South Central Expressway Under Construction — 1955
Coming soon to a neighborhood near you… (UTA Special Collections)
by Paula Bosse
Behold, a photo of South Dallas on Sept. 29, 1955, showing a lengthy stretch of bulldozed land cleared for the imminent construction of South Central Expressway. We’re looking south, with Forest Avenue (now Martin Luther King Blvd.) running horizontally in the foreground. To the right is the Forest Theater (now playing: “Lady and the Tramp”). And if you zoom in, you can just see the post-Ross Avenue location of the famed Jim Beck recording studio to the right of the theater.
This great swath of land cut through an established tree-filled residential area — it ran alongside the once-swanky Colonial Hill neighborhood. Zoom in and take a last look at some of those straggler houses that haven’t yet met their maker. …But they will. …And they did.
Below is another Squire Haskins aerial photo looking north, toward downtown, taken a few weeks later, on Nov. 11, 1955 (see a very large image of this photo on the UTA website here).
Squire Haskins, Nov. 1955, UTA Special Collections
I wondered what had been demolished on Forest between the houses to the left and the theater to the right. It was Fire Station No. 6, at 2202 Forest Avenue. I looked in my bulging file of miscellaneous photos and was surprised to actually find a couple of photos of that No. 6 Engine Company, which was built in 1913.
The station was on the south side of Forest Avenue, alone in a very short block. As we look at the station in the photo above, the H&TC railroad runs just to the right of the station, and Kimble Street runs along the left. See a Sanborn map of this area in 1922, here.
The photo below shows what Forest Avenue once looked like, from the front of the firehouse looking east (the intersection with Kimble is on the other side of the firetruck — you can see the street sign). These houses are still standing in the 1955 photo at the top.
When you know what this intersection looks like today (see this same view today, here), it’s hard to believe it ever looked like a cozy neighborhood. Progress is a helluva thing, man.
A couple of short articles for those who might want a little more info about the fire station, which was demolished sometime between April and September of 1955. (Click articles for larger images.)
Dallas Morning News, July 6, 1913
Sources & Notes
Top photo by Squire Haskins, from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, UTA Libraries, Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington; it is accessible here.
Second photo by Squire Haskins, from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, UTA Libraries, Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington; it is accessible here.
The two fire station photos are from the collection of the Dallas Firefighters Museum, via the Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas. The first photo can be viewed here, the second photo here.
Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.