Addison is on Belt Line Road, the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, and Dallas North Tollway thirteen miles north of downtown Dallas in northern Dallas County and southern Collin County. The area was first settled by Peters colony residents in the 1840s. The first prominent settlers in the area were Preston and Pleasant Witt, who settled on White Rock Creek and built an ox-powered gristmill by 1849. In 1888 W. W. Julian, W. E. Horten, and S. S. Noell donated right-of-way to the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway in exchange for a coaling station, later known as Noell Junction. After the railroad arrived, several buildings were moved from nearby Frankford to the railway station.
In 1902 Noell Junction became the site of a depot on the St. Louis Southwestern, which built a spur to Dallas in 1903. Residents of the area rode into Dallas from 1903 to 1917 on the "Plug," a small Cottonbelt train consisting of an engine, a coal tender, and a passenger car. In 1904 a post office opened at the junction, but since a community named Noell already existed in Leon County, the office was named after Addison Robertson, the first postmaster. W. W. Julian platted the six blocks of the community that year.
By 1914 Addison had a population of seventy-five, three grocers, a dry-goods store, and the Addison State Bank. In 1926 the population was forty and the bank had failed. Addison was incorporated in 1953 in an effort to avoid annexation by Dallas. In the mid-1950s it had a population of 600 and eight businesses. In 1956 the Addison Times Chronicle was founded and Addison Airport was built.
In 1970 Addison had a population of 595 and eighty businesses; by 1980 it had 5,553 residents and 263 businesses. The town took a number of measures to promote industrial development and lose its small-town image. Residents voted to legalize alcoholic beverages in 1976, unlike the majority of the communities in Dallas County, to attract restaurants and hotels. In addition, Addison attracted businesses by a property-tax rate that was only one-sixth that of Dallas. The major industries in Addison were the airport and manufacturers and suppliers of aviation equipment. Addison's 189 businesses in 1974 included manufacturers of plastics, rubber and metal products, and pharmaceutical products. In 1990 the town had a population of 8,783 and 251 businesses. As of 2000 the town's population grew to 14,166 with 1,981 businesses. Area office buildings and restaurants served a daily population of 50,000. From 1986 to 1991 the number of restaurants grew from forty-nine to 118 and the number of hotels from five to nine. In 1991 Addison supported three banks, three malls, one daily and one weekly newspaper, and a Baptist church. The town had a council-mayor form of government, fifty policemen and fifty-four firemen, and received water from the city of Dallas.