Mardi Gras Parade in Dallas — ca. 1876/1877

by Paula Bosse

mardi-gras_c1870s_degolyerMain St. looking east from Austin (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

What was happening downtown on this day, about 140 years ago? Mardi Gras, Dallas-style! Let’s wander around this parade photo, taken by Alfred Freeman. (Click photos to see larger images.)

mardi-gras_c1870s-det1This kid has a great, unobstructed second-story view of the parade below.

mardi-gras_c1870s-det2No glitz, no beads, no flashing.

mardi-gras_c1870s-det5Every time I look at the original photograph, my eye always goes to this woman.

mardi-gras_c1870s-det3Okay, that kid’s view is nothing compared to these guys who’ve scaled the Dallas Herald building.

mardi-gras_c1870s-det4In information about the 1876 parade, the Feb. 24, 1876 edition of The Dallas Herald advised: “To prevent accidents, owners of buildings having varandas [sic] will permit no one to stand on them, unless the same have been sufficiently strengthened.” I don’t know … some of those “varandas” look pretty shaky.

And down Main Street they go.


This is a stereograph photo by Alfred Freeman, from the Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be viewed here. (I have manipulated the color.) SMU has the photo as being “ca. 1870,” but the first Mardi Gras parade in Dallas wasn’t held until 1876. The view shows Main Street looking east, apparently taken from the roof of the Reed & Lathrop building on the northeast corner of Main and Austin.

UPDATE: This might be a photograph of the Mardi Gras celebration held in Dallas on February 24 (a Thursday…), in 1876. This was the first such celebration held in the city, and it was a massive undertaking, attracting more than 20,000 spectators. For weeks after the event, Alfred Freeman was advertising his Mardi Gras photographs with the following text: “Freeman, the artist, has nine different views of the Mardi Gras procession, for sale.”


Read about the first Mardi Gras parade in Dallas in the Flashback Dallas post “Mardi Gras: ‘Our First Attempt at a Carnival Fete’ — 1897,” here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.