Before we get started: We won't hold it against you if you read this with the theme song of the American prime time soap opera Dallas playing in your head.
The Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area, most commonly known as "The Metroplex", "DFW", or the "Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex" (or, even more archaically, the Golden Triangle) is the Lone Star State's largest metropolitan area, the fourth largest in the USA, and the second largest (behind #2 - Los Angeles) to be contained entirely within one state note . Dallas itself is the ninth-largest city in the US, and until very recently was the largest to be totally landlocked;note neighboring Fort Worth is the 15th-largest. Fort Worth's official city motto is "Where The West Begins", dating back to its origin as a frontier army fort; consequentially, the eastward Dallas is sometimes known as "Where The East Ends".note As of 2023, Fort Worth is also the largest city in the US with a Republican mayor.
DFW as a whole covers more land than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. It sprang up along the diamond-shaped swath of land where I-35 splits into Eastern and Western corridors 35 miles south of the Oklahoma border and continues a good 100 miles southward on each split (it's roughly 80 miles straight between the points) until the highway joins up again near Waco. Dallas and Ft. Worth have a population of 1.3 million and 957,000 people, respectively, and 15 cities within the Metroplex have a population greater than 100,000 (D and FW included).
The Federal Government designates the Metroplex as spanning 11 counties, making up what the feds officially call the "Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington Metropolitan Statistical Area" (MSA). Several other counties, including one in Oklahoma, are part of what the Census Bureau calls DFW's "combined statistical area". The main four counties and cities are:
- Dallas County (Dallas): Obviously the most well known county, and is pretty much completely urban save for parts of the southeastern portion, though it probably won't stay like that for too long.
- Tarrant County (Fort Worth): Lies just west of Dallas, and known for a slightly more 'cowboy-ish' atmosphere... kind of. Stay in Fort Worth's older districts for that, because when you go further out it just looks like any other sprawled-out region.
- Denton County (Denton): Used to be where Metroplex residents went for a little "country atmosphere". That is still possible in the northern half, but the southern half is pretty much all urbanized at this point. Denton itself is significantly more liberal than the rest of the Metroplex and is sometimes referred to as 'Little Austin.'
- Collin County (McKinney/Plano): Pretty much the same as Denton County. McKinney is the only county seat in the heart of the Metroplex to not have public transit. The DART extends partway through Plano, the most populous city in the county.
The other counties in the MSA, with their respective county seats, are:
- Wise County (Decatur): There is not much to note about Wise County; it's mainly made up of farms and rural dwellers. Decatur, while pretty much a small town in its own right, is the most outlying northwestern suburb of Fort Worth, and even then, it's close to 30 miles away from city limits.
- Parker County (Weatherford): A western county, it's a mix of suburban and rural. It's best known for the yearly Peach Festival... and not much else.
- Johnson County (Cleburne): Southern county, more mixed suburban and rural. The only outlying county of the Metroplex to have a real public transit agency (CleTran).
- Ellis County (Waxahachie): Another southern county. Helpful hint to newcomers and tourists: never, EVER pronounce the county seat as 'wax-a-HACH-ee'. The first "a" is pronounced like the one in the word "watch", and you stress the first syllable the most.
- Waxahachie was slated to be the site of a massive particle-accelerator called the Superconducting Super Collider, which would have dwarfed the Large Hadron Collider, but US Congress canceled funds for it in the early '90s. One of the problems that plagued it, leading to funds being cancelled, was that huge armies of ants would overrun the site and eat the fiber-rich substrate of the printed-circuit-boards for all the electronic components.
- Rockwall County (Rockwall): Known for being the smallest county in Texas, lying just northeast of Dallas County, and being more sprawled out than a tired dog.
- Kaufman County (Kaufman): Lying just east of Dallas, Metroplex residents who don't have family or friend connections here know it as the place they pass through to get to Shreveport or as the location of many fine outlet stores.
- Hunt County (Greenville): Northeastern county; pretty much an average suburban/rural setting. Once displayed a large billboard that read "The blackest land, the whitest people."
Counties outside the MSA, but within the CSA, with their respective county seats, are:
- Bryan County, Oklahoma (Durant): The only county in the CSA outside of Texas. Its county seat of Durant hosts the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and is home to Southeastern Oklahoma State University, alma mater of Reba McEntire and Dennis Rodman.
- Cooke County (Gainesville)
- Delta County (Cooper): The least-known of the Metroplex counties (depending on what you define as "the Metroplex") and not really part of the Metroplex except by government designation. Perhaps the most rural of the bunch. Very notable, however, in that it's one of 30 counties in Texas that is completely dry in terms of alcohol sales, the only county in the Metroplex to be so.
- Grayson County (Sherman): Forms its own MSA within the CSA. Its second-largest city of Denison was the birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower (though he grew up in Kansas).
- Hood County (Granbury): Southwest of Fort Worth, and south of Parker County, Hood County is comprised mostly of farm land, with only the northeast corner of the county, the portion closest to the metroplex, being any kind of suburbia. Like Delta County, it's usually not considered part of the Metroplex except by government designation, and it's also only part of the CSA instead of the MSA.
- Fannin County (Bonham)
- Navarro County (Corsicana)
- Palo Pinto County (Mineral Wells)
There are also other cities of notable size, such as Arlington (50th most populous city in the country)note , Plano (71st), Garland (87th) Irving (94th), and about a half-dozen more within the top 300.
Despite the fact that the media tends to stereotype anyone in Texas as a cowboy and that the history of DFW had been stained by some very tragic events (JFK's assassination and the Waco standoffnote ), DFW has a diverse population, a substantial art and music scene, and a strong array of higher education institutions. DFW is one of the fastest growing areas in the USA, thanks to a number of Katrina refugees, an economy that is strong, compared to the rest of the country, and the comparatively very low cost of living compared to cities like San Francisco, Boston, or Chicago.
DFW's tallest building is the Bank of America Plaza, and the most recognizable one that doesn't involve a US president getting shot is probably Reunion Tower, the building in the Dallas skyline that relatively resembles a floofy dandelion. DFW is also home of the first Six Flags—the theme park's name is a reference to the 6 different national flags under which Texas has been governed.note
The Metroplex is also home to several sports teams and stadia, most of whom are based in Dallas despite their stadium being in another suburb. NASCAR's Texas Motor Speedway, for instance, lies at the intersection of TX-114 and I-35W, which is within the city limits of Fort Worth and just outside of the Roanoke/Westlake/Southlake/Trophy Club limits. As well, the Dallas Cowboys'
Cowboys AT&T Stadium is located in Arlington (Texas Stadium, their previous home, was located in Irving), as are Globe Life Field and its predecessor Choctaw Stadium (the Texas Rangers' home fieldsnote ), and College Park Center, home to the WNBA's Dallas Wings. Going even further than that, FC Dallas play their home games in Toyota Park, up in Frisco. However, the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars play their home games in the American Airlines Center, located right outside of downtown Dallas, well within city limits, and even located just over 500 feet from a major public transportation station close to city center. Unlike the other "big 4" teams based in the Metroplex, the Cowboys do not have any regional rivals (in-state or out-of-state) in their division; they are members of the NFC East division in spite of their location in Texas, due to having had intense rivalries with the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Commanders (formerly Redskins and then the "Washington Football Team") since the franchise's early years, fueled partly by cultural differences between Texas and the Northeastern US. On the other hand, the other "big 4" teams in the Metroplex have at least one regional rival in their division: the Stars have the Nashville Predators, the Rangers have the Houston Astros (a rivalry that has largely been intensified since the Astros were found to have cheated in their 2017 World Series-winning campaign), and the Mavericks are in a division with only regional rivals: the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, and San Antonio Spurs. In addition to professional teams, major college sports also commonly play here. There is a rivalry between Dallas-based SMU and Fort Worth-based TCU that is played out every so often, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas play at the Cotton Bowl each year in the Red River Rivalry, the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (one of the New Year's Six bowl games) is played in AT&T Stadium, as is the AdvoCare Classic (a kickoff game featuring marquee college football teams as a seasonal curtain-raiser). Toyota Stadium has hosted the championship game of the second level of college football, NCAA Division I FCS, since the 2010 season.note
In addition to being a major sports hub, Dallas has a major inter-city rivalry with Houston (which plays into their teams' rivalries with each other), given that Dallas and Houston are the two largest cities in the state. Dallas also has a lesser rivalry with San Antonio just down I-35, and also with Oklahoma City just up I-35 (part of the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry as well). Dallas (and Houston) also maintains inter-city rivalries with Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, though oftentimes, they come off more as an Unknown Rival due to their rivalries with each other.
The climate in DFW is highly variable. In the summertime, high temperatures reach about 105 °F (40.5 °C). Summer 2011 has seen several days above that median, as hot as 111 degrees (44 °C), which strained power grids and complicated an already severe drought. Depending on each year's weather patterns, there can either be lots of scattered strong thunderstorms in the summer (like in 2006), or it can be bone dry (like in 2000, when DFW Airport went 84 straight days without a drop of rain). In the spring and early autumn, temperatures tend to be mild to warm with severe thunderstorms very common, especially in spring. These storms cause the region to be at a very high risk of flooding, hail, hurricane-force wind, and tornadoes which sometimes cause severe structural damage. In 2009, high winds caused the roof of the Cowboys' stadium to collapse, and in 2000 a tornado so badly damaged downtown Fort Worth that several skyline buildings were later demolished. All this crazy weather lead to a common saying (and joke): 'If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes.', in reference to how it can be 60 degrees and raining and then suddenly climb into the 80s with not a cloud in view in minutes.
Even though Texas is known for hot temperatures, arctic cold fronts can occasionally plunge the entire state temperatures into the twenties and teens, particularly in North Texas and the Panhandle, and can even bring snow to the area.note The average snow per winter is only 3.2 inches (8.1 cm); the winter of 2009/2010, however, was an exception; DFW had an astonishing 15+ inches of snow, 12.5 inches of which fell over a 24-hour period in February (shattering a record in the process). The first White Christmas in many decades also occurred. Be aware though: there were more recent snowfalls that aren't counted because of a lack of accumulation at the official reporting station for the region, DFW International Airport. There were also single-digit overnight temperatures and a fair amount of snow in early February 2011, which shut down schools, businesses, and city offices for the better part of a week. Unfortunately enough, this just happened to be the week leading up to Super Bowl XLV, which Dallas was hosting. 2021 was another especially infamous year as an arctic blast spread through the state during the month of February with Dallas right in the thick of it. What's more, since the Senators didn't think to update the local power plants, the cold forced electric companies to issue rolling blackouts, leaving many without heat and electricity. Add to that many reports of pipes busting due to the extreme cold forcing those to look for shelter elsewhere and the roads preventing gas and food being delivered to their respective destination. To say the least, the heads of the state were in hot water for not addressing the problem better note . Unfortunately, the situation seemed to return in the summer, with the power grid becoming strained once again due to the extreme heat.
DFW is also one of the major transportation hubs of the U.S.; American Airlines is based out of DFW Airport (the third busiest airport in the world in terms of aircraft, eighth busiest in passenger volume), and many commercial shipping firms gravitate towards Alliance Airport north of Fort Worth. Dallas Love Field is also a major hub, due in large part to it being the home base of Southwest Airlines. DFW also hosts one of the longest regularly-scheduled commercial routes between it and Sydney, Australia (approximately 8,500 miles one way).
Due to the influence of car culture and much urban sprawl, public transit tends to be very limited in the region. The trend has turned in favor of transit in recent years, however, due to greater environmental awareness, increases in gas prices, and major congestion on the area highways and even arterial streets. There's even a grass-roots movement to take down a small stretch of highway through the middle of downtown and develop it commercially.
There are currently four transit agencies in the Metroplex: The T (Fort Worth), DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit), the DCTA (Denton County Transportation Authority), and CleTran.
DART is the largest, and serves Dallas, as well as some of Dallas' suburbs, with bus, light rail, and commuter rail service. Many suburbs have elected not to participate, however, including all but one of the southern suburbs of Dallas (Glenn Heights being the exception). On the other hand, most of the northern suburbs (notably Richardson, Garland, and Plano), participate in DART, though there are exceptions there too. In addition to the regular bus service, DART is greatly expanding as far as metro (light rail) service goes, and as of June 2014 has four lines: the Red Line from southwest Dallas through Downtown and up through Richardson and Plano; the Blue Line from south Dallas through Downtown and up into Rowlett; the Green Line, which extends from southeast Dallas northwest through Downtown and up into the northwestern suburbs of Farmers Branch and Carrollton; and most recently the Orange Line, which reaches from DFW Airport through Irving, meeting up with the Green Line, following it through Downtown, and then following the Red Line up into Plano the rest of the way. Future plans also call for a commuter rail line from west Plano to DFW Airport along the Cotton Belt railway, which will connect to the future Fort Worth 'T' commuter rail line at the airport.
Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as some cities in between, are served by the Trinity Railway Express commuter rail line.
Fort Worth's transit agency, formally known as the Fort Worth Transportation Authority but popularly called "The T", is notable because its coverage is much more stunted than DART's, due to a much higher resistance to transit among Fort Worth's suburbs (the only suburb to participate in The T is Richland Hills). Also, The T has no light rail service like DART, though they do have the western half of the TRE line. To open in a few years is a commuter rail line from southwest Fort Worth through Downtown and into the cluster of suburbs to the northeast of Fort Worth to DFW Airport. Interestingly, the line will have a fairly long "express" run in its northeastern portion, due to the only suburb wanting a station along the line being Grapevine, unless others elect to participate. This line will be part of the Cotton Belt line mentioned above.
Next, we turn to the DCTA. They offer bus service to Denton and Lewisville, along with a commuter bus into downtown Dallas. The A-Train - a commuter rail line - opened, running from from Denton down through to Carrollton, where it connects to Dallas's Green Line light rail at Trinity Mills Station.
CleTran provides on-demand bus service to parts of Johnson County and also offers commuter service to Fort Worth's downtown transit hub.
That said, highway traffic is notoriously bad, with everything from complete standstills to hyperaggressive drivers. This is ironic, considering that the Metroplex has the second largest number of freeway miles per capita in the nation, behind only the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. While most are known by numbers, such as the north-south I-35W (Fort Worth side) and I-35E (Dallas side), some major highways in DFW are often referred to by 3-letter acronyms instead of numbers: LBJ is I-635, GBT is the George Bush Turnpike, DNT is the Dallas North Tollway, and so on. For the truly curious, there's a handy guide to driving in Dallas here.
As far as education goes, there are a number of colleges in the area. Fort Worth's most notable university is Texas Christian University, which has produced a couple of NFL stars in Sammy Baugh and LaDainian Tomlinson. The University of Texas has campuses at both Dallas (a northeast suburb named Richardson, more specifically) and Arlington. Denton also has two major universities: The University of North Texas and Texas Women's University. UNT is one of the state's top five in enrollment and their football team once fielded Mean Joe Greene (that guy whom the kid gave the Coke in that commercial) and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (back when he was called Steve Williams). UNT is also well known for its music program, having been the oldest school to offer a degree in jazz studies, and for having one of the world's most famous and prestigious drumlines. Dallas has Southern Methodist University, known for its fine arts programs, but was also a football powerhouse, producing pro stars such as Eric Dickerson and Craig James. SMU lost its glory in the 80s, however, after receiving the NCAA "Death Penalty" (cancellation of its football program for two years) for illegal recruiting practices.
Despite the name, the Metroplex does not (as far as we know) have the ability to convert into a giant robot.
Shows set in Dallas:
- Dallas (obviously)
- Walker, Texas Ranger
- The opening scene of the first The X-Files movie takes place in Dallas.
- The Good Guys
- Zombieland begins in Garland.
- TV Trash is set in the DFW Metroplex.
- King of the Hill: While not set in Dallas, the fictitious Arlen (which is loosely based on suburbs like Arlington, Garland, and Richardson) is just an hour drive away from it and the Hills have visited the city several times including Reunion Tower, the State Fair and both the DFW and Love Field Airport.
- Quarter-Life: Halfway To Destruction is set in Dallas because the author's friend lives there.
- The Umbrella Academy (2019): Season 2 takes place in Dallas during The '60s, the assassination of John F. Kennedy at Dealey Plaza being a major plot-point throughout.
Shows filmed/produced in Dallas:
- Barney & Friends (studio filming actually occurred in Allen and then in Las Colinas, but the show's once-in-a-while location filming (for things such as the Let's Go videos) was usually done in Dallas or elsewhere in the DFW Metroplex)
- The Killer Shrews
- Leap of Faith
- Problem Child
- Every anime you've ever watched that was dubbed by Funimation, here in Dallas.note
- Born on the Fourth of July
- Wishbone (interiors were shot in a warehouse in Plano while exteriors were shot on a backlot in Allen)
Movies filmed in Dallas/Fort Worth:
- Strategic Air Command (1955): Jimmy Stewart film.
- Logan's Run (1976): Sci-fi cult classic.
- RoboCop (1987): Set in Detroit but mostly filmed in Dallas. City Hall stood in for OCP headquarters and other local landmarks are visible throughout.
- R.O.T.O.R. (1989): Inane RoboCop/Terminator knockoff.
- Serving Sara (2002): Forgettable Elizabeth Hurley/Matthew Perry romcom.
- Office Space (1999): The establishing shots of the Traffic Jam used real footage of I-635.
- Part of The X-Files: Fight the Future.
- Primer (2004): Independent Time Travel Mind Screw.
- Satanic Panic (2019)
Notable people from Dallas/Ft. Worth:
- Amy Acker (Dallas)
- Jensen Ackles, a.k.a Dean Winchester (Dallas)
- Jaimie Alexander (born in Greenville, SC, grew up in Grapevine)
- Audrey Marie Anderson (Fort Worth)
- Erykah Badu (Dallas)
- Troy Baker (Dallas)
- Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker
- Brec Bassinger (Saginaw)
- Robby Benson (Dallas)
- Johnny Yong Bosch (born in Kansas City, but raised in Garland and started his career by auditioning for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers in Dallas)
- Betty Buckley (Fort Worth)
- George W. and Laura Bush, while not originally from the area, currently reside here, as does his Presidential Library.
- K Callan (Dallas)
- Kate Capshaw (Fort Worth, later moved to St. Louis)
- Gina Carano (Dallas)
- Chuck and George (Dallas)
- Kelly Clarkson (Burleson, but born in Ft. Worth)
- Taylor Cole (Arlington)
- Amber Lee Connors (Dallas)
- Barry Corbin (Fort Worth)
- Gabriel Dawe (Dallas)
- Kaitlyn Dever (born in Phoenix, raised in Dallas)
- Devourment (Dallas)
- Aaron Dismuke (Fort Worth)
- Shelley Duvall (born in Fort Worth, raised in Houston)
- George Eads (Fort Worth)
- Kara Edwards (Dallas)
- Morgan Fairchild (Dallas)
- Scott Frerichs, also known as KaiserNeko (Carrollton)
- Team Four Star are based out of Addison, though its members are located around the world.
- Emma Fuhrmann (Dallas)
- Caitlin Glass (Dallas, born in Washington D.C.)
- Selena Gomez (Grand Prairie) and Demi Lovato (Grapevine) who first met each other on the set of Barney & Friends (which mostly featured other DFW natives)
- YaYa Gosselin (Dallas)
- Mc Kenna Grace (Grapevine)
- Todd Haberkorn (Arlington)
- Larry Hagman (Fort Worth)
- Angie Harmon (Dallas)
- Brad Hawkins (Dallas)
- William Hootkins
- Tina Huang (Dallas)
- Annie Ilonzeh (Grapevine)
- The Jonas Brothers (Nick was born in Dallas, and the band members lived there for several years)
- Alex Jones (Rockwall)
- Norah Jones (Grapevine)
- Christian Kane (Dallas)
- Christine Lakin (Dallas)
- Wallace Langham (Fort Worth)
- Cherami Leigh (Dallas)
- Rachael Lillis (Dallas)
- Peter MacNicol (Dallas)
- Jonathan Majors (Dallas)
- Stephanie March (Dallas)
- Jamie Marchi (Dallas)
- Meat Loaf (Dallas proper)
- Kevin McHale (Plano)
- Leighton Meester (born in Fort Worth, raised in Marco Island, FL)
- Steve Miller (Born in Milwaukee, but went to high school in Dallas and started his career in the Metroplex.)
- Elizabeth Mitchell (born in Los Angeles, CA but raised mainly in Dallas)
- Ember Moon (Garland)
- Jacqueline Moore (Dallas)
- Glenn Morshower (Dallas)
- Audie Murphy (Farmersville)
- Mitchel Musso (Garland)
- David Murray, The 8-Bit Guy (Kennedale)
- Pantera (Arlington)
- Candice Patton (born in Mississippi but raised in Plano)
- Bill Paxton (Fort Worth)
- Piper Perabo (born in Dallas but raised in New Jersey)
- Madison Pettis (Arlington)
- Pentatonix (Three of the members are from Arlington.)
- Ross Perot
- Jesse Plemmons (Dallas)
- Steve Railsback (Dallas)
- Haley Ramm (Collin County)
- Monica Rial (Dallas)
- Wendi Richter (Dallas)
- LeAnn Rimes (Garland)
- Dennis Rodman (born in New Jersey, but raised in Dallas. Even briefly played for the Mavericks at one point in his career.)
- Debby Ryan (born in Alabama but raised in Dallas)
- Stark Sands (Dallas)
- Brighton Sharbino (Flower Mound)
- Jessica and Ashlee Simpson (born in Waco, raised in Richardson)
- Aaron Spelling (Dallas)
- Nick Stahl (Plano)
- Sharon Tate (Dallas)
- J. Michael Tatum
- Erica Tazel (Dallas)
- Stephen Tobolowsky (Dallas)
- Allison Tolman (Dallas)
- Alan Tudyk (Plano)
- Usher (born in Dallas, raised in Chattanooga, TN)
- Eric Vale (Dallas)
- Vanilla Ice (Dallas)
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Lisa Whelchel (Littlefield)
- Luke and Owen Wilson
- Anne Winters (Dallas)
- Robin Wright (Dallas)
- And a few people who lived not too far away:
- From Wichita Falls, about 100 miles northwest of Fort Worth, there's Phil McGraw (Dr. Phil), the band Bowling for Soup, Keith Lee, Mia Hamm, and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Brazier.
- From Bowie, just a hair northwest of Decatur (and about halfway between the Metroplex and Wichita Falls), Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman and Molly Quinn.
- From Terrell, Jamie Foxx (though he did move to Dallas proper when he started his acting career).
- Kacey Musgraves grew up in Golden, Texas which is on the very far outskirts of the metro area, about 80 miles to the east of downtown Dallas.
Also, id Software was founded in Dallas and is currently headquartered in the Dallas suburb of Richardson. Gearbox Software likewise is located in Frisco (right across the street from FC Dallas, as a matter of fact). Comic book wise, it's the base of operations for Viper Comics was was responsible for the The Middleman and Dead@17.