Dickinson is located on a tract of land granted to John Dickinson in 1824, and named after him. A settlement had been established in this area on Dickinson Bayou before 1850. The Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad was built directly through Dickinson. This line was used in the American Civil War to successfully retake Galveston. The Dickinson Land and Improvement Association was organized in the 1890s by Fred M. Nichols and eight other businessmen. It marketed to potential farmers with claims of the soil's suitability for food crops, and to socialites with the creation of the Dickinson Picnic Grounds and other attractions. By 1911, the Galveston–Houston Electric Railway had three stops in Dickinson, and the Oleander Country Club was a popular destination for prominent Galvestonians. In 1905, Italian ambassador Baron Mayor des Planches convinced about 150 Italians from crowded eastern cities to move to Dickinson. They joined the dozens relocated there after flooding in Bryan forced them to seek new homes. Recently, the City of Dickinson constructed a new multi-million dollar city hall and library complex which was dedicated June 30, 2009. The complex is located between Highway 3 and F.M. 517 near the intersection.

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