According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 21.6 square miles (55.9 km²), all of it land.
By 1885, DeSoto was home to approximately 120 people, a cotton gin, and a general store. Soon after, the population declined to below 50. In 1930, there were 97 people living in the community and several businesses.
After World War II, DeSoto and surrounding areas began to grow. In order to improve the inadequate water distribution system, residents felt the need to incorporate the town. On February 17, 1949, a petition signed by 42 eligible voters was presented to the Dallas County judge requesting an election for incorporation. The vote took place on March 2. Of the 52 people who cast ballots, 50 voted in favor of incorporation and 2 were opposed. On March 3, 1949, the results were entered into the records of the Dallas County Commissioners Court, thereby creating the City of DeSoto. The new city was less than one square mile in size. On March 15, Wayne A. Chowning was elected mayor along with five aldermen. The first city council meeting was held two days later.
The first census conducted after DeSoto's incorporation occurred in 1950. There were 298 people and eight businesses in the city. Following a series of annexations in 1953, the city covered approximately 15 square miles. By 1960, the population had grown to 1,969. In 1970, DeSoto was home to 6,617 people and seventy-one businesses.
During the 1970s, continued growth brought about improvements to the municipal infrastructure, including road construction, and a new water/sewage system. Industrial, commercial, and residential construction also increased. On October 26, 1974, an election was held to determine the status of Woodland Hills, a small incorporated community located northwest of DeSoto. The result was 221 votes in favor of a merger with DeSoto and 219 opposed. Woodland Hills had a population of 366 at the time of annexation.
The rapid growth that began in the early 1970s was sustained throughout the 1980s. 1980 census figures put the city's population at slightly over 15,000. By 1984, DeSoto had a total of 360 businesses - up from 168 in 1980.
The population surpassed 30,000 in 1990. City development progressed in the following years. A primary example of this was the creation of DeSoto's Town Center. Officials converted an abandoned strip center located at one of the city's main intersections into a unique central business district. Since its opening, the Town Center has become an anchor of the community, housing city hall, the public library and chamber of commerce, along with civic and recreation centers. There is also a 180-seat auditorium and outdoor amphitheater.
Throughout the 1990s, DeSoto experienced a significant change in the demographic composition of the city. In the 1990 census, Whites constituted 75.97% of the city's population, but that figure had declined to 48.83% in the 2000 census. By contrast, the African American population grew rapidly. In 2000, African Americans were 45.53% of the population, up from 20.83% in 1990. Hispanics accounted for 4.98% of the population in 1990 and 7.30% in 2000.
With approximately 45,500 residents as of 2005, DeSoto is the largest and most diverse city in southwest Dallas County.
On June 11, 2006, the National Civic League named DeSoto an "All-America City". The All-America City Award is the nation's oldest community recognition program and recognizes communities whose citizens work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results.
There were 13,709 households out of which 39.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.8% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.7% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the city the population was spread out with 28.2% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $57,699, and the median income for a family was $66,986. Males had a median income of $41,847 versus $33,179 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,650. About 4.1% of families and 5.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.8% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.
DeSoto is a home-rule city with a council-manager form of government.
Under this type of local government, the day-to-day management of the city is directed by a city manager. The city manager is appointed by the city council and serves as chief administrative officer for the city. The city charter states this position will execute the laws and administer the government of the city. Jim Baugh is the current city manager of DeSoto.
The city council consists of the mayor and six council members. The mayor represents the city as a whole and six council members represent particular districts (places) within the city. All are elected citywide for a term of three years.
|Current City Council Members|
|Place 1||Bobby Waddle (Mayor)|
|Place 2||Patricia Ledbetter|
|Place 3||Denise Valentine|
|Place 4||Deshaundra Lockhart|
|Place 5||Sandy Respess|
|Place 6||Carl Sherman (Mayor Pro Tem)|
|Place 7||Carl Williams|
|1949 - 1953||Wayne A. Chowning|
|1953 - 1955||Floyd Huffstutler|
|1955 - 1959||J. B. Wadlington|
|1959 - 1963||E. G. Anderson|
|1963 - 1965||John Campbell|
|1965 - 1967||Les C. Zeiger|
|1967 - 1969||L. Carroll Moseley|
|1969 - 1971||H. H. Chandler|
|1971 - 1972||Roy Orr|
|1972 - 1973||Robert Nunneley|
|1973 - 1977||Charles Harwell|
|1977 - 1979||Durward Davis|
|1979 - 1983||Willis Russell|
|1983 - 1987||Ernest Roberts|
|1987 - 1995||David Doyle|
|1995 - 2001||Richard Rozier|
|2001 - 2007||Michael Hurtt|
|2007 - present||Bobby Waddle|
|1964 - 1970||Dewayne White|
|1970 - 1973||Jim Pratt|
|1973 - 1977||Joel Larkin|
|1977 - 1981||Dorothy Talley|
|1981 - 1984||Cliff Johnson|
|1984 - 1985||Jim McAlister|
|1985 - 1987||Kerry Sweatt|
|1987 - 1992||Mark Sowa|
|1992 - 1993||Ed Brady (interim)|
|1993 - 1994||Gary Whittle (interim)|
|1994 - 1996||Ron Holifield|
|1996 - 1997||Bill Lindley (interim)|
|1997 - Present||Jim Baugh|
The DeSoto City Logo was adopted on August 26, 1976. The logo, a large "D", has the head of an eagle (the school district's mascot, see above) outlined on the inside. It is featured prominently on the city flag, water towers, and municipal government documents.