by Paula Bosse
The photo above shows land partially cleared for the construction of Woodall Rodgers Freeway. The view is to the east, with Central Expressway at the top left and Stemmons Freeway at the bottom left. The land cleared was once part of what used to be called “North Dallas,” and before it was bulldozed away, it was a predominantly black residential neighborhood served by several African-American- and Hispanic-owned businesses. The photo above was taken on May 24, 1966. The photo below was taken on December 8, 1966. The freeway was already years behind schedule when these photos were taken, but nobody would ever have believed it would take until 1983 (!!) for Woodall Rodgers Freeway — a “cute” little highway, less than two miles long — to be completed. Oh, but it did.
In a Dallas Morning News article published on the May 27, 1983 opening of the freeway, Henry Tatum wrote the following:
Dwight Eisenhower was starting his second term as president of the United States. Elvis Presley had passed his physical examination and was headed for a stint in the Army. And Doris Day was singing up a storm on the screen in “Pajama Game.” The year was 1957 and Dallas city fathers decided it was time to build a downtown connection between Central Expressway and Stemmons Freeway. (“Freeway From the Past” by Henry Tatum, DMN, May 27, 1983)
When it was completed 26 years later — in 1983 — Ronald Reagan was president, Sally Ride was about to become the first woman to go into space, and Madonna was singing up a storm as her first album was being readied for release. That’s a looong time.
Sources & Notes
Both aerial photos by Squire Haskins, from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, UTA Libraries, University of Texas at Arlington. The photo from May can be accessed here, the one from December, here.
“Woodall Rodgers”? James Woodall Rodgers was mayor of Dallas from 1939 to 1947. It was announced that what would become a never-ending headache-of-a-highway-project bedeviled by funding squabbles and right-of-way issues would be named in his honor in 1960.
Those two photos are really, really big when you click them. …REALLY big.
Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.