Grapevine, Texas, is located along State Highways 114 and 121 in the northeastern corner of Tarrant County. Some small sections of the city extend into Dallas and Denton counties. Grapevine is north of the West Fork of the Trinity River and lies on the edge of the Grapevine Prairie and the Eastern Cross Timbers. Grapevine Lake extends from northern Grapevine into neighboring Denton County to the north.
The first permanent Anglo settlement in the Grapevine area was known as the “Missouri Colony.” In 1844 a group of “related families from Platte County, Missouri,” settled along Denton Creek in the vicinity of present-day Grapevine on land that was then part of the Peters Colony. By July 1846 children were receiving their education from John Allen Freeman in a log schoolhouse. The first church in the area was the Lonesome Dove Baptist Church, founded in 1846 and located about five miles northwest of Grapevine. Grapevine First Baptist Church was established in the early 1850s.
Around 1854 Judge James Tracy Morehead, Archibald Franklin Leonard, and Henry L. Suggs, among others, met for the purpose of laying out a town and establishing a post office. Morehead proposed the name “Grape Vine,” due to the settlement’s location on the Grapevine Prairie. Leonard, who operated the first store in town, was appointed the first postmaster. Grape Vine (as two words) was incorporated on February 12, 1907. The United States Post Office condensed the name to just one word, Grapevine, in 1914.
The first houses built in Grapevine were simple log cabins occupied by settlers. Later the “typical 19th-century Grapevine house was a one-story wood-frame dwelling…topped with a gable or hipped roof.” Prior to the Civil War, cattle raising was the primary source of economic activity in the region. Grapevine Masonic Lodge No. 288 was chartered in 1866. In 1869 the Grapevine Independent School District was established; its first school was the Grapevine Masonic Institute, built by the Grapevine Masonic Lodge.
In the late 1860s and 1870s, improvements to the plow allowed Grapevine farmers to cut through the black soils of the prairie and cultivate a variety of crops. By the mid-1880s Grapevine had a population of approximately 550. The town had, according to the Texas State Gazetteer and Business Directory of 1884–85, three gristmills and cotton gins, a public school, four physicians, Methodist and Baptist churches, and a number of businesses, including grocers, drugstores, blacksmiths, a hotel, and an art gallery. Daily stages traveled, at a rate of five cents per mile, to Dallas and Fort Worth. In 1888 the St. Louis, Arkansas, and Texas Railway arrived and provided a way for farmers to get their products to broader markets. The railroad transformed Grapevine into an agricultural trade center and facilitated the development of cotton as a cash crop in the region. The town’s commercial district, consisting of single-story and two-story brick buildings, developed throughout the 1880s and 1890s.
Grapevine’s first local newspaper was the Grapevine Globe, established sometime before its sale in 1882. The Grapevine Sun, established by future Grapevine mayor Benjamin Richard Wall in 1895, was in publication until 1977. The town showed growth into the early twentieth century, with population figures of 681 in 1910 and 821 in 1920. In 1921 the Grapevine Fire Department was chartered, but, as in preceding decades, the community was dependent on volunteer firefighters. (Grapevine’s first paid fire chief was hired in 1973.) The first public library opened on March 3, 1923, as part of the Tarrant County Free Library.
In 1948 the United States Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the Grapevine Dam for the purpose of “flood control, recreation, and a water supply.” The reservoir project, which created Grapevine Lake, was completed in 1952. The town’s population grew from 1,043 in 1940 to 2,821 by 1960.
In 1965 the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth joined together to construct Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport (see DALLAS-FORT WORTH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT) immediately southeast of Grapevine. The city responded by annexing land to protect its local interests, resulting in a sizable portion of the airport falling within Grapevine’s extended city limits. The airport is the city’s top employer and opened in 1974 and began offering international flights in 1985. Between 1970 and 1990, the population of Grapevine ballooned from 7,023 to 29,198.
When the city was first incorporated, it had an alderman form of government. This changed in 1965 when a home rule charter was adopted, establishing a council-manager form of government. In Grapevine, the city manager is appointed by the city council, which consists of six council members and the mayor, all of whom are elected at-large for three-year terms.
After the town was incorporated, the city appointed the first town marshal, W. W. Bennett. Grapevine was served by town marshals until 1956, when the position of chief of police was created. The first chief of police was John Baze, who headed a four-man department. Since 2017 the Grapevine police, fire department, city jail, and municipal court have shared space in a four-story public safety building. Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District serves most of the cities of Grapevine and Colleyville as well as several surrounding communities and is one of the highest-rated school districts in the state.
The Grapevine Historical Society has been active since it was chartered in 1974. In 1991 Grapevine implemented a historic preservation ordinance to protect the city’s architectural heritage. The ordinance created the Grapevine Historic Preservation Commission and outlined a process by which historic districts and landmarks in Grapevine are designated. The Grapevine Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on historical preservation and education which operates as part of the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau, was also incorporated in 1991.
Grapevine has capitalized on its proximity to both Grapevine Lake and the airport and has developed a growing hospitality and tourism industry. The Grapevine Convention Center opened in 1988. In 1996, as part of Sister Cities International, Grapevine partnered with Parras, Mexico, and later partnered with Krems, Austria (1999) and West Lothian, Scotland (2008). A new city hall building was constructed in 1997. That same year saw the opening of Grapevine Mills, one of the largest shopping malls in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The Grapevine Parks and Recreation Department opened the Grapevine Community Activity Center in 1996. Following improvements begun in 2014, the center reopened in April 2015 as The REC (Recreation-Education-Community). In January 2019 Trinity Metro began service on TEXRail, providing commuter service from downtown Fort Worth to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Grapevine’s TEXRail station is part of a larger transit-oriented development project known as Grapevine Main. Grapevine’s population has continued its trend of substantial growth, from 42,059 in 2000 to an estimated 56,753 in 2020. The city hosts two annual festivals, Main Street Fest in May and GrapeFest, the “largest wine festival in the Southwest,” in September. Grapevine is also trademarked as the “Christmas Capital of Texas” and each year hosts the Christmas Parade of Lights and many other events.