Tyler's city limits covered just 100 acres in first survey in 1847
The city of Tyler's limits are ever-evolving.
Tyler's limits covered 100 acres after its first plat survey in 1847 when it was just a "village," according to survey records. Today, the city limits include 57.16 square miles, more than 36,500 acres.
Trees marked the north, east, south and west corners of the 100-acre 1847 limit. A 15-inch Red Oak marked the northwest corner. Two hickories marked the northeast corner, and groves of black-jack trees marked the southeast and southwest corners.
The town site included five streets running north and south, and four streets running east and west, most of them originally named after prevalent trees along the way. A small federal courthouse was built on the north side of the square.
The four east-west streets were Locust, Cherry, Walnut and Elm while avenues running north and south were called Federal Court House, Spring, Broadway Hickory and Washington.
Cherry Street was named for a large wild cherry tree, but it was changed in 1856 to Ferguson Street in honor of Alfred W. Ferguson, who built the first brick structures in the town.
Walnut Street was named after two large groves of hickory trees one mile out from the courthouse at each end of the street. It was renamed Erwin Street the same year as Ferguson, to honor Col. Thomas B. Erwin, a prominent resident who built a two-story colonial home on property formerly used as a pecan shellery and canning station.
Federal Court House became "Fannie Street," to honor the daughter of Tyler's first established attorney Stephen Reaves.
The street eventually was changed to Fannin. Hickory Street became College Avenue in 1886 in honor of East Texas College.
Washington Street became Bois d' Arc after hedges of trees planted by a resident with land along the street.
In 1850, the city government was incorporated and a mayor and four aldermen were named. They served 276 residents -- 174 men and 102 women. A description by an unnamed man in Smith County Historical Society annals recounted Tyler as having 200 inhabitants, one school, six businesses, one hotel, one blacksmith shop, one tailor and a "substantial little building where they kept violators of the law."
Farming spurred much of Tyler's early growth before the railroad brought a "growth spurt," amateur historian and attorney Randy Gilbert said.
Tyler expanded its city limits for the first time in 1888, according to city maps. But the expansion added around 2,000 acres, especially north because of the railroad and a population boom.
The city's population grew to 6,098 by 1890 compared to 2,423 in 1880, more than 150 percent.
George Yarborough built the first "addition" on 28 acres about a half-mile outside of Tyler's limits in the mid-1870s. He split the lots into one, two and four-acre lots.
After the Civil War and up to the emergence of the automobile, people lived close to where they worked, he said, meaning growth potential was limited.
"Most people walked to their shops or their jobs," he said. "After the automobile there was opportunity for greater expansion and the idea of suburbs."
Tyler again expanded in 1937, almost doubling in size, but still well within Loop 323 (which came in the mid-1950s). The next significant expansion by the city that reached beyond Loop 323 came in the 1970s as Tyler's population swelled to more than 57,700.
Today, the city's estimated inhabitants number more than 109,000, City Planner Heather Nick said.
All information, unless otherwise noted, is from the Smith County Historical Society.