History of Midland
The city was originally founded as the midway point between Fort Worth and El Paso on the Texas Railroad. The city was founded in 1881. Since there were already towns in Texas called Midway, the name Midland was given. It was granted its first post office in 1884. By 1890, the city had become one of the most important cattle shipping centers in Texas.
It was finally incorporated as a city in 1906.
The economy and life in Midland changed drastically when oil was discovered in the Permian Basin in 1923. Shortly after, Midland became the administrative sector of the West Texas oil fields.
There was another big boom period during the 1970s. As it is well-documented, oil prices skyrocketed at that time in response to the oil and energy crises of that decade. Even today, the Permian Basin still produces one fifth of the nation's total petroleum and natural gas output.
Needless to say, Midland's economy still relies heavily on petroleum, but that does not mean that the city has not diversified its economy, because it has. Midland is also a regional telecommunications and distribution center today.
Midland is also known for the fact that former U.S. President George H.W. Bush once resided their and that it is his wife’s hometown.
Another interesting fact about Midland is that it was the largest bombardier training base in the U.S. during World War II. John Howard Griffin wrote a history of Midland, Land of the High Sky (1959).
Midland received the nickname "The Tall City" in recent times, because the city skyline is stacked with skyscrapers and very tall buildings in general. Of course, the vast majority of these high-rise buildings were built during a time of major Permian Basin oil and gas discoveries and they were mostly all offices to companies that were important in the oil and petroleum industry. There were plans to build even more, but a mid-1980s surge in energy prices stifled those plans. Today at least five of the forty downtown skyscrapers in Midland are completely vacant.
Showing how important oil is to the city, Midland is home to the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, located on the outskirts of the city, right off Interstate 20. In this museum, there are many displays on the history, science, and technology of oil and gas development. The museum’s exhibits also include a large collection of race cars designed by Jim Hall, a pioneer in the design of Formula One cars who was also a longtime resident of Midland.
Although there are no major professional sports teams from the city, the Midland RockHounds, a Texas League minor league baseball team, play in the city. This team is the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.