Tyler, Texas, (population 108,969) was settled in 1846, when Smith County was created from Nacogdoches County. Tyler was incorporated in 1850 and serves as the seat of Smith County. Rural agricultural life was transformed following the 1930 discovery of the East Texas Oil Field, and Tyler, once known as the "Center of the East Texas Oil Industry," became quite prosperous.
Today, Tyler has a thriving economy, and its rich heritage is on display in six National Register Historic Districts. These districts boast many wonderfully restored historic homes along original brick streets. The famous Azalea and Spring Flower Trails event travels through eight miles of historic homes and residential gardens and celebrated its 57th year in 2016. From mid-March through mid-April, approximately 60,000 visitors and local citizens and enjoy tours, concerts, shows, and other events, many hosted at historic venues. The event is created by a partnership of the city, the chamber of commerce, the convention and visitors bureau, private investors, and non-profit organizations including Historic Tyler, Inc. and the Smith County Historical Society.
Tyler is also known as the "Rose Capital of the Nation" and the Main Street Flower Market, hosted at the historic Goodman-LeGrand Museum, was created in 2007 as an initiative to bring visitors Downtown during azalea season. It has since evolved into the Rose City Flower and Artisan Market, which offers the creations of artists and artisans as well as locally grown produce.
Historic Oakwood Cemetery hosts "The Spirits of Oakwood," a program where volunteer actors portray local historic figures buried at the cemetery. Hundreds of people attend the event. Tyler boasts two Historic Overlay Districts containing more than 70 residential, institutional, and commercial properties. Forty-six "Half Mile of History" markers are located downtown around the square. The City of Tyler Planning Department and the Tyler Historical Preservation Board have produced tour brochures and maps, including an overview, a downtown tour, and an African American Heritage Trail.
One interesting adaptive reuse in Tyler involves the use of a 1924 brick food store as offices for a law firm. The late 1990s restoration brought the building up to modern needs but maintained the original exterior and many interior features. Today the site is listed on the Tyler Historic Landmark Registry. The City of Tyler also has a 1904 Carnegie Library Building, in which the Smith County Historical Society operates a museum and archive.
Tyler is a Texas Certified Local Government, designated in 1994, and a Main Street City designated in 1990. Just outside of Tyler are the remains of Camp Ford, the largest Confederate prisoner of war camp west of the Mississippi River.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2016.
For more information
City of Tyler - Historic Preservation
Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau
Heart of Tyler Main Street Program