History of Plano, TX
European settlers came to the area near present-day Plano in the early 1840s. Facilities such as a sawmill, a gristmill, and a store soon brought more people to the city. Mail service was established, and after rejecting several names for the nascent town (including naming it in honor of then-President Millard Fillmore), residents suggested the name Plano (from the Spanish word for “flat”), as a reference to the local terrain, unvaried and devoid of any trees. The post office accepted the name.
In 1872, the completion of the Houston and Central Texas Railway helped the city to grow, and it was incorporated in 1873. By 1874, the population had grown to more than 500. In 1881, a fire raged through the business district, destroying most of the buildings. The town was rebuilt, and business again flourished through the 1880s. Also, in 1881, the city assumed responsibility for what would eventually become Plano Independent School District (PISD), ending the days of it being served only by private schools.
At first, the population of Plano grew slowly, reaching 1,304 in 1900, and rising to 3,695 in 1960. By 1970, Plano began to feel some of the boom its neighbors had experienced after World War II. A series of public works projects and a change in taxes that removed the farming community from the town helped increase the overall population. In 1970, the population reached 17,872, and by 1980, it had exploded to 72,000. Sewers, schools, and street development kept pace with this massive increase, primarily because of Plano’s flat topography, grid layout, and planning initiatives.
During the 1980s, many large corporations moved their headquarters to the city, including J. C. Penney and Frito-Lay, which encouraged further growth.