Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Parks

Casa View Elementary/Casa View Park — 1954-1974

casa-view-elementary_park_aerial_squire-haskins_1954_dallas-municipal-archives_portalCasa View Elementary and next-door park, 1954 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I wrote about Casa Linda Park not long ago, so today … Casa View Park (and its neighbor, Casa View Elementary School).

After World War II, there was a severe housing shortage in Dallas, and developers began looking to areas which offered new land to build on and were ripe for annexation. One such area — east of White Rock Lake and beyond the city limits — was eyed as a prime site for a new residential neighborhood: it didn’t take long for the area now known as Casa View to pop up.

One of Casa View’s neighborhoods was Casa View Heights (which, roughly, is bounded by Garland Road, Centerville Road, Shiloh Road, and … maybe Barnes Bridge? — see ad below) — it was a development spearheaded by Carl Brown, whose nearby Casa Linda development had been a big hit. The land this addition was built on was annexed by the City of Dallas in 1949. In mid-1950, it was announced that “ten acres of pasture land north of Centerville Road in the Casa View area” had been purchased by the Dallas School Board, a tract which “some day may be the site of a school […] though the school building program has no project scheduled for the area” (“Sizable Land Plots,” Dallas Morning News, July 16, 1950).

About half that parcel of land became Casa View Park sometime in 1950; the other half became the campus of Casa View Elementary School. The school (designed by premier Dallas architect Mark Lemmon) began construction in 1952 and was ready for use by the opening of the new school year in 1953 (enrollment on the first day was an impressive 870 students).

Below are four aerial photos showing the Casa View park and school, taken over a 20-year period by Squire Haskins. (All images are larger when clicked.)

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At the top: a photo from 1954, with the year-old Casa View Elementary School on the left (in its original square shape, with an unusual-for-the-time open courtyard in the center); the fairly bleak-looking, treeless Casa View Park is on the right. The view is to the west, with Farola at the top, Monterrey on the left, and Itasca at the bottom and right.

Below, from January, 1966 — a view toward the south:

casa-view-elementary_park_aerial_squire-haskins_jan-1966_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

November, 1969 — looking west:

casa-view-elementary_park_aerial_squire-haskins_nov-1969_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

August, 1974 —  looking east:

casa-view-elementary_park_aerial_squire-haskins_aug-1974_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

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Below, with annexation under their belt (and assurance of city services, schools, etc.) developers’ ads like this one began appearing in local newspapers, hoping to entice prospective homeowners to the brand new “Casa View Heights” addition. (The description of these modest homes as “luxury” was a bit of a stretch….) 

casa-view-heights_103049_adOctober, 1949

Here are a couple of interesting pages from the 1952 Dallas Mapsco. Take a look at all that empty white space just waiting to be gobbled up by an ever-sprawling Big D. (The location of the park and school is marked in the second image.)

casa-view_mapsco-1952a


casa-view_mapsco-1952b_marked

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Sources & Notes

The aerial photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives, and are included in the collection “Dallas Parks Aerial Photographs” provided to UNT’s Portal to Texas History site; all photos above can be found here.

The location of the school and park can be seen here. A present-day aerial view from Google is here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Casa Linda Park — 1947-1977

casa-linda_aerial_baseball-diamond_squire-haskins_072047_dallas-municipal-archives_portalThe idyllic Casa Linda countryside, 1947…

by Paula Bosse

Here are several aerial photographs, taken over a 30-year span, showing Casa Linda Park, located east of White Rock Lake — most (if not all) were taken by noted Dallas photographer Squire Haskins. When the little 6.3-acre park opened in 1947, it was described by The Dallas Morning News as “rustic and picturesque” (DMN, Aug. 19, 1947), a description which could be used for the whole Casa Linda area which was being developed at the time by Carl Brown.

The land for Casa Linda Park was purchased by the City of Dallas in March, 1947, and it is bounded by Old Gate Lane on the southwest, the curving San Saba Drive on the north, and what used to be the Santa Fe Railway railroad tracks on the southeast, between White Rock Lake and Buckner Blvd. I’m not exactly sure where Little Forest Hills ends and Casa Linda begins, but both neighborhoods could claim this cute little park as their own, I suppose.

These aerial photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives, via the Portal to Texas History (links can be found at the bottom of this post). All photos are larger when clicked. See your house?

At the top, the earliest photo of the park in this collection, taken in July, 1947 by Squire Haskins.

Below, the second Haskins photo, from 1954:

casa-linda_aerial_baseball-diamond_squire-haskins_1954_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

Below, another Haskins photo, from January, 1966:

casa-linda-park_aerial_baseball-diamond_squire-haskins_jan-1966_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

Another Haskins photo, from July, 1970:

casa-linda_aerial_baseball-diamond_squire-haskins_july-1970_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

And lastly, a photo by an unidentified photographer, from July, 1977 — 30 years to the month after the photo at the top was taken:

casa-linda-park_aerial_july-1977_dallas-municipal-archives_portal

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An aerial Google view of the park today can be seen here.

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Sources & Notes

These photos are from the Dallas Municipal Archives, and are included in the collection “Dallas Parks Aerial Photographs” provided to UNT’s Portal to Texas History site; all photos above can be found here.

See aerials of nearby Casa View Park — taken by Squire Haskins between 1954 and 1974 — in the Flashback Dallas post “Casa View Elementary/Casa View Park — 1954-1974,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Cowtown Extra: Fort Worth Zookeeper Ham Hittson and His Forest Park Friends

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_fawn_062937_UTAZookeeper Hittson and tiny friend… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today, Fort Worth. I was looking for photos of the old Forest Park in Oak Cliff (which was renamed Marsalis Park in 1925) and came across photos of the Forest Park Zoo. A search on the internet showed me that there was also a Forest Park Zoo in Fort Worth. I’ve never actually been a big fan of zoos, but I saw the photo above and was won over by its sheer cuteness. So let’s just take a little trip westward and enjoy some photos of cute animals, most of which feature zookeeper Henry Hamilton (“Ham”) Hittson.

Ham Hittson (1912-1966) began working as a zookeeper at the Forest Park zoo in the early 1930s — if his obituary is correct, he became the zoo’s director in 1933 — at the age of only 21! During World War II he served for two years in the Coast Guard, assigned to work with sentry and attack dogs and with patrol horses. After the war he returned to the zoo (he was the director of the zoo for 21 years) and eventually became the director of the Fort Worth Park Department. His 1966 obituary (he was only 54 when he died) noted that he was instrumental in forming the Fort Worth Zoological Association. And, well, these photos are very sweet.

(All photos are from the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Click pictures to see larger images; click the link below each photo for more information.)

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The photo at the top is my favorite — it shows Hittson with a tiny fawn born the previous day. The photo above and the one below were taken on June 29, 1937.

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_fawn_062937-b_UTAMore info here

Below, Hittson with a new baby lion cub named Will (June 29, 1939).

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_lion-cub_062939_UTAMore info here

Actor Jimmy Stewart stopped by the zoo on May 22, 1953 to check out the zoo’s new rhinoceros, Marilyn Monroe. F. Kirk Johnson, zoological board president, is at the left and Hittson, then park department director, is at the right.

FW-zoo_jimmy-stewart_052253_UTAMore info here

Back to Ham’s zookeeper days: in the photo below (taken on August 2, 1940), he’s standing with one of the zoo’s top attractions, an elephant named Queen Tut. He’s bidding her farewell as he is about to leave for New York where he will pick up a baby elephant to be her companion. (Hittson and the zoo’s veterinarian brought the one-year old elephant back with them in a trailer — they must have attracted a lot of stunned looks along the highway as they drove back from New York.)

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_elephant_080240_UTAMore info here

The arrival of this new elephant was big news — there were almost daily updates in the pages of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In order to buy the elephant, the zoo had had to take out a loan from the bank, and in what was both a speedy way to pay off the debt and a clever way to garner publicity, there followed a successful drive to raise money to pay off the “mortgage” — countless school children happily did their parts by contributing pennies, nickels, and dimes in the fundraising effort and then flocked to the zoo to see the newest member of the zoo family and welcome her to Fort Worth.

And here’s Queen Tut with her new little pal, Penny, on September 10, 1940.

FW-zoo_queen-tut-and-penny_091040_UTAMore info here

Awww.

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Sources & Notes

There are tons of photos of the Forest Park Zoo in the UTA Libraries Special Collections, here (20 pages’ worth!).

Click photos to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Iola Bridge

iola-bridge_city-park_ca-1908“Looks like California…” — City Park, ca. 1908 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Old postcards of (Old) City Park always seem kind of mysterious to me. I’m fascinated by photos of what was, for many years, Dallas’ only park. It was very big and beautifully landscaped — and it was one of the things about the city that those of earlier generations were most proud of. The postcard views above and below are from the early days of the twentieth century, and, sadly, those views don’t exist anymore — it’s hard to  believe they EVER existed here. Even though there’s a hint of what you might see at Reverchon Park, there’s little else about these images that looks like the Dallas of today. What a shame!

But what’s the story behind the attractive little “Iola” bridge? Built in 1905, it was, apparently, Dallas’ first (or possibly second) concrete bridge. The Iola bridge was far sturdier than the wooden bridges around Dallas, and a concrete bridge also required very little upkeep. In fact, this little bridge “of ornamental design” is actually kind of important — it was often cited by city planners and commissioners when discussing the construction of future bridges around the city.

concrete-bridges_dmn_081005Dallas Morning News, Aug. 10, 1905

It seems wooden bridges were being washed away almost as often as Dallas courthouses were burning down. In a letter that appeared in The News on Feb. 21, 1911, it was noted that, while wooden bridges were “under constant repair,” the concrete Iola bridge “has not required one dollar of outlay […] during its six years of existence.” So … cheaper and sturdier. Bye-bye, wooden bridges!

But “Iola” — where did that name come from? I thought it might have been the name of a wife or mother of a mayor or planner, but I HIGHLY suspect it was merely the name of the company that donated the cement for the bridge’s construction, the Iola Portland Cement Company. The company’s canny “civic donation” ultimately paid off BIG for them in the end. Not only did they supply the cement to build that first very pretty little bridge in a very pretty park, they also, ultimately, get whopping new orders from the city for all those new concrete bridges that began to be built — including, less than ten years later (when the Iola company’s West Dallas plant had been sold to the TEXAS Portland Cement Co.) the Trinity River-spanning Oak Cliff/Houston Street viaduct, which, when it opened in 1912, was the longest concrete bridge in the WORLD! And it all began with that unassuming bridge in scenic City Park.

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iola-bridge_watermelon-kid

iola-bridge_dmn_100921a

Below, a couple of views showing the charming and rather more rustic wooden bridges in the park.

bridge_city-park_watermelon-kid

wooden-bridges_city-park_watermelon-kid

iola-cement_directory-1905

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Top postcard found somewhere on the internet. All other postcards from The Watermelon Kid — here.

Black and white photo by Victor H. Schoffelmayer appeared in The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 9, 1921; it was one of several photographs of the Iola bridge, taken by members of the Dallas Camera Club.

Iola Portland Cement Co. ad from the 1905 city directory.

A Dallas Morning News article from July 14, 1905 detailing the new improvements to City Park (including the concrete bridge) can be read here. (I don’t think the really wonderful-sounding “cascade” was ever built — and that’s a pity, because it sounds like it would have been beautiful!)

Most images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

City Park Construction Work — 1941

city-park-construction_1941_david-roberts-photo“City Park, 1941” (click for huge image) / Collection of David Roberts

by Paula Bosse

This great family photo was sent in by reader David Roberts. It shows his grandfather, David Crockett (D.C.) McKay working on a construction crew. The reverse of the photo reads “City Park, 1941.” David has identified his grandfather as the man standing on the makeshift wooden bridge, just to the right of the cement mixer. I love this photograph!

City Park (now “Old” City Park), was Dallas’ first park, acquired in 1876. It became a popular (and beautiful) recreation area, and the adjacent Browder Springs was home to the city’s first waterworks. In 1936, City Park was briefly re-named “Sullivan Park” in honor of Dan F. Sullivan, the city’s first highly-accomplished Water Commissioner. But it was officially UN-re-named (or RE-re-named) and went back to being “City Park” again in May, 1941, because after 60 years of being known as City Park, the “Sullivan” thing just never caught on, and the two names were causing confusion. So the name was changed back.

So what construction was going on around City Park at the time this photo was taken? In 1941, there were major improvements going on throughout the city’s park system, and City Park was one of the beneficiaries of an $800,000 city-wide improvements package. ALSO happening in 1941 was some Mill Creek storm sewer work — Mill Creek ran through the park and there had been ongoing work to its sewers since the ’30s. In January, 1941, The Dallas Morning News reported that a large construction contract was pending on a Mill Creek storm sewer “from Browder to Beaumont” — this may have been a bit beyond the actual park, though. I mention this only because the photo above appears to show construction of a large sewer in the City Park area.

On April 16, 1941 a short article ran in The Dallas Morning News about a fatal accident at a City Park construction site, perhaps the same site that DC McKay was working on — a construction worker named Henry Pilgrim was crushed when a bridge collapsed on him: “The accident was blamed on the weakened condition of the bridge due to rains and the weight of the workmen on it.”

Construction work is hard, sweaty, and dangerous. Mr. Roberts says his grandfather worked for the J. W. Slaughter Construction company, often on concrete culvert and drain projects.

“Some of my earliest memories of visiting his house in the evenings (early ’60s) was that you had to be quiet during the weather, because that forecast was how he knew if he had to work the next day.”

Mr. McKay, who was born in 1903, would have been in his 60s then! But hard construction work must have agreed with him, because DC McKay lived until the ripe age of 84.

Thank you so much for sharing your photo, David! It’s great to see Dallas infrastructure in the making!

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Photograph from the personal collection of David Roberts, used with permission.

A photo of D. C. McKay (1903-1987) and his wife, Opal McKay, is here.

Two pertinent articles from the Handbook of Texas: the history of Old City Park is here; the history of Browder Springs is here.

Photo is really big. Click it!

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Reverchon Park Flyover

reverchon_aerial_squire-haskins_portalReverchon Park — photo by Squire Haskins (click for VERY large image)

by Paula Bosse

Another of photographer Squire Haskins’ fantastic aerial shots, this one taken over Reverchon Park, looking northeasterly: the Katy tracks are running up and down on the right side, what is present-day Harry Hines is at the bottom, squiggly Turtle Creek Blvd. runs up the middle from the park, Fairmount and Maple run across the photo near the top, and Hood St. runs along the very far left edge. What looks like a date of “6-13-56” is on the back of the photo.

A present-day map of the area, looking north (to zoom out or in, click here):

bing_reverchon*

A couple of questions. What are the two large buildings in the crops below?

The first one is the large white building on property bounded by Fairmount, Enid, Turtle Creek and a street that no longer seems to exist (an extension of Brown?):

reverchon_det2*

The second is on Maple, near Hood — across from the amphitheater in the park, where the Heritage Auctions building is now:

reverchon_det1

The top one appears to be a (large!) home (I’d love to know who owned it), but I’m not sure what the one at the bottom is. Anyone know? (UPDATE: Thanks to my mother for informing me that the building immediately above is the Bradford Memorial Hospital for Babies, which you can see and read about here.)

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Photo by Squire Haskins, via the Portal to Texas History, here. (Back of photo is here.)

Map from Bing.

Most images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Please Don’t Pull the Daisies

city-park_no-one-allowed-to-pull-flowersCity Park, 1909-ish (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Back when Old City Park was merely “City Park.” The sign at the bottom right reads: “WARNING: NO-ONE ALLOWED TO PULL FLOWERS.” Seems a bit brusque. Not even a “please.” Still, one best not.

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Hand-colored postcard with an odd color palette, probably by Weichsel, around 1909.

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Copyright © 2014 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.

Exline Park Swimming Pool — 1950s

exline-pool_hickman_1957_briscoe-ctr

by Paula Bosse

Summer’s running out, kids.

Plan your waning pool-time opportunities accordingly.

exline_hickman_1955

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Photos by R. C. Hickman, taken at Exline Park swimming pool; top photo taken on Aug. 6, 1957, bottom photo on July 27, 1955. Both photos © R. C. Hickman/Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Reverchon Park, Site of a Hovel Town Once Known as “Woodchuck Hill”

reverchon_park_baseballAnyone for a little sport? Or a spell-checker?

by Paula Bosse

Before it became one of Dallas’ nicest parks, Reverchon (named for the French botanist Julien Reverchon who arrived in Dallas to join the La Réunion settlement) began life as a 36-acre plot of land called “Turtle Creek Park.” But before that, it was an open-air slum known as “Woodchuck Hill” — an eyesore of an area filled with tents and hovels where families lived in deplorable conditions. It was a pretty dangerous place — the only thing the violent “Squattertown” had going for it was that it was practically next door to Parkland Hospital at Maple and Oak Lawn. The injured and dying didn’t have far to go for medical attention. Or to breathe their last breaths. News reports such as the one below — from 1911 — were, sadly, fairly common (click for larger image):

woodchuck-hill_dmn_081711
Dallas Morning News, Aug. 17, 1911

In October, 1914 it was announced that the city had purchased this tract of land from the heirs of the pioneer Cole family in order to establish what would become Reverchon Park.

reverchon-park_dmn_101914
DMN, Oct. 19, 1914

A few months after the purchase of the land, the squatters were told to vacate the city’s new park property, and what had been a miserable slum was cleared away and transformed into one of the city’s prettiest “pleasure grounds.”

woodchuck-hill_dmn_031215
DMN, March 12, 1915

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The following is from the Dallas Park Board’s 1915 report:

Pending suggestions for a more suitable one, Turtle Creek Park has been temporarily adopted as the name for this property. At the time of its purchase it corresponded in a measure to the slum districts of the great cities. It was known as “Woodchuck Hill,” and its inhabitants constituted a novel settlement for the city. They resided in make-shift houses and hovels built by the occupants who paid a small stipend each month in the shape of ground rent. The moral conditions of these people was bad, and they caused much concern to the Social Welfare Workers in particular.

In addition to an athletic field, this park is adaptable for an elaborate botanical garden. Being situated at the western base of the Turtle Creek Boulevard, which extends the entire length of the property, it will one day constitute one of the chief attractions of the city for visitors. It adjoins the water works property, comprising a total of 103 acres of city property, a large portion of which has already been beautified. The grounds surrounding the pumping station and the water purification plant have been laid out in lawns and flower beds. Near the center of this park and at the base of the hills on its northern boundaries is located Raccoon Springs. The springs flow a large volume of water to year round, and provide shady nooks with delightful surroundings.

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Hovels below, in the “before” picture.

reverchon-park_before-1915

reverchon-park-1915

Turtle Creek Park
Located on Maple Avenue.
Area, 36 acres.
Acquired, 1915.
Cost of land, $40,000.

reverchon-plat_kessler_1915

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Top postcard (with “Reverchon” misspelled — understandably so…), from somewhere in the wilds of the internet.

Quoted text and other images 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, here.

For more on the Dallas Parks System, the definitive source may well be Historic Dallas Parks by John Slate (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2010); more info here.

Friends of Reverchon Park website here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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