The Twin Standpipes of Lakewood Heights: 1923-1955
by Paula Bosse
Abrams and Goliad, y’all… (click for larger image)
by Paula Bosse
The two large water towers pictured above loomed over the East Dallas neighborhood of Lakewood Heights for over 30 years. They sat at the southwest corner of what was then known as Greenville Road (not to be confused with Greenville Avenue) and Aqueduct Avenue — the streets are known today as Abrams Road and Goliad Avenue. The towers replaced a previous (single) water tank, which, by the early 1920s, was proving inadequate for the needs of an exploding Lakewood area.
These water tanks — called “standpipes” — were really big: each was 100 feet tall, 60 feet in diameter, and held two million gallons of water. They were erected in October, 1923 and, rather surprisingly, stood until 1955. Even though I grew up in this part of town, I never knew about these tanks until a couple of years ago when I saw a photo in a Dallas history group. It’s hard to believe those industrial behemoths were smack dab in the middle of what is now a jam-packed residential neighborhood.
Here are a few photos featuring cameo appearance by the omnipresent tanks. In the first one, from the 1930s, they can be seen at the top right, ghostlike in the distance.
Then there’s this fantastic aerial shot of what would later become the fully developed Lakewood area (and beyond). Looking east, White Rock Lake is in the distance, and the two towers — brand new when this photo was taken in 1923, and taller than anything else in the photograph — are at the left.
Let’s zoom in a bit:
And here is a really wonderful photo which was posted in the Dallas History Facebook group by Mary Doster from the collection of her husband Jim Doster, showing Abrams, looking north, in 1925. (The location of the twin tanks was actually outside the Dallas city limits in 1919 — see the boundary on a 1919 map here.) I never get tired of seeing streetcars, especially traveling down streets I drive everyday.
A few articles about the tanks’ beginning in 1923.
Dallas Morning News, Feb. 27, 1923
Here’s a screenshot from a silent film produced by the City of Dallas waterworks department, showing them at traffic-level, with a view to the northwest from Abrams.
The tanks were dismantled in 1955 (pertinent articles are listed below, in the “Notes” section). Their fate, post-dismantling? One of them was destined to be reassembled in Tarrant County for the Hurst-Euless-Bedford water system, and the other one was “to be kept as stand-by storage for the city” (DMN, June 7, 1955).
Sources & Notes
First two photos from the book Reminiscences, A Glimpse of Old East Dallas.
Aerial photo — titled “East Dallas — 1923” — is a Fairchild Aerial Surveys photograph, from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information is here. (I have adjusted the color.)
Screenshot is from a City of Dallas silent film, shot for the water department — the film is in the TAMI collection here, and the standpipes pop up at the 6:39-ish mark. Thanks to John Botefuhr for posting the link to this film on the Lakewood 1925-1985 Facebook group.
More on the tanks’ removal in 1955 can be found in these Dallas Morning News articles:
- “Familiar Old Landmark To Be Removed” (DMN, March 20, 1955)
- “Offers Vary on Standpipe” (DMN, April 26, 1955)
- “East Dallas Landmark Coming Down” (DMN, June 7, 1955 — has photo taken from inside the tank looking up as dismantling was underway)
The present-day view seen in the top photo — looking south on Abrams — can be seen on Google Street View here.
A very interesting Sanborn Map from 1922 — before the twin tanks were built, but still showing the “Lakewood Heights Water Works” — can be found here. There’s, like, nobody living there, man.
I’d love to see other photos of these particular “standpipes” — if anyone has any, forward them to me and I’ll include them in this post. Contact info is at the top.
As always, images are magically larger when clicked.
Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.
What an interesting piece of East Dallas history! I have a vague memory of riding past these water towers on my bicycle on my way to White Rock Lake when I was about ten years old. I don’t recall them being removed, but I guess I wasn’t paying much attention back then. I also have a vague memory of a smaller water tower that sat at the high point of Bob O Links Golf Course (near the miniature golf course) just up a bit on Abrams Road. I think that small water tower was privately owned and just for the golf course use, but I don’t know for sure. In any event, thanks Paula for a very interesting article.
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Thanks, Danny. They were definitely neighborhood landmarks. They even showed up in ads, like this one for a grocery store:
I delivered circulars as a child for Evans Lakewood Food Mart
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I lived on Palo Pinto st not far from the water towers.. With another boyfriend, we climbed the ladder to the top of the tower. What a great view it was. However we saw a police car many blocks off driving in our direction and climbed down rapidly. Sure enough he pulled up and starting asking about our being up there. Some one had called it in. We pleaded ignorance but the rust on our hands gave us away. He took our names and gave us a stern warning not to do it again. We took his advise.
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Ha! Great story!
Where is that first photo after the towers? It looks a bit like Lakewood Shoping center – but perhapse it’s Gaston and Garland. Anyone know?
Yes, it’s the Lakewood Shopping Center. The empty spot on the left would be the eventual location of the Lakewood Theater.
[…] Never heard of a “standpipe”? See photos in the Flashback Dallas post “The Twin Standpipes of Lakewood Heights: 1923-1925.” […]
[…] neighborhood of Lakewood Heights, from 1923 to 1955. I wrote about the history of these towers here. (Photo from the book Reminiscences, A Glimpse of Old East […]
[…] Above, part of the Fair Park racetrack, with the reviewing stand for the “Cavalcade of Texas” pageant at the right. If you look closely on the horizon — at the right, above the Cavalcade stands, you’ll see two towers. Are those the two water towers over in Lakewood at Abrams and Goliad (which I wrote about here)? […]