Denton is the county seat of Denton County, Texas, in the United States. Located at the northern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the population was 80,537, while in 2004-05 the population was estimated to have grown to just over 100,000 people, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
Denton was founded in 1856 because of the need for a county seat. Denton, as well as Denton County, was named after John B. Denton, a prominent Methodist lawyer and Native-American fighter. The city was ultimately incorporated in 1866, when J.B. Sawyer was elected the first mayor. The current mayor of Denton, as of 2006, is Perry McNeill.
Denton is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area and is at the tip of the “Golden Triangle,” which includes the cities of Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton, approximately 40 miles apart from each other. Denton is located on Interstate 35 at the fork between I-35E, which runs south to Dallas, and I-35W, which runs south to Fort Worth.
Denton’s population increased in its first century primarily due to its role as a local agricultural trade center and subsequently when it became host to two universities. In the mid 1900s and through today, Denton grew as a result of its proximity to Dallas and Fort Worth.
There were 30,895 households out of which 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.8% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.9% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city the population consists of 20.7% under the age of 18, 25.0% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 15.7% from 45 to 64, and 7.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,422, and the median income for a family was $51,419. Males had a median income of $33,698 versus $26,037 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,365. About 8.7% of families and 16.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.1% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over.
Dentonites take pride in being part of a unique and diverse creative community, and many consider that aspect to be the primary value of Denton life that separates the town from other Texas cities. Despite the lack of some metropolitan advantages larger cultural centers afford, such as a well-developed public transportation system, or a job market better tailored to the creative class, many in Denton’s creative community see Denton as the antidote lifestyle choice to the ballooning traffic and population concerns of the larger cultural center of Austin, Texas. The combination of Denton’s respected music and art cultures, and the large intellectual population sustained by Denton’s two universities, makes the smaller town Texas’ only other city, outside of Austin, that could claim such a creative and progressive dominant cultural base.
The pervasive music culture that exists in Denton was seeded initially by the existence of The University of North Texas’ College of Music, a top-rated institution that draws musicians from all over the world to its advanced studies divisions. The college’s Jazz studies program, established in 1947, was the first of its kind in the country, and in more recent years the college’s Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) has developed its own distinct reputation as an internationally-renowned center for teaching, research, and groundbreaking music creation, but Denton’s vibrant and diverse music culture extends well beyond the rigorous and disciplined world of UNT’s College of Music.
In the last few years the town’s music culture has grown beyond its academically anchored beginnings. A thriving independent music scene has emerged and gained outside notoriety separate of Denton’s more civically embraced academic music establishments.
The latest development of Denton’s evolving status as “Music Town”, has been the arrival of musicians creating work outside the University of North Texas College of Music. These Denton transplants move there simply because they are aware of Denton’s reputation as a music town, but they are most familiar with the independent music, not the studied musicianship, the town has produced. They relocate to Denton with the purpose of developing their music in the town, and hope that their own musical contributions will be identified in the popular press of the outside world as originating from Denton, Texas.
The city’s live music venues are chiefly supported by Denton’s very active music listening audience, but show attendance is often partly comprised of Dallas/Ft.Worth music listeners that drive north to attend performances by the touring independent music acts that bypass the metroplex to perform in Denton instead.
The acknowledged influence of Denton on Dallas and Fort Worth’s music scenes is longstanding and well-developed. Dallas’ largest alternative weekly, the Dallas Observer, once suggested Dallas music listeners drive north to Denton to hear the best local music Dallas has to offer.
In 2004 and 2005, the roster of Denton’s performing and touring music acts remained between 80 and 90, a high number considering the town’s most recent population figures.
Music acts like twice Grammy award winning Brave Combo, Bowling for Soup, Eric Keyes, Centro-matic, Brutal Juice, The Riverboat Gamblers, Riddle Me This, Slobberbone, The Baptist Generals, Lift to Experience, Ten Hands, Beef Jerky, Midlake, South San Gabriel, The Marked Men, and Eli Young have all drawn national and international attention to Denton’s vibrant music culture. Singer-pianist and multiple-Grammy Award winner Norah Jones studied jazz piano in Denton.
Denton is home to the University of North Texas, originally known as North Texas Normal College, which was founded in 1890 and the Girls’ Industrial college, now called Texas Woman’s University. Despite its name, Texas Woman’s University is open to both sexes. The University of North Texas, known as UNT, is the largest university in the North Texas area. Their presence gives Denton a college town feel and played a pivotal role in distinguishing it from other agricultural cities in the early 20th century. The two universities currently account for nearly half of Denton’s population, with a combined estimated enrollment of 45,000 students. Denton Independent School District serves the city of Denton. As of 2006 the DISD has 16 Elementary Schools, 5 Middle Schools, and 3 High Schools.
Denton County is home to all or parts of three lakes: Lake Grapevine, Lake Lewisville, and Lake Ray Roberts. The Texas Motor Speedway is located within Denton County. Denton is also host to the annual Denton Arts & Jazz Festival, a city-sponsored event that brings over 200,000 people per year for live music, foods, crafts, and recreation. The festival is usually held the last three days of April.