The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Waco, Texas

Waco is the county seat of McLennan County, Texas. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 113,726.



Prior to its founding, Neil McLennan had settled in an area near the South Bosque River in 1838. Jacob De Cordova bought McLennan's property and hired a former Texas Ranger and surveyor named George B. Erath to inspect the area. Erath had once been stationed at nearby Fort Hood. In 1849, Erath designed the first block of the city. He wanted to name it Lamartine, but eventually the name Waco was chosen, in honor of the historic Huaco Native American tribe that once had occupied the lands.

In 1845, Baylor University was founded in Independence, Texas, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Texas. It moved to Waco in 1886 and merged with Waco University , becoming an integral part of the city. The university's Strecker Museum was also the oldest continuously operating museum in the state until it closed in 2003, and the collections were moved to the new Sue & Frank Mayborn Museum Complex .

In 1866, the city embarked on an ambitious project to build the first bridge to span the wide Brazos River. They contacted an architectural firm owned by John Augustus Roebling in Trenton, New Jersey to build the 475-foot brick Waco Suspension Bridge, the longest span of any bridge west of the Mississippi River at the time of its completion in 1870. Because it was one of the first suspension bridges built in the United States, it also was a pioneering engineering feat of the era. The bridge was used as a working prototype for Roebling's later famous work, the Brooklyn Bridge. The economic effects of the bridge were immediate and large, attracting cattle runs from the nearby Chisholm Trail and increasing the population of the city, as immigrants now had a safe passage for their horse drawn carriages to cross the river. The bridge is now open only to pedestrian traffic.

In the late 1800s a red light district called the "Reservation" grew up in Waco. Prostitution was regulated by the city. The Reservation was abolished in the early 1900s.

In 1885, the soft drink Dr Pepper was invented in Waco's Old Corner Drug Store.

In the 1890s, William Cowper Brann published the highly successful Iconoclast newspaper in Waco. One of his targets was Baylor University. Brann revealed that Baylor officials had been importing South American children recruited by missionaries and making house-servants out of them. Brann was shot in the back by Tom Davis, a Baylor supporter. Brann wheeled, drew his pistol, and killed Davis. Brann was helped home by his friends, and died there of his wounds. [edit]

In 1894, the first Cotton Palace fair and exhibition center was built to reflect the dominant contribution of the agricultural cotton industry in the region. Since the end of the Civil War, cotton had been cultivated in the Brazos and Bosque valleys, and Waco became known nationwide as a top producer. Over the next 23 years, the annual exposition would welcome over eight million attendees. In 1931, the exposition fell prey to the Great Depression, and the building was torn down. However, the annual Cotton Palace Pagent continues to the present day, hosted in late April in conjunction with the Brazos River Festival .

On May 11, 1953, a tornado hit downtown Waco killing 114. As of 2004, it remains the tenth deadliest tornado in U.S. history and the deadliest in Texas state history.

In 1978, locals discovered bones emerging from the mud at the confluence of the Brazos River and the Bosque River . Subsequent excavations revealed that the bones were 28,000 years old and came from an ancient giant wooly mammoth. Eventually, the remains of at least 28 wooly mammoths were found at the site, making it one of the largest - and most intriguing - findings of its kind in the world. Scholars have puzzled over why such a large herd had been killed all at once.

On April 19, 1993 a standoff between federal agents and Branch Davidians ended in a fire that destroyed their compound located in a rural area two miles outside of the city's limits. Nineteen men, thirty-four women and twenty-three children died that day.

Since the 2000 presidential elections, Waco has been home to the various news bureaus covering the Western White House in Crawford, home of US President George W. Bush, which is located approximately 14 miles west of Waco.


Waco is located at 31°33'5" North, 97°9'21" West (31.551516, -97.155930).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 247.4 km² (95.5 mi²). 218.1 km² (84.2 mi²) of it is land and 29.3 km² (11.3 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 11.85% water.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 113,726 people in the city, organized into 42,279 households and 24,775 families. The population density is 521.5/km² (1,350.6/mi²). There are 45,819 housing units at an average density of 210.1/km² (544.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 60.78% White, 22.65% African American, 1.38% Asian, 0.51% Native American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 12.38% from other races, and 2.26% from two or more races. 23.64% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 42,279 households out of which 29.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% are married couples living together, 16.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 41.4% are non-families. 31.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.49 and the average family size is 3.19.

In the city the population is spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 20.3% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 16.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 28 years. For every 100 females there are 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $26,264, and the median income for a family is $33,919. Males have a median income of $26,902 versus $21,159 for females. The per capita income for the city is $14,584. 26.3% of the population and 19.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 30.9% of those under the age of 18 and 13.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Actors with Waco ties

External links

The contents of this article are licensed from under the GNU Free Documentation License. How to see transparent copy