Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Downtown

Dallas — From “Texas, The Big State” (1952)

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_triple-underpassBehold…

by Paula Bosse

It’s always fun to see Dallas on film — and it’s even better when it’s a Technicolor film. Below are a few screenshots from “Texas — The Big State,” a 1952 travelogue produced by Santa Fe Railroad as a promotional film. It’s very enthusiastic. …Very. Dallas’ Norma-Desmond moment lasts only about three and a half minutes, but visits to downtown, Chance Vought, SMU, Fair Park, a Cotton Bowl game, and the State Fair of Texas manage to get crammed in, surrounded by a warm bath of dynamic adjectives.

Above, a scenic view of the triple underpass and the approach to downtown Dallas from the west. Nice foliage.

Below, a birds-eye view from the south (the same shot as the one by Eisenstaedt in the ’40s seen here, only a decade later — even the Falstaff Beer billboard is still there).

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_SMU_skyline

The well-dressed mean streets of Big D:

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_SMU_crosswalk

A woman walking on water at the Esplanade in Fair Park:

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_fair-park_esplanade

Rolloplane, cotton candy, etc., at the State Fair of Texas:

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_fair-park_midway

And, lastly, a fun fact I bet no one alive on this planet knows (or remembers): in 1952 Dallas was the second largest manufacturer of WASH DRESSES in the country. Probably the world. What a random piece of information for the Chamber of Commerce to have given to the Santa Fe people to include in a fluffy little film like this. Forget Neiman’s — we were number two in wash dresses! Number TWO!! (“Wash dresses”? Apparently they were house dresses made from washable fabrics. Like what Lucy Ricardo used to wear around the house when she didn’t have to don a hat and gloves to go pick up Ricky’s tux at the dry cleaners. Like the one seen in this “wash frocks” ad from 1950.) And here you go, two of the women who pushed us to runner-up wash-dress greatness:

texas-big-state_santa-fe-film_jones-film_wash-dresses

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The 24-minute film — which premiered in Austin on May 28, 1952 and was included for months afterward as a “featurette” on double bills across the country — can be seen in its entirety on the SMU Jones Film YouTube channel. The Dallas bit starts at 9:43, followed by the Fort Worth bit at 13:19. I understand there are other cities, too.

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Sources & Notes

All images are screenshots from the 16mm film posted on YouTube by the G. William Jones Film Archive, Hamon Library, Southern Methodist University.

Special thanks to Erik Swanson for bringing this to my attention.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Mother Hansen’s Home Cooking — 1913

mother-hansens-home-cooking_ebay_postmarked-1913

Mother Hansen’s, 1814 Main Street… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A popular restaurateur in early-20th-century Dallas was Ruth Hansen (1870-1947), known to most people as “Mother Hansen.” She maintained a restaurant in downtown Dallas from about 1910 until the early 1930s, moving between locations on S. Ervay and a couple of different addresses on Main Street. The cafe interior seen above was at 1814 Main Street, just west of St. Paul — the photo was taken in 1912 or 1913.

In a 1968 Dallas Morning News interview with Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Whittle, Mother Hansen’s eatery was still remembered. When the Whittles arrived in Dallas in 1912, their Western Automatic Music Co. was two doors from the restaurant — they were regular customers of Mrs. Hansen, and Mrs. (Elsie) Whittle “vividly” remembered the place:

“It was pretty expensive,” Mrs. Whittle said with a smile. “I remember that a T-bone steak dinner cost all of 25 cents.” (“Music Brought Whittle to the City” by Sam Acheson, DMN, Nov. 25, 1968)

(That 25 cents would be about $7.00 in today’s money.)

I love this era of cafes and restaurants — three others in downtown Dallas from this same era are:

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Notes & Sources

Postcard (with a 1913 postmark) found on eBay.

In addition to buying the Western Automatic Music Co. soon after his arrival in Dallas, D. L. Whittle was also a partner in the Crystal Theatre and, most famously, the founder of the Whittle Music Co.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Texlite, Borich, Pegasus

texlite_feb-1949_ad_pegasus-det

by Paula Bosse

Texlite. If you’re a lover of all-things-Dallas, you should know that name. Texlite made many, many, many, many, MANY enamel, electric, and neon signs, including, most famously, the rotating Flying Red Horse — Pegasus — which arrived in Dallas in 1934 to sit atop the city’s tallest building, the Magnolia Petroleum Building, serving as a beacon, a landmark, and as a sort of city mascot.

Texlite’s  roots went back to 1879 when Italian immigrant Peter Samuel Borich (1849-1932) arrived in Dallas. His obituary noted that he was a graduate of the Royal Italian Naval School and that he served in the Italian Merchant Marine before he arrived in Dallas, where he established the Borich Sign Co. A very early site of his shop is said to have been either the current site of the Adolphus Hotel or the current site of the Magnolia Building (and Pegasus), on Sycamore Street (now Akard). He appears to have been the go-to sign-painter for decades and was a very successful businessman.

The Borich company eventually branched out (and eventually became Texlite, a separate entitity) to became a pioneer in electric and neon signs: in 1926 Texlite built and sold the first neon sign west of the Mississippi, in St. Louis (their first neon sign in Dallas was a sign for the Zinke shoe repair store (1809 Main) which depicted an animated hammer tapping on a shoe heel). 

The Borich sign company focused on painted or printed signs while Texlite handled the electric signs. P. S. Borich retired in the 1920s and moved to Los Angeles after the death of his wife. The last time the Borich company name appeared in the Dallas directory was 1930 (when it looks like it became United Advertising Corporation of Texas, owned by Harold H. Wineburgh, who was also a Texlite partner/owner). 

During World War II, Texlite, like many manufacturers, jumped into war-production work, making airplane and ship parts; during the Korean War they made bomber fuselages. 

I don’t know when Texlite went out of business (or was acquired and merged into another company). As successful as Texlite was (and it was incredibly successful), what more important achievement could it have had than to have been the maker of our iconic Pegasus? 

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Here are a few random images from the Borich/Texlite history. First, a great ad from 1949, when Pegasus was a fresh 15-year-old. “It’s Time For a Spring Sign Cleaning.” (Click to see a larger image.)

texlite_feb-1949-ad1949 ad

And another ad, this one with a wonderful photo, from 1954.

texlite_pegasus_ad_ca-1954_heather-david_flickr1954 ad, via Flickr

In 1949 Texlite built a huge new factory in an industrial area near Love Field, at 3305 Manor Way. Below is the architectural rendering. The caption: “New home of Texlite, Inc. is being completed at 3305 Manor Way at a total of $1,000,000. The new, two-story plant, providing 114,000 square feet of factory and office space, will provide facilities for trebling Texlite’s output. Grayson Gill is the architect, and O’Rourke Construction Company are the general contractors.” (Dallas magazine, Feb. 1949)

texlite-new-bldg_dallas-chamber-of-commerce-mag_feb-1949

Below, the previous factory, located at 2900 Factory Street, also near Love Field:

texlite-sign_1940

I assume this 1940 sign was made by Texlite. Below are a couple of details, showing playful hints of Pegasus.

texlite-sign_1940_det-1

texlite-sign_1940_det-2via Mecum Auctions

I wondered where Factory Street was — here it is on a 1952 map — it looks like it was absorbed into a growing Love Field.

texlite_factory-st_mapsco-19521952 Mapsco

One of Texlite’s many theater clients was the Palace Theatre for whom they designed and installed a new electric sign in January, 1929 (at which time, by the way, the theater’s name was “officially” changed — however briefly — to the Greater Palace; the theater was renovated and enlarged, with a new emphasis on the Elm Street entrance rather than the entrance on Pacific). 

texlite_palace_jan-1929Jan., 1929

Going back a couple of years, with the separate companies sharing ad space in the 1927 city directory:

borich-texlite_dallas-directory_19271927 Dallas directory

The first ad I found which had both the “Borich” and “Texlite” names together was this one from 1923 for the Cloud-George Co., a women’s clothing boutique (1705 Elm) run by the somewhat notorious Miss A. B. Cloud.

texlite_borich-sign_sept-1923Sept., 1923

The company occupied several locations over the years — the location in 1902 can be seen here, at the right, looking west on Pacific (from the Flashback Dallas post “Views from a Passing Train — 1902”).

edmunds_pacific-bryan_free-lib-phil_19021902, via Free Library of Philadelphia

borich_dallas-directory_1902Dallas directory, 1902

P. S. Borich’s sign-painting wasn’t restricted only to businesses — he was also regularly retained by the city to paint street signs.

borich_dmn_080686Dallas Herald, Aug. 6, 1886

And, below, the earliest ad I could find — from 1879, the year Borich arrived in Dallas. (Thanks to this ad, I can now add “calsomining” to my vocabulary.)

borich_nortons-union-intelligencer_110179Norton’s Union Intelligencer, Nov. 1, 1879

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Here’s an interesting little bonus: a Pegasus “mini-me” in Billings, Montana, created with help from the Pegasus experts in Dallas (click for larger image).

texlite_pegasus-in-montana_billings-MT-gazette_052255Billings Gazette, May 22, 1955

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Sources & Notes

Top image is a detail from a 1949 ad found in the Feb., 1949 issue of Dallas, the magazine published by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

Check out another Texlite sign which I wrote about in the Flashback Dallas post “Neon Refreshment: The Giant Dr Pepper Sign.”

I’m always excited to see places I write about show up in old film footage. Watch a short (20-second) silent clip of Texlite workers striking in June, 1951 at the 3305 Manor Way location in WBAP-Channel 5 footage here (the workers were on strike in a wage dispute — more info is in the news script here); film and script from the KXAS-NBC 5 News Collection, University of North Texas, via the Portal to Texas History.

The company made tons of signs and exteriors for movie theaters around the country, including the Lakewood Theater (whose sign was recently re-neonized!).

Thank you, Signor Borich!

texlite_feb-1949_ad_pegasus-det-sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Southland Center: Mid-Century Cool — 1959

southland-ctr_john-rogers_1959-60_portal_interior-lobby_stairsWelcome.… (photo by John Rogers, via the Portal to Texas History)

by Paula Bosse

When it opened in 1959, the Southland Center (the Southland Life Building and the Sheraton Dallas hotel) boasted the tallest building west of the Mississippi. It was obviously a huge, multi-million-dollar construction project, but it was also a very costly decor project in which no expense was spared on the interior design of the buildings. An admirable amount of attention was paid to artistic elements such as site-specific commissioned artwork, and input from artists and designers was welcomed. It was an interior decorator’s dream job in which absolutely everything was NEW and modern. I love this period of design. Here are a few photos from the new Southland Center which I could look at all day.

I love all the glass and the sharp, crisp lines of the furniture. (All photos are by John Rogers — see the link below each photo to go to its Portal to Texas History page where you can zoom in and see details more clearly.)

southland-ctr_john-rogers_1959-60_portal_floor-lobbyvia Portal to Texas History

This is a fantastic shot  — you can see a couple of the commissioned artworks. At the left, extending from the ceiling of the second-floor lobby of the Sheraton to the ground floor is a “stamobile” kinetic sculpture titled “Totem” by Richard Filipowski. In the background at the top center of the photo, above the registration desk, is a Venetian-glass-and-broken-marble mural by Lumen Martin Winter.

southland-ctr_john-rogers_1959-60_portal_interior-with-stairsvia Portal to Texas History

Speaking of art, another commissioned work can be seen in this detail of a photo: at the back, barely seen, is “Texas Sunburst,” a glass-tile mosaic mural by Gyorgy Kepes with additional work by Robert Preusser, located on the second-floor lounge concourse. Kepes designed the vibrant tile mosaic on the St. Jude Chapel downtown (the recent restoration of which I wrote about here), and he was also a contributor another wonderful mid-century architectural landmark in Dallas, Temple Emanu-El. (I spotted a brief glimpse of a bit of this Sheraton mural in color in a WFAA clip from June, 1974 in a story about, of all things, an ESP convention.)

southland-ctr_john-rogers_1959-60_portal_stairs-escalators_kepes-detvia Portal to Texas History

Here’s a jewelry kiosk, which is sort of Deco-futuristic — like something you’d see in a 1930s movie set on a spaceship. (Is that the “rocket” of the Republic Bank Building seen outside the window at the right? It was practically right next door, as seen in this photo.)

southland-ctr_john-rogers_1959-60_portal_jewely-vendorvia Portal to Texas History

This shows a couple of ground-level retail shops, with more wonderful floor-to-ceiling glass “walls” (the glass-cleaning must have been an ongoing nightmare!). If you needed a stuffed tiger toy, a game of Risk, paint brushes, or stationery… this shop was made for you. (In the background is the entrance to the Minute Chef, an informal restaurant which also featured original artwork by Gyorgy Kepes.)

southland-ctr_john-rogers_1959-60_portal_ground-floor-stairs-shopvia Portal to Texas History

And, lastly, a shot of the neighboring Southland Center towers, high above everything else on the edge of downtown.

southland-ctr_john-rogers_1959-60_portal_southland-life-skyscraper-and-sheratonvia Portal to Texas History

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Sources & Notes

All photos are by John Rogers, from the John Rogers and Georgette de Bruchard Collection, provided to the Portal to Texas History by the UNT Libraries Special Collections, University of North Texas; see all 25 of Rogers’ photos of the Southland Center, taken in 1959/1960, here.

See a list of the permanent art as well as exhibited art at the Southland Life Building/Sheraton Dallas in the scanned 1959 catalog “Made in Texas by Texans.”

See photos of the Southland Center under construction in the Flashback Dallas post “On Top of the World: The Southland Center.”

southland-ctr_john-rogers_1959-60_portal_interior-lobby_stairs_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lamar, South from Pacific — ca. 1902

lamar_south-from-pacific_katy-flyer_martinez-cigars_ca-1902_degolyer_SMUSaloons and cigars… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, Lamar Street, looking south from Pacific Avenue; a notation on the back of the photo reads “about 1902.” The intersection straight ahead is Elm Street, then a jog, before it continues south to Main and Commerce. (See what this view looks like today, here.)

The business seen at the left (northeast corner of Elm and Lamar) is P. P. Martinez (the popular cigar retailer, wholesaler, and, I think, manufacturer, whom I hope to write about someday); the business at the right (northwest corner of Elm and Lamar) is Sam Freshman, a liquor wholesaler (his store entrance was on Elm, and his saloon entrance was on Lamar). Across Elm (southeast corner,) at the left, is E. M. Kahn, men’s clothiers (“Kahn” rhymes with “can”). Sanger Bros. was at the southwest corner and is either obscured or not clearly visible. The old Dallas Morning News building can be seen further south, on the right, at the northwest corner of Commerce and Lamar.

A look at the 1902 Dallas directory shows these types of businesses with Lamar addresses, between Pacific and Elm:

4-Saloons
3-Restaurants
3-Barbers (one of which had a want-ad for a “good lady barber”)
1-Newsstand
1-Tailor
1-Shoemaker

A busy little block.

See this intersection in 1905 Sanborn maps here and here.

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Below is a photo showing Elm Street looking east, with Sam Freshman’s store seen at the left and E. M. Kahn & Co. at the right (this postcard is postmarked 1909):

elm-street_postcard-1909-lg

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — “[Looking South on Lamar at Pacific; E.M. Kahn & Company is Visible at Southeast Corner of Elm and Lamar]” — is from the George A. McAfee Photographs collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info is here. (Farris Rookstool III sent an enhanced image, here. Thanks, Farris!)

Second image is a postcard (found on eBay) from the Flashback Dallas post “Elm Street — 1909.”

lamar_south-from-pacific_katy-flyer_martinez-cigars_ca-1902_degolyer_SMU_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Architectural Crossroads: Commerce and Akard

dallas-postcard_adolphus_magnolia_baker_ebay

by Paula Bosse

In Dallas’ early days, Commerce Street was once considered so far off the beaten path that major businesses did not build there. By 1925, though, the intersection of Commerce and Akard streets boasted three Dallas showplaces: the Adolphus Hotel (still standing), the Magnolia Building (still standing), and the Baker Hotel (not still standing). (Before that, it was the Adolphus, the Magnolia, and Busch’s other hotel, the swanky Oriental.)

Ever noticed that the corner “turret” of the Adolphus looks like a traditional German beer stein? An ode to the source of namesake Adolphus Busch’s wealth? I certainly hope so!

adolphus_terracotta-detail_western-architect_july-1914

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Sources & Notes

Top image is from a pack of postcards, found on eBay.

Detail of the Adolphus is from the Flashback Dallas post “Dallas in ‘The Western Architect,’ 1914: The Adolphus Hotel.”

dallas-postcard_adolphus_magnolia_baker_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Magnolia Gas Station No. 110 — 1920

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogersDallas’ finest filling station… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The building seen above turns 100 this year. You know it — you’ve probably said, “I love that building!” at some point in your life. It was built by the Magnolia Petroleum Co. on the triangular piece of land where Commerce Street, Jackson Street, and Cesar Chavez Blvd. meet (Cesar Chavez was originally Preston Street). Before the building’s construction, this intersection was known as “Five Points” — after its construction, it was known as “Pershing Square” (notable for its inconveniently placed middle-of-the-street horse- and dog-watering fountain, which I will write about in the future).

This distinctive brick and terra cotta “semi-Gothic” building was built in 1920, with two stories and a basement; Magnolia service station #110 was on the ground level, and regional offices of the company were above (the massive Pegasus-topped Magnolia Building had not yet been built). Lang & Witchell, Dallas’ premier architects, designed the building.

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_091919Dallas Morning News, Sept. 19, 1919

magnolia-petroleum-station_dmn_113019DMN, Nov. 30, 1919

After the 10-pump service station opened, The Dallas Morning News noted that there were 64 gas stations in Dallas (18 were Magnolia stations) — this station was the largest and most expensive to build. Cost of the land and construction was estimated at $175,00 — the equivalent today of about $2.5 million dollars.

Businesses seen in the photo occupying the three-story building across the street at 2114-16 Jackson are Service Truck Co. of Texas, Tigert Printing Co., and Merchants Retail Credit Association. That building was sandwiched between residences (the house on the left is out of frame). All the way at the right of the photo is a glimpse of rooming houses. Across Commerce was an entire block of auto dealerships and auto supply houses (not seen in this photo). See the service station and environs on a 1921 Sanborn map here.

Let’s zoom in on this great Frank Rogers photo to see some of the details. First, a better look at that three-story office building on Jackson. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-1

Pulling back a bit, you can see the rooming houses through the arches. You can also see details of the gas station as well as decorative elements of the exterior of the building, including sculptural depictions of magnolias. (I love this cropped detail. Taken out of context, you’d never guess you were looking at Dallas.)

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-5

Moving up, you can see the word “Magnolene,” the Magnolia Petroleum Co.’s brand of motor oil; you can also see the words “Commerce Street” (“Jackson Street” is carved into the Jackson side of the building — see here).

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-2

Here’s a closer look — “Magnolene” is, I think, long gone (as are those cool windows), but “Commerce Street” and “Jackson Street” live on today. Also, check out that very appealing street light. 

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-3

And another, closer look at the gasoline pumps and customers. There is so much incredible detail in the design of this building — when was the last time you saw such an aesthetically appealing gas station?

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_det-6

Here’s a photo from a 1922 ad for Atlanta Terra Cotta Co., which supplied several Magnolia stations in Texas with building materials — this was taken from the Jackson Street side (see the full ad here).

magnolia-petroleum-station_manufacturers-record_121422_ad-det

Here’s the building a couple of decades later:

magnolia-petroleum-station_KLIF-bldg_dallas-public-library_crop

And here it is as many Dallasites remember it, as the studios of KLIF radio, “The Mighty 1190,” where the DJ’s booth was at the “point” and passersby could watch from the street. Later it was the home of the Dallas Observer for many years. (I’m not sure of the original source of this photo, but if anyone knows or has a better quality image, let me know!)

KLIF_color

This shows the building a little earlier — it’s a cropped photo that appeared on the album cover “KLIF — KLIFF Klassics,” from about 1969 — you can see the DJ’s booth lit up.

klif_kliff-klassics_vol-iv_album-cover_ca-1969_flickr
via Flickr

Today the building is part of an “adaptive reuse” development called “East Quarter” — I read that the building was slated to house a restaurant (or two), but I don’t know what the current status of that project is.

It’s nice to know that a favorite building from my childhood is still around. Happy 100th!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is titled “Magnolia Filling Station, Pershing (Dallas, Tex.): exterior view of front entrance, corner perspective” by Dallas photographer Frank Rogers; it is from the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company Architectural records and photographs, 1914-1941, Architectural Terra Cotta, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin; more info can be found here.

The same photo appeared uncredited accompanying the Dallas Morning News article “Filling Stations of Dallas Are Finest” (DMN, April 10, 1921). 

The photo taken from the Jackson Street side is from an ad for the Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. which appeared in Manufacturers Record (Dec. 14, 1922). (The Atlanta Terra Cotta Co. of Georgia and the Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. of New York were separate companies but were under the same management.)

The photo from the 1940s/1950s is “[Pershing Square in downtown Dallas, Texas]” — I have cropped it; from the Ford Motor Company Building Collection, Dallas Public Library (call number: PA85-39/16).

Here is another photo from the same collection as the main photo in this post — this shows another Magnolia filling station in Dallas, this one a smaller, more traditional station (more info here).

magnolia-filling-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT

magnolia-gas-station_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dynamic Dallas Skyline — 1930s

skyline_drawing_forest-ave-high-school-yrbk_endpapers_1936

by Paula Bosse

Above, a dynamic view of the Dallas skyline, which appeared in the 1936 Forest Avenue High School yearbook. There’s no Pegasus atop the Magnolia Building, so the drawing was probably done in 1934 or earlier. 

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Sources & Notes

Endpaper drawing from the 1936 edition of The Forester, the yearbook of Forest Avenue High School in South Dallas (the school is now James Madison High School).

skyline_drawing_forest-ave-high-school-yrbk_endpapers_1936_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Two Color Home Movies Featuring Downtown Dallas and Love Field — 1940s

love-field_dallas-aviation-school_perisccope_croppedDallas Aviation School, Love Field

by Paula Bosse

I’m a sucker for old home movies, and these two circa-1940s films are pretty cool — the first one has shots taken around Love Field and the second one has views of Main Street and Elm Street, full of traffic, pedestrians, and streetcars. Best of all, both are in color!

The Love Field film shows several of the businesses operating in Love Field, including the Dallas Aviation School, seen above in a screenshot from the film. Also seen is the building below, which appears to have housed offices for Delta Air Lines, Braniff Airways, and American Airlines. I’ve never seen this odd-looking building.

love-field_delta-braniff-american_periscope_ext_cropped

Also seen are these two signs:

love-field_periscope-screenshot_dallas-texas-terminal_cropped

love-field_sign_periscope_cropped

Below is the two-minute silent video:


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The second video contains a lot of non-Dallas things (imagine!), but the first minute and a half were shot moving east down Main and Elm streets. (The Elm Street footage is, for some reason, really sped up — if you want to be able to focus on anything, I suggest fiddling with the YouTube settings and slowing the playback speed to .25.)

Here are a few screenshots — first, looking east down Main, approaching Akard:

downtown_main-street_periscope_cropped_a

And here’s a view of Elm Street, also shot from just west of Akard:

downtown_elm-street_periscope_cropped

And here’s a stretch of Elm you don’t see all that often in historical shots of downtown — Elm east of Harwood (the “camel” sign is for the Campbell House hotel on the southeast corner of Elm and Harwood):

downtown_elm-street_periscope_campbell-house-cropped

The video is here, with the first minute and a half shot in Dallas (and, seriously, turn the playback speed down!):

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Sources & Notes

All images are cropped screenshots from home movies from the Periscope Films archive — the Periscope page with more info on the Love Field film is here; the page with more info on the downtown Dallas film is here.

Thanks to Dallas author Rusty Williams for pointing me to the Periscope website! Check out Rusty’s history books here.

love-field_dallas-aviation-school_perisccope_cropped_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bright Lights, Big City — ca. 1948

elm-ervay-live-oak_weather-sign_ca-1948“Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares…”

by Paula Bosse

I think present-day downtown Dallas looks really great at night. But it pales in comparison to what downtown Dallas — especially Elm Street — used to look like at night. It was bursting with lights and signs and people. The scene above shows Elm Street looking east from Ervay around 1948. The Coca-Cola weather-forecast sign at the left is one of my favorite by-gone downtown landmarks (other photos of the sign can be seen here and here).

I wouldn’t really encourage anyone to click the link to see what this part of Elm Street looks like today, but if you must, it’s here.

Whenever I imagine times in Dallas history that I’d like to time-travel to, for some reason I always wish I could walk around downtown Dallas in the 1940s. It must have been quite something to have seen this pulsating view in person. 

elm-street_from-ervay-live-oak_1948-directory
Elm Street, 1948 directory (click to see larger image)

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Sources & Notes

I’m unsure of the source of this photo, but there is one almost identical to it in the collection of the Dallas Public Library, but the library’s copy is over-exposed and dated 1930 (it is titled “[Intersection of Elm, N. Ervay, and Live Oak streets]” and has the call number PA82-00324).

This photo was taken sometime between the end of 1947 and very early 1949. Mangel’s department store opened in its brand new building at 1700 Elm in September, 1947, and the Artificial Flower Shop (… “the artificial flower shop”?) lost its lease in early 1949. I can’t make out the lettering on the “Welcome” banners along the street, but there was a large hardware convention in Dallas in January, 1948.

elm-ervay-live-oak_weather-sign_ca-1948_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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