Praries & Lakes
2010 Census - 124,805
2000 Census - 113,726
Waco, Texas
Waco Texas History:
The townsite was first inhabited by Waco Indians, an agricultural tribe. In the early 1830s they were driven out the area by the Cherokee Indians. In 1837, the Texas Rangers established Fort Fisher on the Brazos River; but abandoned it after a few months. In 1844, George Barnard established Torrey's Trading Post No. 2 on a small tributary of Tehuacana Creek, 8 miles south of the old Waco Indian village where he traded with the Indians. He was followed in 1845 by Neil McLennan who established a homesite on the South Bosque River. In 1846, Blacksmith Jesse Sutton built a log smithy in what is now east Waco. In 1848, John S. Sydnor of Galveston purchased two leagues of land and hired land agent Jacob De Cordova to subdivide the property and sell it at a dollar an acre. De Cordova’s surveyor, George B. Erath, urges that the townsite be platted at the site of the old Waco Indian village.  Nathaniel A. Ware and Jonas Butler then purchased the land and became partners with De Cordova. In March, 1849, Erath platted the first block of Waco Village. Town lots were sold for five dollars each, and farm lots were sold for less. In 1850, Waco was chosen as the county seat of the newly formed McLennan County. De Cordova and his partners donated town lots for public buildings and spaces. Texas Ranger Captain Shapley P. Ross established a ferry on the Brazos River, owned the first hotel and served as the town’s first postmaster. By 1859, the town had incorporated, and had churches, a newspaper, a county courthouse, and 749 residents; cotton was the main crop. By 1868, Waco Village was a spur on the Chisholm Trail, and was a supply point for the cattlemen. After the Brazos River suspension bridge was completed in 1870, the town reincorporated as the City of Waco. In 1871, the Waco and Northwestern Railroad to Waco making Waco a debarkation point for settlers moving west, and a shipping center for area farmers and ranchers. The St. Louis and Southwestern and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas lines built lines to Waco in the early 1880s, turning Waco into a major commercial center and one of Texas’s important transportation hubs. By 1884, Waco had approximately 12,000 residents. During the 1880s, Waco had a gas plant, and electric street cars operated by the Waco Railway and Electric Light Company. The city built parks in the 1890s, mostly on donated land. It began paving streets in 1905. In 1913, it was connected to Dallas by an electric interurban railway. During the Great Depression Federal New Deal programs helped to create employment opportunities and infused money into the city. During World War II, Waco’s economy benefited from the revived cotton industry and from the construction of war plants and military bases in or around the city. By 1952, Waco had 84,300 residents. In 1953, the town was struck by a tornado that killed 114 people, injured 145 people, destroyed 196 businesses, and created damage to another 396 buildings that had to be torn down. Waco is located near the confluence of the Brazos and Bosque Rivers at the intersections of IH-35, U.S. 84, U.S. 77, and SH 6, 98 miles southwest of Dallas, 33.8 miles south of Hillsboro, 42 miles southwest of Mexia, 9 miles southwest of Elm Mott, 21.5 miles west of Mart, 185 miles northwest of Houston, 92 miles northwest of College Station, 30 miles northwest of Marlin, 103 miles northeast of Austin, 60 miles northeast of Killeen and Fort Hood, 44 miles northeast of Belton, 36 miles northeast of Temple, 37 miles northeast of Gatesville, 27.7 miles northeast of Moody, 17.5 miles northeast of McGregor, 5 miles northeast of Woodway, 47.6 miles southeast of Meridian, 35 miles southeast of Clifton, 36 miles southeast of Whitney, 33.5 miles southeast of Laguna Park and Lake Whitney, and 24 miles southeast of Crawford, Texas.
Heritage Square Plaza and Park:
The square features shaded walkways, seating areas, water-play fountains, a spray park, and a beautiful sculpture featuring children at play. The original Heritage Square was destroyed by the 1953 tornado. The re-built Heritage Square was opened in June 2001. It is located at North 3rd Street and Austin Avenue, 76701.
McLennan County Courthouse, 1901:
The courthouse was designed in Beaux-Arts style by famous courthouse architect J. Reily Gordon. This beautiful courthouse features a capitol rotunda. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Texas Historical Landmark. The 2010 McLennan County census was 234,906. (254) 757-5000. 501 Washington Avenue, Waco, TX 76701.