Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Night Scenes

Merry Christmas from Dallas Artist Bud Biggs

xmas_bud-biggs_shamrock-mag_1959_texas-tech
The bright lights of Christmas in downtown Dallas…

by Paula Bosse

An evening in downtown Dallas at Christmastime — alive with traffic and lights and energy — by Dallas artist Bud Biggs.

The painting appeared on the cover of the Christmas, 1959 issue of The Shamrock, a magazine published by the Shamrock Oil and Gas Corporation. The magazine’s description:

On the sidewalks, shoppers dart to and fro. On the street, autos dash by, leaving streaks of light in their haste. Gay lights and laughing Santas swing gayly overhead, festooning the area in a holiday glow. Above all this man-made madness, stars twinkle in contrast, reflecting a serenity reminiscent of a night nineteen hundred years ago. This is what The Shamrock staff sees in this vivid water color of Downtown Dallas at Christmastime by Artist Bud Biggs.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

***

Sources & Notes

This work by artist Bud Biggs appeared on the cover of the Christmas, 1959 edition of The Shamrock; this magazine is part of the Southwest Collection, Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University — the entire issue has been scanned and may be viewed as a PDF here.

My guess is that the title of the original painting is “Main Street, Christmas Night” and that it was one of the 12 paintings produced by Biggs in the mid 1950s as cover art for Dallas Magazine, a Dallas Chamber of Commerce publication. These paintings of Dallas scenes appeared as cover art for the monthly issues of 1956, in honor of the city’s centennial. The series won the “Best Covers of 1956” award from the American Association of Commerce Publications, and in 1958 all 12 of the original watercolors were purchased by Southwest Airmotive Company to be displayed in their new Love Field terminal. The 12 covers featured Biggs’ depictions of the following Dallas scenes and landmarks:

  • “Aerial View of Downtown Dallas”
  • “Ervay Street”
  • “Ground-breaking, Dallas University”
  • “Midway, State Fair of Texas”
  • “Trinity Industrial District”
  • “Central Expressway”
  • “Commerce Street”
  • “City Auditorium”
  • “Looking Up Pacific”
  • “Main Street, Christmas Night”
  • “SMU Legal Center”
  • “The Katy Round House”

More on this series of paintings can be found in the Dallas Morning News article “Art & Artists: Biggs Series Bought by Firm” by Rual Askew, Feb. 20, 1958.

Dallas native Bancroft Putnam “Bud” Biggs (1906-1985) attended Forest Ave. High School, SMU, and the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. He was primarily a commercial artist, working first for Dallas artist Guy Cahoon before opening his own advertising studio. He produced fine art as well, specializing in watercolors, and was a respected art instructor.

xmas_bud-biggs_shamrock-mag_1959_texas-tech_sig-det

*

Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Nighttime Bird’s-Eye Views of Dallas

skyline_legacies_spring-2012All lit up… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In my opinion, Dallas has always been most impressive at night. The view above is from the east. Among other familiar landmarks, we see skyline icons the Mercantile Building, the Sheraton Hotel, the Southland Life Building (at the time the city’s tallest building), and the rocket-topped Republic Bank Building (previously the city’s tallest building). I think that’s Live Oak St. on the left running in and out of downtown and Bryan on the right.

And, below, a view toward the east, with Jackson Street on the right, and dramatically-lit appearances by the Adolphus Hotel, the Magnolia Building, the Baker Hotel, and the Mercantile.

skyline_legacies_spring-2012_postcard

***

Sources & Info

These postcard images were featured on the front and back covers of the Spring, 2012 issue of Legacies magazine (viewable on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site, here).

A similar photo (colorwise) to the second image above (but taken from a rotated angle) can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “Dallas Skyline At Night — ca. 1965” — this photo shows the skyline just a few short years later after the new Republic Tower II had appeared on the horizon and claimed the title as the city’s tallest building — the Southland Life Building’s reign was only about five years long..

*

Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Palace — 1969

palace-theatre_1969_color_portalMovies and Dilly Bars, Elm Street, 1969… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The only thing more exciting than seeing a cool nighttime photo of Dallas’ Theater Row with neon blazing, is discovering that there was once a Dairy Queen downtown!

**

UPDATE: That DQ was there for a VERY short time. It shows up in none of the directories. In fact, its address — 1621 Elm — shows as “vacant” in the 1969, 1970, and 1971 city directories (it was occupied in 1968 by a newsstand — the Elm Street News — until it was raided that year for selling nudie mags). The address disappears altogether after the 1971 directory (it and the Palace Theatre were demolished in 1971). The only evidence I can find of the downtown Dairy Queen’s brief existence on Elm was in a handful of want-ads placed in October, 1969 (about the same time this photo was taken). My guess is that DQ bugged out when they learned the building was going to be torn down. It may have been there only a couple of months. Downtown DQ, we hardly knew ye.

dairy-queen_elm-street_100269Oct. 2, 1969

***

Sources & Notes

“Exterior of Palace Theatre at Night” is from the Lovita Irby Collection via the Spotlight on North Texas project, UNT Media Library, and may be viewed on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site here.

The movie on the marquee is “A Nice Girl Like Me,” starring Barbara Ferris, which opened at the Palace on Sept. 19, 1969.

The Palace Theatre was located on the north side of Elm Street, just west of Ervay, at 1625 Elm — by 1969, “Theater Row” consisted of only a handful of theaters. The Palace (and the building housing the Dairy Queen) was demolished in 1971; most of the north side of that block is now occupied by Thanksgiving Tower.

*

Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Stemmons Tower, Downtown Skyline — 1963

stemmons-tower_night_squire-haskins_041963_UTAPhoto by Squire Haskins, 1963 (UTA Libraries, Special Collections)

by Paula Bosse

Another fantastic photo from premier Dallas photographer, Squire Haskins: the new Stemmons Tower (East), with the Dallas skyline serving as a dramatic nighttime backdrop. (See this photo really big at the UTA website, here.)

***

Sources & Notes

“Stemmons Tower with downtown Dallas, Texas in the background; photo taken at night,” by Squire Haskins, taken on April 19, 1963; from the Squire Haskins, Inc. Photography Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections (more info on this photo can be found here).

The first of several “towers,” construction of Trammel Crow’s Stemmons Tower East began in the summer of 1961 and was open and leasing by December, 1962. This office complex was part of the grand vision of the Trinity Industrial District and the “Stemmons corridor” (click ad below to see a much larger image).

stemmons-tower_jan-1963Jan., 1963

*

Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

State Fair Coliseum / Centennial Administration Building / Women’s Museum / Women’s Building

tx-centennial_armstrong-linoleum-ad_1936_detAdministration Building interior, 1936… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Thursday night I attended a very entertaining Dallas Historical Society presentation at the Hall of State in Fair Park: “An Evening With Jim Parsons: Lost Fair Park,” in which the author of Fair Park Deco and DFW Deco talked about many of the buildings constructed for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936 which are no longer with us.

One of Jim’s asides was that there are very, very few color photos of the Centennial buildings and murals taken in 1936. If you’ve seen a Centennial view in color, it’s probably a colorized postcard. Kodachrome film was introduced in 1935 and was, sadly, not in wide use by visitors to Fair Park in 1936 (or by the Centennial organization).

When he said that, though, I remembered an ad I had come across that I thought was pretty cool, simply because it shows the interior of one of the Centennial buildings when it was brand new (…well, it was sort of new — more on that below). The ad is for Armstrong Linoleum and it features a color photo showing one of their custom linoleum floors installed in the Centennial Administration Building, an interior I’d never seen. And it’s in color! (Check out the furniture and the recessed lighting!) Here’s the full ad, which appeared in national magazines in 1936 (click for larger image).

ad- tx-centennial_armstrong-linoleum_19361936 ad

And — hallelujah — I found another photo of the interior — also from the helpful Armstrong people (I don’t know if they had the concession to outfit all the Centennial buildings, but, if so, I’d love to see all of their designs). Unfortunately this one is not in color, but it shows a fantastic Texas-centric custom design, laid down in fabulous linoleum.

tx-centennial_armstrong-linoleum_admin-bldg_texas-floor

Imagine that floor in Cadet Blue, White, Orange, and Dark Gray. This is from a trade publication called Armstrong’s Floors and Walls for Homes and Public Buildings, published around 1950 (and fully scanned here). A cropped version of the photo of the top is also included here (that floor, by the way, is in White, Dark Gray, and Cadet Blue), with handy swatches (which, reproduced below, lose some accuracy in color).

tx-centennial_armstrong-linoleum_admin-bldg_colors

The Centennial Administration Building — which housed the hundreds of office workers and executives behind the running of the Texas Centennial Exposition — was actually the very first Centennial building completed (at the end of December, 1935). Most of the Centennial buildings were newly built in 1936, but the Administration Building was actually an old building given a new stucco façade and completely remodeled — it even acquired a second floor inside the huge structure. This building was originally known as the State Fair Coliseum, built in 1910, designed by architect C. D. Hill (who designed many buildings in Dallas, including the still-standing Municipal Building downtown (built in 1914) and the Melrose Hotel (1924).

state-fair-coliseum_dmn_062009_drawingDallas Morning News, June 20, 1909

state-fair-coliseum_dmn_050710_constructionDMN, May 7, 1910

It was BIG. It had a seating capacity of 7,500.

state-fair-coliseum_flickr_coltera

state-fair-coliseum_dmn_030413DMN, March 4, 1913

This was the first building you’d see as you entered Fair Park, as it was right inside the front entrance on Parry Avenue (after you entered, the building would be on your left).

Coliseum Building, State Fair Dallas, TX

park-board-bk_fair-park-coliseum_1914

It was the city’s first official municipal auditorium, and it hosted everything from livestock shows, conventions, large civic gatherings, and the occasional opera.

Fast-forward a few decades: in 2000 the building became the home of the Women’s Museum. The museum closed in 2011 and is now called the Women’s Building and is used for special events.

A photo of the building from 2014:

womens-museum_fair-park_2014_carol-highsmith_library-of-congressphoto: Carol Highsmith, Library of Congress

See a Wikimedia photo of this building in 2016 here — click it again (and again) to see it really big, and linger on the mural by Carlo Ciampaglia and the sculpture by Raoul Josset. See interior photos of the space in 2009 during its time as the Women’s Museum here and here. I’m not sure if the exposed brick and steel are from the original 1910 building, but I certainly hope so! And, lastly, exterior photos from 2009 showing the side of the building here, and here

***

Sources & Notes

This building can be seen on this aerial Google view, here. It is currently the Women’s Building, and it is available for special events — more about this building from the Friends of Fair Park, here.

Black-and-white postcard showing the interior of the Coliseum is from Flickr.

Black-and-white photo “Coliseum and Art Building” is from Report for the Year 1914-1915 of the Park Board of the City of Dallas, With a Sketch of the Park System (Dallas: Park Board, 1915), which can be accessed as part of the Dallas Municipal Archives via the Portal to Texas History, here.

And since this whole post was spurred by Jim Parsons’ talk the other night, here’s a link to the book he and David Bush wrote: Fair Park Deco: Art & Architecture of the Texas Centennial Exposition.

*

Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Nighttime on Commerce Street — 1957

commerce-street_walgreens_adolphus_1957_ebayThe Adolphus block, at Commerce & Akard… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love this photo showing Commerce Street, looking west from Akard — especially the green light on the walls of the Adolphus. And that heart-stoppingly beautiful deco “Walgreen” font and neon. Downtown Dallas in the ’40s and ’50s is a place I wish I had known, back when drug stores had soda fountains and hotels had “supper clubs.”

This photo was probably taken in March, 1957, when Ben Arden and His Orchestra “featuring Sylvia and her violin” were appearing at the Century Room in the Adolphus Hotel. Downtown Dallas looked pretty good in 1957.

***

Sources & Notes

Postcard photo — “Night view of Commerce Street in downtown Dallas, Texas” — by Leonard Raef; it is currently up for bids on eBay, here. (Thanks to Teresa Musgrove Gibson for posting this today in the Retro Dallas Facebook group!)

I don’t know if I’ve linked to this huge photo of the Adolphus on the Dallas City Hall website, but take a look at it here (then click again to make it really big). I have to say, I think I prefer that Commerce-and-Akard corner with the bright lights of the Walgreens to the more sedate, stripped-down look of the same corner today — it’s still a beautiful  building, of course, but, man, that neon was just fantastic.

UPDATE: Some people who remember downtown at this time have thought this might show Main Street. As far as I know, Main has never been a one-way street (as seen in the photo above), but there was a Walgreen store at the northwest corner of Main and Akard, one block away. Seems counter-productive to have two drugs stores so close together, but there you are.

The color photo shows the northwest corner of Commerce and Akard, taken from the front of the Baker Hotel. The same corner can be seen at the right of this black-and-white photo from 1962:

Downtown Dallas Texas

*

Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Weber’s Root Beer Stands: “Good Service with a Smile”

webers-root-beer_traces-of-texasFeeling parched?  (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’ve heard of these legendary root beer stands from family members, but, sadly, I missed their heyday, which seems to stretch from the 1920s to the 1950s. The photo above was taken around 1940 in Dallas at an unknown location. (The 1940 Dallas directory lists only two stands that year: at Greenville and Richmond — currently a 7-Eleven — and at 1119 N. Zang.)

Here’s another photo, this one from 1930, taken at night, with a jam-packed lot filled with thirsty teenagers, rumble seats, and future jalopies.

webers_root-beer_traces-of-texas

In the photo above, a sign for Eady’s Famous Hamburgers can be seen in the background. This would seem to indicate that this photo was taken at one of the two locations where both Eady’s and Weber’s were neighbors: in Oak Cliff in the 1100 block of Zang, or near the Lower Greenville intersection of Greenville and Richmond. So it’s possible the two photos were taken at the same Weber’s Root Beer stand.

“It’s So Different”

ad-webers-root-beer_1930-dallas-technical-high-school-yrbk_frank-rogers

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo appeared on the fantastic Facebook page Traces of Texas. It was submitted by reader Shelly Tucker showing her aunt (second from left) working as a Weber’s carhop around 1940.

The second photo is from Traces of Texas’ Twitter feed; the source is unknown.

Ad is from the 1930 yearbook of the Dallas Technical High School (later named Crozier Tech); the photo is by the always-busy Dallas photographer, Frank Rogers.

*

Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Sometimes I Run”: Dallas Noir — 1973

5-sometimes-I-run_stanley-maupin_hoseStanley Maupin at work…

by Paula Bosse

Several years ago, Robert Wilonsky wrote a Dallas Observer article about the short documentary “Sometimes I Run” — I watched it immediately afterward, and it’s stuck with me ever since. The 22-minute film, shot in 1973 by SMU film student Blaine Dunlap (who also made the fun 1970 Sunset High School film I wrote about earlier this year) shows Dallas Public Works Dept. street flusher Stanley Maupin at his job sweeping the downtown sidewalks late at night, accompanied by a soundtrack of jazz music and Maupin’s philosophical musings. It’s cool, gritty, seedy, nostalgic, and somehow life-affirming, all at the same time. Also, Dallas always looks best at night — the wet streets add a definite noir-ness to the overnight municipal goings-on which were happening when most Dallasites were home in bed. (See the bottom of this post for various sites on which you can watch the film in its entirety.)

It took the opening moments of this film to remind me that, yes, I DO remember (if vaguely) seeing that revolving beam of light shot from the “rocket” on top of the Republic Bank Building. You can see it at about :35. Also included in the film are Franklin’s, the Greyhound Bus station, the Capri movie theater, a late-night-diner, the Mayfair department store, the Municipal Building, Sanger-Harris, and much more. And while Maupin’s philosophical pronouncements might be a bit heavy-handed at times, I have to admit that I could listen to him talk for hours, if only to hear his accent, a Dallas-area trapping of the past that one doesn’t come across nearly often enough these days.

Here are a few screen captures.

2-franklins_sometimes-when-i-run

3-greyhound_stometimes-when-i-run

6-keep-dallas-clean_sometimes-when-i-run

7-diner_sometimes-when-i-run

8-diner-2_sometimes-when-i-run

9-mayfair_sometimes-when-i-run

10-city-hall_sometimes-when-i-run

11-repub-bank-bldg

***

Sources & Notes

The 44-year-old award-winning student film, “Sometimes I Run,” directed by Blaine Dunlap, can be seen in its entirety in several places online: on Vimeo (good sound and video), on YouTube (via South Carolina Arts Commission), and at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (from the collection of the Dallas Municipal Archives). Sound by Ron Judkins, music by Ken Watson.

More on filmmaker Blaine Dunlap can be found in “Spotlight on Dallas Filmmakers: Blaine Dunlap” by Laura Treat, here.

I have tried to find some history on Stanley Maupin, but I didn’t come up with much. He lived in Irving as a boy, but as a teenager, he attended North Dallas High School and, later, McMurry College in Abilene.

maupin-stanley_NDHS_1953
North Dallas High School yearbook, 1953

maupin-stanley_mcmurry-college_1956_freshman_portalMcMurry College yearbook, 1956

Born in 1935, he appears to have died in 1985, perhaps in a shocking way (which I have been unable to verify) — see comments from his grandchildren in the YouTube video here.

Some background on the film can be found in an article by Don Clinchy, here.

Read a 1986 interview with Blaine Dunlap (by Bo Emerson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 24, 1986) here.

*

Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Over-the-Top University Park Christmas Display Featuring Big Tex and a Six Flags Spee-lunker

xmas-wayne-smith_university-park_2015_big-tex_speelunkerBig Tex on the roof, a “Spee” to the right (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

You may have heard about Wayne Smith’s annual spectacular Christmas display in the 3600 block of Southwestern in University Park — the one with a cast of thousands, including a previous head of Big Tex, what seems like hundreds of illuminated Santas, Dracula, Moe Howard, and a former denizen of Six Flags Over Texas’ “Cave”/Spee-lunker ride. Before I get back to the “Spees” (the name the creatures have been given by their surprisingly enthusiastic fan-following), here’s a wider shot of a photo I took during last year’s holiday season. (Click it!)

xmas_wayne-smith_university-park_2015_full

(And this gives you only an inkling of what’s actually there. I LOVED it! I waited until after Christmas — in fact, after New Year’s — to wander around — I can only imagine how backed up with looky-loos the street gets closer to Christmas.)

*

Back to the Spees. The Cave water ride debuted in 1964 and was an immediate hit. When it opened, there were 28 of these creatures who, according to the original marketing, “came from innerspace.”

They are 30 inches high and they play harps, do the Twist, play cards, hammer cave crystals into rock candy and engage in a shell game — turtle racing.

This ride was always one of my favorites (probably because it provided a brief, cool respite from the glaring sun and the blasting heat that plagued my annual summer visits to Six Flags).

The Spee-lunkers left Six Flags a long time ago, so it’s nice to see that one of them is still entertaining local crowds, right next to another beloved DFW icon, Big Tex … along with a phalanx of festive Santas!

spee-lunker-cave_postcar

six-flags_speelunkers_ebay

six-flags_speelunkers_postcard_ebay

Lest you think the publicity mill wasn’t working all angles of this new attraction, we see below that one of the Spees got a visit from, of all people, TV-darling Donna Douglas who played Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies.

cave_hood-county-news-tablet_060464

cave_hood-county-news-tablet_060464-text
photo and article, Hood County News Tablet, June 4, 1964

cave_fwst_082264
August, 1964

cave_grand-prairie-daily-news_052577
Grand Prairie Daily News, May 25, 1977

***

Sources & Notes

Photo of Wayne Smith’s Christmas display taken by me on January 2, 2016. The house is in the 3600 block of Southwestern, between Baltimore and Thackery. Since the display is probably visible from space, there’s no way you can miss it.

Postcards found on eBay and Google.

Every year TV crews descend on Smith’s house to do a story. Watch one from this year — from CW33 News — here.

For those who might like more info on the Spee-lunker attraction/ride (which, by the way, is classified as a “dark ride” in amusement park lingo) at Six Flags Over Texas, here’s a bunch of links:

  • Weird video and music (and history!) by a superfan, here
  • Article by the same guy who put the above video together, here
  • Spee-lunker vignettes described here
  • Google images aplenty, here

More on the new ride can be found in the Dallas Morning News archives in the article “$300,000 Hole: Six Flags To Open Cave Ride” (DMN, May 24, 1964) — accompanying the article is an amusing photo captioned “Gail Powers yelps in mock fear as lobster seizes her hand.”

A shout-out to Wendy Cook who, when I posted the top picture to the Flashback Dallas Instagram feed in January, pointed out to me that the Spee-lunker was even in there. She recognized him right away, but with so much visual overload, I hadn’t even noticed him! Thanks, Wendy!

See stuff bigger — when in doubt, click it!

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Albert Einstein “Threw the Switch” in New Jersey to Open the Pan-American Exposition in Dallas — 1937

pan-american-expo_einstein_061237Einstein at the switch, June 12, 1937…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Who knew? Albert Einstein, the world’s most famous physicist, helped open the Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition. The exposition was held at Fair Park for 20 weeks, from June 12, 1937 to October 31, 1937, as a follow-up of sorts to the Texas Centennial (the city had built all those new buildings — might as well get their money’s worth!). I’m not quite sure how Einstein got roped into this, but looking at the photo above, he seemed pretty happy about what was, basically, a long-distance ribbon-cutting. Via telegraph.

The plan was for Professor Einstein to officially open the Pan-American Exposition by “throwing the switch” which would turn on massive displays of lights around Fair Park. He would do this from Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived, by closing a telegraph circuit which would put the whole thing in motion. Newspaper reports varied on where exactly Herr Einstein was tapping his telegraph key — it was either the study in his home, in his office, in a Princeton University administration building, or in the Princeton offices of Western Union (the latter of which was mentioned in only one report I found, but it seems most likely).

Einstein was a bona fide celebrity, and this was national news — newspapers around the country ran stories about it, and the ceremony was carried live on coast-to-coast radio. Almost every report suggested that Einstein’s pressing of the key in New Jersey would be the trigger that lit up the park in Texas, 1,500 miles away — which was partly correct. According to The Dallas Morning News:

Lights on the grounds will be turned on officially at 8:40 p.m. when Dr. Albert Einstein, exponent of the theory of relativity, presses a key in his Princeton home to fire an army field gun. With the detonation of the shell, switches will be thrown to release the flood of colored lights throughout the grounds. (DMN, June 10, 1937)

So he pressed a telegraph key somewhere in Princeton, NJ, an alert was instantly wired to Dallas, an army field gun (in some reports a “cannon”) was fired, and that blast was the cue for electricians positioned around the park to throw switches to illuminate the spectacular colored lights displays.

The Western Union-tie-in gimmick was a success. Newspaper reports might have been a little purple in their descriptions, but from all accounts, those lights going on all at once were pretty spectacular.

Dr. Albert Einstein, celebrated scientist, threw a switch that flashed a million lights over the 187-acre exposition park. The flash came at 8:40 o’clock and instantly the huge park became a city of a million wonders. Flags from a thousand staffs proclaimed their nationality [and] bands played the national airs of the nations of the Western Hemisphere as lusty cheers roared with thunderous approval. The Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition was formally opened. It is on its way. (Abilene (TX) Reporter News, June 13, 1937)

The Dallas News describes the crowd as stunned into silence:

The waiting participants in the ceremonies at Dallas heard the results [of Einstein’s telegraph signal] when a cannon boomed. Electricians at switches around the grounds swung the blades into their niches and the flood of light awoke the colors of the rainbow to dance over the 187-acre park. Its breath taken by the spectacle, the crowd stood silent for a moment, and then broke into a cheer. (“Pan-American Fair Gets Off to Gay Start” by Robert Lunsford, DMN, June 13, 1937)

Many of the lighting designs and displays had been used the previous year during the Centennial, but, as with much of the attractions and appointments throughout the park, they were improved and spectacularized for the Pan-American Expo. And people loved what they saw.

Despite the multi-million dollar structures, air conditioning demos, works of art and other newfangled additions to the space, when people left the Centennial Exposition one thing was on everyone’s tongues, according to historical pollsters: the lights.

Positioned behind the Hall of State were 24 searchlights scaffolding into a crowned fan shape. “They all moved and were different colors,” says [Jim] Parsons [co-author of the book Fair Park Deco]. “It sounds gaudy, but people loved it.” The lights, he goes on to tell, were visible up to 20 miles away.

Considering most of the people who were visiting the fairgrounds were coming from rural farming communities with no electricity, the inspiring nature of those far-reaching beams makes a lot of sense. (Dallas Observer, Nov. 7, 2012)

Thanks for doing your part for Dallas history, Prof. Einstein!

pan-american-expo_esplanade_postcard

pan-american-expo_hall-of-state_postcard

pan-american-expo_patio-de-honor_ebay

Below, photos from the Texas Centennial, 1936. The lights could be seen from miles away — the lights over White Rock Lake show what they looked like from a distance.

centennial_pan-american_lights

fair-park-lights_white-rock-lake

**

(All pictures and clippings are larger when clicked.)

einstein_pan-am-expo_denison-press_060937
Denison Press, June 9, 1937

*

einstein_pan-am-expo_waxahachie-daily-light_061137
Waxahachie Daily Light, June 11, 1937

*

einstein_pan-am-expo_denison-press_061437
Denison Press, June 14, 1937

*

einstein_pan-am-expo_medford-oregon-mail-tribune_062337
Medford (Oregon) Mail Tribune, June 23, 1937

*

einstein_pan-am-expo_vernon-daily-record_062437
Vernon Daily Record, June 24, 1937

*

pan-american-expo_drefuss-ad_dmn_061237
1937

pan-american-expo_sticker_1937_cowgirl

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo from the old Corbis site.

Black-and-white photos from the Centennial are from the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library.

Sources of other images and clippings cited, if known.

More on the Pan-American Exposition from Wikipedia, here, and from the fantastic Watermelon Kid site of all-things-Fair-Park, here.

Click pictures and clippings for larger images.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

%d bloggers like this: