According to city officials, Richardson was chartered on June 26, 1873, as a railroad community.
“I think when we celebrate the 150th year, it’s really neat to reflect back on why we are here in the first place,” Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker said.
Leading the celebration will be a new Richardson mayor, as Voelker announced Jan. 12 he will not run for re-election in May. Richardson could also see a drastically different City Council, with all six positions up for grabs and two current council members running for mayor.
Learning from its 50th and 100th anniversaries, the city has planned numerous ways of honoring the occasion, including a large celebration event on June 24.
City Manager Don Magner said the anniversary will allow the city to honor those who have come before.
The city has created a unique website designed to present information on Richardson’s past and historic photos for residents.
Throughout the celebration, https://richardson150th.com is set to add pages where residents can learn about ways to get involved, per Communications Director Greg Sowell.
The main celebration of the anniversary is scheduled for June 24 in the historic downtown area. Parks and Recreation Director Lori Smeby said the event will include performances from the Richardson Community Band, comments from dignitaries and a ceremonial birthday cake.
Magner said he hopes the anniversary event feels unique compared to the city’s other events by using a diverse set of partners from across the community.
“[Our partners] will bring different perspectives and opportunities to the event, because they’ll have different resources, and they’ll have different skill sets,” Magner said.
As part of the celebration event, city officials will dig up a time capsule that was buried in 1973 as part of Richardson’s 100-year anniversary. Contents from the time capsule will be displayed, and a new time capsule will be sealed for another 50 years.
Outside of the June 24 event, the city plans to honor the anniversary through a variety of community organizations, Smeby said.
“Richardson is a city that has been built on community, ... [like] these civic organizations and neighborhoods, so who better to celebrate Richardson history,” she said.
The Richardson Animal Shelter is campaigning to find homes for 150 dogs and cats, Animal Shelter Manager Noura Jammal said. The adoption drive runs through the end of June and has resulted in 43 animals getting adopted as of Jan. 13.
“The community has always helped us whenever we needed it, so now we’re trying to help get as many animals adopted out as possible,” Jammal said.
The Richardson Public Library plans to host monthly events, such as a photo-scanning event April 15, where residents can bring historic photos to be added to the city’s collection.
Another big initiative for the city is asking residents to give 150 minutes of service each. City officials hope to achieve a total of 150,000 minutes of community service by the end of June.
“We’re a city that’s been built on community and built on volunteerism,” Smeby said. “It’s such a caring community that why not have that really be a driver in what you’re doing to celebrate.”
Shaping the future
City officials are looking ahead to how Richardson will be shaped over the next 50 years. Many of the key tenants of the past, including advancements in technology and cultivating a culturally diverse community, are expected to drive the city’s future goals and plans.
After 10 years in service to Richardson, either as a council member or as mayor, Voelker announced in January plans to not seek re-election. Council members Janet DePuy and Bob Dubey announced plans to run for mayor, leaving two seats on City Council open during the election. Whichever council members win in the election on May 6 will have a hand in shaping several future projects that will impact Richardson, including the building of a new City Hall and the development of the former Arapaho Dallas Area Rapid Transit station.
Another big endeavor for Richardson is DART’s Silver Line project, which is designed to increase accessibility, giving residents a car-free way to travel between Plano and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
“What I hope that we see [in the future] is a community that is well-connected to one another,” Magner said.
150 years of history
Magner said different events, people and organizations have added to where Richardson is today, including from the evolving tech industry.
“The Telecom Corridor set important foundations in the city, brought many people to the city from all around the world and helped create the diverse community that we are,” he said.
Much of the city’s history has been focused on the creation of technological needs in the area, according to Magner. This includes the establishment of Texas Instruments near Richardson in 1955 and the founding of The University of Texas at Dallas in 1969. These institutions led to increases in smaller tech firms in the area and the creation of the Telecom Corridor.
“Both the city and the university have grown because of the intellectual capital at UT Dallas supporting many businesses located in Richardson,” said Calvin Jamison, UT Dallas vice president of facilities and economic development.
According to Voelker, Richardson was at the forefront of several technological advancements, including helping in establishing the internet. He said he is excited to see what new technology shapes the city’s culture.
“If you don’t know where you came from, it’s kind of hard to know where you’re going,” Voelker said.
Steven Butler, a historian and president of the Richardson Historical Society, said he is glad the city is incorporating history into the celebration and teaching the lessons learned from Richardson’s past.
“It’s important to show people that Richardson didn’t just spring into existence overnight,” he said. “It’s been a work in progress for the past 150 years.”