Waco is a city in Texas that sits along the Brazos River. It is the county seat of McLennan County and is located at the halfway point between Austin and Dallas.
Population and Demographics
The population was recorded in the 2020 census at 138,486 making Waco the 22nd largest city in Texas. It sits within the Waco metropolitan statistical area which consists of McLennan and Falls Counties.
The demographics for Waco are as follows:
- White 66.89%
- African American 20.65%
- Native American 0.38%
- Asian 2.23%
- Multi-racial 6.42%
A Wichita Indian tribe known as Waco occupied the area in the early 1800s. In 1824 the European settlers and the Indian tribes were in conflict which led to the fleeing of the Waco’s who fled to safety in what is now known as Ft Worth, Texas. Eventually, the Waco and other displaced tribes were further displaced and moved to reservations in Oklahoma. It was not until the early 1900s that the Waco tribe received allotments of land and were permitted to become United States citizens.
The area began developing in the mid-1800s and eventually, the city claimed Waco as its official name. In 1866 the Waco Bridge Company formed and builds a toll suspension bridge over the Brazos River spurring economic growth and igniting a population surge. The people now had a safe place to cross the river with their herds and are able to move about in their horse-drawn carriages. Today the bridge is open to pedestrian traffic only and is part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Further development occurred when Baylor University was founded in 1845 and moved from Independence, Texas to Waco in 1886 when it merged with Waco University.
!894 was the first year Waco celebrated the Cotton Palace Fair to celebrate the contributions of the cotton industry to the region. The fair continues to this day alongside the Brazos River Festival.
The 20th century was riddled with white supremacist mobs terrorizing African Americans and in many cases, the attacks were assisted by Texas Rangers. These violent attacks including lynching’s and torture became the impetus for the NAACP’s anti-lynching campaign. Throughout these turbulent times the Waco authorities, despite a strong presence of the Ku Klux Klan, worked hard to protect the African Americans and others who were threatened.
Waco is known today as the spot where six Branch Davidians with extreme religious ideals and agents of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms had a 51-day battle leaving 74 people dead including the Davidian leader, David Koresh.
The 21st century Waco is known for being the White House Press Center under President George W. Bush. It was used as a briefing center and office for the press corp whenever President Bush arrived in town. He referred to this location as his Western White House.
Located in the heart of Texas’ manufacturing and technology corridor, Waco has the resources, water, land, infrastructure, labor force, and essential services for innovative industrial development. The top five employers in Waco are Baylor University, Waco Independent School District, Providence Health Center, and L3 Technologies.
Waco is partially cloudy year round with hot muggy summers and cold windy winters. The average temperature range during the summer months is 76-96 degrees. The winter months range between 39 degrees for the low temperature and an average high temperature of 59 degrees.
Dr. Pepper soda was invented in Waco at the Old Corner Drug Store in 1885. A young pharmacist by the name of Charles Alderton began experimenting by mixing different fruit flavors together and the result was Dr. Pepper. One year later Coca-Cola was introduced.