Little Mexico: Turney & Payne — 1940

by Paula Bosse

little-mexico_ca_1940_WPA-GD_DHSLooking southeast, toward Pegasus… (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a photo taken in 1940 at the intersection of the unpaved Turney Avenue and Payne Street, in Little Mexico — El Barrio — just north of downtown. St. Ann’s school can be seen at the end of the street, and the Villasana Food Store (prop. Rodolfo Villasana, est. 1932) is at the left; in the distance, Pegasus atop the Magnolia Oil Building. (A similar view from 1941 during ongoing street-widening — taken a bit farther back and from a slightly higher elevation — can be seen here.)

In 1941, Turney Avenue was widened and paved and then … lost its name; it became part of the brand new Harry Hines Boulevard.

Hines Boulevard begins at Five Point, where the $100,000 Tom Field Circle will be built and stretches eight miles into Dallas over Turney Street to Cedar Springs, joining Akard at Harwood. (Dallas Morning News, July 23, 1941)

Another view of the area during this period of road work can be seen in the photo below. Ramon Alonzo’s store seen at the lower right was at 2209 Caroline. (The once-familiar “smokestacks” seen in the background belonged to the Dallas Power & Light Company, which sat on land now occupied by the American Airlines Center.)


Adios, Turney. Big changes are ahead. You’ll never believe how much your old neighborhood is going to change.


Here are the residents and businesses along both Turney and Payne as listed in the 1939 Dallas directory, one year before the upheaval began (click to see larger images):

1939 Dallas directory

1939 Dallas directory

To get an idea of where Turney was, here’s a detail from a 1919 map.


Today? It’s part of Victory Park. If you took a right on Payne at the sign advertising “milk” (in front of the Villasana gas station), you’d be about two blocks from what is now the American Airlines Center. Yep. A current Google Street View is here.


Sources & Notes

Top photo from the WPA Guide and History (which has been fully scanned and may be accessed at UNT’s Portal to Texas History site, here); photo from the collection of the Dallas Historical Society.

More great photos of Little Mexico from this time can be found in the article “Little Mexico and the Barrios of Dallas” by Gwendolyn Rice (Legacies, Fall, 1991), which can be found here. (The photo of Alonzo’s store is from this article.)

Several images of Turney under construction in 1940/1941 can be see in the Department of Public Works collection at the Dallas Historical Society site, here. (The linked image in the first paragraph is from this collection.)

The top photo also appears in Dallas’s Little Mexico by Sol Villasana (his family owned the store and the gas station at the Turney-Payne intersection); see it — and a northward view of the gas station, here.

For those who enjoy articles about road construction, here are a couple of Harry Hines-related News articles which might be of interest:

  • “Dedication Rites Planned For Boulevard; New Highway Named For Harry Hines Opens About Aug. 1,” DMN, July 3, 1941. (Officials were a little optimistic with that August opening — it didn’t officially open until October, 1941.)
  • It’s weird to think of Harry Hines being an actual person, but see a photo of him at the ribbon-cutting, along with another name more familiar to us today as a freeway than as a flesh-and-blood human being, Woodall Rodgers, then mayor: “Ribbon Road Barrier Snipped,” DMN, Oct. 15, 1941.

All pictures and clippings larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.