Richardson is a city in Dallas County and Collin County, Texas. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 91,803. The city of Buckingham, after being completely surrounded by Richardson, was annexed into the city in 1996.
In the 1840s, settlers from Tennessee and Kentucky began arriving in the Richardson area which was inhabited by Comanche and Caddo Native American tribes. Several of the earliest families clustered around an area later named Breckinridge in honor of John C. Breckenridge, a Confederate Secretary of State and General, and Vice President of the United States from 1857-1861. The town was situated near what is now Richland College and consisted of a general store, a blacksmith shop and the Floyd Inn.
Richardson Interurban Depot, 1908After the American Civil War, the new railroad bypassed Breckinridge and an area to the northwest of Breckinridge became the new center of activity. William J. Wheeler donated land for the town site and railroad right-of-way, but declined to have the village named in his honor. Instead the town was named for railroad contractor E. H. Richardson, who built the line from Dallas to Denison.
Richardson was chartered in 1873. Originally, there were three businesses: a general store, a post office and a drug store. In 1908 the Interurban, an electric railway, began service north to Denison, Texas, south to Waco, Texas, southeast to Corsicana, Texas and west to Fort Worth, Texas. By 1910, residents had seen their first telephone, electric light and gravel street, and had grown in number to about 600. In 1914, a red brick schoolhouse, presently home to the administrative offices of the Richardson Independent School District (RISD), was built.
In 1924, the Red Brick Road (Greenville Avenue) was completed, bringing an increase in traffic, population and property values. The following year the town incorporated and elected its first mayor, Thomas F. McKamy. All taxable property was assessed at a value of $515,292, and a total of 15 businesses were in operation. Bonds were issued and in 1926, waterworks were completed so homes could be furnished with indoor water. A sewage treatment plant was then constructed, the volunteer fire department began operating and, soon after, utility franchises were awarded to Lone Star Gas and Texas Power and Light Company. By 1940, the population stood at about 740 but after World War II, the city experienced a new surge in population. By 1950, the city boasted a population of approximately 1,300. Additional municipal services, such as emergency ambulance, police protection and parks and recreation facilities, became available to residents.
In 1951, Collins Radio opened a Richardson office, ushering the city into the electronic era. U.S. Highway 75 opened in 1954 and the agricultural city of the past became a community of shopping centers and homes. In 1955, Richardson’s first police department was organized; consisting of a chief and two officers. On June 26, 1956, voters adopted a home rule charter and a council-manager form of government that still operates today. Door-to-door mail delivery became available to the 5,000 residents and funds were approved for a park and city hall. Also in 1956, Texas Instruments opened its offices just south of the Richardson border and land values increased dramatically as the city made significant advances in population and economic status. More than 500,000 people moved into the Dallas area in the period between 1940 and 1960.
In 1969, Erik Jonsson and other Texas Instruments executives donated the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies to the state and it became part of the University of Texas System called University of Texas at Dallas. In 1972, the population stood at approximately 56,000, and this same year the Richardson Independent School District had an enrollment of approximately 32,000 students in 16 elementary schools, seven junior high schools and four high schools. On January 8, 1991, Richardson High School student Jeremy Wade Delle fatally shot himself in front of his English class, an incident that inspired the Pearl Jam song “Jeremy.”
In 1992, two incidents of violent crime took the lives of teens from the city’s Berkner High School. On Nov. 6, 1992, student Sean Cooper, 17, was shot and killed near the school by gang members after they fired into a crowd after a football game. On Nov. 25, 1992, student Fred Banzhaf and recent graduate Justin Marquart, both 18, were killed during the robbery of the Herman’s World of Sporting Goods store in Richardson where they worked.
Today the city is no longer the bedroom community of the ’50s and ’60s, but is itself at the heart of a significant employment center, the Telecom Corridor, where more than 80,000 people work each day. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) completed construction on three light rail stations for the city in the late 1990s.
In the spring of 2000, City of Richardson officials broke ground on the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts and Corporate Presentations at the Galatyn Park Station urban center, named after Richardson philanthropist and businessman Charles W. Eisemann.
The city is home to a sizeable Asian American population, with large Chinese American and Vietnamese American communities contributing to the character of the city. There are notable concentrations of Chinese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese American businesses along Greenville Avenue, particularly between Arapaho Road and Belt Line Road. A shopping center there displays a sign declaring the area to be “DFW Chinatown,” though the area is rarely referred to as such by locals, as there are other concentrations of Chinese American businesses of similar size (if not larger) in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area. A large number of Vietnamese American establishments can also be found in the area of Richardson’s historic downtown. The city is also home to a number of Indian American businesses.