Downtown Dallas, ca. 1923 — Zooming in on the Details

by Paula Bosse

downtown-dallas_degolyer_smuThere’s a lot going on here (click for larger image) / Photo: SMU

by Paula Bosse

When I see photos like this I always want to zoom in as far as I can, to see the tiny details and everyday moments that might have been captured unwittingly by the photographer. Luckily, this photo has been scanned at such a high resolution (thank you, DeGolyer Library!) that it’s easy to zoom in and wander around it. (Click all of these pictures for much larger images.)

This particular photograph, from the DeGolyer Library at SMU, is attributed to Charles A. McAfee. The DeGolyer caption reads: “Downtown Dallas looking northwest at Santa Fe building complex (center left); Weyenberg Shoe Company at 1300-1302 Jackson; Waldorf Hotel, 1302 Commerce, and the Southland Hotel.” The Britling Cafeteria was at 1316 Commerce — its rear entrance on Jackson is visible in the photo. Here are a few more of the businesses in that 1300 block of Jackson Street, bounded by S. Field and S. Akard (from the 1923 city directory):

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And it ALSO shows lots of signs and ads painted on the sides of buildings (some of which might still exist), two men standing on a roof surveying the skyline, a couple of guys talking on the sidewalk, a cafe next door to something that might be a crude garage, cars in a lot where it costs 25 cents to park, and a cool water tower on top of a shoe company. All of which add up to make this a much more interesting and lively photograph than originally presumed.

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Photograph of downtown Dallas attributed to Charles A. McAfee; from the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; access it here. I’ve corrected the color.

Trying to pin a date down (SMU has it as “circa 1920”), I’m guessing the photograph might have been taken around 1923, as the Britling Cafeteria opened for business on November 28, 1922. (I was so interested in that cafeteria that I wrote about it: read the Flashback Dallas post “The Britling Cafeteria Serves Those Who Serve Themselves,” here.)

For other photos I’ve zoomed in on to see the details, see here.

Click photos for much larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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