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The origins of College Station date from 1860, when the Houston and Texas Central Railway began to build through the region. Eleven years later, the site was chosen as the location for the proposed Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, a land-grant school. In 1876, as the nation celebrated its centennial, the school (renamed Texas A&M University in 1963) opened its doors as the first public institution of higher education in the state of Texas.
The population of College Station grew slowly, reaching 350 in 1884 and 391 at the turn of the century. However, during this time, transportation improvements took place in the town. In 1900, the I&GN Railroad was extended to College Station (the line was abandoned by the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company in 1965), and 10 years later, electric interurban service was established between Texas A&M and the neighboring town of Bryan. The interurban was replaced by a city bus system in the 1920s.
In 1930, the community to the north of College Station, known as North Oakwood, was incorporated as part of Bryan. College Station did not incorporate until 1938 with John H. Binney as the first mayor. Within a year, the city established a zoning commission, and by 1940, the population had reached 2,184.
The city grew under the leadership of Ernest Langford, called by some the "Father of College Station", who began a 26-year stretch as mayor in 1942. Early in his first term, the city adopted a council-manager system of city government.
Population growth accelerated following World War II as the nonstudent population reached 7,898 in 1950, 11,396 in 1960, 17,676 in 1970, 30,449 in 1980, 52,456 in 1990, and 67,890 in 2000. The population for the Bryan-College Station metropolitan area crossed 270,000 people in 2018.
As of the census of 2000, 67,890 people, 24,691 households, and 10,370 families resided in the city.
Of the 24,691 households, 21.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% were married couples living together, 6.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 58.0% were not families. About 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 2.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.98. The racial makeup of the city as of 2019 was 77.45% White, 7.74% African American, 0.30% Native American, 10.25% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 6.32% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any ethnicity/nationality were 15.6% of the population.
In the city, the population was distributed as 14.4% under the age of 18, 51.2% from 18 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 9.4% from 45 to 64, and 3.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females, there were 104.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.0 males.
The median income for a household[clarification needed] in the city was $21,180, and for a family[clarification needed] was $53,147. Males had a median income of $38,216 versus $26,592 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,170. About 15.4% of families and 37.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.4% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.
The city of College Station has a council-manager form of government. Voters elect the members of a city council, who pass laws and make policy. The council hires a professional city manager who is responsible for day-to-day operations of the city and its public services.
Northgate is a mixed-use district north of Texas A&M University that features a combination of businesses, restaurants, apartments, churches, and entertainment. It is known for its eclectic mix of restaurants and bars. A large portion of the stores, bars, and restaurants in Northgate are frequented, patronized, and staffed by Texas A&M students. In total, the district spans about 145 acres (0.59 km2), bounded by Wellborn Road to the west, South College Avenue to the east, the College Station city limits to the north, and University Drive to the south. The district is the home of the Dixie Chicken and of the first Texas location for the regional fast-food chain Freebirds World Burrito.
Northgate's roots started in the 1930s as the city began enjoying rapid population growth from the influx of Texas A&M University students, professors, and their families. Realizing that proximity to the campus would be a boon for revenues, the first business district was established in College Station near the campus, taking its name for the closest on-campus landmark: the north gate. When the city was incorporated in 1938, its first City Hall was opened in the new district. In 1994, restoration efforts began to revitalize the ailing area. A four-day music festival, "North By Northgate", was introduced in 1998 and has become an annual tradition, renamed the "Northgate Music Festival" in 2002. In 2006, the city council incorporated Northgate as a special tax zone to finance additional improvements and expansions.
Live music is a major draw to the Northgate area. Many well-known musicians, especially in the Texas country music scene, initially performed in the Northgate area. Notable names include Robert Earl Keen, Grammy award-winner Lyle Lovett, Dub Miller, and Roger Creager. The district is bisected to the north by Church Street, made famous by the Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett duet "The Front Porch Song".
Wolf Pen Creek District
View of the Lofts at Wolf Pen Creek in College Station
Wolf Pen Creek District is a large commercial development adjacent to Post Oak Mall and between two of the city's main commercial thoroughfares: Earl Rudder Freeway and Texas Avenue. The area consists of a greenway with trails, a $1.5 million amphitheater and entertainment area, a small lake, the Spirit Ice Arena, and is the home of the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley. The amphitheater has hosted a variety of musical events, including the annual Starlight Music Series, a concert series that starts in late spring and runs through late summer. Wolf Pen also has a sidewalk for a scenic run that when completed is about 1 mi (2 km).
Wellborn became a community in 1867 as a construction camp on the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. The town's name has been attributed to a well at the construction camp, a foreman named E.W. Wellborn, or a landowner named W.W. Willburn. Also in 1867, a post office opened in the community under the name Wellborn Station. In 1870, the name was shortened to Wellborn. On April 14, 2011, the City Council of College Station voted 5-2 to annex Wellborn, thus making the community the Wellborn district. Wellborn is often mispronounced as 'well-born' but is pronounced by locals as 'Well-burn'.
Business Center at College Station
A 200-acre (81 ha), class "A" business center 5 miles (8 km) from the university, its current residents include firms involved in telecommunications, software development, and oilfield services.
Spring Creek Corporate Campus
A 100-acre (40 ha), class "A" business center, a greenbelt surrounds most of the campus and provides a buffer between the new development and adjacent land uses which include the Pebble Creek Country Club and Woodland Hills Subdivision.
Texas A&M University Research Park
This 324-acre (131 ha) research park was established to provide businesses direct partnering opportunities with Texas A&M University. Several companies and nonprofit research interests have located in the park, including Schlumberger, Lynntech, AdventGX, Notequill, AskU, Improving Enterprises, the Institute of Food Science and Engineering, the Human Behavior Laboratory, the Electron Beam Food Research Facility, the Academy of Advanced Telecommunications and Learning Technologies, and the International Ocean Discovery Program.
Crescent Pointe is a master-planned, mixed-use development of roughly 192 acres (78 ha), with frontage on University Drive (FM 60) and Harvey Road (Highway 30).
The Brazos Transit District (formerly Brazos Valley Transit Authority) provides public bus transportation in the Bryan/College Station area.
Texas A&M Transportation Services provides bus transportation throughout College Station and Bryan for students, faculty, and staff of Texas A&M University and Blinn College. On Texas A&M football game days, the department provides additional park-and-ride service to and from Kyle Field.
Starline Travel offers weekend service from Texas A&M's campus to downtown Houston, with additional Houston service for Aggie game days and additional service to Dallas during major A&M breaks.
Groundshuttle provides daily shuttles to and from Houston airports (Hobby and Bush).
As of May 2008, the local unemployment hovered around 3 to 4%, among the lowest in Texas. This rate is largely attributed to the significant role the university plays in the local economy. However, underemployment is an ongoing issue.
Until its 2007 acquisition by Tavistock Group, Freebirds World Burrito had its corporate headquarters in College Station.
Post Oak Mall
Post Oak Mall was the city's first mall and is currently the largest mall in the Brazos Valley. The 82-acre (330,000 m2) mall is home to 125 stores; its opening on February 17, 1982, helped create the impetus for growing economic and commercial developments for College Station. It is currently the largest taxpayer in College Station and the second-largest in the Brazos Valley, though the anchor stores are free-standing units that are privately owned and taxed separate from the mall proper. Over 75% of retail sales in the Brazos Valley come from sales at the mall's stores.
Football: Kyle Field (capacity: 102,733 <106,000 in 2014 only, during reconstruction>)
Bowling: Grand Station Entertainment (capacity: 800+)
Media and journalism
The only full power local commercial television station is CBS affiliate KBTX, which also broadcasts a CW channel. Waco-based KCEN operates a semi-satellite low power NBC channel, KAGS. ABC affiliate KRHD and Fox affiliate KWKT air coverage originating in Waco. PBS affiliate KAMU, which is owned by Texas A&M University, is also based in College Station.
College Station is part of the Bryan-College Station Arbitron market #238.
Dick Hervey, mayor of College Station from 1971 to 1974; third secretary of the TAMU Association of Former Students from 1947 to 1964; president of Community Savings and Loan, 1964-1982; interred at College Station Cemetery
^Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
^Official records for College Station have been kept at Easterwood Airport since August 1951 and at an undisclosed location 6 mi (9.7 km) to the southwest of the city center from May 1, 1882 until July 1951.