and airplane exhibits; it attracted over 10,000 attendees in 2012. Other events in the city include an annual Redbud Festival,the Fiesta on the Square, and the Thin Line Documentary Film Fest.
The local independent music scene in Denton has emerged alongside Denton's academic music establishments, including the University of North Texas College of Music.The city's live music venues are largely supported by Denton's college town atmosphere, although show attendance is bolstered by area residents. The Dallas Observer features a column on Denton's local music scene.In 2007 and 2008, Denton's music scene received feature attention from The Guardian, Pop Matters, and The New York Times. Paste Magazine named Denton's music scene the best in the United States in 2008.The city-sponsored Denton Arts and Jazz Festival attracts over 200,000 people each year for live music, food, crafts, and recreation at Civic Center Park. Bands such as Tower of Power, Brave Combo, and Arturo Sandoval have performed at the festival, as well as jazz groups from the University of North Texas. With hopes of creating a live music event similar to South by Southwest, Denton held the first annual North by 35 Music Festival, now called 35 Denton, in March 2009. In 2014 the Huffington Post listed Denton as the number one emerging cultural hot spot in Texas to visit while referring to Denton as "Practically an indie band factory at this point..."
The Denton Square, bordered by Oak, Hickory, Locust, and Elm Streets, is a cultural and political hub of the city. At its center is the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square, which includes local government offices and a museum showcasing area history and culture. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the former county courthouse was restored for the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1986. The positive response to the renovation sparked a downtown revitalization program that generated new jobs and reinvestment capital. The downtown square is populated by local shops and restaurants, some of which have been in business since the 1940s. Each year, the downtown square is adorned with lights and spotlighted during the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival.
The educational services, health and social services, manufacturing, and general retail sectors employ over 20,000 people in Denton. The city's three largest educational institutions, including the University of North Texas, Denton Independent School District, and Texas Woman's University, are the largest employers, employing almost 12,000 people. The University of North Texas is the largest employer in the city, with 7,764 employees comprising 12.59% of the workforce. The City of Denton also employs more than 1,334 people. Wholesale trade and hospitality jobs also play major roles. Notable businesses headquartered in Denton include truck manufacturer Peterbilt, beauty supplier Sally Beauty Company, and jewelry producer Jostens. Golden Triangle Mall, the city's largest shopping complex with over 90 specialty shops, is a major source of retail trade.
Two major hospitals operate in Denton: Denton Regional Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton are both full-service hospitals with differing capacities: 208 beds and 255 beds, respectively. Each employ more than 800 employees and are licensed with emergency services.