William H. Hord and his family arrived on the west bank of the Trinity River in early 1845. Most historians consider this arrival as the beginning of what would eventually become the city of Oak Cliff. In 1846, Hord established Hord’s Ridge, which was the area’s farming community. Hord, himself, would go on to set the political, social and economic agenda for early Oak Cliff. Downtown Dallas began to take shape in the late 1860’s and 1870’s, while Hord’s Ridge continued to be a farming community with no economic center. As the railroad arrived in Dallas, the city continued to boom, while Hord’s Ridge basically dissolved as a political entity.
However, in the 1880’s Thomas Marsalis arrived and it was his dream to turn the city of Oak Cliff into one of the nation’s most prominent southern cities. In 1886, The Dallas Land and Loan Company was founded by Marsalis and John S. Armstrong. The Dallas Land and Loan Company quickly became the state’s first giant land development companies.
In 1887, Marsalis championed the name change of Hord’s Ridge to Oak Cliff. In November of 1887, Marsalis’ company conducted auctions for land lots and within 3 days had sales totals of over $150,000. The city of Oak Cliff was officially born.
During 1888 and 1889, many civic improvements occurred, along with the development of many fine hotels and many large homes were built in the area. By 1890, Oak Cliff had a population of over 2400 people and businesses began moving to the area to support the population. It was in that same year that the city of Oak Cliff was incorporated. The City of Dallas began talking with Oak Cliff about annexation into Dallas and, on March 17, 1903, voters approved Oak Cliff to be annexed to Dallas.
By 1920, Oak Cliff continued to grow, with hundreds of middle income homes and many commercial projects being built. During the remaining decades of the 20th Century, Oak Cliff has continued to grow to become an integral part of the Dallas political, social and economic structure.
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