Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Railroads

Elm & Akard, Photographer J. C. Deane, and The Crash at Crush

elm-and-akard_george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUYessirree! Elm & Akard, 1936/1937… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

One of the best collections of historical Dallas photos — and certainly one of the easiest to access online — can be found in SMU’s DeGolyer Library. I can’t say enough good things about the astounding quality of their vast collection or the willingness to make large scans of their photos available online, free to share, without watermarks (higher resolution images are available for a fee, for publication, etc.). I love you, DeGolyer Library (and all the people and entities behind your impressive digitization process)!

When going through recently uploaded photos, I came across three showing the same intersection in three different decades: the southeast corner of Elm and Akard streets (now the 1500 block). The building appears to be the same in each of the photos, and that is interesting in itself — but I was excited to find a connection in one of them to one of my favorite weird Texas historical events.

And that is the photo below. It’s a cool photo — there’s some sort of parade underway, but it’s weird to say I didn’t even really notice that right away — there’s so much else to look at. This is Elm street looking toward the east (or, I guess, the southeast). The photographer is just west of Akard Street. At the bottom left of the photo is the United States Coffee & Tea Co. (which I wrote about here); in the background at the right is the Praetorian Building on Main; and just left of center is the Wilson Building addition under construction (which dates this photo to 1911). But the building that interested me the most is the one at the bottom right, the one at the southeast corner of Elm and Akard. I noticed “Deane’s Photo Studio” on the exterior of the upper part of the building. I recognized the name, having seen it on various Dallas portraits over the years, but now I realize there were two photographers named Deane in Dallas in the first half of the 20th century: Granville M. Deane (who had a longer career here) and his brother, Jervis C. Deane — J. C. Deane was the photographer who occupied the upper-floor studio at 334 Elm (later 1502 Elm) between 1906 and 1911. His studio was above T. J. Britton’s drugstore.

elm-east-from-akard_deane-photography_ca1912_degolyer_SMUElm Street, looking east from Akard, 1911  (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

J. C. Deane (born in Virginia in 1860) worked as an award-winning photographer around Texas, based for much of his career in Waco. He was in Dallas only a decade or so, leaving around 1911, after a divorce, noting in ads that he had to sell his business as he was “sick in sanitarium.” After leaving Dallas he bounced around Texas, working as a studio photographer in cities such as Waco and San Antonio. I have been unable to find any information on his death.

The reason that J. C. Deane holds a place in the annals of weird Texas history? He was one of the photographers commissioned to photograph the supremely bizarre publicity stunt now known as The Crash at Crush, wherein a crowd upwards of 30,000 people gathered in the middle of nowhere, near the tiny town of West, Texas, in September, 1896, to watch the planned head-on collision of two locomotives (read more about this here). Long story short: things did not go as planned, and several people were injured (a couple were killed) when locomotive shrapnel shot into the crowd — one of those badly injured was J. C. Deane who was on a special platform with other photographers. For the sake of the squeamish, I will refrain from the details, but Deane lost his right eye and was apparently known affectionately thereafter as “One Eye Deane.” (For those of you not squeamish, I invite you to read all the gory details, related by Deane’s wife, in an interview with The Dallas Morning News which appeared on October 1, 1896, here.) The photos below are generally credited to Deane, back when he was just good ol’ happy-go-lucky “Two-Eye Jervis.” (All these photos are larger when clicked.)

deane_crash-at-crush_1_austin-american-statesman_091662Before…

deane_crash-at-crush_2_austin-american-statesman_091662During…

deane_crash-at-crush_3_austin-american-statesman_091662And after…

I’ve been fascinated by the Crash at Crush ever since I heard about it several years ago, and now I know there’s a Dallas connection — and there’s even a photo of the building where he worked.

Back to Elm Street.

The photo at the top…. Here it is again so you don’t have to scroll all the way back up:

elm-and-akard_george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUSoutheast corner of Elm & Akard, 1937/1937  (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

What the heck kind of craziness is this?! I mean I LOVE it, but… it’s very… unusual. I would absolutely never have guessed that this building had been in downtown Dallas. And it appears to be the same building seen in the 1911 photo, just with a very fashion-forward new face. Those little hexagonal windows! Along with that fabulous B & G Hosiery sign, there was a nice little bit of art deco oddness sitting there at the corner of Elm and Akard. The Kirby Building, seen at the far right, seems like a creaky older statesman compared to this overly enthusiastic teenager. The businesses seen here — Ellan’s hat shop, B & G Hosiery, and Berwald’s — were at this corner together only in 1936 and 1937. I could find nothing about this very modern facelift — if anyone knows who the architect is behind this, please let me know! (See a postcard which features a tiny bit of this fabulous building here — if the colors are correct, the building was green and white.)

In November, 1941, Elm Street’s Theater Row welcomed a new occupant, the Telenews theater, which showed only newsreels and short documentaries. By that time the A. Harris Co. had purchased the building at the southeast corner of Elm and Akard and expanded into its upper floors. Telenews opened at the end of 1941 and Linen Palace was gone from this Elm Street location by 1943, dating this photo to 1941 or 1942.

theater-row_by-george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUElm Street, 1941/1942  (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

All of these are such great photos. Thanks for making them available to us, SMU!

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Sources & Notes

The three Dallas photos are from the George A. McAfee collection of photographs at the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University — some of the photos in this large and wonderful collection were taken by McAfee, some were merely photos he had personally collected. The top photo (taken by McAfee) is listed on the SMU database with the title “[Looking Southeast, Corner of Elm and Akard, Kirby Building at Right]” — more info on this photo is here. The second photo, “[Looking East on Elm West of Akard / Praetorian Building (Main at Stone) Upper Right Center]” is not attributed to a specific photographer; this photo is listed twice in the SMU database, here and here. The third photo, “[Looking East on Elm from Akard on “Theatre Row” (Including on North Side on Elm from Left to Right — Telenews, Capitol, Rialto, Palace, Tower, Melba and Majestic],” appears to have been taken by McAfee, and it, too, appears twice in the online digital database, here and here.

The three photos from the “Crash at Crush” event are attributed to Jervis C. Deane, and were taken on September 15, 1896 along the MKT railroad line between West and Waco; the images seen above appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on Sept. 16, 1962. More on the Crash at Crush from Wikipedia, here — there is a photo there of the historical marker and, sadly, Jervis Deane’s name is misspelled. Sorry, Jervis!

Read the Dallas Morning News story of the train collision aftermath in the exciting article lumberingly titled “CRUSH COLLISION: The Force of the Blow and Damage Done. Boilers Exploded with Terrific Force, Scattering Fragments of the Wreckage Over a Large Area. The Showers of Missiles Fell on the Photographer’s Platform Almost as Thick as Hail – Description of the Scene,” here.

The southeast corner of Elm and Akard is currently home to a 7-Eleven topped by an exceedingly unattractive parking garage — see the corner on Google Street View here.

There is a handy Flashback Dallas post which has TONS of photos of Akard Street, several of which have this building in it: check out the post “Akard Street Looking South, 1887-2015,” here.

All photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

White Rock Train Station (And a Helicopter Ride)

white-rock-station_portalWaiting on the Texas Chief…

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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white-rock-station_parking_portal

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

white-rock-station_track_portal

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

helicopter_portal_1

helicopter_portal_2

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

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Sources & Notes

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

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

Click pictures to see larger images.

Thank you, Laura!

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“New Terminal Passenger Station” — 1916

union-station-postcard_1916Union Station, open for business… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love this postcard view of Dallas’ own Union Station, brand new in 1916. Minus the horses, it looks very much like this today.

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Sources & Notes

This postcard is currently available on eBay, here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

San Antonio Extra: The Texas Transportation Co. and the Pearl Brewery Electric Freight Trolley

texas-transportation-co_cook-coll_degolyer_smu_san-antonioT. T. Co. No. 1, at your service… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I come across a lot of interesting Texas photos that have nothing to do with Dallas, so I think I might, on occasion, post them here, knowing that someone else is also likely to find them interesting. Like the one above.

This photo is from the incredible gift that just keeps giving, the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, held by the DeGolyer Library at SMU. Most of the items in the collection have a Dallas connection, but there are several others of general Texas interest.

When I saw this photo I wasn’t sure what it was. It looked like an electric trolley, but I’d never seen a shape like that before. It turns out it was, indeed, an electric freight locomotive. It was one of two locomotives that belonged to the Texas Transportation Co.’s tiny fleet of two — this was engine No. 1. The T.T.C. operated a freight service on their very short 1.3-mile track for 113 years (1887-2000), serving primarily the Pearl and Lone Star breweries of San Antonio, running freight to and from the breweries and the Southern Pacific rail yard. (More at Wikipedia, here.)

Here’s a later photo of the locomotive (October, 1928), now emblazoned with the Pearl Beer logo.

texas-transportation-co_1928_denver-public-library

As hard as it is to believe, this electric freight trolley ran along the streets of San Antonio until the year 2000, when it became a victim of the Pabst Brewing Company’s acquisition and shuttering of the Pearl Brewery. Without the brewery, there was no need for the trolley to continue to run. A month before it stopped running, a man shot video footage of the locomotive(s) trundling through San Antonio. I particularly liked seeing the locos push freight cars as well as pull them (seen at about the 12:50 mark). (Read the notes of the man who shot the video on the YouTube page under “Show More.”)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — titled “T. T. Co. No. 1. Texas Transportation Co.” — is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist Unviersity; more information about this photo can be found here.

Second photo — titled “Texas Transportation Co. locomotive, engine number 1, engine type Electric” — is from the Otto C. Perry Memorial Collection of Railroad Photographs, Western History Department, Denver Public Library; more information on this photo can be found here.

A great short, illustrated history of the Texas Transportation Co. and the various locomotives that ran on its rails can be found at the Don Ross Group website, here (be sure to read the reminiscences of a man who worked at the Pearl Brewery as a college student in 1960 at the bottom of the page).

I wrote about electric interurban freight-hauling locomotives in the Flashback Dallas post “Interurbans: Freight Movers?”

Click photos to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Union Station — ca. 1916

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

downtown_aerial-photo-service_postcard_cook-collection_smu_cropped

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

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

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Sources & Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both photos are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The M-K-T Pulling Out of Dallas

mkt-leaving-dallas_peter-stewart_austin_ebayTrain whistles don’t sound so lonesome in the daytime…

by Paula Bosse

Above, an undated photo I came across on eBay a couple of months ago, showing a Missouri-Kansas-Texas train heading north from the Katy yard at the northwest corner of downtown. In the background are the twin DP&L smokestacks which were iconic landmarks until they were demolished in order to build the American Airlines Center and Victory Park. Below, a later photo taken from about the same location.

neuhoff_dpl_reunion-tower

The area between Dealey Plaza and the Neuhoff meat packing plant was crammed with tracks; below is a detail from a mid-1940s aerial photo (click to see a larger image).

aerial_long_foscue-lib_smu_1940s_det

The M-K-T split about where the photo at the top was taken, as can be seen in the Sanborn map below (from 1927) between Turtle Creek and McKinney Avenue. One track headed north, the other cut through Oak Lawn and Highland Park (now the Katy Trail), crossing Mockingbird at the Dr Pepper plant near Central Expressway.

sanborn_vol-2_key_1927

mkt-logo

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from eBay, with the photographer of this “vintage snapshot” credited as “Peter Stewart, Austin, Texas.” (There is a crease to the lower left corner.) It is undated, but when posted to the Texas Railroad History group on Facebook, commenters suggested mid-to-late-1930s to early ’50s. It’s a bit grainy, but the number on the engine appears to be 411.

The second photo, showing the Neuhoff plant and Reunion Tower, is from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.

The aerial shot is a detail from this photo by Lloyd M. Long, from the Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University.

The map detail is from the “key” page of the 1927 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, here. Speaking of Sanborn maps, this one from 1921 shows M-K-T tracks galore behind the DP&L plant.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dallas Rapid Transit, Est. 1888

dallas-rapid-transit_cyclone_cook-coll_degolyer_smu-detRide the Cyclone to Fair Park… (click for larger image) 

by Paula Bosse

The Dallas Rapid Transit Railway chugged into town in 1888, going from charter to operation in seven months. And that included laying their own track. The “dummy” steam engine (a locomotive designed to appear more like a friendly little streetcar and less like a hulking locomotive) seen above, carried passengers from the Windsor Hotel at Commerce and Austin through South Dallas (via S. Lamar and Forest Ave., now MLK Blvd.) to Fair Park. It started business just in time to ferry crowds to the State Fair. The fare was 20 cents, which seems pricey, but this might have been “surge” pricing charged only during the “Greatest Fair and Exposition in the World.” (According to the Inflation Calculator, 20¢ in 1888 would be the equivalent to more than $5 in today’s money.)

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Dallas Morning News, Oct. 14, 1888

The new street railway was particularly appreciated by developers looking to sell land in southern Dallas, still considered a “suburb” in the 1880s. Residential streetcar service was essential to prospective builders and buyers, and as soon as the Rapid Transit line was up and running, its name was popping up in South Dallas real estate ads for additions with names like Chestnut Hill, Edgewood, and South Park.

chestnut-hill_edgewood_dmn_031689
DMN, March 16, 1889

In March of 1890 — after a year and a half of steady growth — the Dallas Rapid Transit Railway went electric, tossing out their old steam-powered cars (not even 18 months old!) for brand new, ultra-modern cars powered by electricity. (For a bit of perspective, parts of the country were still relying on the really old-fashioned mule-drawn streetcars.) Dallas’ first electric-powered streetcar hit the rails on March 9, 1890.

dallas-rapid_dmn_031090_electric
DMN, March 10, 1890

Understandably, the sight of these newfangled streetcars was quite the topic of fascinated conversation. How exactly did they work, anyway? The Dallas Morning News published an article with helpful information for the Dallasites of 1890 (and 2016!). (Click to see larger image.)

dallas-rapid_dmn_032390_electric
DMN, March 23, 1890

The photo below (which appears in the great book McKinney Avenue Trolleys) is a staged publicity photo with a woman at the helm, showing that the new electric streetcar was so easy to operate that “even a woman” could do it. In tow behind the sparkling new electric streetcar was the old, past-it steam car, with its engineer racing to try to catch up with the new technology. Get with it, man, it’s 1890!

dallas-rapid-transit-railway_mckinney-ave-trolleys-bk_towing-dummySouthern Traction, April 10, 1973 (via McKinney Avenue Trolleys)

dallas-rapid-transit-railway_mckinney-ave-trolleys-bk_dplDallas Public Library photo (via McKinney Avenue Trolleys)

Initially, the track was only 4 miles long, but that had more than doubled soon after the switch to electric cars.

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DMN, Oct. 1, 1890

Things seemed to be going well. The company was expanding, speeds were increasing, and … “No dust” !

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DMN, Oct. 27, 1891

But … in 1894 the company went into receivership and was sold in December of that year for $35,000.

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DMN, Dec. 5, 1894

It appears that the company struggled on under different owners and slightly different names through at least 1909, but instead of those twilight years being filled with reflective contemplation and bass fishing, they were spent mired in endless lawsuits.

But let’s not dwell on the sputtering end of a business — let’s look back to the beginning, when the H. K. Porter Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was proud to show off its new light locomotive with the noiseless steam motor which was headed, full of hope and enthusiasm, for the little city that could, Dallas, Texas.

dallas-rapid-transit_cyclone_cook-coll_degolyer_smu

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DMN, March 22, 1888

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DMN, Sept. 10, 1888

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The steam-powered Cyclone — seen at the top — went on an adventure through the streets of downtown in 1889 when, under a full head of steam, it jumped the tracks and kept on going down paved streets until it crashed into a curb on Main!

cyclone_dmn_043089
DMN, April 30, 1889

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Sources & Notes

Image at the top (and bottom), “Dallas Rapid Transit, ‘Cyclone’ Locomotive No. 1,” from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more information here.

Read an interview with J. E. Henderson, president of the Dallas Transit Railway company, commenting on his new street railway (“The New Rapid Transit,” DMN, Oct. 14, 1884) here (yes, it IS difficult to read!).

The two photos of Dallas Rapid Transit electric streetcars are from the book McKinney Avenue Trolleys by Jim Cumbie, Judy Smith Hearst, and Phillip E. Cobb (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2011). If you’re interested in this topic, this book seems pretty essential!

The history of early streetcars in Dallas can be read in the  pages of the WPA Dallas Guide and History here (scroll to the bottom of the page and continue to the following page).

Photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Pacific Avenue: Watch for Trains! — ca. 1917

pacific-akard_park-cities-photohistory_frank-rogersToo close for comfort…

by Paula Bosse

Some people don’t realize that Pacific Avenue used to be lined with the railroad tracks of the Texas & Pacific Railway (hence the name “Pacific”). When trains weren’t barreling down Pacific regularly, the thoroughfare was used by non-locomotive traffic like pedestrians, bicycles, horses, and automobiles. When a huge cinder-spewing train screamed through, everything came to a resigned halt until it passed by. I can’t even imagine what that was like. I wonder how many times people, horses, vehicles, etc. didn’t manage to get out of the way in time?

When Union Station opened in 1916, trains that had previously run through the central business district now went around it (which probably cut the number of people rushed to the hospital with train-related injuries substantially).

The photo above shows Pacific looking east from N. Akard, as a blur of a train whooshes by. The Independent Auto Supply Co. (300 N. Akard) is at the left, and, at the right, the back side of Elm Street businesses, including Cullum & Boren and, to its left, the Jefferson Theater, with “Pantages” painted on the side. (The Jefferson was the Dallas home of the Pantages Vaudeville Circuit from 1917 until 1920, the year the Pantages people bugged out for the greener pastures of the Hippodrome, leaving the Jefferson to start a new relationship with the Loew’s circuit people. At the end of 1925, the Jefferson Theater was actually renamed the Pantages Theater. …Kind of confusing.)

Below, Elm Street in 1918 — what the other side of those buildings looked like. Cullum & Boren’s “CB” logo can be seen painted on the side of its building. (Click photo for much larger image.)

dallas-movie-palaces_1918_dth_020556

But back to Pacific in its scary, sooty, T&P-right-of-way days. This is what things looked like in 1909.

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Fast-forward to 1920 — the trains had long stopped running, but the tracks remained, an eyesore and an impediment to traffic. (Cullum & Boren, again, at the right.)

pacific-ave_showing-t-and-p-tracks_1920

And another one.

pacific_ave_ca-1920_legacies_fall-1990

Thanks to the Kessler Plan, those unsightly tracks were finally removed from Pacific in 1923. Below, a photo from 1925. Big difference. Thanks, George Kessler!

pacific_bryan_looking-east_lost-dallas_doty

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Sources & Notes

Top photo (by Frank Rogers) from the book The Park Cities, A Photohistory by Diane Galloway (Dallas: Diane Galloway, 1989). The photo is credited to John Stull/R. L. Goodson, Jr., Inc./Consulting Engineers.

More info on the 1918 photo of Elm Street, which was featured in the post “Dallas’ Film Row — 1918,” here.

More info on the super-sooty Pacific Avenue photo, here.

More on the de-track-ified Pacific, here.

Not sure of the source of the first 1920 photo; the second 1920 photo is from Legacies, Fall 1990, here.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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

skelton_dmn_011699Dallas Morning News, Jan. 16, 1899

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

union-depot-hotel_1901_portal1901 ad

union-depot-hotel_dmn_111602DMN, Nov. 16, 1902

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

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

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

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

old-union-depot_degolyer_ca1910

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

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

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

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

union-depot-hotel_1952-mapsco1952 Mapsco

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

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Sources & Notes

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

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

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

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

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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