by Paula Bosse
Industrial Dallas, Inc. was a nonprofit corporation formed by directors of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce to boost national awareness of Dallas’ favorable business climate and its role as a major hub of business and manufacturing in Texas and in the neighboring states Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The idea was to promote Dallas in a series of advertisements placed in national business-oriented magazines; the three-year campaign (1928-1931) had a budget of $500,000 (the equivalent of $7,000,000 in today’s money) and was led by banker and Dallas booster (and future mayor) R. L. Thornton. Despite the fact that this campaign coincided with the first years of the Great Depression, Industrial Dallas, Inc. was considered a success: it attracted hundreds of new companies to Dallas and firmly established the city’s national reputation as an important commercial center and as a dynamic young city offering limitless business opportunities.
Not everyone was smitten with these Dallas ads, however. Texans who did business beyond the “acceptable” concentric circles of the Dallas, Inc. map were annoyed, as can be seen in this amusing piece by a writer for the Waco newspaper (click to see larger image).
Two Industrial Dallas, Inc. ads appeared it the June 5, 1928 issue of the magazine Nation’s Business (the top illustration is a detail, the second is a full-page advertisement).
The ads were intended to run only three years — until spring of 1931 — but they continued to run until at least the very beginning of 1932. In 1959, Industrial Dallas, Inc. was resurrected for another publicity blitz (led by Dallas Power & Light president C. A. Tatum, Jr.), and ads again appeared in national publications for three years. One of this later series of ads can be seen here.
An interesting little sidebar about this campaign was that it was expressly credited with attracting the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. to build a new “Master Super Service Station” at the northwest corner of Ross and Harwood in 1929 as part of the company’s multi-million-dollar national expansion program. The company purchased what was then the home of the Knights of Columbus, but it had been known since its construction around 1900 as the grand Conway residence, a palatial house designed by architect H. A. Overbeck for prominent lumber dealer J. C. Conway (it was the childhood home of his daughter Gordon Conway, a noted fashion illustrator). It was reported that after the Firestone Co. purchased the property, Harvey Firestone, Jr. had two carved mahogany mantels removed from the house and shipped to the home he was building “in the North.” It’s sad that such a lovely home (seen here) — not even 30 years old! — would be torn down to build a service station. But time and tide wait for no man. Especially in Dallas.
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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.