Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Suburbs & Mid-Cities

The Hyperbolic Paraboloids of the Prairie

hyperbolic_paraboloidThe future is NOW! (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In amongst things the things I’ve haphazardly collected (and I use the term loosely) over the years is this postcard. The image looks familiar to me, as if I remember actually seeing it — but I think that might just be because I’ve looked at this postcard so long. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw it was “turnpike,” but until I read up on the history of local highways (my days are fun-filled!), I wasn’t entirely sure where the turnpike had been other than “the other side of downtown, toward Fort Worth.” Did I ever see this sign and attendant weird looming structures when I was a child? Unless it was still up in the ’70s, I probably didn’t. So what is it?

Here’s the text from the back:

  • Concrete wings
  • Midway between Dallas and Fort Worth
  • “Located on U.S. 80, these hyperbolic paraboloids stand as insignia of the vast Great Southwest Industrial District in the center of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. This thin shell ‘concrete umbrella’ construction form was pioneered in the Untied States by Great Southwest Corporation, developer of a 5500-acre planned industrial district.”

It was somewhere around Arlington and Grand Prairie, back when it was still a vast, undeveloped area being planned in the mid-1950s by Angus Wynne who would, a few years later, bring us Six Flags Over Texas. (US Hwy 80 no longer runs west of Dallas — that stretch is now, I think, Hwy 180 — it was shoved off its Great American Interstate Highway pedestal by the DFW Turnpike and the arrival of what is now Interstate 30.)

1961 (Texas Highways photo by Willis Albarado)

But … “hyperbolic paraboloids”? Those things are so cool. The “hyperbolic paraboloid” was developed by Mexico-based Spanish engineer-architect Felix Candela who worked in the Dallas area with the great architect O’Neil Ford (on, specifically, the Great Southwest Industrial District and the Texas Instruments Semiconductor Building). Candela is pretty interesting — look him up. Without Candela’s paraboloids and his contributions to engineering and architecture, Santiago Calatrava probably wouldn’t be doing the sort of thing that he’s doing.

Here’s another view of (other) paraboloids out on the Texas prairie. They’re like elegant, curved, inverted parasols. Kind of. Made from thin shells of concrete. (One source identified these paraboloids as being part of the Great Southwestern Industrial District and another source as being from the Texas Instruments campus. (See 1958 TI ad below.) Either way, it’s Felix Candela, all the way.)


I’m still trying to figure out if I ever saw that fantastic sign and those three silent, looming paraboloids. It’s all pretty cool-looking, and it must have been an unexpected sight in the middle of what was, then, basically nothing.

Speaking of Candela and Calatrava, here’s a photo of the two together:


And here’s another paraboloid-y structure that stands out in the DFW area — you might have seen it:



Sources & Notes

Photo of Calatrava and Candela from the blog An Engineer’s Aspect, here.

Photo of the Calatrava bridge from Pinterest, here.

A good overview of Felix Candela’s work, with photos and a video, is on the Columbia University website, here.

The Great Southwest Industrial District (Arlington and Grand Prairie) still exists, and their website has a history page which explains its creation and development by Angus Wynne, here.

Lastly, who could resist reading up on just what the heck a “hyperbolic paraboloid” is (warning: math) — Wikipedia’s on it, here.

A 1958 Texas Instruments ad wants you to know that “hyperbolic paraboloids form roof-ceiling” (click to see larger image):


UPDATE: Thanks to comments below, I’m happy to present another photo of the paraboloids, this one from the cover of the 1960 Arlington High School yearbook, complete with Shetland pony! Click the image below to see a larger image of the photo inset. (Thanks to Brad McCorkle for alerting me to the photo — it was taken by his father, Lynn McCorkle, intrepid student photographer!)


ANOTHER UPDATE, from the comments: this still-standing building at 10830 Preston Road (Preston Royal Shopping Center) was one of many that utilized hyperbolic paraboloids in its design. The American Savings Association building (designed by Brock & Mabrey of Corpus Christi, with Braden & Jones of Dallas as associated architects) opened in March, 1966.



Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Throw Me a Pink Thing, Mister!” — 1967


mardi-gras_1967_doubloon-b1967 Mardi Gras doubloon (click for larger images)

by Paula Bosse


Pictures of these are all over the internet, but I found only ONE reference explaining why “Six Flags Over Texas” was on a Krewe of Freret Mardi Gras doubloon — and it was in this Jan. 31, 1967 AP article from the Monroe (Louisiana) News Star (transcription below):


NEW ORLEANS (AP)-King Freret XII abdicated today after a successful one night reign wildly cheered by his loyal carnival subjects. Pegasus, the winged horse, will rule tonight, rolling through the crowded streets in the second night parade of the season. The torch-lit procession of the Krewe of Freret, with 14 floats and 37 marching units stretching for 28 blocks, was inspired by the “Six Flags Over Texas” amusement park. Mild temperatures — the readings were in the high 50s as the parade wound through downtown New Orleans — brought thousands of residents and visitors to clamor for trinkets tossed from the glittering floats. When the parade reached the reviewing stand at Gallier Hall, the old city hall on St. Charles Avenue, Mayor Victor Schiro welcomed King Freret, Charles L. Villemeur Jr., and wished him a successful reign. Villemeur’s daughter, Miss Kay Ann Villemeur, who ruled as queen, stood beside Schiro. Both then joined in toasting the king. Carnival will reach its climax one week from today with Mardi Gras, preceding the 40 solemn days of Lent.

I wonder if there actually IS any connection to the amusement park? It might just be a friendly nod to neighboring Texas and not to the Arlington park we all know and love. But who am I to doubt the fine folks at the Biloxi Daily Herald?

Laissez les bons temps rouler!


Click the doubloons to get those suckers big. REAL big.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Ted Hinton’s Motor Lodge — From Bonnie & Clyde to Motel Heliport

hintons-motor-lodge_front“7 miles from Downtown Dallas” — choppers welcome (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

What does a man who ambushed and killed Bonnie and Clyde do once he’s retired from law enforcement? He opens a motor lodge, of course!

I was initially drawn to this image because of an unexplained lifelong fascination with Howard Johnson’s restaurants (I think I was only ever in one — the one on Mockingbird at Central, where my father introduced me to the inexplicable root beer float). But the interesting thing about this postcard is not the HoJo’s, it’s the motel next door, Hinton’s Motor Lodge, an establishment that was in business from 1955 to 1970, in Irving, very near to where Texas Stadium would be built in 1971 (Loop 12 at Hwy. 183). Why would a motor lodge be interesting? Because the owner was Ted Hinton (1904-1977), the former Dallas County Deputy Sheriff who was one of the six men who tracked down, ambushed, and killed Bonnie and Clyde in 1934. (Hinton was recruited for the posse because he would be able to identify both of them: he had known Clyde Barrow growing up, and he had apparently had a crush on Bonnie Parker in the days when she was working as a waitress and he was working for the post office.)

After killing two of the most notorious celebrity outlaws of all-time, it must have been hard to know where to turn next. He retired from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department in 1941 and, as he was a pilot, he trained flyers for the US Army Air Corps during WWII. The fact that Hinton was a pilot MUST explain the inclusion of a “heliport” (!) in the list of motel amenities, alongside Beauty Rest mattresses, a swimming pool, and a playground for the kids.

I’m sure that, on occasion, Hinton ate next door at Howard Johnson’s. But I bet none of the other patrons had any idea that the guy sipping coffee in the next booth was one of the men who gunned down Bonnie and Clyde in a hail of gunfire that even Sam Peckinpah might have considered “a bit much.”

Aerial View of Hinton's Motor Lodge Dallas




An interesting short video about Ted Hinton’s connections to Bonnie and Clyde in his youth is recounted here by Hinton’s son “Boots.”

And a newsreel featuring film footage of the aftermath of the ambush — and apparently shot by Hinton himself with a 16mm movie camera loaned to him by a Dallas Times Herald photographer — can be seen here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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