Coppell is on Interstate Highway 635, U.S. Highway 121, Interstate Highway 35, the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, and the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, seven miles from Farmers Branch in the extreme northwest corner of Dallas County. The community is bordered by Irving, Grapevine, and Carrollton and is northeast of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Grapevine Creek, Denton Creek, and Cottonwood Branch flow through the city. The area was on the original land grant of J. A. Simmonds. President Sam Houston and Republic of Texas troops camped on Grapevine Creek during negotiations with area Indian tribes in an effort to enlist their aid in defending the republic against attacks by Mexican troops in 1843.
The site was first settled in the mid-1800s by James Parish, from Goliad. In 1887 the community secured a post office. It was originally named Gibbs Station, after Texas lieutenant governor Barnett Gibbs, a large landowner in the area. In 1888 construction of the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway through the town was completed. In 1892 the depot was renamed Coppell, in honor of banker and financier George A. Coppell, who was associated with Maitland, Phelps and Company, which bought and sold securities, bills of exchange, and issued loans to railroads. He assisted with reorganizing the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railroad, which ran through Coppell. In 1914 the settlement had two churches, two general stores, two blacksmiths, a bank, a hardware store, telephone service, a population of 450, and dealers in poultry, livestock, and lumber. However, by 1926 the population had decreased to 200, where it remained for three decades.
In 1936 the Work Projects Administration built a park on Grapevine Creek that included a half mile of walkways, three bridges, and a dam. The park was located in groves of oak, pecan, and cottonwood trees. Four years later the community had ten businesses, including a cotton gin. It also had a school and two churches. During this time Coppell produced a variety of agricultural products, including cotton, wheat, oats, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and melons. The community grew slowly but steadily in the 1950s and in 1956 formed a city government, which established a city zoning plan. By 1960 Coppell had six businesses and a population of 666. In 1962 the community was incorporated, and seven years later Coppell had set up a tax structure and constructed a new jail.
In the 1970s the town expanded northward into southern Denton County, built a new courthouse, and completed the General Telephone Company building (1972). Two years later Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport opened and a municipal utilities district was established. By this time Coppell had adopted the council-manager form of government and had a population of 2,500, ambulance service, police and fire departments, six churches, and schools. The population grew from 1,751 in 1981 to 3,826 in 1984. The number of businesses more than doubled also, growing from fourteen in 1981 to thirty-one in 1984. In 1984 a $16.3 million bond was approved to improve the street system, construct a new civic center and three new fire stations, increase the size of the park system, and install an emergency-warning system. Three years later Coppell secured the Coppell Mail Center, a bulk mail-sorting plant for the federal postal service.
In 1990 Coppell had a population of 16,881. The population was composed of primarily upper-middle-class homeowners with an average age of thirty-five, an average income of $66,000, and a house valued at $117,000. In 1991 Coppell's budget tripled from its 1985 level, and the community was developing a 116-acre park system that included two lakes, hike and bike trails, paddle boats, playgrounds, picnic areas, a Frisbee golf course, a community pool, and baseball, soccer, and football fields. The community also had established a curbside recycling program and had increased the size of its library system. By 2000 the population had more than doubled to 35,958.