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Useful Notes / DFW Metroplex

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Dallas skyline
"Bigger-than-life attitude: Think Cowboys Stadium. Incredible taste. Think Highland Park Village. Greatest cultural community: Think private funds raised for the AT&T Performing Arts Center."
—Cindy Rachofsky

“I love the ballsiness of it all, how Dallas goes for it all.”
—Todd Fiscus, founder of Todd Events

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 . DFW 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 1.27 million and 815,000 people, respectively, and there are 14 cities within the Metroplex with a population greater than 100,000 (D and FW included). Despite the name, it does not (as far as we know) have the ability to convert into a giant robot.

Downtown Fort Worth

The Federal Government designates the Metroplex as spanning 13 counties. 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.'
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  • Collin County (McKinney): 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, 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."
  • Delta County (Cooper): The least-known of the Metroplex counties, 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.
  • 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.

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.

The Metroplex covers more land than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, and Dallas is the largest land-locked city in the USA. Fort Worth's official city motto is "Where The West Begins"; consequentially Dallas is sometimes known as "Where The East Ends". note 

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.

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' Cowboy AT&T Stadium is located in Arlington (Texas Stadium, their previous home, was located in Irving), as are The Ballpark in Arlington Globe Life Park and its successor (the Texas Rangers' home fields), 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 literally less than a thousand feet from a major public transportation station close to city center.

The climate in DFW is highly variable. In the summertime, high temperatures reach about 105. Summer 2011 has seen several days above that median, as hot as 111 degrees, 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; 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.

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. Love Field in Dallas, where Southwest Airlines is based, is also a major hub. 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's 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 college football 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.

Shows set in Dallas:

Shows filmed/produced in Dallas:

Movies filmed in Dallas/Fort Worth:

Notable people from Dallas/Ft. Worth:

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.

This city provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Big Fancy House: Look no further than Highland Park, Westover Hills, Preston Hollow, or the shores of White Rock Lake. The latter includes a replica of Mount Vernon, constructed by oil baron H.L. Hunt.
  • Car Meets House: On September 5th, 2018, some whacko actually drove his truck right into one of the news stations of the city. Luckily no one was hurt but wow.
  • Cut-and-Paste Suburb: Let's say a resident took a bus from Forest/Jupiter Station in Garland to the North Carrollton Transit Center, passing through Garland, Richardson, Plano, Addison, and Carrollton. The only way you'd be able to know you've crossed city limits is the little city logos on the street signs changing, as well as the color of those street signs.
  • Deep-Fried Whatever: Witness the massive variety of deep-fried foods available at the State Fair of Texas. Especially deep-fried Coca-Cola, deep-fried beer, fried butter and, for those who attend the Texas Scottish Festival there's deep-fried haggis.
  • Demoted to Extra: Quick experiment: go to anywhere outside of Denton and look for gear affiliated with the University of North Texas (the largest college in the region). You'll find TCU gear, UT gear, A&M gear, and even gear from out-of-state colleges, but finding UNT gear is nigh-unto-impossible unless you're in Denton propernote .
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Fort Worth was once notoriously bad about tornadoes hitting it. However, there hasn't been a major incident in years as of late.
  • Drives Like Crazy: State highway 75 is notoriously bad for being a wretched hive of road rage and stupidity, especially in the Plano-Allen-McKinney corridor. Sometimes, it's just better to take the train.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: In a state of large metropolitan areas, both in terms of population and land area, the Metroplex has the most people (total, at least, since Houston as a city has more people than Dallas or Fort Worth individually) and the largest land area, at almost 1,800 square miles, making it, as noted larger than two whole states put together.
  • Fandom Rivalry: The denizens love to compete.
    • The University of Texas vs. the University of Oklahoma. And when the annual Red River Shootout game comes to town every year (the Cotton Bowl stadium, in Dallas, is within a few miles of being exactly halfway between the two campuses, and they always play each other there instead of at either team's home stadium)? Dear God.
    • Similarly, Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth battle over The Iron Skillet trophy in football, and have a rivalry that extends to other sports as well.
    • The city itself also has this with Houston, which is south on I.H. 45, with Oklahoma City north in I-35, and to a lesser extent with Austin and San Antonio, which are south on I-35.
    • Within the metroplex, Dallas and Fort Worth have a rivalry of their own (mostly courtesy of Amon Carter), though this is mostly played out between TCU and SMU noted above.
  • Frank's 2000-Inch TV: The jumbotron at Cowboys Stadium previously held the record for world's largest video board, (160 by 72 feet, 2104 inches diagonally) until being beaten by the board at Charlotte Motor Speedway (200 by 80 feet, 2584 inches diagonally). The record comes back to the area in 2014, though, when Charlotte's corporate sibling Texas (located in the far north of Fort Worth) finished "Big Hoss" (218 by 94.6 feet, 2857 inches diagonally), in time for the spring NASCAR races.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: And Koreatownnote . And Little Saigon.
  • Gayborhood: Oak Lawn and to a lesser extent, Lakewood.
  • Insistent Terminology: Inverted. No one says 'The Metroplex' unless they're writing an article aimed at non-locals. Most local media, such as news programs and commercials for local businesses, refer to the area as "North Texas", and when traveling most DFW residents just say they're from Dallas. A good rule of thumb is that tourists call it "the Metroplex", transplants call it "DFW", and locals call it either "North Texas" or some permutation of "Dallas" or "the Dallas area".
  • Monumental Damage: 'Got a rather tall cowboy with his clothes burned off...' Don't worry, he got better the following year.
  • Million-to-One Chance: If a fertilizer plant is going to explode, what are the chances that it's going to happen 2 days short of the 20th anniversary of the Waco Standoff, and 20 miles from the site of the former Davidian compound?
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: In February 2011, Arlington hosted the Super Bowl. Local governments and businesses had prepared for the influx of visitors and had planned quite an array of festivities, but were blindsided by a winter storm which brought in half a foot of snow and ice and temperatures dipping into the teens. One NFL commentator described DFW as a "moonscape." The municipalities of DFW took a lot of flak in national media for (generally) not owning snowplows and sand/shade alt trucks, despite the fact that snow events of the freak Superbowl storm magnitude are extremely rare for the area, and the cost of winter equipment really isn't justified.
    • Though it wasn't specifically DFW's fault, the debacle was worsened when the NFL denied seats to some of the game's paid ticketholders.
    • Made even worse when it was revealed that the emergency seating they had set in place for the ticketholders was structurally unsound. The Cowboys Stadium bigwigs knew about this a while in advance, but did nothing.
    • Even more interesting was that it was the biggest snow storm seen in the area in decades. The Metroplex doesn't even get snow some years, and that year the storm shutdown the Metroplex for a week.
  • New Old West: The Metroplex could be the Trope Maker.
  • Newbie Boom: After 2008 when the housing market crashed, property values in the Metroplex skyrocketed, which, coupled with the low cost of living in the state, caused a massive influx of newcomers to the area over the next decade. Between the 2010 census and present, over a million people have migrated to the Dallas area (roughly a 17% growth), making it the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States. This was especially seen in the northern parts of the Metroplex Towns such as McKinney, which had been as far as thirty-five miles away from Dallas proper, suddenly found themselves the new northern limits of the metro area, and towns such as Allen, Frisco, Plano, Richardson, Corinth, and Lewisville saw a massive explosion in population and limit size, turning what had once been moderately-populated areas on the outskirts of Dallas into proper suburbia.
  • Non-Indicative Name: As noted above, played straight by a few sports teams and colleges, averted by others. Almost all teams are based in Dallas as an organization, but their stadia and club offices are elsewhere.
    • Played straight:
      • The Dallas Cowboys played in Irving in Texas Stadium, and now play in Arlington in Cowboy AT&T Stadium. The team offices also play the trope straight; they were long located at Valley Ranch in Irving, and are now in Frisco.
      • The Texas Rangers are in The Ballpark Globe Life Park in Arlington, though plans have been made for a larger stadium to be constructed in the future, still in Arlington. They don't represent the whole state, considering the Houston Astros are a division rival, and even won a title before the Rangers did.
      • FC Dallas are in Toyota Park in Frisco.
      • The Dallas Wings play in Arlington at College Park Center, the main arena of the University of Texas at Arlington.
      • The University of Dallas is in Irving, and the University of Texas at Dallas is located in Richardson. Egregious considering UT Arlington is actually in Arlington, as noted below.
    • Averted:
      • The Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks both play in the American Airlines Center, well within Dallas proper. In the past, they shared the Reunion Arena, within downtown Dallas.
      • The University of Texas at Arlington is in Arlington.
  • Quirky Town: Dentonnote with two colleges has lots of quirky townsfolk.
    • Also Deep Ellum.
  • Shout-Out: Believe it or not, the Dallas Mavericks mascot was chosen as an homage to the old television show Maverick, as voted on by fans when the city was awarded the expansion team. It also helped that James Garner was a founding investor of the team.
  • Small Town Rivalry: Insofar as anything is small in Texas, the founder of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Amon Carter, was known for his vicious hate for his bigger rivals in Dallas, to the point where he rallied against that city in his paper, refused to spend any money for food in that city, and wanted each city to have their own television and radio stations, while promoting Fort Worth almost to his death. Though later years have brought the cities both together through the Metroplex, there are still times where both cities maintain their rivalry in one way or another. One of the most notable modern examples is the Battle for the Iron Skillet, the college football rivalry between SMU (Dallas) and TCU (Fort Worth). TCU's football stadium is named for the aforementioned Carter.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Fort Worth has Southlake and Dallas has Frisco and Coppell - a Stepford Suburb that just claimed two lives as of July of 2010. The mayor of Coppell, one of Dallas's northwestern suburbs, had major financial trouble and major family drama and deception going on, despite putting on a show of happiness.
  • Too Soon: In a lot of ways DFW is just now starting to live down JFK's assassination. Between 1963 and 1990, or so, media references to the Dallas area, and often Texas in general, invariably included a reference to the event.
    • One of the most blatant examples is the film Dr. Strangelove: Not only was the film's release delayed, several of the lines and plot points were changed in the wake of JFK's death.
  • Uncanny Valley: Big Tex, the State Fair of Texas' mascot. Just the way his shirt hangs off his chest makes him look like some kind of shrunken, embalmed corpse. And he used to look even creepier back in the 50s.
  • Wretched Hive: Actually kind of averted in the case of the Metroplex. Crime used to be horrifically bad in both major cities as well as some of the suburbs (Fort Worth even took on the nickname "Murder Worth" in the 1980's) but crime has plummeted to the point where the vast majority of the region is relatively safe today, especially when compared to other cities. There are still areas you don't want to walk around at night though, like parts of Oak Cliff, Pleasant Grove, and Audelia Road in Dallas, eastern Arlington, and Stop Six and the Lancaster Avenue Corridor in Fort Worth.
  • You Can Panic Now: In late August 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston horribly, one of the main gas lines from the state of Texas to New York was damaged, and several gas facilities in Houston shut down. DFW news media informed the public that there could possibly be a gas shortage and encouraged everyone to stock up. What followed was "Gas-pocalypse," a series of days in which gas almost became a precious resource within the Metroplex, with stations routinely running out, prices going through the roof, people filling up buckets and trash cans with gas just in case, and literal mile-long lines just to fill up. It got so bad that the effects was felt as far away as San Antonio. But according to several experts, no shortage would have happened if the media had not hyped up such a shortage and people acted no differently. It lasted only all of about five days, and after that gas delivery resumed as normal. On top of that, the state Attorney General gladly prosecuted and fined gas station owners and hoteliers for price gouging in the wake of Harvey.


Example of: