Year-End List: My Favorite Images Posted in 2020

elm-ervay-live-oak_weather-sign_ca-1948Elm Street neon, ca. 1948

by Paula Bosse

Another year is coming to a close. Time for a list or two (or three…). Today I list my favorite photos, drawings, postcards, and ads posted throughout 2020, listed in the order in which they appeared. Most images are larger when clicked — see the original linked articles for more info and image sources.


First, the photo above, which contains almost everything I wish I could have seen in downtown Dallas — sadly, I never got to see any of it! This is downtown Dallas at its liveliest and big-city-est. This is Elm Street around 1948, looking east from Ervay. So much flashing neon. And that wonderful Coca-Cola sign which provided weather forecasts. From the January post “Bright Lights, Big City — ca. 1948.”


Perhaps of all the hundreds of historical photos of Dallas I saw in 2020, I think I was most excited to stumble across the one below, which shows a very early photo of Lowest Greenville’s Arcadia Theatre, built in the 1920s. This photo led me to write one of my most research-dense posts of the year. It pays to be someone who loves lingering over obscure film trade publications of yesteryear — otherwise I would never have found this. I can’t fully describe how much I love this photo. Click it. It’s great. Think of it next time you’re in the Trader Joe’s which currently occupies the corner site. (Incidentally, this photo was the most clicked of any Flashback Dallas image posted in 2020.) From the January post “Bel-Vick’s Anchor: The Angelus Arcade and the Arcadia Theatre — 1920s.”



I love almost all illustrations of Dallas’ distinctive skyline. Such as this one from the 1930s, pre-Pegasus, featured in the February post “Dynamic Dallas Skyline — 1930s.” 



I love this photo from 1918 showing “men marching to mess after evening parade” at Camp Dick, the Air Service training camp which took over Fair Park during World War I. Imagine training for military service in the shadow of a giant roller coaster. From the March post “Marching to Mess — 1918.” 



What would 2020 be without mention of the ever-present coronavirus pandemic? Several years ago I wrote about Dallas’ experiences with the Spanish Flu in 1918, but seeing that this was the year that was, I wrote another, if only to use this photo showing men based at another major WWI training camp, Love Field, lining up to be “sprayed” as a preventive influenza treatment. From the March post “Influenza Pandemic Arrives in Dallas — 1918.” 



Another great photo of 1940s Dallas is this one showing Oak Cliff’s main drag. From the March post “West Jefferson Blvd. at Night.” 



This fantastic Frank Rogers photo thrills me every time I see it. It shows what most of us know as the KLIF studios on Commerce Street, but here it is, brand new, as a Magnolia gas station (ground level) and company offices (above). From the March post “Magnolia Gas Station No. 110 — 1920.” 



Photos and postcard images showing the powerful light display which was such a huge hit at both the Texas Centennial (1936) and the Pan-American Exposition (1937) are almost hard to believe — but those lights in Fair Park could be seen for miles and miles and miles. The photo below shows what the lights looked like as seen from downtown in 1936 and was featured in one of the periodic posts I do in which I collect photos I’ve come across recently and have decided to add to older posts (this photo was added to a 2016 post which had many photos and postcard images of this super-bright fan-display of lights). From the April post “A Few Photo Additions to Past Posts — #13.”



I’m not sure where this photo of a young woman waiting for an Interurban was taken, but it’s somewhere along the Interurban line. I choose to think it’s Dallas — or that she’s at least heading to Dallas. From the April post “Interurban Miscellany.”



Every lover of Mid-Century Modern design will love all of the photos in the April post “The Southland Center: Mid-Century Cool — 1959,” but there are two in particular which I’ve gone back to and stared at for long stretches of time. The first one shows a more-Deco-than-MCM-looking round kiosk, and this photo just takes my breath way — from the dramatic lighting all the way down to the floor (check out the floor!). (And is that the Republic Bank “rocket” seen out the window?) The second one is all bright light and sharp edges and is as aesthetically pleasing in its angular openness as the first one is in its curved moodiness. All the photos by John Rogers in the above linked post are great.




I’m a sucker for diners, and I love this postcard which shows Ruth Hansen’s establishment at 1814 Main Street, just west of St. Paul, in about 1913. And, again, check out the floor! From the June post “Mother Hansen’s Home Cooking — 1913.”



I found this architectural rendering in an old Chamber of Commerce publication. It shows the original 1949 design of the Neiman-Marcus store on Preston Road as envisioned by architects Roscoe DeWitt and Arch Swank. By the time the store was finally built, the design had, sadly, changed. “Sadly” because this building would have been amazing. From the August post “Neiman’s First Suburban Store: Preston Road — 1951-1965.”



This photo appeared in the KERA documentary “South Dallas Pop” — I don’t know the original source of the photo and haven’t seen it anywhere else, so this image is actually a screenshot I captured from the documentary. It shows the 2200 block of 2nd Avenue, looking northwest toward nearby Fair Park from about Metropolitan. This neighborhood looks nothing like this now. I really wish it did. From the August post “Miscellaneous Dallas.”



This is a family photo sent to me by Ann Hoffman showing a friend of her Great Aunt Nora sipping from a water fountain outside the Old Red Courthouse, sometime in the 1920s. I added it to a 2014 post I wrote about a massively productive artesian well sunk on the courthouse grounds in 1890, but this photo first appeared in the August post “A Few Photo Additions to Past Posts — #14.”

gusher_old red_ann-hoffman-collection_1920s


This photo of the 3-point intersection of Elm, Ervay, and Live Oak is mere steps from the nighttime scene at the top. This daytime scene shows Live Oak with a view to the northeast. When I first began this blog in 2014, I was amazed by how many people mentioned downtown’s (generally unpleasant) underground public restrooms (which I had never heard of) — and this photo shows where an entrance was: near the tower thing seen under the “L” in the Lee Optical sign. From the September post “Live Oak, From Elm and Ervay.”



I don’t know why the 1940s call to me so strongly, but I regret that I didn’t live in a time when sportswriters looked like this. Sports staff of the Fort Worth Press, ca. 1948: (left to right) Jerre Todd, Blackie Sherrod, Dan Jenkins; (and sitting) Andy Anderson and Edwin “Bud” Shrake. Missing: Gary Cartwright. From the October post “Legendary Sports Writers of the Fort Worth Press — ca. 1948.”



Remember that photo above of the Magnolia gas station (the KLIF studios)? If the photo below, taken in 1918, had been taken two years later, these high school cadets standing in formation on Commerce Street would have been looking directly at that building. This National Archives photo (like the one of Camp Dick with the roller coaster) is scanned at such a high resolution that you can see all sorts of great little details. Many of the buildings in this photo still stand. From the October post “World War I Cadets, Commerce Street — 1918.” 



This photo probably means the most to me personally. It shows my aunt Bettye Jo (at the far right) with her friends at a bowling league game, representing Victor’s Lounge. I heard about Victor’s from childhood — it was my aunt’s favorite after-work downtown hangout. She had such fond memories of that place and of that time of her life. My aunt died in May of COVID-19, and my brother and I found this photo when we were clearing out her home last month (we also found the super-cool bowling shirt she’s wearing here). I love this photo. From the November post “Victor’s Lounge — 1913 Commerce.



This LOOK Magazine photo shows Santa with the Republic Bank “rocket” behind him. Proves Santa was here! I posted this last week in “‘Christmas in Dallas’ — LOOK Magazine, 1957.”



I’m adding three bonus images, all ads. I used to post so many more ads than I have lately. I think my first love has always been retro/vintage/historical advertising, so it’s always exciting when I can combine old ads with Dallas history or Dallas pop culture, and I really love these three ads. The first is from Neiman-Marcus and is a 1962 tie-in ad with what was once the very popular annual Smith College Book Sale. From the April post “Smith College Book Sale — 1962.”


This Irby-Thompson Western wear ad is from the October post “‘A Man’s Shop With a Texas Man’s Viewpoint’ — 1945.”


And, finally, I was pretty excited when I saw this “stealth” Dallas-related Greyhound Bus Lines ad (Dallas isn’t even mentioned) — it appeared in a national magazine in 1936, the year of the Texas Centennial Exposition in Big D. From the December post “Take a Greyhound to the Texas Centennial — 1936.”



And those are my favorite photos and images which appeared in Flashback Dallas posts in 2020. 

Coming soon are my personal favorite posts and the most popular posts of the year….


Sources & Notes

See all three 2020 Year-End “best of” lists here.

See all Flashback Dallas Year-End lists — past and present — here.



Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.