Denton, Texas

Denton, Texas
City of Denton
—  City  —
A stone building with a cloudy sky in the background. Three floors are shown with windows on each floor. There's a door entrance on the first floor and a large clock on the tower overhead.
Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square
A 3-d black and white star with. The words "City of Denton Denton, Texas" encircle the star.
Nickname(s): Little D, Redbud Capital of Texas
Motto: North of Ordinary[1]
A map showing the state of Texas divided into counties. Denton County is located in north-eastern Texas, two counties south of the Oklahoma–Texas border.
Location of Denton in Denton County, Texas
Coordinates: 33°12′59″N 97°7′45″W / 33.21639°N 97.12917°W / 33.21639; -97.12917Coordinates: 33°12′59″N 97°7′45″W / 33.21639°N 97.12917°W / 33.21639; -97.12917
Country  United States
State  Texas
County Denton
Settled 1857
Incorporated 1866
 – Type Council-Manager
 – City Council[2] Mayor Mark Burroughs
Mayor Pro Tem Pete Kamp
Kevin Roden
Jim Engelbrecht
Chris Watts
Dalton Gregory
James King[3]
 – City Manager George C. Campbell
 – City 62.3 sq mi (161.5 km2)
 – Land 61.5 sq mi (159.3 km2)
 – Water 0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2)
Elevation 642 ft (201 m)
Population (2010)[4]
 – City 119,454
 – Density 1,878.1/sq mi (725.1/km2)
 – Metro 6,145,037
 – Demonym Dentonite
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 – Summer (DST) CST (UTC-5)
Zip Codes 76201 through 76210
Area code(s) 940
FIPS code 48-19972[4]
GNIS feature ID 1334260[4]

The city of Denton is the county seat of Denton County, Texas in the United States. Its population was 119,454 according to the 2010 U.S. Census,[4] making it the eleventh largest city in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.[5] Geographically, it is situated 38 miles (61 km) south of the Oklahoma–Texas border and 39 miles (63 km) northwest of Dallas.

Denton is home to two state universities, the University of North Texas, the largest university in North Texas, and Texas Woman's University, a historically single-sex college completely co-ed since 1994. Altogether, over 45,000 students participate in courses at the two universities. The presence of these two large universities leads to Denton being characterized frequently as a college town.

A Texas land grant led to the formation of Denton County in 1846, and the city in 1857. Both were named after pioneer and Texas militia captain John B. Denton. The establishment of the two universities helped distinguish the city from neighboring regions. As a result, educational services, as well as retail trade, play the largest roles in Denton's economy. The town is known for its active music life, which Paste magazine named America's "Best Music Scene" in 2008.[6] The annual North Texas State Fair and Rodeo and the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival are major events that attract over 300,000 people. Denton has seen considerable growth in recent years and in 2006, Money magazine named Denton No. 58 out of the "Top 100 Best Places to Live in America."[7]



Map of Denton's city infrastructure in 1883. The town square area is heavily developed while the outskirts of the town are just beginning to be incorporated
Map of the city 1883

The formation of Denton is closely tied with that of Denton County. Unlike other neighboring cities in North Texas, there is no record of a large native-American population in the area before 1800.[8] European settlement began in mid-19th century when William S. Peters of Kentucky obtained a land grant from the Texas Congress and named it Peters Colony. After initial settlement in the southeast area in 1843, the Texas legislature voted to form Denton County in 1846.[8] Residents chose two different county seats (Pinckneyville and Alton) before voting on Denton as the final county seat in 1857. Both the county and the town were named in honor of John B. Denton, a preacher and lawyer, who was killed in a 1841 battle led by General Edward H. Tarrant against Keechi Indians.[9] A commission composed of Otis G. Welch and others laid out the city and named the first streets in 1857. Denton was not incorporated until 1866; its first mayor was J.B. Sawyer.[10]

The city expanded greatly as it became a strong agricultural trade center and manufacturing destination for mills and cottage industries. The creation of the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1881 gave Denton its first rail connection, and brought an influx of people to the area. Despite this, it did not develop into a strong manufacturing location, relying instead on agricultural workforces.[10]

Denton became a college town when North Texas Normal College (now the University of North Texas) was established in 1890 and the Girls' Industrial College (now Texas Woman's University) in 1903. As the universities increased in size, their impact on Denton's economy and culture also grew.[10]

At one time considered the cultural center of Denton, the area surrounding Fry Street was home to a group of shops, music venues, and restaurants. Many of the buildings were originally constructed in the 1920s.[11] From 1914 to 1959, Denton was governed under a mayor-city commission form of government, but a new charter adopted in the latter year switched the city to a council-manager form of government.[10]

In 1954 the regional office of the Federal Civil Defense Administration moved from Dallas to Denton, and a few years later a large underground shelter was completed. For a time it was the only FCDA underground shelter and was designated as the place from which the president of the United States and other federal officials would direct the country in case of attack.[10] The FCDA shelter would later become the headquarters of FEMA Region VI.[12]

Denton grew rapidly from a population of 26,844 in 1960, to 48,063 in 1980. Its proximity to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, directly connected via Interstate 35, played a major role in this growth. The opening of the DFW International Airport in 1974 led to a small spurt in population. Older manufacturing firms with significant employment such as Moore's Business Forms and Morrison Milling Company were joined by heavy manufacturing companies like Victor Equipment Company in the mid-1960s and Peterbilt in 1980, and led to increased local employment. The population jumped from 66,270 in 1990 to 80,537 in 2000.[10]

In May 2006, the 100-block of the historic Fry Street area was purchased by United Equities, a Houston-based real estate company, which announced that several of the historic buildings would be demolished to accommodate a new mixed-use commercial center.[13][14] The proposal drew opposition from residents, who sought to preserve Fry Street as a historic and cultural icon for the city. After a new proposal by Dinerstein Cos, the city council approved the project in mid-2010.[15][16]


Denton, Texas
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: / NWS

Geographically, Denton is located on the northern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area at the intersection of I-35 and U.S. Highways 380, 377 and 77. It is also here that I-35 splits into I-35E and I-35W to reach Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. These three cities form the area known as the "Golden Triangle of North Texas."[17] Lake Lewisville, a fishing destination named the "Urban Bass Fishing Capital of Texas", is located 15 miles (24 km) south of the city.[18]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 62.3 square miles (161 km2), of which, 61.5 square miles (159 km2) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) of it (1.33%) is water. The land lies in the northeast edge of the Bend Arch-Fort Worth Basin, which is characterized by flat terrain. Elevation ranges from 500 to 900 feet (150 to 270 m).[8] Underneath the city is a portion of the Barnett Shale, a geological formation believed to contain large quantities of natural gas.[19][20]


With its hot, humid summers and cool winters, the climate of Denton is characterized as humid subtropical. Dry winds reach the area in the summer and can bring temperatures to 100 °F (38 °C), although the average summer temperature is in the mid-90s. The coolest month is January with temperatures dropping down to an average minimum of 32 °F (0 °C).[21] Average snowfall in Denton is similar to the Dallas-Fort Worth average of 2.4 inches (6.1 cm) per year.[22] Denton lies on the bottom end of the Tornado Alley area. Although tornadoes rarely form, tornado watches are issued by the National Weather Service. Flash floods and severe thunderstorms are frequent occurrences during the months of spring.[23]

The city's all-time high temperature is 113 °F (45 °C), recorded in 1954, while the all-time recorded low is −3 °F (−19 °C). Denton receives approximately 37.7 inches (96 cm) of rain per year.[21]


Map diagram showing median family income levels. Southern area has a median family income in the $91,630 to $106,016 range. Northern area has a median range between $65,517 and $75,261. Downtown area has the lowest range at $23,828 to $41,453.
Map of median family income in Denton County (1999)
Population trend[24]
Year Population
1950 21,345
1960 26,844
1970 39,874
1980 48,063
1990 66,270
2000 82,976
2010 119,454

Denton has a population of 119,454 according to July 2008 population estimates, making it the 207th largest city in the U.S. and the 23rd largest in Texas.[25] Along with the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, it has grown steadily in recent years, becoming the tenth fastest-growing city over 100,000 from July 2006 to July 2007.[26]

As of the 2000 census, there were 80,537 residents, known as "Dentonites", 30,895 households, and 16,405 families residing in the city.[27] The population density was 1,309.7 people per square mile (505.7/km²). There were 32,716 housing units at an average density of 532.0 per square mile (205.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.62% White, 9.12% African American, 3.39% Asian, 0.58% Native American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 8.85% from other races, and 2.40% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race comprised 16.38% of the population.[25]

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.[25]

The median income for a household 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 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.[25]


Major employers (2008)[28]
# Employer # of Employees
1 University of North Texas 7,351
2 Denton Independent School District 3,113
3 Texas Woman’s University 1,586
4 Denton County 1,523
5 Peterbilt Motors 1,500 Denton electricity 1,250

The economy of Denton is primarily composed of educational services, health and social services, manufacturing and general retail trade. Organizations in these sectors employ over 20,000 people. Wholesale trade and hospitality jobs also play major roles.[29] The city employs more than 1,300 people, 300 of whom are public safety personnel.[30] The three educational institutions, University of North Texas, Denton Independent School District, and Texas Woman's University, are the largest employers, providing more than 12,000 jobs.[28] Notable businesses headquartered in Denton include truck manufacturer Peterbilt, beauty supplier Sally Beauty Company, and jewelry producer Jostens. The Golden Triangle Mall, the city's largest shopping complex with over 90 specialty shops, is a major source of retail trade.[31]

Culture and recreation

Various sites of Denton, including the town square, Courthouse-on-the-Square and University of North Texas

The Courthouse Square Historic District prominently features the Courthouse-on-the-Square, which now serves as a museum showcasing area history and culture.[32] Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, this former county courthouse was restored in time for the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1986.[33] The positive response to the renovation sparked a downtown revitalization program that generated new jobs and reinvestment capital.[34] Bordered by Hickory, Oak, Locust, and Elm streets, the downtown square is surrounded by many shops and restaurants, some of which have been in business since the 1940s.

Festivals and activities

Denton is home to several annual fairs and events that cater to both residents and tourists. The largest of these is the city-sponsored Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, which attracts over 200,000 people each year for live music, food, crafts, and recreation at the Civic Center Park.[35] Bands such as Tower of Power, Brave Combo and Arturo Sandoval have performed at the festival, as well as University of North Texas jazz groups.[36]

The annual North Texas State Fair and Rodeo started in 1928, and promotes the cowboy-culture of Texas. Besides the rodeo, the event features several local country-rock performances, pageants and food contests. This fair brings in over 150,000 people during its average 9 day run. The North Texas State Fairgrounds has hosted the carnival since 1948.[37][38]

Four couples dressed in Celtic costumes dance on stage on a sunny day with audience in seats looking on.
Celtic dancers performing at the 2007 Denton Arts and Jazz Festival

Every year as part of the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival, the downtown square is adorned with lights and spotlighted with live music by Grammy award-winner Brave Combo.[39] The Denton Air Fair, a nonprofit group, has hosted the annual Denton Airshow since 1998. The family event, which attracts 9,000 attendees, has aerial demonstrations and airplane exhibits.[40][41] As the "Redbud Capital of Texas", Denton hosts a free Redbud Festival.[42][43] Lesser known events include the Fiesta on the Square,[44] and Thin Line Documentary Film Fest.[45] The Fry Street Fair was started by the Beta Sigma Chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu in 1980. It was held every spring and was discontinued in 2007, the Fry Street Fair was held near the University of North Texas campus and featured live music performances. The event was held annually since 1980 but was shut down due to costs and security concerns. Attendance reached 20,000 in its peak year.[46]


A twenty-something male sings into a standing microphone at a concert venue while playing his electric guitar. Red background lights shine on him.
The Eli Young Band started their career in Denton.

The lively music culture in Denton originated in the University of North Texas's College of Music, an institution recognized in the United States.[47] The college's Jazz Studies program, established in 1947, was the first of its kind in the country.[48] In more recent years, the college's Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) has developed its reputation as a center for music research and creation.[49]

The local independent music scene has emerged alongside Denton's academic music establishments. Brave Combo, a Grammy award-winning polka band based in Denton, plays frequent shows in local festivals. Several notable bands and performers have attended the University of North Texas and signed to major labels, including Roy Orbison,[50] Eli Young Band,[51] Bowling for Soup,[52] Fishboy, and Midlake. The local bars and recording studios on the historic Fry Street district and town square are host to other local performers.

The city's live music venues are largely supported by Denton's college town atmosphere, although show attendance is often partly composed of Dallas/Ft.Worth music listeners. As a result of this expanded fanbase, the weekly alternative newspaper, Dallas Observer, began a column on Denton's local music.[53] In 2007 and 2008, Denton's music scene received feature attention from The Guardian, Pop Matters, and The New York Times.[54] Paste Magazine named Denton the best music scene in the United States in 2008.[55] In recent years, Denton's music scene has been compared to Austin, Texas, which itself is nicknamed the "live music capital of the world".[54] There are a number of local music venues and commercial recording studios, including Abbey Underground, Hailey's Club, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios and Dan's Silverleaf.[56] With hopes of creating a live music event similar to South by Southwest (SXSW), Denton held the first annual North by 35 (NX35) music festival in March 2009.[57]


A football stadium from the perspective of a fan in the stands. The touchdown area and yard markers can be seen. The seats on the other side of the stadium are in the background.
Fouts Field, the football stadium for the University of North Texas

Texas Woman's University and University of North Texas field a variety of college teams as members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Apogee Stadium is host to UNT football games and can seat 30,850 people.[58] The local high schools have large athletics programs which draw attendance from the general public, especially for high school football games.[59]

City sports clubs include a rugby and baseball team. The Denton Rugby Football Club was formed in 1979 after the folding of the North Texas State University Rugby Club. As part of the Texas Rugby Union, the club has seen some success over the past few years, including winning the Texas Rugby Union Championship, Western Rugby Union Championship, and playing in the National Quarterfinals in Reno, Nevada in 2004.[60] The city is also home to the Denton Outlaws baseball team, a former member of the Texas Collegiate League.[61]


Front picture of a two-story administration building on a cloudy day. The walkway is shown leading up to the building including a circular garden in with white flowers forming a star.
Denton County Courts Building

The city is the county seat of Denton County and is operated under a council-manager form of government. Denton is represented by a mayor, four council members, two at-large members and an appointed city manager.[10] Elections are held yearly during the month of May with terms lasting for two years, with a maximum of three consecutive terms.[62] The current mayor is Mark Burroughs. Denton is in the U.S. House 26th Congressional district, and is represented by Representative Michael C. Burgess. In the Texas Legislature, the city is in the 30th District in the Texas Senate, represented by Republican Craig Estes.[63] It is in the 64th District in the Texas House of Representatives, having been served by Republican Myra Crownover since 2000.[64]

Several Texas state agencies have facilities in the city. The facilities include a Texas Workforce Center,[65] a driver license/highway patrol office,[66] and the TDCJ Denton District Parole Office.[67] The Denton State Supported Living Center (formerly Denton State School), established in 1960, is the largest residential facility for people with developmental disabilities in Texas. The center serves an 18-county area and approximately 1,500 people work at the state-supported living center.[68] The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has its Region VI headquarters in Denton.[69]

2010 Denton City Council[62]
Mayor Mark Burroughs
Council member for District 1 Kevin Roden
Council member for District 2 Dalton Gregory
Council member for District 3 Jim Englebrecht
Council member for District 4 Chris Watts
Mayor pro tem (at-large) Pete Kamp
Council member for District 6 James King


According to the 2000 United States Census, 35.5% of all adults over the age of 25 in Denton have obtained a bachelor's degree, as compared to a national average of 24.4%, and 83.2% of residents over the age of 25 have earned a high school diploma, as compared to the national average of 80.4%.[70]

Colleges and universities

Large building with the words "Murohison Performing Arts Center University of North Texas" displayed in large letters.
The University of North Texas is the largest university in North Texas.

The University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton is the flagship university of the University of North Texas System, which also includes the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, the University of North Texas at Dallas and the soon to be established UNT School of Law.[71] With an enrollment of over 36,000 students, it is the fourth-largest university in the state. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).[72] Its College of Music became nationally recognized for the study in jazz after becoming the first school to offer a degree in that field.[47]

Texas Woman's University (TWU) is a university with two health science center branches in Dallas, Texas and Houston, Texas. Founded in 1901, the university enrolls more than 13,000 undergraduates and graduates.[73] Men have been admitted to TWU since 1972. In addition to being the largest state-supported university for women in the United States, TWU’s College of Nursing is the largest in Texas and the 11th largest in the U.S. TWU’s nursing doctoral program is the largest in the world.[74][75]

North Central Texas College, a community college in nearby Corinth, is also attended by many Denton students.[76]

Primary and secondary schools

A three story school brick building. The school sign and green lawn reside in front of it
Calhoun Middle School, originally founded in 1901 as John B. Denton College

The Denton Independent School District (DISD) covers the educational system for the city, which consists of three high schools, one alternative high school, and primary schools comprising over 25,000 students.[77] Small portions of the city extend into the neighboring school districts of Argyle and Sanger. Denton is host to several private schools with religious affiliations and alternative education models.


Denton is served by the Denton Public Library, which has three branches: Emily Fowler Central Library, North Branch Library, and South Branch Library.[78] In addition to the city library services, the school libraries of the University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University provide access to their materials to Texas residents with a TexShare card.[79][80]


Since 1899, the Denton Record-Chronicle has been the official daily newspaper of Denton and Denton County. When it was acquired by Belo Corporation in 1999, the newspaper had a circulation of 16,000.[81] The North Texas Daily and The Lasso provide daily and weekly college news to students at the University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University.

The city's public television station, Denton TV (DTV), covers city council meetings, restaurant scores, high school football and educational programming.[82] UNT's station, NTTV, is broadcast 24 hours a day on local channels provided by Charter Communications and Verizon FiOS. NTTV Nightly News is broadcast live Monday through Thursday. KNTU 88.1 FM is UNT's official radio station. First aired in 1969, the station primarily plays a mixture of jazz and blues and covers local sports and news.[83]



Denton is served by the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) which operates express coach service to downtown Dallas and Lewisville along with local fixed route and paratransit service throughout the city. In 2011, the Downtown Denton Transit Center and Medpark Station opened as commuter rail stations on DCTA's A-train.[84] DCTA also operates local bus service within the city and special university shuttles. Paratransit service for senior citizens and/or people with disabilities of all ages is offered by Special Programs for Aging Needs (SPAN), a non-profit organization.[85]

Interstate 35 splits in Denton near the North Texas campus, with 35E heading to Dallas and 35W to Fort Worth. Loop 288 partially encircles the city; it passes through the northern limits of the city by C. H. Collins Athletic Complex and the eastern side near Golden Triangle Mall. Highway 77 and 377 go through the historic town square and Highway 380 connects Denton to Frisco in the east and Decatur on the west.

Denton Municipal Airport is a public airport located 3 miles (4.8 km) west of the central business district (CBD) of Denton. This airport serves as home to various cargo and charter operators as well as two flight schools. A new terminal opened in 2008, but as of June 2008 no scheduled commuter service is in place.[86]

Health care

White building as a large hospital. This section shows four stories in height.
Denton Regional Medical Center, one of the major hospitals in Denton

The city's health-care system is primarily provided by two hospitals. Denton Regional Medical Center (now a Level III Trauma Center)[87] is a full service hospital operated by Hospital Corporation of America and is located southeast of downtown Denton.[88] Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton (formerly Denton Community Hospital) is the other full-service hospital, located on the southern end.[89] Each employ more than 800 employees and are licensed with more than 200 beds and emergency services.[90]


Utilities are administered by Denton Municipal Utilities. The City provides Water, Wastewater, Electric, Drainage and Solid Waste Service. The electric utility, Denton Municipal Electric (DME), has been in operation since 1905. In 2009, DME began providing 40 percent of its energy to customers through renewable resources.[91] The City of Denton Water Utilities Department serves the city's water demand and natural gas is arranged by Atmos Energy.[92] Numerous initiatives are underway to maintain and improve the environmental quality in the area.[93] Charter Communications and Verizon provide the majority of cable, phone and Internet services.[92]

Notable natives and residents

Portrait photo of a woman with blonde hair  in her late 50s smiling at the camera. She is wearing a white coat and white turtleneck underneath. (pictured in 2008)
Denton native and 1971 Miss America winner Phyllis George
Talk show host "Dr. Phil" McGraw, a graduate of the University of North Texas

Denton's position as a cultural and educational center for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has resulted in many notable people having resided in the city, either natively or through attendance at the local universities. As a city with a recognized music program in the University of North Texas, many of the notable residents have a background in music. Singers and bands from UNT that have achieved critical acclaim in the form of Grammy nominations or awards include Norah Jones, Bowling for Soup, Don Henley, Meat Loaf, Roy Orbison, Midlake, The Riverboat Gamblers and Brave Combo. In addition to these names, Deep Blue Something and the Eli Young Band have also signed on with major labels.[94] A number of people born in Denton have careers in the arts and entertainment business such as former Miss America Phyllis George,[95] funk musician Sly Stone, and actress Ann Sheridan.[96]

Admiral Edward Walter Eberle, third Chief of Naval Operations, was born in Denton, Texas in 1864.

Sister cities

Denton is a part of the Sister Cities International program and maintains cultural and economic exchange programs with its sister city.[97]


Downtown Dallas from the Trinity River.jpg Dallas-Fort Worth portal
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Further reading

  • Dr. C. A. Bridges (1978). History of Denton, Texas From Its Beginning to 1960. Texian Press. 
  • Odom, E.D. (1996). An Illustrated History of Denton County, Texas: From Peters Colony to Metroplex. E.D. Odom;. ISBN 0965132404. 

External links

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