Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Travel

White Rock Train Station (And a Helicopter Ride)

white-rock-station_portalWaiting on the Texas Chief…

by Paula Bosse

I was so happy to get word from UNT media librarian and film/video archivist Laura Treat this morning that she had come across film footage of White Rock Station, the first suburban train depot built in the Southwest by the Santa Fe Railway (in 1955). The footage is from the “Spotlight on North Texas” collection, a collaborative project between the University of North Texas Libraries and the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) to preserve North Texas film history. This footage is from home movies donated by Mr. Peter Pauls Stewart.

The 4-minute clip starts off with footage shot from a helicopter, showing brand new highways cutting through wide open land, followed by scenes of cute children and their cute dog, and then, beginning at the 3:00 mark, chilly-looking scenes of White Rock Station (which was located at about Jupiter and Kingsley on the edge of Garland, and which, today, looks disappointingly different) and a group of mostly men, some with cameras who appear to be train enthusiasts, waiting for the arrival of the Texas Chief. Doesn’t really look like Texas, does it? Below are some screenshots — watch the full clip on the Texas to Portal History site, here.

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white-rock-station_parking_portal

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Above, two men set up a camera on a tripod as Mr. Stewart — the man who donated the footage — smiles at the camera and waits for the much-anticipated arrival of the train (which, be warned, is never actually seen in this film!).

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Below a couple of aerial shots of the North Texas countryside.

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UPDATE: In the comments below, Danny Linn writes about the aerial footage seen in the first minute or two of the clip: “… at the very beginning [of the clip is] a clear view of the old Highland Park Airport off Coit Road just north of Forest Lane. This portion of the clip also shows a fairly new Central Expressway near the future crossroad of LBJ Freeway.” Thank you, Danny! I assumed part of what we saw was in the LBJ-area, but wasn’t sure — another view of that area can be seen in a fairly startling photo of Preston and Valley View in 1958, here.

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Sources & Notes

The main page of this clip (titled “The Peter Pauls Stewart Films, No. 5 — Helicopter and Railroad Rides”) can be found here, on the Portal to Texas History website; it is from the Spotlight on North Texas collection, UNT Media Library, University of North Texas. (Click picture to watch clip in a new window.)

I have to admit that I had never heard of White Rock Station until I wrote about it in 2015, a post which has been surprisingly popular. The post — “White Rock Station” — can be found here.

Click pictures to see larger images.

Thank you, Laura!

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Union Station — ca. 1916

union-station_ca-1916A century ago… (click to see larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A new Union Station, bustling with activity, as seen across a scrubby vacant lot which, today, is the home of the Dallas Morning News building at S. Houston and Young. See the view today, here.

The photo shows the baggage shed which used to be on the south side of the building as well as the passenger bridge heading to and from the trains, with steps leading down to the platforms. See the details on the Sanborn map from 1921 here.

Union Station has weathered some difficult times and suffered from neglect after the golden age of train travel ended, but after recent extensive renovation/restoration, the historic landmark looks as good as new!

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dobbs House: Love Field’s Airport Restaurant

love-field_dobbs-house-restaurant_ebayDallasites’ favorite airport restaurant… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Dobbs House was a national restaurant and catering company, found chiefly in airports (although they did have non-airport restaurants, and at one point they had bought out the Toddle House chain). When the “new” Love Field terminal opened in 1940 (see the heart-stoppingly beautiful Art Deco front entrance at night, here), it had what was probably a very nice, perfectly serviceable, 24-hour restaurant. It was rather unimaginatively called “Airport Restaurant,” and it seated about 75 in the coffee shop and 100 in the dining room. And its “modern  blue and yellow leatherette furniture” was probably delightful.

love-field_airport-restaurant_menu_ebay_cropped

A lot of people probably enjoyed a hot cup of coffee while seated on that modern leatherette. But in 1944, the Hull-Dobbs company waltzed in and took over the restaurant and catering business and agreed to pay the city what seems like a miniscule $500 a month (about $7,000 in today’s money). The administration building, which housed the restaurant, was undergoing remodeling at the time, and I guess the city was giving the company something of a break. In 1945, though, Hull-Dobbs began to pay 5% of their gross revenue to the city, rather than a flat monthly fee. (I’m guessing that 5% was quite a bit more than $500.)

Business was good. REAL good. It was almost too good, because almost every newspaper article which mentioned the restaurant (called Dobbs House, part of a national chain) noted how busy it was and how it was almost impossible for a person to find an empty seat. It was known for its good food (see a 1955 menu here), and one of the main reasons it was always crowded was because local people dined at the restaurant, taking up precious seats intended for hungry travelers. Dallasites loved to drive out to the airport for a nice meal, followed by a leisurely couple of hours watching airplanes take off and land.

But, basically, Love Field had become a major metropolitan airport, and its success — and the resulting increase in traffic and the overall crush of humanity — meant that everyone was running out of space.

The airport had outgrown its beautiful 1940 Art Deco terminal, and a new, equally heart-stoppingly beautiful terminal opened in 1958. Dobbs House moved into its more spacious quarters with a freshly signed ten-year contract. …And by now they were paying a whole lot more than $500 a month. According to a January, 1957 Dallas Morning News article, the restaurant offered a high bid of just over $15,000 a month to retain the restaurant concession at the airport.

The restaurant and catering business were not all that the Dobbs company was running. Not only did they have a “swanky” restaurant at the new terminal, they also had a non-swanky restaurant and a basement cafeteria. They also had, at various times, control of the following concessions: cigar, shoeshine, gift shop (including apparel, candy, and camera shops), and … parking (!). This was on top of their land-office business catering and restauranting. James Dobbs knew a thing or two about business — he didn’t get fantastically wealthy just selling 15-cent cups of coffee and black-bottom pie….

dobbs-house_love-field_love-field-FB-page
via Dallas Love Field Facebook page

In 1958, Dobbs House opened the exotic Luau Room, which served Polynesia cuisine. This was another Dobbs eatery that was very popular with Dallasites, and it lasted many, many years.

dobbs-house_luau_menu_ebay
via eBay

The Luau Room was a sort of early “theme” chain from the Dobbs people, and it was a feature at several Dobbs House-served airports. The photo below might be the Dallas location. Might be Charlotte, or Orlando, or Houston.

dobbs-house_luau
via Tiki Central — check out the comments

Dobbs House  was a fixture of the Dallas airport/restaurant scene for a surprisingly long time. Dobbs House was still at Love Field in the 1980s — possibly into the ’90s. And when Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport opened, the Dobbs people slid right in. DFW was huge — and they had control of everything. (Alcohol sales alone must have been enormous!)

For D/FW’s first two decades, a single company operated all of the bars and restaurants that generate about $40 million in sales each year. Dobbs House had the food and beverage contract from 1974 until 1993, when Host Marriott Services took over the operations. (DMN, May 22, 1996)

Dobbs House was in business here for almost 50 years. That’s a pretty good run for a restaurant in Dallas. (And I hear their cornbread sticks were to die for.)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo showing Dobbs House Restaurant at Love Field found on eBay several months ago.

Airport Restaurant menu (ca. 1940-1944) found on eBay, here.

The Dobbs House cornsticks recipe is contained in the 1960 book How America Eats by Clementine Paddleford — used copies are out there, but they are surprisingly expensive. But from what I hear, if you want that recipe, it’s probably worth it!

An interesting side note about James K. Dobbs, head of the company that bore his name: even though he was a resident of Memphis, he actually died in a Dallas hospital in September, 1960, having been sent here for asthma treatment, and having recently suffered his second heart attack. He was 66. His company had grown to include about 125 restaurants at the time of his death. He had also made huge sums of money in automobile dealerships.

Photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Sam Houston Zephyr Leaving Union Station, Crossing Over the Triple Underpass — 1950

zephyr_triple-underpass_1950_portalThe SHZ heading out of Dallas… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The title pretty much says it all. The Sam Houston Zephyr passenger train is seen crossing over the Triple Underpass, heading out of Dallas. Next stop: Fort Worth. The Post Office Terminal Annex is the tall white building, the Jefferson Hotel is behind it (with the sign on its roof), and Union Station is in the background, just right of center, with the Dallas Morning News building peeking over its roofline. The Old Red Courthouse would be out of frame to the left.

Below, a view of downtown from the west, with the Triple Underpass partially cut off at the very bottom, and Union Station just out of frame at the right.

downtown_aerial-photo-service_postcard_cook-collection_smu_cropped

In asking members of Facebook’s Texas Railroad History group about the top photo, Gerald Preas, one of the members, made this comment, full of interesting little tidbits (slightly edited by me):

The large building in the center is the USPO Terminal Annex. I started working there in August 1963. The buildings between TA and Union Station were part of Railway Express, used for sorting mail to and from RPO cars. That stack in back was the power station for Union Station — it had its own electric and water system, maybe sewage, too. I drank many times that cool sweet well-water. Notice cars around TA loading dock. I supervised that dock 1968/69 — we had to keep the area open. Now look where train is bending, people would park off ballast, but cars turning would swing out further and hit parked cars. That tree on the upper right led down grade to vacant parting lot. I was coming up that path when the President was shot.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo shows the Fort Worth and Denver’s Sam Houston Zephyr train No. 4, northbound from Houston, leaving the Dallas Union Terminal Station, heading to Fort Worth. The photo was taken by Roger S. Plummer in 1950; photo from the Museum of the American Railroad, via UNT’s Portal to Texas History, here.

(Other photos of the Sam Houston Zephyr taken in Dallas — and one in Fort Worth — by Roger S. Plummer between 1949 and 1955 can be found on the Portal to Texas History site, here.)

Bottom image titled simply “Dallas, Texas” is an Aerial Photo Service postcard, from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. I’ve edited the image a bit — see the original image and description here.

An aerial view of the same area today can be seen here, via Google.

A previous Flashback Dallas post on the stunningly beautiful Texas Zephyr can be found here.

Thanks to the members of the Texas Railroad History group on Facebook for their comments and help.

Both photos are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Union Depot Hotel Building, Deep Ellum — 1898-1968

union-depot-hotel_1909_uta-detThe old Union Depot Hotel, about 1909 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, we see the hotel known originally as the Union Depot Hotel, built in 1898 across from the very busy old Union Depot, at the intersection of two major rail lines: the Houston & Texas Central (the H&TC, which ran north-south) and the Texas & Pacific (the T&P, which ran east-west). The tracks crossed at the intersection of Central and Pacific — streets named after the two railroads — in the area east of downtown we now call Deep Ellum. The hotel was on the southwest corner of that intersection.

The large, two-story hotel (which also housed a popular cafe and bar) was built by William S. Skelton — more commonly known as Wiley Skelton — to cash in on the large number of travelers coming to Dallas via the bustling passenger depot right across the street. When it opened, it was charging a hefty two bucks a day (the equivalent of about $60.00 in today’s money) — a large-ish sum in 1899, but … location, location, location. This two-dollar-a-day rate to stay at Skelton’s hotel was the same as the base rate of Dallas’ ritziest, priciest hotels, The Windsor and The Oriental. How could Skelton’s “wrong side of the tracks” hotel charge similar rates as the city’s most elegant hotels? Convenience, convenience, convenience. The Union Depot Hotel could not have been more convenient to weary travelers unless it had been located inside the depot.

union-depot-hotel_houston-post_012599Houston Post, Jan. 25, 1899

Skelton was a popular and successful businessman (and noted saloon pugilist) who was known far and wide for his substantial physical bulk. He was a founding member of the city’s “fat men’s club” and was reported to be the heaviest man in the city. When he died suddenly at the age of 45 (probably not a huge surprise, as his obituary mentioned that his weight had, at one time, reached 438 pounds), his new hotel had been open only weeks (perhaps only days).

skelton_dmn_011699Dallas Morning News, Jan. 16, 1899

His unexpected death threw the running of the hotel into confusion. His brother (another famed “fighting fat man”) took over the business side of its operations and occasionally placed ads in the paper seeking a hard-to-find buyer.

union-depot-hotel_1901_portal1901 ad

union-depot-hotel_dmn_111602DMN, Nov. 16, 1902

Eventually the hotel was sold, and it went through several owners and name changes over the years. Then, in 1916, a major catastrophe struck: brand new Union Station, which was waaaay on the other side of town, opened, consolidating passenger rail service to one depot, resulting in the shuttering of most of the city’s smaller depots. Location, location, location wasn’t such a great thing for the old Skelton hotel after this.

The hotel went through many changes over the years, but after the closing (and later razing) of the old Union Depot, it was on a general, inevitable, slide downward. By the time it was demolished in 1968 — when large swaths along Central Avenue were leveled to facilitate highway construction — the building was in disrepair and, apparently, long-vacant. It stood for 70 years.

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Below is a photo taken from Elm Street in 1908 or 1909, when the hotel (seen at the top left) was owned by Charles S. Conerty and named the Conerty Hotel (you can see the name on two signs, but you have to really zoom in to make them out). Conerty, an Irishman who had previously run bars, owned the hotel very briefly. By May of 1909, plagued with legal troubles stemming from his being charged with selling liquor on a Sunday, Conerty sold the hotel (which he seems to have been running as a boarding house), stating in his classified ad that he was “leaving city.” (He did not leave the city.) In 1910, with a new owner, the hotel was once again known as the Union Depot Hotel.

Back to the photo. Across Central Avenue from the hotel is the old Union Depot, where there was always a lot going on. Let’s look at the photo a little more closely. (Click photos to see larger images.)

old-union-depot_degolyer_ca1910

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Just seven or eight years after this photo was taken, all that human traffic was gone.

In the fall of 1968, having been vacant for years and counting down its final hours, Dallas Morning News writer Doug Domeier wrote about the old run-down hotel which had long outlived the passenger depot it had been built to serve (see the article “Demolition Leveling Once-Noisy Deep Elm,” DMN, Oct. 19, 1968). Domeier’s entertaining article about those early days includes memories of Lizzie Mae Bass, who once worked in the hotel’s cafe as a waitress and remembers when “horses back[ed] away in fright when a locomotive pulled in at the lively intersection linking the Houston and Texas Central with the Texas & Pacific.”

And today? You’d never EVER suspect that that patch of empty land at the edge of Deep Ellum was ever occupied by one of the city’s busiest train depots.

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So where was it? Get a good visual idea of how things were laid out in the Sanborn map from 1905, here. Below is a street map that shows where the hotel was (red star) and where the train depot was (blue star). These days? Depressing. See it here (the view is looking north from Elm — the hotel would have been under the overpass, the train station straight ahead).

union-depot-hotel_1952-mapsco1952 Mapsco

It’s interesting to note that during the heyday of the Union Depot, the west side of the block of Central Ave. which ran between Elm and Pacific was the only block in this area not filled with black-owned businesses or residences. When the depot shut down and white-owned businesses moved out, the block began to fill with popular African-American establishments. It’s also interesting (to me, anyway!) to realize that the Gypsy Tea Room of the 1930s was just a few steps to the left of the hotel in the top photo. It took me forever to try to figure out where the Gypsy Tea Room had been — I wrote about it here.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is a detail of a larger photo, from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries; it is accessible here. The same photograph is shown in full farther down the post — this copy is from the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University, and it is accessible here. The quality of both photos makes it difficult to zoom in on them with much clarity, but both sites offer very large images to view.

As mentioned above, an entertaining Dallas Morning News article full of historical info about the area around the depot is highly recommended: “Demolition Leveling Once-Noisy Deep Elm” by Doug Domeier (DMN, Oct. 19, 1968). (I’m not sure why the hotel is referred to as the “Grand Central Station Hotel” throughout — just substitute “Union Depot Hotel” whenever you come across that incorrect name.) The article also has a few paragraphs about the Harlem Theater which was also about to be torn down as part of what Domeier described as the “brutal change” then affecting Deep Ellum.

See a great early-’20s photo of the hotel building (the Tip-Top Tailors moved in around 1922) in the book Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas by Alan Govenar and Jay Brakefield, here (the view is from Pacific to the southwest).

A related Flashback Dallas post — “The Old Union Depot in East Dallas: 1897-1935” — can be read here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Fly United to Chicago in Only Eight Hours!

aeiral_united-air-lines_fairchild_ebay_rppcHow many buildings can you identify? (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Dallas, Texas as seen from United Air Lines passenger transport. The airplane has brought Dallas and Forth Worth within eight hours travel to Chicago and only one business day’s travel from New York.

Back when it took all day to fly to New York from Dallas.

This is another great aerial photo by the Fairchild Aerial Survey company, probably taken by Lloyd M. Long. Date-wise? Late-1920s? Before the Trinity was straightened (beginning in 1928), with land being cleared in the area that would become Dealey Plaza? 1928-ish? Or could it have been the very early 1930s? The United Air Lines promotional postcard was issued around 1932 or 1933.

It wasn’t until 1933 that United introduced its new Boeing “twin motor airline transports” and boasted that they would finally “bring the city within eleven and a half hours of New York City” (Dallas Morning News, Aug, 16, 1933).

Below is a photo from a Dallas newspaper ad showing one of United’s planes from the earlier, more carefree days of 1932, when passengers were still trudging through the skies at a more leisurely pace.

united-air-lines_ad-det_dmn_110432United Air Lines ad, detail, 1932

And an even earlier ad, from 1931, when a flight from Love Field to Chicago was nine hours long (today a direct flight from Love Field to Chicago takes about two hours and fifteen minutes). And if you wanted to continue to NYC, you had to board another plane and fly from Chicago to New York, adding another six and a half hours!

united-air-lines_dallas-to-nyc_1931
1931 ad

FLY

De Luxe Tri-Motored Ford Planes Manned by 2 Licensed Transport Pilots
 
NAT provides the most luxurious and modern plane service out of Dallas … every ship on the line is a Ford … tri-motored with the famous Wasp engines … two (instead of one) pilots … both licensed transport flyers. Meals aloft included in fare … magazines, maps, stationery … lavatories. 

Air Transportation is More Than a Plane in the Sky! 

When you fly with the pioneer, dependable National Air Transport division of United Air Lines, you ride with the largest air transportation corporation in the world. NAT and other divisions of United Air Lines have had 5 years’ experience … 25,000,000 miles of flying! … and employ only skilled ground crews and gov’t licensed mechanics. Fly NAT and enjoy the finest transportation equipment … U.S. lighted airway … radio … U.S. weather reports.

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In an interesting side-note, the first pilot to fly a mail plane between Kansas City and Dallas (on May 12, 1926) was Richard Dobie, brother of Texas literary legend, J. Frank Dobie. In 1926 he flew a Curtiss Carrier Pigeon; in 1933, he’d worked his way up to the speedy and powerful Boeing. He flew for United for several years.

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Sources & Notes

Top image is a promotional postcard, found on eBay.

Read more about the tri-motor airplane (manufactured by the Ford Motor Company and affectionately known as the “Tin Goose”) in the article “Ford’s Tri-Motor” by Edward J. Vinarcik (Advanced Materials and Processes, Oct. 2003) here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Interurban Parlor Car: Perusing the News in Comfy Chairs

interurban-interior_tx-historian_jan81(Click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The height of comfort!

You know this photo was taken for promotional purposes, because none of the men has a reeking cigar clenched between his teeth.

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Texas Electric Railway Interurban ad reprinted in Texas Historian, Jan. 1981.

Interurbans were great. I wish we still had them. Read about what they were, here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Views From a Passing Train — 1902

edmunds_pacific-bryan_free-lib-phil_1902Pacific, looking west toward Bryan, 1902 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Franklin Davenport Edmunds (1874-1948) was a Philadelphia architect whose hobbies were travel and photography. A 1902 train trip to Mexico took him through Texas, during which there as a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stop in Dallas.

edmunds_whos-who-philadelphia_1920Who’s Who in Philadelphia, 1920

On the way to Mexico, he stopped in St. Louis for a while (where he took several photos on Feb. 12), passed through Arkansas (on Feb. 13), apparently saw very little of Dallas as he rolled through, and then took a lot of photos when he reached San Antonio (by Feb. 14). He then continued on to a vacation of at least two or three weeks in Mexico, where his camera was never far from his side.

The two photos that were taken as he passed through Dallas (which I’m assuming were snapped from the train) were probably taken on Feb. 13 or 14, 1902.

The location of the photo above is not noted, but it appears to be Pacific Avenue looking west. Peter S. Borich’s sign-painting business was on the northeast “corner” of Bryan and Pacific (at the point of the diagonal intersection). The photo shows the back and side of his building. It’s hard to see them, but there is a wagon with a team of horses at the Bryan St. intersection. Behind Borich’s is a blacksmith shop, and across the street, there are several furniture stores. Straight ahead is an almost mirage-like smoke-spewing locomotive heading toward the camera. (Unless Edmunds was standing in the middle of Pacific, I’m guessing he was taking the photo from the rear of the train.)

Seconds later, the train would have pulled into the old Union Depot (located about where Pacific would cross present-day Central Expressway).

edmunds_old-union-stn_free-lib-phil_1902(click for larger image)

Even though not identified in the photo description, the distinctive old Union Depot is instantly recognizable (an unrelated photo taken from about the same spot can be seen in this one from the George W. Cook collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library). Again, the photo appears to have been taken from the train.

Edmunds took a ton of photos on this trip, but, sadly, he seems to have merely passed through Dallas without wandering around to explore its streets (which I would think would be interesting — if not downright exotic — to a Philadelphia architect) — I’m not sure he even got off the train to stretch his legs! But I’ve never seen these two photos, and they’re pretty cool. So, thanks, Frank — you should have hung around a little longer.

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Both photos by Franklin Davenport Edmunds are from the Free Library of Philadelphia. The Pacific Avenue photo can be accessed here; the Union Depot photo, here. Other photos he took in Texas during the 1902 trip (and a few from a previous 1899 trip) can be viewed here.

A biography of Edmunds can be read at PhiladelphiaBuildings.org here.

A detail from the 1905 Sanborn map showing the businesses located at Pacific and Bryan, with Borich’s business circled in red and the camera’s vantage point in blue, can be seen here.

Below, a detail from a map (circa 1890-1900), showing the locations of the two photos, with the Pacific Ave. location circled in green and the Union Depot location in yellow.

dallas-map_ca1900(click for larger image)

And, lastly, a present-day image showing the same view as the top photo (from Google Street View).

pacific-bryan_google

My previous post, “The Old Union Depot in East Dallas: 1897-1935” — a history of the station with several photos — can be found here.

Images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Ferris Plaza Waiting Station — 1925-1950

railway-info-bldg_1926From The Electric Railway Journal, 1926 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I came across the odd image above whilst digitally thumbing through a 1926 issue of The Electric Railway Journal (as one does…) and wondered what it was. It was definitely something I’d never seen downtown. Turns out it was a combination information bureau, covered stop in which to buy tickets for and await the arrival of interurbans and streetcars, a place to purchase a snack, and a location of public toilets (or, more euphemistically, “comfort stations”). It was located at the eastern edge of Ferris Park along Jefferson Street (which is now Record Street), with the view above facing Union Station. It was intended to be a helpful, welcoming place where visitors who had just arrived by train could obtain information about the city, and it was also a pleasant place to wait for the mass transit cars to spirit them away to points beyond. With the lovely Ferris Plaza (designed by George Dahl in 1925) between it and the front of the Union Terminal, this was considered The Gateway to the City long before Dealey’s Triple Underpass was constructed. (Click photos and articles to see larger images.)

ferris-plaza_park-and-playground-system_pubn_1921-23_portal

The “waiting station” was the brainchild of the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce which proposed the idea to the City of Dallas and, as it was to be built at the edge of a city park, the Park Board. The small (50 x 30) brick building — designed by Dallas architect J. A. Pitzinger — would cost $5,000 and would be paid for by funding from local businesses, including various transportation concerns (namely, the Northern Texas Traction Company). The “traction” companies would staff the information booth and sell tickets. The plans were accepted and permission was granted. Construction began in July, 1925, and the building was opened for waiting by October.

This improvement is the most recent of a number which have made of Ferris Plaza a beauty spot at the gateway of the city. Designed for a sunken garden, fringed with trees, the plaza is now adorned with a great fountain, illuminated with colored lighting at night, the gift of Royal A. Ferris. The new waiting station is in harmony with the general scheme of the plaza development, and combines beauty with utility. (Dallas Morning News, Sept. 20, 1925)

The little waiting station proved to be quite popular, and by the end of its first year the Northern Texas Traction Company (who operated interurban service between Dallas and Fort Worth) was very pleased, as interurban ticket sales at the station had become a solid source of company revenue. The Ferris Plaza station lasted a rather surprising 25 years. It was torn down in 1950, mainly because the interurbans had been taken out of service and there was no longer a need for it. Also, the park department was eager to get their park back and make it more “symmetrical.”

People would just have to wait somewhere else.

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ferris-plaza-info-bureau_rendering_pitzinger_dmn_031625Architectural rendering by J. A. Pitzinger (DMN, March 16, 1925)

ferris-plaza-waiting-stn_dmn_092025Nearing completion (DMN, Sept. 20, 1925)

railway-info-bldg_1926_text_smThe Electric Railway Journal (Nov. 6, 1926)

ferris-plaza_union-station_dpl_1936Union Station, 1936 — view from the “waiting station” (Dallas Public Library)

ferris-plaza_aerial_smu_c1949-det1949 aerial view, showing “waiting station” just above plaza’s circular fountain

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from The Electric Railway Journal, Nov. 6, 1926.

Very early photo and description of Ferris Plaza is from Park and Playground System: Report of the Park Board of the City of Dallas, 1921-1923, via the Portal to Texas History, here.

Photograph of Union Station from the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library.

Aerial photo showing Ferris Plaza is from a larger view of downtown by Lloyd M. Long (the original of which is in the Edwin J. Foscue Map Library collection of the Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University, and which can be viewed here).

To read about the Ferris Park restoration project, see here.

For a few interesting and weird tidbits about the block that eventually became Ferris Plaza (including the fact that it was thought to be haunted and that it was once the site of a brothel), check out this page on Jim Wheat’s fantastic site.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“The Riviera of the South” — On Harry Hines!

tower-hotel-courts_pool-match_flickr-smThe paradise of Harry Hines awaits…

by Paula Bosse

The Tower Hotel Courts opened in the fall of 1946. Their address makes my had spin: at “The Circle” where highways 77, 183, 114, and Loop 12 intersect. “10108 Harry Hines” would have been easier to fit on the stationery, but mention of all those highways just made everything more exciting. (It also gave some indication to prospective guests of what would be awaiting them, such as constant traffic noise and the ever-present whiff of exhaust in the air. “You can’t say we didn’t warn you, madam.”)

The fancy motel was five speedy minutes away from Love Field, which seems handy, because if you had an hour or seven to kill before your flight, wouldn’t you want to spend it there in the fabulous-looking Bamboo Room? I would! (Even though I’m pretty sure that matchbook cover is a little more glamorous than the actual Bamboo Room.)

If you were going to stay for a day or two and not just a few drinks, there were all sorts of things waiting for you: two pools (one a very large children’s wading pool), a theater, a croquet court AND a shuffleboard court, “circulating ice water,” and … stand back … a 2-station radio in every room. Somewhere in amongst all of this was a 46-unit trailer park (“with individual bathrooms”).

It’s not hard to see why they called the Tower Hotel Courts The Riviera of the South.”

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tower-hotel-courts_postcardUltra Modern!

tower-hotel-courts_pool-smOwner’s wife and kids?

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First and last images from Flickr; Bamboo Room image also from Flickr.

Several of these pictures are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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