Abilene is located in central Texas. The city is about 150 miles west of Fort Worth and has a population of 115,930. Abilene is divided through the center into north and south by a railroad. The downtown area lies on the north side. The newest parts of the area are growing out into the northeast and southwest parts of the city.
Abilene was once primarily a major cattle-producing area, but in recent years, petroleum has added significant momentum to its economy. Today, Abilene is the commercial, retail, medical and transportation nexus of a 19-county region referred to as “The Big Country” and “Texas Midwest.” In recent years, commercial and residential development has reached record levels in and around Abilene.
Cultural aspects of Abilene center around eight colleges and universities, the agricultural communities in the surrounding areas, and numerous evangelical churches. The city is home to the Abilene Philharmonic Association, the Grace Cultural Museum, the Paramount Theater, the Center for Contemporary Arts, the Abilene Zoo, Frontier Texas, and the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature. In addition to these cultural attractions, Abilene features 5 libraries, 26 public parks, 6 television stations, and a fluctuating number of radio stations.
Special interest events held throughout the year in Abilene include the Abilene Gem and Mineral Show, the Abilene Gun and Knife Show, the West Texas Book and Music Festival, and the Erinshire Folk Festival. Such cultural celebrations help make Abilene a pleasant place to live and visit.