Grand Prairie, TX
The city gets its name for being located where the piney woods of east Texas transition into dry grasslands. The oldest part of Grand Prairie borders Irving and Euless. Arlington lays to the west. Highway 360 runs parallel to part of the city’s western border. The 161 President George Bush Turnpike passes through the city from north to south. Loop 12 is close to the northeastern corner of the city. State Highway 180 and Spur 303 run through the city. They both run east to west.
The West Fork of the Trinity River runs along the northeastern border of the city, too. Johnson Creek, a tributary for the West Fork, runs through the city. This creek is prone to flooding and been the subject of several Army of Corps of Engineers projects.
The city is unusual in that it has slowly stretched south over time. I-30 passes through the north end of the city. I-20 passes through the southern end of the city. The city limits then stretch south to include a large section of land around Joe Pool Lake. This helps to explain why the city is part of three different counties: Dallas County, Tarrant County and Ellis County. The small area south of the southern tip of Joe Pool lack that reaches Highway 287 is in Ellis County. At its southern end, it is bordered by Midlothian and Mansfield.
Lone Star Park with its horse-racing track is at the northern end of the city. Epic Waters Indoor Water Park is located almost in the middle of Grand Prairie. Residents are roughly a ten to twenty minute drive from AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Grand Prairie does not include Cedar Hill State Park. That’s in Cedar Hill. It is on the eastern side of Joe Pool Lake. However, there are several large parks inside the city limits like Lynn Creek Par at Joe Pool Lake, Estes Park, Loyd Park at Joe Pool Lake and Pleasant Valley Park. Most of the Mountain Creek parks are outside of the city limits. But it does contain the Fish Creek Dallas County Nature Preserve.
The TRA’s Central Regional Wastewater System is located at the northern end of the city. It is on the southern banks of the Trinity River. Trinity River Mountain Creek – Dallas County Nature Preserve is on the north bank.
The town was initially called Dechman. It was named for Alexander McRae Dechman, the man who founded it in 1863. Dechman traded half of his property to the T&P Railroad to guarantee that the railroad came through town. The name Dechman was often confused with Deckman, while the T&P Railroad called it “Grand Prairie”.
The city got its first post office in 1877. The Post Office decided to eliminate the confusion between Dechman and Deckman by calling the local post office the Grand Prairie post office. Eventually, the name was applied to the whole city.
The town was officially incorporated in 1909. At that time, it had 994 residents. It is much larger today.
The city is home to roughly 200,000 people as of 2020. This makes it the seventeenth largest city in Texas. This is a twelve percent increase in population since the 2010 census. Population growth has slowed down to less than 0.3 percent because it is so built up. It has a population density of roughly 2700 people per square mile. The average age of residents is 34.
The average household income is a little over eighty thousand dollars a year. The poverty rate is below 12 percent. Almost two thirds of residents own their own home.
The city has always had strong ties to the aviation and aerospace industry. The Vought Plant on Jefferson Avenue built World War 2 aircraft like the Liberator and the Corsair II. That narrow strip of land was eventually transitioned to Dallas. The LTV Missile and Space Division had several factories in the city. These were bought up by Lockheed Martin. It is home to the North American headquarters of Aérospatiale Helicopter.
This eventually became Airbus Helicopters Incorporated. Bell Helicopter Textron has a plant in Grand Prairie as well as one in Hurst. The Hurst facility is famous for having built the Osprey. Safran Helicopters makes aircraft parts used by these companies.
Lone Star Park employs nearly a thousand people, while the city itself employs more than a thousand.
The Grand Prairie Armed Forces Reserve Complex has had many names. It has been called Hensley Field and Naval Air Station Dallas. It sits next to Mountain Creek Lake. It saw significant downsizing when the Texas Air National Guard units, Marine Air Reserves and Naval Air Reserves relocated to Carswell Air Force Base. The facility is currently home to the 176th Engineer Brigade, 300th Sustainment Brigade, 2nd Battalion headquarters battery, a military police battalion, a quartermaster detachment, and an infantry regiment. Vought also operates a small factory nearby. The Bureau of Prisons has an office here. They operate the Designation and Sentence Computation Center or DSCC. This system calculates federal sentences and keeps track of “good time” that can be used toward early release. This facility employs around 500 people.
Baylor Scott & White Emergency Hospital – Grand Prairie is a major employer. This is the only full-service hospital in the city. The E. Carlyle Smith, Jr. Health Center is part of the Parkland Health and Hospital System. That is the Dallas County public hospital system.
Another major employer is Poly America Incorporated. They advertise themselves as one of the largest plastic recycling companies in the United States. The original campus is in Grand Prairie, Texas, though they’ve set up several other facilities across the U.S. They recycle waste plastic bags and other plastic waste to make trash bags, lawn edging, plastic sheeting and landfill liners. They made the news in 2020 for a massive plastic fire. The fire burned a long line of plastic bales that had been left outside for storage. After all, it doesn’t matter if plastic gets wet or exposed to sunlight.
Lone Star Park and the associated entertainment complex is a large employer. The facility hosts horse races. The Theatre at Grand Prairie, previously called Nokia Live, hosts concerts and shows.
There are a number of small manufacturers in the area. Lear Seating creates seats for the General Motors Plant in Arlington. Flex-N-Gate is another car part manufacturer. This is why the General Motors LOC Center or logistics consulting services are located here.
Siemens operates a switchgear and electronics manufacturing plant. Forterra Pipe and Products manufactures concrete pipes. Then there are more mundane manufacturers like Mission Foods and SAIA Motor Freight Lines.
The city has its own school district, Grand Prairie ISD or GPISD. The city is unusual for having an open enrollment for the school district. They’ve built a number of schools, but there aren’t enough students to fill them, so parents from surrounding cities can choose to attend their schools.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. Some students at the far southern end of Grand Prairie attend schools run by Mansfield ISD. Some portions of Grand Prairie are zoned for the Arlington, Irving and Cedar Hill school districts. Mansfield actually runs half a dozen elementary schools south of Joe Pool Lake on behalf of GPISD.
There are no four year colleges in the city, though there are vocational schools like Lincoln Technical inside of the city limits. But there are four year schools within easy community distance. The University of Dallas is six miles from here; it is actually located in Irving. The University of Dallas shouldn’t be confused with the University of Texas at Dallas; that campus is in Richardson. Dallas Baptist University is roughly six miles away. It is located in Dallas on the shore of Mountain Creek Lake. It is next to the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. Mountain View College is roughly six miles away. It is part of the Dallas Community College system. North Lake College is seven miles away. The University of Texas at Austin is roughly ten miles away. This is the second largest school in the UT system.
- Grand Prairie is the home of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. It has a number of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.
- Trader’s Village is located at the intersection of Highway 360 and Mayfield Road. It bills itself as the largest flea market in Texas.
- Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark is located in Grand Prairie. It is one of the largest indoor water parks in Texas. Six Flags over Texas and Hurricane Harbor are located in Arlington but a ten to fifteen minute drive for residents.
- Selena Gomez was born here! She’s a famous singer and actress. Artist / writer Larry D. Alexander is from here, too. So is Jennifer McFalls, an Olympic gold medalist.
- Grand Prairie used to have its own minor league baseball team, the Grand Prairie Airhogs. They ceased operations after the 2020 season.
- Lone Star Park hosts the Thorough Meeting every Memorial Day.
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