Waco, with an estimated population of 120,465 (2005), is the 26th largest city in Texas. The Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area has an approximate population of 226,189. Prior to the establishment of the early settlement, a Wichita clan known as the "Waco" or "Hueco" lived prosperously on the site of that is now the contemporary downtown section, and subsequently the city was named after the original inhabitants.
After the construction of the first bridge to span the wide Brazos River, the economic effects were immediate and changed the area forever. The bridge attracted cattle runs from the nearby Chisholm Trail and helped to increase the population of the city, as immigrants now had a safe passage for their horse drawn carriages to cross the river. The bridge is currently only open to pedestrian traffic.
Waco citizens are very proud of their rich social and cultural history, evident in the many museums and galleries in the area. These include the Mayborn Museum Complex, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, the Dr. Pepper Museum, Art Center Waco, Waco Suspension Bridge, Ranger Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, Homestead Heritage, Historic Homes, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Colleges and universities located in the area include Baylor University, McLennan Community College, and Texas State Technical College.