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Abilene Business Signs
Abilene is located in west central Texas. According to the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the future state of Texas was inhabited by native tribes for 11,000 years prior to European meddling. Specifically, however, West Texas would come to be dominated by the Lipan and Mescalaro Apache peoples. Following occupation by the Spanish and then Mexican Empires, the area became part of the Republic of Texas before getting accepted into the Union. This is where Abilene’s story begins.
In 1881, the city of Abilene was established as a (meat) stock shipping point by cattlemen. They chose this specific area due to its location on the Texas and Pacific Railway. Clabe Merchant, a local landowner, gave the burgeoning town its name. Merchant named it after Abilene, Kansas, which was the original endpoint for the Chisholm Trail. The word Abilene is Biblical in origin and means “city of the plains.” Abilene, Texas was officially incorporated in 1881 and subsequently made the seat of Taylor County in 1883.
Today, according to a 2015 estimate by the US Census Bureau, Abilene, Texas has a total population of 121,721 people. This makes it the 27th-most populous city in Texas. According to that same estimate, the Abilene, Texas metropolitan area has a total population of 165,252 people.
Historically, as one can surmise from its origins, Abilene Texas’s economy was dominated by the livestock and agricultural industries. These days, though, Abilene’s economy is largely focused on education, healthcare, and government. In fact, Abilene’s three largest employers represent these three sectors. According to Abilene, Texas’s June 2014 City Comprehensive Report, Abilene ISD is the city’s third largest employer, responsible for 2,450 jobs. Hendrick Health System comes in second, employing 2,896 people. Abilene, Texas’s largest employer, by far, however, is Dyess Air Force Base, with a whopping (relatively) 5,406 on staff.
Dyess Air Force Base, built in 1942 (as an army air base), garrisons the 7th Bomb Wing. The 7th Bomb Wing is assigned to the Global Strike Command Eighth Air Force. In fact, this garrison is one of only two B-1B Lancer strategic bomber wings in the United States Air Force. Dyess Air Force Base was named in honor of Lieutenant Colonel William Dyess, a Texas native and Bataan Death March (WWII Pacific Arena) survivor.
Elsewhere, Abilene, Texas’s tallest building is the Bank of America Enterprise Tower. Clocking in at 20 stories, the Enterprise Tower is not only the tallest building in the city but also the tallest building in west-central Texas. Enterprise Tower is also one of the five highest buildings in the western two-thirds of Texas. Abilene also features Abilene Christian University, which is a private Churches of Christ university established in 1906. 4,427 students are enrolled there.
Abilene, Texas also boasts the Paramount Theatre, which is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The Paramount Theatre was built by H.O. Wooten in 1930. While visiting the Paramount Theatre, visitors will be treated to “live theatre performances, 1,199 split-aisle seats, a Spanish-Moorish interior, and a domed ceiling with moving clouds and glittering stars.” The city of Abilene, Texas also contains the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. This museum was established in 2000 and, as you could probably already guess, “is dedicated to illustrations in children’s literature.”
Abilene, Texas is not known for its professional sporting franchises. It does, however, have a zoo. Abilene Zoological Gardens is quite small (only 16 acres), but in 2013 its annual attendance was 224,000. This Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited member park contains over 1100 individual animals representing over 250 species.
Own a small business in the Abilene, Texas area? Thinking about it? These resources could prove beneficial in that endeavor: