Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Barges on the Trinity — 1906

barge_trinity_clogenson_1906-LOC-1A confident crew, a stoic Old Red, and a stubborn river (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

“A navigable Trinity.” For over 150 years, people have hoped against hope that the Trinity River might one day be made into a commercial waterway, navigable from the Gulf of Mexico to Dallas. For over a century, federal, state, and local funds were optimistically (misguidedly?) poured into various hopeless plans and projects — but not a one was successful.

In 1906, construction was to begin on one of these projects — a series of locks and dams downriver of Dallas. Above and below are photographs showing the barge Charles R. Lane loaded with lumber and camp provisions, which were to be towed by the launch Admiral to McCommas Bluff, where the first lock was to be built. The above photo ran in the May 1, 1906 edition of The Dallas Morning News above the following caption:

“Contractor’s barge, loaded with supplies, about to depart from Dallas for the site of the first lock and dam down the Trinity River.”

Below, the story that accompanied the photo. (Click for larger image.)

barge_trinity_dmn_050106DMN, May 1, 1906

barge_trinity_clogenson_1906-LOC-2Dudes and fat-cats, with dollar signs in their eyes (click for larger image)

Later that month, a barge excursion to the site of the future lock was arranged for interested parties. This “merry crowd” of curious looky-loos was towed down the river to McCommas Bluff where they de-barged to tour the site and have a picnic lunch atop the picturesque bluff. They returned to Dallas happy and excited, convinced that maybe — just maybe — the Trinity would finally be tamed!

barge_trinity_dmn_052806DMN, May 28, 1906 (click for larger image)

Giddy enthusiasm about the project was all over the pages of The Dallas Morning News:

“The time for doubter and pessimist has passed, and belief in the certainty of the practical navigation of the Trinity now appears unanimous.” (DMN, May 2, 1906)

Well-intentioned though this wishful thinking might have been, “certainty” is probably not a word that should be tossed around so lightly. And certainly not in the case of anything having to do with the Trinity.

I bet that poor river just wishes people would leave it alone.


Both photographs taken by Henry Clogenson; from the collection of the Library of Congress, here and here.

“Trinity River Navigation Projects” entry from the Handbook of Texas is here.

History and photos of the McCommas Bluff Preserve and Trails area (including an interesting photo of Dam #1 from about 1910) can be found on the Dallas Trinity Trails blog, here.

An essential history of the various failed attempts over the years to open up a navigable Trinity between Dallas and the Gulf of Mexico can be found in “Navigating the Trinity: A Dream That Endured for 130 Years” by Jackie McElhaney; the article from the Spring 1991 issue of Legacies can be read here.

An interesting page from the American Canal Society Canal Index — with an illustration of the location of the locks — can be accessed here.

To watch a soothing video shot in the area of the abandoned Dam #1 at beautiful McCommas Bluff, click here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Adolphus & Its Annex

adolphus_lang-witchell_arch-yrbk_1922The Adolphus Hotel and its annex, circa 1922 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Built in 1912, the ornate and luxurious Barnett, Haynes, and Barnett-designed Adolphus Hotel (which was modeled on/inspired by the Plaza Hotel in New York) quickly became THE hotel in Dallas. It was so successful that in only four years an expansion was already underway. The 12-story “Annex” (seen above, just to the left of the original building) was designed by preeminent Dallas architects Otto Lang and Frank Witchell. The so-called “Junior Adolphus” was built around 1916/17 and added 229 rooms to Dallas’ most glamorous hotel. A third addition (“Adolphus III”) came along in the 1920s.

Below, a few views of the Adolphus complex at different stages of its growth. (Click photos for larger images.)


adolphus-construction_dallas-then-and-nowBuilt at the northwest corner of Commerce and Akard streets, the Adolphus Hotel was built on the spot previously occupied by the City Hall. This photo, looking northeast, shows the site’s excavation by Vilbig Brothers Construction.


1913-pano-2In this detail from an April 1913 panoramic photograph of the city’s skyline, the Adolphus can be seen just six months after its opening at the end of 1912. (A previous post devoted to the full panoramic photo can be accessed here.) The Oriental Hotel, with its rounded topknot, can be seen across Commerce from its sister hotel (both were built by beer king Adolphus Busch). Seen in the background is the Praetorian Building — once the tallest structure in Dallas (it is the tall building, second from the right).


adolphus_lang-witchell_arch-yrbk_1922-detThe the Lang & Witchell-designed annex came along around 1916/17 (see top photo). My favorite detail is what looks like an open-air terrace, with tables and chairs, overlooking Commerce Street.


adolphus-annex_dallas-hotelsAnother view, showing the hotel and annex in 1924.


adolphus-annex_dallas-hotels-detA closer look shows that the terrace is now enclosed.


adolphus-hotelA few years later, a further, taller addition was built.


adolphus-todayAnd here it is today, after several renovations, additions, and deletions — one of Dallas’ most beautiful buildings.


Top photo from the 1922 Yearbook of the Dallas Architectural Club.

Photo of the excavation from Dallas Then and Now by Ken Fitzgerald (San Diego: Thunder Bay Press, 2001); photograph from the Texas/Dallas History and Archive Division of the Dallas Public Library. A similar photo can be seen on the fascinating history page of the Vilbig & Associates website, here.

Detail of 1913 panoramic photo from the Jno. J. Johnson photo in the Library of Congress. (For more info, see previous post, “‘New Dallas Skyline’ — 1913,” here.)

Photo of the Adolphus with the Coca Cola sign in the lower left from Historic Dallas Hotels by Sam Childers (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2010). The author’s extremely informative caption can be read here.

Present-day color photo by Dallas Morning News photographer Kyle R. Lee. That photo is included in a wonderful pictorial history of the Adolphus Hotel, viewable on the Dallas Morning News website here.

The official website for the Adolphus Hotel is here.

Click photos for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Aerial View of the Centennial Fairgrounds — 1936

fair-park_1936_red-oak-kidThe Texas Centennial: a sort of “World’s Fair” for Dallas (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This fantastic photo (by one of Dallas’ top aerial photographers, Lloyd M. Long) shows the impressive expanse of Fair Park’s new Art Deco splendor — most of the buildings seen here were built especially for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, and most of those are, thankfully, still standing.


Lloyd M. Long photo, found on Red Oak Kid’s Flickr stream, here.

To see this photo REALLY big, click here.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“New Dallas Skyline” — 1913

1913-pano-3Dallas skyline panorama detail, 1913 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

On April 1, 1913, one of Dallas’ most prominent photographers, Jno. J. Johnson, took a wonderful panoramic photo of the Dallas skyline. Dallas was, even then, boasting an impressive skyline. I’ve zoomed in a bit on the photo, breaking it down into four separate images. Johnson’s original photograph, titled “New Dallas Skyline — April 1, 1913,” is below. (Click to enlarge all images.)

dallas-panorama-skyline_april-1913_LOC(Click this photo!)

Below, the first portion of the photo.

1913-pano-1E. Eppstein & Co., wholesale distributors of whiskey and cigars, was at 1300-1302 Jackson.


1913-pano-2Above, the second portion, showing S. Akard Street, looking north — at the end of the street is the 6-month old Adolphus Hotel (then the tallest building in Dallas), built by beer baron Adolphus Busch, located on Commerce Street, caddy-corner from his other hotel, The Oriental (the darker building in the center, with the distinctive top-knot on its northwest corner). The Praetorian Building (on Main) — a previous “tallest building in Dallas” — is the still tall-ish white building, second from the right.


The third portion (at the top) shows, I believe, Wood Street, looking east. The Post Office tower on Commerce can be seen at the far left. At the top, to the right of Wood Street (at S. Harwood) is the still-familiar sight of the First Presbyterian Church dome (brand new — the paint inside and out was probably still wet when this photograph was taken); to the right of the dome is the also-still-standing (and beautiful!) Scottish Rite Temple, also brand new.


1913-pano-4The final portion shows what I guess would be considered the northern edge of The Cedars? I love old photos that show residences in what we now consider the Central Business District. It’s so weird seeing these houses! The hulking turreted building at the top is Butler Brothers (built in 1910-11) at 500 S. Ervay; it later changed its name to the Merchandise Mart, and it is now undergoing renovation.


Panoramic photograph by Jno. J. Johnson, from the Library of Congress, here.

For those who want to play along at home, a 1919 street map of the area can be found at the ever-indispensable Portal to Texas History, here.

Click pictures for much larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Elegant Municipal Building — 1914

ciA very un-Dallas-looking building … and one of its finest (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Appearing in the May 7, 1914 issue of Municipal Journal was a short article on Dallas’ then-under-construction Municipal Building and a drawing of what it would look like when completed.



Dallas Will Have Modern Municipal Building

“Dallas, Tex. – The new municipal building of the city of Dallas is nearing completion and will be ready for occupancy in a few months. It will house all of the city departments and in addition will have a modern emergency hospital in the basement and public rest rooms for both men and women. The building is said to be a radical departure in architectural design from the usual type of public buildings in the South; it is constructed along simple but dignified lines. The structure will be of steel construction covered with blue Bedford stone, the five stories, basement and sub-basement will be a home worthy of the city of the hour, as Dallas people like to call their town. Ventilating and heating systems are being installed together with vacuum cleaners. The building, without furnishings, will cost about $550,000. C. D. Hill and Company are the architects. The structure was started by the Fred A. Jones Building Company, which failed just as the steel was up, and it is being finished within the estimates by the city under the supervision of the architects.”

This new City Hall, located at Main, Harwood, and Commerce, was designed by Dallas architect C. D. Hill. Construction began in late 1913 — by January of 1914, its steel frame was in place.

municipal-bldg_dmn_010114Dallas Morning News, Jan. 1, 1914

The cornerstone was laid in a Masonic ceremony on Valentine’s Day, 1914.

municipal- bldg_FWST_021514-cornerstoneFort Worth Star-Telegram, Feb. 15, 1914

As the construction was winding down, workmen complained of an “intolerable” swarm of mosquitoes flying around the site. Apparently an underground spring was flooding the sub-basement and providing palatial digs for endless cycles of constantly-hatching mosquitoes. (I wonder if the basement still floods on occasion?)

municipal-bldg_dmn_091014-mosquitoesDMN, Sept. 10, 1914

The building was officially opened on October 17, 1914. Here’s a grainy photo that absolutely does not do that beautiful building justice.

municipal-bldg_dmn_101714DMN, Oct. 17, 1914

When the doors were finally opened to the public, it was expected that a few thousand people would show up to tour their new municipal building — in actuality, the much-larger-than-anticipated crowd numbered somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 curious Dallasites.

municipal-bldg_dmn-101814DMN, Oct. 18, 1914 (click for larger image)

The beautiful exterior was faced with granite and stone, and the interior boasted marble, mosaic tilework, and wood paneling. All of the furniture used in the building was made in Dallas. In addition to the mayor’s office, fire, police, and other municipal departments, the building also housed an emergency hospital, a sub-basement shooting range (!), and, on the 3rd floor, an 1,100-seat auditorium, with a 4th-floor gallery. (The auditorium was designed so that if, in the future, it was determined that it was not needed, it could easily be converted to office space by adding a few columns and beams — a renovation which obviously happened at some point.) Interestingly, the northern half of the top floor was left unfinished as the space was not needed at the time.

ALSO included in the new building’s amenities were much-needed public restrooms (or as they were euphemistically referred to back then, “comfort stations”). A men’s restroom and a women’s restroom (“positively divided with heavy walls”) were located under the Main Street sidewalk, accessible down stairs on either side of the building’s entrance. Up until this point, there was only ONE public “comfort station” in the city (for women and children) — at Fair Park. So for most downtown visitors, this might well have been the most exciting aspect of Dallas’ newest landmark.

The building referred to as both “City Hall” and “the Municipal Building” was considered to be one of the city’s finest and most elegantly imposing. But there are always a few people who just don’t like nice things, and there was a surprising amount of vandalism to the building in its first few weeks.

municipal-bldg_dmn_111014-vandalismDMN, Nov. 10, 1914

This is one of the truly great buildings in Dallas, and it just recently celebrated its 100th birthday. It is a Dallas Landmark and a Texas Recorded Historic Landmark. No longer a city property, it is now part of the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law campus (along with the old Titche’s building). UNT is currently working to restore and renovate this beautiful historic building. Thank you, UNT!


A few images of the building over the years. Here it is in its pristine early days:


Then there was a weird middle-age-crazy period when someone thought that the addition of awnings would be a good idea (that person was incorrect).


And, today, it’s back to looking distinguished and lovely. Thanks to the wonderful new open park in front of it, it has been given the stately space it deserves, — what may be Dallas’ most beautiful building is finally able to be fully admired from a respectful distance.

municipal-bldg-today_wikipediaJoe Mabel, Wikipedia


Top photo from the book Historic Photos of Dallas by Michael V. Hazel (Nashville: Turner Publishing Co., 2006).

Quote from Municipal Journal, Vol. XXXVI, No. 19 — May 7, 1914.

Photo of the old Municipal Building today by Joe Mabel; from Wikipedia. (And, yes, the parking garage of the Dallas Municipal Building is where Ruby shot Oswald.)

Newspaper photos and clippings as noted.

For a detailed description of the architectural details, design elements, and description of office and department locations within the building, see the article “Municipal Building Handsome Structure” (DMN, Oct. 4, 1914), here.

I’d love to know more about these little “aluminum trays, bearing a picture of the building” mentioned as being given away on opening day in an article above. There were FIVE THOUSAND of them given away. Surely there are some still around. Has anyone seen one of the these?

municipal-bldg_dmn_101814_aluminum-traysDMN, Oct. 18, 1914

Most images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Iola Bridge

iola-bridge_city-park_ca-1908“Looks like California…” — City Park, ca. 1908 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Old postcards of (Old) City Park always seem kind of mysterious to me. I’m fascinated by photos of what was, for many years, Dallas’ only park. It was very big and beautifully landscaped — and it was one of the things about the city that those of earlier generations were most proud of. The postcard views above and below are from the early days of the twentieth century, and, sadly, those views don’t exist anymore — it’s hard to  believe they EVER existed here. Even though there’s a hint of what you might see at Reverchon Park, there’s little else about these images that looks like the Dallas of today. What a shame!

But what’s the story behind the attractive little “Iola” bridge? Built in 1905, it was, apparently, Dallas’ first (or possibly second) concrete bridge. The Iola bridge was far sturdier than the wooden bridges around Dallas, and a concrete bridge also required very little upkeep. In fact, this little bridge “of ornamental design” is actually kind of important — it was often cited by city planners and commissioners when discussing the construction of future bridges around the city.

concrete-bridges_dmn_081005Dallas Morning News, Aug. 10, 1905

It seems wooden bridges were being washed away almost as often as Dallas courthouses were burning down. In a letter that appeared in The News on Feb. 21, 1911, it was noted that, while wooden bridges were “under constant repair,” the concrete Iola bridge “has not required one dollar of outlay […] during its six years of existence.” So … cheaper and sturdier. Bye-bye, wooden bridges!

But “Iola” — where did that name come from? I thought it might have been the name of a wife or mother of a mayor or planner, but I HIGHLY suspect it was merely the name of the company that donated the cement for the bridge’s construction, the Iola Portland Cement Company. The company’s canny “civic donation” ultimately paid off BIG for them in the end. Not only did they supply the cement to build that first very pretty little bridge in a very pretty park, they also, ultimately, get whopping new orders from the city for all those new concrete bridges that began to be built — including, less than ten years later (when the Iola company’s West Dallas plant had been sold to the TEXAS Portland Cement Co.) the Trinity River-spanning Oak Cliff/Houston Street viaduct, which, when it opened in 1912, was the longest concrete bridge in the WORLD! And it all began with that unassuming bridge in scenic City Park.




Below, a couple of views showing the charming and rather more rustic wooden bridges in the park.





Top postcard found somewhere on the internet. All other postcards from The Watermelon Kid — here.

Black and white photo by Victor H. Schoffelmayer appeared in The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 9, 1921; it was one of several photographs of the Iola bridge, taken by members of the Dallas Camera Club.

Iola Portland Cement Co. ad from the 1905 city directory.

A Dallas Morning News article from July 14, 1905 detailing the new improvements to City Park (including the concrete bridge) can be read here. (I don’t think the really wonderful-sounding “cascade” was ever built — and that’s a pity, because it sounds like it would have been beautiful!)

Most images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Nolan Ryan’s Celebratory Pancake Breakfast — 1972

nolan-ryan© Bettmann/CORBIS

by Paula Bosse

In 1972, future baseball hall-of-famer and Texas Rangers legend Nolan Ryan (then a California Angel) was photographed in Dallas as he sat mesmerized by a platter of 302 silver-dollar pancakes and an iced-tea-sized pitcher of syrup. The celebratory breakfast was served to him at the Sheraton Dallas the morning after he became only the sixth pitcher in major league history to strike out more than 300 batters in a season. (His opponents the previous night — September 25, 1972 — had been the Rangers, the team he would one day play for and preside over as president and CEO.)

The UPI Telephoto wire photo ran on Sept. 27, 1972 above the following caption:

302 PANCAKES — Ever wonder what 302 strikeouts in a season will get you? If you’re a batter, you may lose your job, but if you’re a pitcher like Nolan Ryan, left, of the California Angels, [you] will at least get 302 silver dollar pancakes. This was the breakfast that awaited Ryan Tuesday after his 3-hit, 12-strikeout win over the Texas Rangers Monday. The executive chef at the Sheraton Dallas [Isaac Pina] produced the breakfast for the Alvin native, a former New York Met, who is the sixth pitcher in major league history to strike out more than 300 batters in one season.

The Dallas Morning News didn’t dwell on the Ryan achievement (they probably didn’t want to dwell on those 12 (!!) strikeouts) and mentioned it only in passing in the next day’s game coverage:

ryan_dmn_092672DMN, Sept. 26, 1972

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram gave it a bit more space:

ryan_FWST_092672FWST, Sept. 26, 1972

Judging by the expression on his face at the next day’s breakfast table, it’s pretty obvious the 25-year old Nolan Ryan enjoyed his triumph.


Photo © Bettmann/CORBIS, on the Corbis website, here. (The photo is also seen on this page, from The Guardian, which shows a collection of really great historic baseball photos — a bit of a surprise, coming from a British newspaper!)

The photo was published in newspapers around the country; the quoted wire copy appeared in the Sept. 27, 1972 edition of The Waxahachie Daily Light.

To read a passage from the book Nolan Ryan’s Pitcher’s Bible in which he writes about the importance of his high-carb breakfasts (Day One: Pancakes…), see here.

To read the full Dallas Morning News report (by Merle Heryford) on this particular game between the California Angels and the Texas Rangers, click here.

The Wikipedia entry on Nolan Ryan is here; his stats are here.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Easter Egg Hunt at City Park — 1924

easter-egg-hunt_dmn_041924-photoHunters and their patrons, 1924 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Happy Easter! Here’s what was going on at about this time, 91 years ago.

Osteopathic Clinic Fetes Children With Easter Egg Hunt

The church committee of the free osteopathic clinic at the First Unitarian Church, Ervay and St. Louis streets, entertained seventy-five children of the clinic at an Easter egg hunt in City Park Friday afternoon. Real Easter eggs were hidden by the ladies of the committee about the park, and where the close-cropped grass did not provide good hiding places about the tree trunks, nests were made in the sand.

After the youngsters had been released to hunt, they pursued the quest vigorously, to the accompaniment of shrill cries of delight, until all the eggs were found, the members of the committee distributed Easter baskets filled with candy eggs for the children to eat. Later they were taken to the church, where refreshments were served.


Photo and caption from The Dallas Morning News, April 19, 1924.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas’ Kosher Delis — 1921


by Paula Bosse

Dallas once had a lot of mom-and-pop Jewish delicatessens and markets. Would that that were true today….

Here are a few ads from the pages of the Fort Worth-based Jewish Monitor (the “Leading Jewish Journal of the Great Southwest”) from April, 1921, published in the lead-up to Passover.






All ads from The Jewish Monitor, April 8, 1921 (except for the Star Kosher Delicatessen ad, which was from the April 1, 1921 edition). The April 8 edition of the paper can be viewed in its entirety at the Portal to Texas History site, here.

As this is Passover, my previous related post, “The Margules Family’s Passover Seder,” can be read here.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Dallas Skyline Seen From the Trinity Industrial District — 1950

dallas-skyline_trinity-industrial-district-1950Click for larger image (photo from Fabric-Guy/Flickr)

by Paula Bosse

This is a GREAT view that isn’t seen a lot in photos of mid-century Dallas: a view of the bursting skyline, from the Trinity Industrial District. The photo comes from the wall of Burch Fabrics, which (as the John K. Burch Company) opened a new 12,000-square-foot plant in 1950 at 110 Howell Street (the building is seen in the foreground in the photo above).

burch_dmn_051450-photoburch_dmn_051450Dallas Morning News, May 14, 1950

The Trinity Industrial District had entered something of a renaissance in 1950 when the area suddenly exploded with new construction. (Click for larger image.)

trinity-industrial-district_dmn-011451DMN, Jan. 14, 1951

The boundaries of the District were described thusly (DMN, Jan. 14, 1951):

“In almost the geographical center of Dallas, the Trinity Industrial District extends northward from the Texas & Pacific Railway to Hampton-Inwood Road, between the main line of the Rock Island Railway and the east levee of the Trinity River.”

Here’s another view of the area, from a slightly different angle:

trinity-industrial-district_dmn_011451-photoDMN, Jan. 14, 1951

The photo above was part of a full-page ad touting the growth of the vibrant industrial growth in the District. To see the full-page ad (which features an impressively lengthy list of firms which “now occupy or have buildings under construction”), click here.

All that open space!


Top photo from Fabric-Guy, viewable on Flickr, here.

Clippings from The Dallas Morning News, as noted.

The location around the John K. Burch Co., today (Google):


Most images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


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