University Park is a city in Dallas County, Texas, United States, and an inner suburb of Dallas. The population was 23,068 at the 2010 census. The city is home to Southern Methodist University. Like its neighbor, Highland Park, it is partially surrounded by the municipality of Dallas. Together, Highland Park and University Park form the Park Cities, an enclave of Dallas.
University Park began as a cluster of homes surrounding the fledgling Southern Methodist University, which was founded in the then-rural Dallas County in 1915. The university supplied these homes with utility service until 1924, when the growing population could no longer be supported by the school’s utilities. In response, the area’s homeowners first sought annexation into the town of Highland Park, but were refused due to the high cost which would have been required to provide the necessary utility and safety services. Shortly thereafter, Dallas also refused a request for annexation on similar grounds.
Determined to confront the challenges before them, community leaders organized to incorporate as a separate individual city. According to state law, incorporation required that area residents hold an election on the issue before the new city could be officially formed and recognized. On April 24, 1924, voters approved the measure by a 5:1 margin. Operating under the commission form of government, the city began the work of shaping the new government and addressing the pressing need to establish basic municipal services. To provide for the financial needs of the city, another election was held soon thereafter to authorize the issuance of municipal bonds. Passing by a near unanimous margin, the $150,000 bond issue funded the installation of a new water supply system, street paving, and the construction of a new city hall and fire station. When first incorporated, the city encompassed 515 acres (2.08 km2), 380 homes, and 1200 residents.
As a result of efforts to build and improve the city, University Park grew to a population of over 20,000 residents by 1945 and had become one of the most prestigious locations in the area. In fact, the community’s attractiveness and tax value had risen to such an extent that the city of Dallas now wanted to annex University Park into its boundaries. At the time of the election, even the Board of Commissioners favored the election. In the largest voter turnout to that date and still one of the largest in city history, the annexation was denied by a 53% to 47% margin.
In 1946 an election to adopt a Home Rule Charter was held, but the measure failed and the city continued to operate as a General Law city. In 1989 voters approved a Home Rule Charter which officially adopted a council-manager form of government and expanded the three member board of Commissioners into a five member city council.
Since the 1940s, the population and area of University Park have remained relatively stable at 22,000 residents and 2,350 acres (4.7 square miles). The city is now surrounded by Dallas on three sides and the town of Highland Park to the south.
As of the census of 2000, there were 23,324 people, 8,005 households, and 5,291 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,269.2 people per square mile (2,420.8/km2). There were 8,492 housing units at an average density of 2,282.5 per square mile (881.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.33% White, 1.43% African American, 0.22% Native American, 2.23% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.10% of the population.
In terms of formal education, University Park was Texas’ best educated city, edging out Highland Park, with 82.8% of adults age 25 years or older holding an associate degree or higher, and 80.5% of adult residents possessing a baccalaureate degree or higher.
There were 8,005 households out of which 40.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.7% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.26.
In the city the population was spread out with 28.2% under the age of 18, 16.4% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 7.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 87.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.1 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $151,418, and the median income for a family was $200,000+, making University Park the seventh most expensive neighborhood in the USA. Males had a median income of $100,000 versus $44,007 for females. The per capita income for the city was $63,414. About 3.3% of families and 5.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.9% of those under age 18 and 1.8% of those age 65 or over.
Public Schools: University Park is served by the Highland Park Independent School District. University Park is served by McCulloch Intermediate School and Highland Park Middle School, which share a campus located partially in Highland Park and partially in University Park, and Highland Park High School in University Park. Two elementary schools in University Park, Hyer and University Park, and two elementary schools in Highland Park, Armstrong and Bradfield, serve sections of University Park.
Colleges and Universities: Southern Methodist University is located in the city of University Park. Dallas County Community College District operates nearby community colleges.