In 2005, 2006, and 2011, Plano was designated the best place to live in the Western United States by CNNMoney magazine. In 2006, Plano was selected as the 11th best place to live in the United States by CNN Money magazine. It was also selected as the safest city in America in 2010 and 2011 by Forbes. Plano schools consistently score among the highest in the nation. It has been rated as the wealthiest city in the United States by CNN Money, and the United States Census Bureau declared Plano the wealthiest city of 2008 by comparing the median household income for all U.S. cities whose populations were greater than 250,000. In 2008,Forbes.com selected Plano, University Park, and Highland Park as the three "Top Suburbs To Live Well" ofDallas. The annual Plano Balloon Festival and the Plano International Festival are two of the city's premiere cultural and entertainment events.
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 area. Mail service was established, and after rejecting several names for the budding town (including naming it in honor of then-President Millard Fillmore), the locals suggested the name Plano (from the Spanish word for "flat"), as a reference to the local terrain. The name was accepted by the post office. In 1872, the completion of theHouston and Central Texas Railway helped the city grow, and the city was officially incorporated in 1873. The population grew to more than 500 by 1874. In 1881, a fire raged through the central 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 Plano being served only by private schools.
The population of Plano initially grew slowly, reaching 1,304 in 1900 and increasing 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 of Plano. 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, largely because of Plano's flat topography, grid layout and planning initiatives.
In 1981 the Plano City Council adopted the city’s official logo based on a design submitted via a community contest by longtime Plano resident James R. (Jim) Wainner, a professional artist and graphic designer. City of Plano Code of Ordinances, Chapter 2, Article I, Section 2-1 (b) states that no person, firm, organization, or corporation other than the city shall adopt, use, display, incorporate, or appropriate the official logo of the city as any part of any material, equipment, or other matter of such person, firm, organization or corporation, without written application to and approval of the city council.
During the 1980s, many large corporations moved their headquarters to Plano, including J. C. Penney and Frito-Lay, which helped the city grow. By 1990, the population reached 128,713, dwarfing the county seat of McKinney. In 1994, the city was recognized as an All-America City. By 2000, the population grew to 222,030, making it one of the largest suburbs of Dallas. Plano is completely locked in by other municipalities and cannot expand in area, and there is little undeveloped land remaining within the city limits. However, one large tract of land is being developed as of July 2012. Turnpike Commons at the intersection of Renner Rd and the George Bush Turnpike (bordered also by Shiloh Rd to the east). The development will feature apartments, medical facilities, restaurants, a Race Trac gas station, and a hotel.
In 2013, Plano received top-scoring nationally in a livability index according to an algorithm created by AreaVibes.com, a Toronto-based company specializing in such data. The chart can be found here Best Places to Live in America. AreaVibes ranked Plano at the top of the list of U.S. cities with populations between 100,000 and 10,000,000. Another chart, Best Places to Live in 2013, also has Plano ranked number 1. Follow this link to see the chart Top 10 Best Places to Live.
Some of the country's largest and most recognized companies have their headquarters in Plano. Tree-lined Legacy Drive in the 75024 ZIP code, between Preston Road and the Dallas North Tollway, has many corporate campuses. The following companies have headquarters or major regional offices in Plano:
Although Plano is named for the flat plains of the area, large trees abound in the city's many parks (Plano's map of big trees). One such tree, estimated to be over 500 years old, resides in Bob Woodruff park near Rowlett Creek on the city's east side (Plano’s Quin-centennial Bur Oak).
The two main Open Space Preserves, Bob Woodruff Park (321 acres) and Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve (801 acres), are connected by biking trails making the green space one large uninterrupted park space that is larger than Central Park in New York City (840 acres). Total acreage of all spaces managed by the Parks department currently totals 3,830.81. The Plano Master Plan has the acreage growing to 4,092.63 when complete. Plano Park Master Plan
There are five recreation centers. They are Tom Muehlenbeck Center, Carpenter Park Recreation Center, Oak Point Recreation Center, Liberty Recreation Center, and Douglass Community Center.