Lured by the rich soil of Texas’ Blackland Prairie, the first settlers arrived in Plano in the early 1840’s to take advantage of government land grants. Pioneers from Kentucky and Tennessee built a small farming community and with the help of prominent local advocate Dr. Henry Dye established a post office in 1850.
Dye suggested to government officials in Washington that the post office be named Fillmore, but the name was rejected. Dye then chose the name Plano believing the word meant “plain” in Spanish. Washington accepted the name and the community has been Plano ever since.
In 1872 the Houston and Texas Central Railway arrived linking Plano with Dallas and Houston and opening the door to new economic markets. Plano’s small agricultural farms grew into large cotton farms and cattle ranches. Recognizing the steady growth of the area, in 1873 the Texas Legislature passed an act incorporating the city of Plano in Collin County.
A devastating fire in 1881 consumed the entire downtown business district of Plano. Only a saloon on the west side of the railroad tracks remained. The city continued to be cursed by several other fires until brick buildings were built and filled the area around the turn of the century.
In 1908 the Texas Electric Railroad came to Plano bringing with it new industries. Garment factories, a box factory and plumbing and stove plants made their home in the growing town. In 1940 the population was recorded at 1,582 and in 1946 the Plano Chamber of Commerce was established to serve the expanding business community.
The construction of North Central Expressway in 1960 marked a new era for Plano. Linking the city with downtown Dallas, this major transportation artery contributed to Plano’s explosive growth bringing both new residents and new businesses.
The city’s accelerated development is nowhere more evident than its rapid population growth expanding from 18, 872 in 1970 to 72,331 in 1980 and to 222,030 in 2000.
Today Plano boasts a population of 260,000 residents and is the ninth largest city in Texas. Most of the city’s 72 square miles lie within the boundaries of Collin County with 3 square miles in Denton County. Since 2000, Plano has added 37,811 residents to its roles. During the same period, Collin County has grown 59% to a population of 782,341.
Located 19 miles north of Dallas in north central Texas, Plano is home to four Fortune 1000 organizations: JCPenney, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Rent-a-Center and Cinemark. Headquarters of major corporations include Frito Lay, HP Enterprise Services, Ericsson and Pizza Hut.
Not surprisingly, according to a 2008 survey of 69 U.S. cities with populations of more than 250,000 by Salary.com, Plano ranks #1 as the best place to build personal wealth and raise a family. A Reuters article (6/30/08) cited the attraction of large business to the city. Measurements considered in the survey included earnings, cost of living and unemployment rates, diversity of industry, education level of the cities' population, nearness to post secondary institutions, percent of population below poverty level and median travel time to work.
The acclaimed Plano Independent School District (PISD) has been long been a source of pride within the community. In August 2010 the Texas Education Agency rated PISD as Exemplary on all 25 academic indicators. Of the district’s 70 schools, 34 campuses also received an Exemplary rating. In addition, 23 Plano ISD schools have been honored with the prestigious National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence award by the U.S. Department of Education. Three of the schools have been twice awarded through the national program.
Plano’s legacy of literacy goes further. According to a 2009 study by Central Connecticut.State University of America’s most literate cities, Plano ranked #2 among cities 250,000 or larger in level of education. Educational literacy was evaluated on the percentage of the adult population with a high school diploma or higher and with a bachelor's degree or higher. Plano boasts 53% of adults with a Bachelors degree or above.
A great place to live, Plano recently ranked as the safest city in the United States with a population more than 250,000, according to a study by Forbes magazine. In a 2010 article titled “America’s Safest Cities,” Forbes rated communities based on the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2009, as reported by the FBI, as well as on the number of traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents using 2008 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
With a reputation as one of the best places to work and live in the United States, Plano sees a bright future ahead.