History of Plano

European settlers came to the area near present-day Plano in the early 1840s. Facilities such as a sawmill, a gristmill, and a store soon brought more people to the area. A mail service was established, and after rejecting several names for the nascent town, including naming it in honor of then-President Millard Fillmore, residents suggested the name Plano from the Spanish word for “flat”, as a reference to the local terrain, unvaried and devoid of any trees. The name was accepted by the post office.

In 1872, the completion of the Houston and Central Texas Railway helped the city to grow, and it was incorporated in 1873. By 1874, the population had grown to more than 500. In 1881, a fire raged through the business district, destroying most of the buildings. The town was rebuilt and business again flourished through the 1880s. Also in 1881, the city assumed responsibility for what would eventually become Plano Independent School District (PISD), ending the days of it being served only by private schools.

At first, the population of Plano grew slowly, reaching 1,304 in 1900, and rising to 3,695 in 1960. By 1970, Plano began to feel some of the boom its neighbors had experienced after World War II. A series of public works projects and a change in taxes that removed the farming community from the town helped increase the overall population. In 1970, the population reached 17,872 and by 1980, it had exploded to 72,000. Sewers, schools, and street development kept pace with this massive increase, largely because of Plano’s flat topography, grid layout, and planning initiatives.

During the 1980s, many large corporations moved their headquarters to the city, including J. C. Penney and Frito-Lay, which encouraged further growth. By 1990, the population reached 128,713 dwarfing the county seat of McKinney. In 1994, the city was recognized as an All-America City. By 2000, the population grew to 222,030, making it one of Dallas’ largest suburbs. Plano is surrounded by other municipalities and therefore cannot expand in area, and there is little undeveloped land remaining within the city limits. However, as of July 2012, one large tract of land was being developed: Turnpike Commons at the intersection of Renner Road and the George Bush Turnpike, bordered also by Shiloh Road to the east. The development is expected to feature apartments, medical facilities, restaurants, a Race Track gas station, and a hotel.

In 2013, Plano received top-scoring nationally in a livability index according to an algorithm created by AreaVibes.com, a Toronto-based company specializing in such data. Area Vibes ranked Plano at the top of the list of U.S. cities with populations between 100,000 and 10 million. Another chart, “Best Places to Live in 2013, also has Plano ranked number 1.