On January 22, 1877, Arlington, Texas was officially recognized by the United States Postal Service.

An 1876 plat for the original town site shows five East-West streets and seven North-South streets within a half mile square.

There were many natural springs, which made the land suitable for farming. Farmers grew hay, oats, corn, peanuts, potatoes, sorghum, and cotton - which were all major sources of revenue.

Location, access to transportation, and a means for a local economy made Arlington better suited for growth and prosperity than other settlements in the area.

The 1880 U.S. Census shows eight general merchants, three drug stores, a lumber dealer, two physicians, a hotel keeper, a saloon operator and various other occupations including farming. The total population was 275 people. Continued growth led Arlington to incorporate on April 21, 1884.

William Timmerman and Colonel Thomas Spruance established the city's first newspaper in 1883 called, The World.

Citing the need for accessible water in central Arlington, Rice Wood Collins, a successful merchant, started a public well campaign in 1891. In response, the City drilled a well at the intersection of Main and Center streets in the following year. Mineral-laced water flowed from the well. It was believed to have medicinal qualities, and a market developed for the water and its crystals.

The well played a significant role in Arlington's early days as a growing city, becoming the focal point for political rallies, parades, cotton sales and the sale of the mineral water itself. By City ordinance in 1895, the well became the corner point of the City's four new political wards.

In 1951, due to the City's growth and increasing traffic, the Well was permanently capped under the intersection's pavement. In 1976, a monument was created in front of the George W. Hawkes Central Library in remembrance of the Well.

In 1896, William W. McNatt, a merchant and farmer, sold a portion of his farm to sell lots for burial. Located at Mary and Mitchell Streets, graves of many city pioneers can be found here.

By the mid 1890's, Arlington was a town of several churches, and the median age of its citizens was 20 years.

Some of the citizens not satisfied with the public school system formed Arlington College.

It was not a college in today's sense, but a primary and secondary school up to Grade ten. The first two students graduated in 1897, and it existed for seven years, but always as an undergraduate institution.

By 1900, William C. Weeks was the town's Mayor and Arlington had grown to 1,072 people. The town had several blocks of brick commercial buildings along Center and Main Streets.

In the early 1900s, the original town boundaries were beginning to expand because of the development of residential additions.

By the 1920s, the first City Hall had been built and a fire department had formed. Electricity, running water and telephones soon followed.

Prior to 1902, voters approved $12,000 in bonds for a new school building and formally established a school system. Arlington was known as Tarrant County District #48 with 365 students and four teachers. The Arlington Independent School District school board was confirmed in 1903 by action of the Texas Legislature.

The Arlington district operated a segregated school system until 1968 with one school for African American students called the Booker T. Washington School, located in the neighborhood known as "The Hill," which historically, was home to former slaves and their descendants. African American High School students from Arlington attended I.M. Terrell High School in Fort Worth.

By 1917, community leaders saw a need for quality higher education close to home and the Arlington Military Academy became Grubbs Vocational College. The name changed to the North Texas Agricultural College by 1923 and remained until 1949 when it became Arlington State College.

Later efforts to make the school a four-year institution paid off. In September 1959, the first candidates for a four-year bachelor's degree enrolled.

In the fall of 1967, Arlington State College opened its doors as the University of Texas at Arlington. With more than 25,000 students from 150 nations, it remains a cornerstone of Arlington's local economy and the North Texas Region.

There has always been an abundance of doctors in Arlington since the first physicians settled in the area in the 1880s. There were enterprising doctors such as Dr. J.D. Collins, who built the privately-owned Arlington Sanitarium.

Most notable was Dr. Zack Bobo Jr. who opened a privately-owned hospital in 1936 and later wrote his memoirs in a book entitled the "Ramblings of A Country Doctor in 1977."

In 1958, a generous land donation by the Vandergriff family helped bring about Arlington's first community hospital, known today as Arlington Memorial Hospital.

Charitable institutions also moved in and included the Barachah Industrial Home for the Redemption and Protection of Wayward Girls, established in 1903 as a home to unwed mothers. In 1911, the Masonic Home for Aged Masons opened. The Order of the Eastern Star Home for elderly ladies began operations years later in 1924.

Arlington adopted a home rule city charter in 1920. In 1949, the city adopted the city manager form of government.

Arlington's continued growth brought more amenities to its citizens.

Tarrant County started the first public library in Arlington in 1922. It started with 300 books, and the first librarian earned a $6 monthly salary which was paid for by the county. In 1953, the city took over the library, and moved into its present location on Abram Street in 1972.

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.

By the 1930 census, Arlington's population had grown to almost 3,700. Cotton farming began to wane as the mainstay of the Arlington economy by the end of the decade. O.S. Gray founded a pecan nursery on West Division Street in 1932 and he developed and made five varieties of pecan trees. The nursery contributed to the local economy well into the late 20th century.

Employment and public improvements gained momentum in Arlington in the 1930s. Construction workers, provided by the Works Progress Administration, installed curbs and gutters, paved streets and built the John A. Kooken School on Center Street. In 1939, the Federal Works Agency built a new post office on West Main Street.

Gambling and horse racing brought people, businesses, and money to Arlington in the 1930s. W.T. Waggoner, a wealthy oilman and rancher, built a racetrack known as the Arlington Downs. Its grandstand could accommodate 11,000 spectators, with space for thousands more. In 1933, gambling was legalized, but later repealed in 1937. This spelled the end of horse racing at the track. Arlington Downs was used for auto races and rodeos until it was razed in the 1950s.

During the 1920s, Fred and Mary Browning purchased the Top O' Hill Terrace, located a few miles west of downtown Arlington. It featured a casino, a tea garden, hidden rooms, and an escape tunnel. Prominent politicians, entertainers and businessmen frequented the race track and the gambling casino.

Dr. J. Frank Norris, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Fort Worth and founder of the Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute, opposed gambling and other activities that were a part of the Top O' Hill operation. His sermon stating that the Baptists would someday own the property eventually became a reality. Arlington Baptist College purchased the land in 1956 and continues to operate on the site today.

Improved roads and the increasing availability of automobiles doomed the interurban rail line and many others throughout the area. On Christmas Eve, 1938, the line serving Arlington ceased operation. However, the Texas and Pacific Railway continued to play an important role in Arlington. Many freight and passenger trains continue to pass through Arlington daily.

By 1921, the highway from Dallas to Arlington had been widened and was carrying interstate traffic through the center of the city. And despite the economic effects of the Great Depression, Arlington's citizens found jobs with enterprises catering to the constant flow of travelers.

Coinciding with the transportation boom was the city's first car dealership, established by Zack Slaughter in 1917. In 1928, the first car showroom was opened by the Thannisch Chevrolet Company on the edge of downtown, at Center and Division Streets.

From a town officially recognized by the United States Postal Service in 1877 to a booming transportation era, Arlington is on the verge of becoming a destination for businesses, family life, and tourists.

Coming Next: Part III - Automobiles & Entertainment Arrive