Southland Center Observation Deck — 1967

by Paula Bosse

southland-life_observation-deck_HPHS_1967-yrbk_photo550 feet above street level…

by Paula Bosse

I never experienced the observation deck atop the Southland Life Insurance Building (or any of the observation decks sprinkled throughout downtown — other than Reunion Tower, I guess), but I see a lot of people mention it in fond childhood memories. Here it is in an ad from the 1967 Highland Park High School yearbook.



Get a bird’s-eye view of your school from the Observation Deck, high on top of Southland Center. It’s a beautiful view, 550 feet above street level. A completely enclosed Observation Lounge assures visitors of all-weather comfort.

Come every day, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Adults, 25¢ — children (6-12) 10¢. Proceeds go to charity.

Southland Life Insurance Co.
Home Office  •  Southland Center  •  Dallas



The observation deck and “lounge” was opened to the public on the 41st floor of the Southland Life Building on Oct. 31, 1956 (the top floor — the 42nd — had a private heliport). I can’t find when it finally closed, but it was open until at least the 1980s.

A search around the internet turned up an interesting bit of footage of the observation deck in 1962 — from a cameo appearance in the TV show “Route 66” (there were a couple of episodes shot in Dallas — I haven’t seen this entire episode, but the clip below has a few cool locations). The pertinent footage begins at the 4:43 mark and lasts for about 2 minutes (if, like me, any hint of fictional animal danger is a problem, you might want to stop around the 5:00 mark). (A couple of cast connections to our fair city: David Wayne, the actor featured in this episode, would later return to Big D as Digger Barnes in “Dallas,” and Dallas actress K Callan — seen in a scene at Love Field at 4:10 — was both a student and a teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Oak Cliff.) From this clip, it looks like there might have been several of the telescopes around the perimeter of the building. (I’d love to see this in color — to see those shimmering blue glass tiles up close.) (This full episode — one of three filmed in Dallas — can be watched on YouTube, here. You’ll see Love Field, the Marriott Motor Hotel, the Southland observation deck, the SMU campus, the Trade Mart, a Wyatt’s cafeteria and grocery store (6126 Luther Lane, in Preston Center), Sheriff Bill Decker’s actual office, and a drive-in movie theater.)


Is there an observation deck there these days?



Sources & Notes

Top photo/ad is from the 1966 Highland Park High School yearbook. 

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