Denton is a city in the U.S. state of Texas and the county seat of Denton County. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 113,383, making it the 27th most populous city in Texas and the 11th-largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.
A Texas land grant led to the formation of Denton County in 1846, and the city was incorporated in 1866. Both were named after pioneer and Texas militia captain John B. Denton. The arrival of a railroad line in the city in 1881 spurred population, and the establishment of the University of North Texas in 1890 and Texas Woman's University in 1901 distinguished the city from neighboring regions. After the construction of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport finished in 1974, the city saw more rapid growth; as of 2011, Denton was the seventh-fastest growing city with a population over 100,000 in the country.
Located north of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex between Oklahoma and Texas on Interstate 35, Denton is known for its active music life; the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo and the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival attract over 300,000 people to the city each year. The city experiences hot, humid summers and relatively few extreme weather events. Its diverse citizenry is represented by a nonpartisan city council, and numerous county and state departments have offices in the city. With over 45,000 students enrolled at the two universities located within its city limits, Denton is often characterized as a college town. As a result of the universities' growth, educational services play a large role in the city's economy. Residents are served by the Denton County Transportation Authority, which provides commuter rail and bus service to the area.
The formation of Denton is closely tied with that of Denton County. White settlement of the area began in the middle of the 1800s when William S. Peters of Kentucky obtained a land grant from the Texas Congress and named it Peters Colony. After initial settlement in the southeast part of the county in 1843, the Texas Legislature voted to form Denton County in 1846. Both the county and the town were named for John B. Denton, a preacher and lawyer who was killed in 1841 during a skirmish with Kichai people in what is now Tarrant County. Pickneyville and Alton were selected as the county seat before Denton was named for that position in 1857. That year, a commission laid out the city and named the first streets.
Denton incorporated in 1866; its first mayor was J.B. Sawyer. As the city expanded, it became an agricultural trade center for the mill and cottage industries. The arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1881 gave Denton its first rail connection and brought an influx of people to the area. North Texas Normal College, now the University of North Texas, was established in 1890, and the Girls' Industrial College, now Texas Woman's University, was founded in 1903. As the universities increased in size, their impact on Denton's economy and culture increased.
Denton grew rapidly from a population of 26,844 in 1960 to 48,063 in 1980. Its connection to the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex via Interstate 35E played a major role in the growth, and the opening of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in 1974 led to an increase in population. In the 1980s, heavy manufacturing companies like Victor Equipment Company and Peterbilt joined older manufacturing firms such as Moore Business Forms and Morrison Milling Company in Denton. The population jumped from 66,270 in 1990 to 80,537 in 2000. In May 2006, Houston-based real estate company United Equities purchased the 100-block of Fry Street and announced that several of the historic buildings would be demolished to accommodate a new mixed-use commercial center. The proposal drew opposition from some residents, who sought to preserve the area as a historic and cultural icon for the city. The Denton City Council approved a new proposal for the area from Dinerstein Cos in 2010.