Tyler is the commercial and cultural capital of the East Texas region, a large area of “piney woods” and traditions more reminiscent of the South than the dry, dusty plains Texas is more famous for. The area came to prominence with the huge oil boom of the 1920’s and 1930’s, and that wealth and exuberance left an imprint on the city core still evident today.
Although petroleum and related industries are still important, the city has diversified both commercially and culturally. Businesses in food processing, cotton and cottonseed oil, furniture, machining, forest products and retail distribution have developed. More recently the area has evolved into a healthcare and retail hub for the region; today the economy is relatively strong.
The well-kept downtown area has historic homes and is surrounded by mostly wooded, residential neighborhoods spreading mostly south into newer areas towards the suburban town of Whitehouse. Tyler does have some small cultural amenities, but on the whole there isn’t much to do. Outdoor recreation is available at nearby lakes and state parks. The most recent statistics show a rise in crime rate, which hurt the most recent ranking. On a Texas scale, the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex isn’t too far away, but the drive is long for some services and amenities.
The terrain is level to gently rolling with dense southern pine forests and intermittent agricultural land. The climate is mainly continental with a strong subtropical influence from the Gulf. Summer months are hot and fairly humid, but more comfortable than areas to the south near the Gulf. Winters are mild, with occasional, short periods of cold. Rainfall occurs as steady winter rains or as spring and summer thundershowers, which can be severe particularly in spring.