Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Streetcars

The Gateway to Junius Heights

Welcome to Junius Heights! (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

If you’ve driven along Abrams Road, between, say, Beacon and the Lakewood Country Club, you’ve probably passed two tall stone pillars which stand across Abrams from one another, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “What are those things?”

These things:

junius-heights-pillars_google-street-viewGoogle Street View here

They were built as gateway markers to the Junius Heights neighborhood in about 1909 — they’re just not in their original location anymore. They were originally on either side of Tremont Street, half a block east of Ridgeway. They’ve been moved, but they’re only a stone’s throw from their original site.

In 1973, when the city was in the midst of widening and connecting Abrams with Columbia, the 30-foot pillars were situated on a roadway which was going to be demolished. The pillars would have been destroyed were it not for the efforts of a small group of preservation-minded neighborhood residents who managed to raise enough money to have the historic East Dallas structures dismantled and moved. It took a while for the money to be fully raised, but the pillars were placed on their new sites in 1975.

The thing that is most interesting about the saving of these columns is that this took place at a time when this part of East Dallas — Swiss Avenue included — was on something of a downslide. Many of the houses were in disrepair and many residents had moved out, seeking newer homes and better (i.e. newer) neighborhoods. Thankfully, in the early 1970s people began to focus on historic preservation, and the area began to make a slow comeback. Thanks to the preservation efforts of these people, their persistence in gaining “historic district” status for Junius Heights and Munger Place, and their successful fights on zoning issues, the areas surrounding these stone pillars are once again highly desirable neighborhoods, full of homeowners who are good caretakers and thoughtful preservationists.


When researching this post, it was very difficult to determine when the pillars had been built. For some reason 1917 seemed to be a popular guess, and it was repeated in several articles I came across. But it was actually earlier. The earliest photo I’ve found (and I was pretty excited to have stumbled across it!) was one that first appeared in a November, 25, 1909 ad for a new development called “Top o’ Junius Heights.” (All photos and clippings are larger when clicked.)


Here’s the full ad:

junius-heights_dmn_112509Dallas Morning News, Nov. 25, 1909

Note how similar this entrance looks to the entrance to Fair Park from the same time:


The same photo was used in another ad a few months later. If you live in Junius Heights, perhaps you can find your house in the diagram:

ad-junius-heights_dmn_050810DMN, May 8, 1910

The pillars were actually built as a gateway — the columns connected at the top, spanning Tremont. Lots in Junius Heights first began to be sold in 1906; in 1909, the second addition — called “Top o’ Junius Heights” — began to be offered for sale. The opening of the second addition appears to be when the gateway might have been built. Not only did this gate serve as an entrance to Junius Heights, it actually separated the two additions (see clippings below). It was also a handy landmark, and for many years it stood at the end of the Junius Heights streetcar line (which ended at Tremont and Ridgeway).

Below, part of an ad for Top o’ Junius Heights that appeared in The Dallas Morning News on Nov. 28, 1909, in which the “big stone gate entrance” is mentioned:


Part of another ad for Top o’ Junius Heights:

DMN, May 1, 1910

And part of an ad for just plain ol’ Junius Heights, mentioning that the gate can be seen as a boundary:

junius-heights-gates_dmn_090410_ad-detDMN, Sept. 4, 1910

Here’s a detail from a 1922 Sanborn map which might make the location of the gate a little easier to visualize (and, again, these streets no longer look like this): the blue line represents the streetcar line (which ran all the way to Oak Cliff — the photo at the top of this post shows the Hampton streetcar), and the red circles are about where the pillars were originally planted. (The full map is here.)


It was pretty exciting finding that photograph from 1909, but it was also pretty exciting seeing a photograph posted in the Dallas History Facebook group by Jerry Guyer which shows a dreamy-looking view of the gate as seen from the yard of the home owned by his great-uncle, A. P. Davis, who lived at 5831 Tremont between 1911/12 and 1921/22 (see what the house looked like back then, here).  The house was on the northwest corner lot of Tremont and Ridgeway (it is still standing), only half a block away from the gate. This detail of that photo is fantastic!



Another very early photo of the pillars/columns/gateway can be seen in this photo. (I’m afraid it’s a little odd-looking as I took a photo of it on the wall of The Heights restaurant in Lakewood and lights are reflecting off the picture. Please check this large photo out in person. Not only are there other great historical photos on the walls, but the coffee is great.)


Here is the same photo as the one at the top. Note that this “gateway” has actual iron gates and that there are smaller secondary pillars on the opposite side of the sidewalks. Also note that the pillar on the right actually extends into the narrow street.


And here’s another view I just came across (I’ve added so much since I originally wrote this post!), from a DVD called Dallas Railway & Terminal — this from 1951 or 1952, showing the Junius streetcar coming through the “gates” (sorry for the low-res):



Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division, Dallas Public Library (with special thanks to M C Toyer); DPL’s call number for this photograph is PA87-1/19-59-193.

Photo of the view of the gate from the home of Andrew P. Davis is from the collection of Jerry Guyer, used with permission.

More info on Junius Heights and the saving of the pillars can be found on the Preservation Dallas site, here.

A few Dallas Morning News articles on the fight to save the pillars:

  • “Residents Try Saving Pillars From the Past” by Lyke Thompson (DMN, May 30, 1973, with photo of pillar)
  • “Columns Come Down” (DMN, June 2, 1973, with photo)
  • “Cash Raised for Pillars” (DMN, June 7, 1973)
  • “Cornerstone Placed In East Dallas Area” by Michael Fresques (DMN, July 29, 1973, no photo, but description of pillars lying in pieces, awaiting funds to reconstruct them)
  • “Junius Dedicates Columns” by Doug Domeier (DMN, June 16, 1975, pillars finally relocated, with photo of preservationist Dorothy Savage standing beneath one of the pillars)

East Dallas and Old East Dallas are fiercely proud of their history and fight for preservation issues.

July, 1975


It’s a bit difficult for me to visualize where these pillars were originally. Here’s a 1952 map showing Tremont with the approximate location of the columns before they were moved.

1952 Mapsco

And here’s a present-day map, showing the post-Abrams extension. I’m not sure exactly where those pillars originally stood, but it was near the intersection of Tremont and Slaughter seems to have been between Ridgeway and Glasgow (location edited, thanks to Terri Raith’s helpful comments below) — this location is circled in red on the map below; the locations of the pillars today are in blue.


All images are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Commerce & Record Streets — 1946

streetcar_commerce-record_051046_ceraCommerce St. looking east from Record (click for huge image)

by Paula Bosse

If it’s a photo of downtown in the ’40s, with people on the streets, retail storefronts, and streetcars, I’m going to love looking at it. Like this one. A lot of people might be hard-pressed to identify the location of this photograph, even if they were standing in the exact spot the photographer stood in. If you look at today’s view from the same vantage point (here), just about everything in the immediate foreground (west of the Pegasus-topped Magnolia Building) is gone — except for, most notably, the beautiful MKT Building at Commerce and Market, one of my favorite downtown buildings.

This is the intersection of Commerce and Record streets, when Record still extended from Elm to Jackson; the Old Red Courthouse was behind the photographer, to the left. Today, the Kennedy Memorial is at the left where the people are waiting for a streetcar; the George Allen Courts Building is across the street — at the right, in the block with the travel bureau; and the block containing the Willard and Davis Hat building — across Commerce from the Katy Building — is now a parking lot.

As with every photograph like this I see, I wish I could step into it and walk around the downtown Dallas of 1946. Maybe pop into Ma’s Cafe for a Dr Pepper before I hop on a streetcar and just ride around on it all day until someone kicks me off.


Below are a couple of magnified details (both are much larger when clicked).



Below is a listing of the businesses in this 600 block of Commerce, between Record Street and the MKT Building.

600-block-commerce_1945-directory1945 Dallas directory

(The tall building on the right with the travel bureau on the ground floor is the Plaza Hotel at 202-204 Record Street. The Yonack Liquor Store on the corner is at 200 Record, with entrances on both Commerce and Record.) 

Here’s a detail of a photo taken about the same time, showing an aerial view of Commerce Street.

aerial_commerce-st_1940s_foscue-lib_smuFoscue Map Library/SMU


Top photograph was taken on May 10, 1946 by Richard H. Young; it can be viewed on the CERA (Central Electric Railfans’ Association) website, here. (If you’re interested in Dallas streetcars, this page has some GREAT photographs!)

The caption of the photo from the above website: “May 10, 1946 — New Dallas Railway & Terminal Co. double-end PCC car 620, at speed, southbound, turning into Record St. from Commerce St. (Ervay-7th Line).”

The aerial photo was taken by Lloyd M. Long in the 1940s and is titled “Downtown Dallas looking east (unlabeled); it is from the Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. This is only a small portion of the full photograph — the full photo is here.

Since there is an exact date for this photo, here is a large Skillern’s ad from that day’s newspaper. Coincidentally, there was a  Skillern drugstore on the northeast corner of Commerce and Record — it is in this photo, behind the lamppost at the bottom left. Let’s see what was on sale May 10, 1946. (I would kill for a set of those Pyrex bowls!)


And, lastly, who doesn’t love a map?

map_commerce-and-record_1952-mapsco 1952 Mapsco

Everything is bigger when clicked!


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


A Word From the Juvenile Court on Stealing Rides on Streetcars…

akard-car_cook-coll_degolyerThe Akard St. trolley, car #249 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse


streetcar-ride-stealing_dmn_071309Dallas Morning News, July 13, 1909


Photo titled “Two Streetcar Employees with Dallas Streetcar No. 249,” is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; is can be accessed here.

Both images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Collision on the Streetcar Viaduct — 1929

interurban_trestle_1946_denver-pub-lib_lgThe new streetcar viaduct, 1946 (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

For many, many years there was a special trestle that spanned the Trinity River which was for the exclusive use of streetcars and Interurbans. There were also trestles and viaducts for the exclusive use of trains and automobiles. Below is a photo showing the  viaductal activity in 1935, with the streetcar trestle — sometimes called the “Street Car Viaduct” or the “Trinity River Viaduct” marked in yellow and the Old Red Courthouse and Dealey Plaza (then under construction) marked in orange.


The viaduct immediately above it was the Houston Street viaduct, for automobiles.

For many, a streetcar ride across the viaduct seems to have been a little on the harrowing side. There were no guardrails to prevent a car from going over the side, and even when the original wooden trestle had been bolstered with stronger materials, it was still described by commuters as being rickety. I like this quote of a man remembering a typical ride in the 1950s:

“I always enjoyed the slight tingle of fear I experienced on the trestle over the river, as one could not see the trestle itself from the car window. One had the feeling of being suspended with no support when looking out the window.”

And these two memories:

“The streetcar trestle ran parallel to the Houston St. Viaduct where the current newer bridge is to downtown. No railings and just depended on gravity to hold the cars on the rails. The cars would buck and sway as they crossed the river bottoms as the motormen made up time on their schedules. Seemed like they were really going fast to me at the time, but probably not in today’s terms.”

“The [newer streetcars] used to scare me to death rocketing across the Trinity River high in the air with no sidewalls except just over the river itself! You were able to look straight down from high above ground… those newer cars had softer springs and the faster they went, the more they rocked side to side over the less than flat tracks!”

Here’s a photo when it was in its original rickety state, back in 1895 (this is a detail of a larger photo, taken on the Oak Cliff side of the river, with the trestle — and the not-yet-old Old Red Courthouse — visible in the background).


Here it is in 1914 at river-bottom level, with a happy little trolley chugging along with the Oak Cliff/Houston Street viaduct looming over and in front of it. (This is a detail of a larger photo in the George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU — here).


And here’s a sturdier version of the viaduct, in 1946.


But now to the collision on the viaduct, which happened on the morning of November 23, 1929. Back then — at that iteration of the viaduct — the trestle had only a single track. While one streetcar or Interurban car crossed the bridge toward Oak Cliff, a car wanting to cross over from Oak Cliff had to wait until the westbound car had made its mile-long trip. That must have made for a lot of impatient riders. Even though the so-called “block signal” system worked well for the most part, there were the occasional accidents, including the one involving three cars on Nov. 23, 1929. Below, a front-page report of the collision(s) from The Waxahachie Daily Light (click for larger image).

streetcar-trestle-collision_waxahachie-daily-light_112329Waxahachie Daily Light, Nov. 23, 1929

The Waxahachie paper even had a local angle (although it’s unclear just how this man “nearly lost all of the clothes he was wearing”).

streetcar-trestle-collision_waxahachie-daily-light_112329-sidebarWaxahachie Daily Light, Nov. 23, 1929

Since it happened during the morning rush hour, just about every other newspaper in Texas scooped The Dallas Morning News, which wasn’t able to run its story until the next day (and its report was surprisingly dull).

The UP wire story that ran in the Joplin, Missouri paper was far more exciting.

streetcar-trestle-collision_joplin-MO-globe_112429Joplin Globe, Nov. 24, 1929

Thankfully none of the streetcars fell off the trestle, but I’m sure that possibility was probably the daily fear/resigned expectation of generations of nervous travelers.


The most interesting thing in the DMN article is the last paragraph:

Plans in the making for the new street car crossing of the Trinity River call for a double track over the channel, eliminating the necessity of waiting on block signals.

In February, 1931, that new double-track streetcar viaduct opened for business, and I’m sure there was a city-wide sigh of relief.


One last little amusing tidbit about this viaduct: it was not unheard of for those having indulged in excessive amounts of alcohol to try to drive their automobiles (either on purpose or by accident) over this already-kind-of-scary trestle intended for electric-powered railway use only.

streetcar-trestle-mexia-weekly-herald_011333_drunk-motoristMexia Weekly Herald, Jan. 13, 1933

Beaver Valley (Pennsylvania) Times, Dec. 8, 1952


Sources & Notes

Top photo titled “T. E. clouds, sky, city, from east levee close to wooden trestle 320 just passed, at rear, car 320 on Trinity River Bridge, Dallas, Tex.,” taken on Feb. 16, 1946 by Robert W. Richardson, is from the Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library; is can be viewed here.

Photo showing the viaducts across the Trinity is titled “Central Levee District,” taken on May 20, 1935 by Lloyd M. Long, from the Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, Southern Methodist University; the labeled photo is here, the unlabeled photo is here.

Don’t know what “block signaling” is? Wikipedia to the recue.

 Lastly, just because I like it, a magnified detail from the top 1946 photo, showing a streetcar at the downtown end of the viaduct.


All pictures larger when clicked!


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


The Forney Car

forney-fair-park-car_ebayEastbound on Commerce (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’m a sucker for streetcars. Here’s car 764 heading east on Commerce, between Prather and S. St. Paul.

forney-car_1800-block-commerce_googleGoogle Maps


Photo from eBay.

The Underwood Corporation was at 1805-7 Commerce, and Dallas Multigraphics was at 1807 1/2 Commerce — they both moved to this location sometime between 1936 and 1943. This stretch of Commerce was once jam-packed with typewriter companies.

Forney Avenue ran along the northeastern side of Fair Park, about where Haskell does today, starting at Parry — if one continued along it past the city limits, one would reach the town of Forney. In 1922 Interurban track was laid between Dallas and Terrell, with the train entering Dallas along Forney Avenue, terminating at Union Station. The Forney streetcar and the Interurban traveled over the same tracks.

terrell-forney-ave_dmn_061621Dallas Morning News, June 16, 1921

forney-ave_1919-mapDetail of a map from 1919

For more on the Dallas-Forney-Terrell Interurban, check out the 1925 publication “Making Neighbors of the People of Dallas and Kaufman Counties and the Towns of Terrell, Forney, Mesquite and Dallas by the Opening of the Texas Interurban Railway” — the 16-page pamphlet has been scanned by the fine folks at UNT’s Portal to Texas History, and it can be accessed here.

Images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Consolidated Electric Street Railway Co. Ad — 1902


by Paula Bosse

Why bother with a horse and buggy when you can take the streetcar?


streetcar_dce_worleys_1902(click me!)



D.C.E. St. Ry. Co. ad from the 1902 city directory.

Click for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The “Semi-Convertible” Streetcar — 1907

semi-convertible-streetcar_1907_smEXTRA long… (click for larger image of car)

by Paula Bosse

Ah, the “grooveless-post semi-convertible” streetcar with the “extra long platforms,” the cherry and maple interior, the domed ceiling, and the clusters of frosted globes. Sounds nice.

semi-convertible-streetcar_int_1907“Interior of Car for Dallas” (click for larger image)

semi-convertible-streetcar_dmn_082907Dallas Morning News, Aug. 29, 1907


Photos from Street Railway Journal, April 6, 1907; original article can be accessed here. Above scans from an old eBay listing.

Want to know more about the Brill Convertible and Semi-Convertible Cars? Sure you do! Hie yourself here.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Streetcar #728, Main Street — 1954

streetcar_1000-block-main_090254_ebay1000 block of Main Street, Sept. 2, 1954 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Oh, streetcars. In the photo above, we see car #728 heading east on Main Street on September 2, 1954, having come from, I believe, Oak Cliff (the placard reads “Jefferson”). This photo shows Main Street looking east from, I think, Poydras.

The Shanghai Cafe was at 1004 Main, Luby’s Cafeteria (the second one in Dallas) was at 1006 Main, the Topper restaurant was at 1012 Main, the Main & Martin Liquor Store was at 1016 Main (at Martin Street), and the St. George Hotel was at 1018 Main, all of which can be seen in this photo.

main-st_mapsco-1952-det1952 Mapsco

Car 728 wasn’t always “Jefferson,” whiling away its days crossing back and forth across the Trinity. Back in 1945 it was “Myrtle” and was spending a large part of its time in South Dallas.


I’m not sure where Myrtle/Jefferson ended up, but, sadly, the Golden Age of streetcars ended in Dallas in 1956.


Top photo from an old eBay listing.

Bottom photo by Robert W. Richardson; from the Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library, viewable here.

Today, the block seen in the top photo looks completely different. Across the street is where the Bank of America Plaza is now. In the map below, the red line is Main, the yellow is Lamar, and the green is Griffin. The 1000 block of Main Street is circled in white. (Click for larger image.)

1000-block-main_bingBing Maps

So what’s there now? A parking lot!

1000-block-main_googleGoogle Street View

To read “The Last Day the Streetcars Ran in Oak Cliff” by Ron Cawthon, click here.

As always, most pictures are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Refusing to Give Up One’s Seat Might Set Off a Melee — 1919

streetcar-fight_dal-express_100419The Dallas Express, Oct. 4, 1919

by Paula Bosse

On this, the anniversary of Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks‘ act of defiance in refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger in Alabama in 1955, it’s interesting to note a couple of accounts of similar incidents in Dallas, but 36 years earlier. And more violent.

The article above — which appeared in The Dallas Express, a weekly newspaper printed by and for Dallas’ black community — describes a melee (or “riot” as The Dallas Morning News called it) that occurred when an unnamed black woman refused to give up her seat (which was in the part of the streetcar reserved for white passengers) when a white man demanded that she move. When she steadfastly refused, he slapped her (!), and that set off a wild fight between black and white male passengers … on a moving streetcar! When the car stopped, everyone spilled out into the street and scattered. Only one person was arrested, Mr. A. G. Weems, a black businessman and former school teacher who was active in the black community and later represented African-American interests and residents as a member of the Negro Chamber of Commerce.

The Dallas Morning News also carried a report of the incident:

streetcar-fight_dmn_092519Dallas Morning News, Sept. 25, 1919

It sounds as if Weems could have gotten away, had he wanted, but perhaps he was making a statement.

In the previous months of 1919, there were several similar incidents reported in the pages of The Dallas Express. Sometimes altercations were a result of black passengers sitting in “whites-only” sections of streetcars, but sometimes trouble arose when the white section was full, and white passengers sat in the seats designated for black passengers:

streetcar-fight_dal-express_071219Dallas Express, July 12, 1919 (click for larger image)

There was also an incident that had occurred in February of that year in Birmingham, Alabama in which a white conductor was shot (and presumably killed) after he threatened to slap a black woman in a dispute over the fare. A black vigilante had appeared out of nowhere, shot the man, and disappeared into the night.

The antagonism, disgust, and violence caused by this “peculiar law of the Southland” continued until 1956 when the Supreme Court finally banned segregation on public transportation.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Crossing the Trinity River Viaduct — 1946

streetcar-crossing-trinity_1946-denverpublibStreetcar on the Trinity River Viaduct (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A few days ago I posted a photograph of a streetcar pulling into Oak Cliff, having just crossed the Trinity River Viaduct (link below). In this photo, we see what streetcars of the period looked like actually crossing the viaduct.


Photo by Robert F. Richardson, taken on June 5, 1946. From the Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library, viewable here.

Photos of these double-ended streetcars taken from a distance present a bit of a Pushmi-Pullyu problem in determining which direction they’re heading, but if you enlarge the photo at the Denver Public Library link just above, you can see the silhouette of the operator at the eastbound end of the car, driving the car toward Dallas. UPDATE: I’m wrong! The car is moving toward O.C., not Dallas! That motorman silhouette is a figment of my imagination! See the comments below for tips on how an amateur like myself who’s never actually seen a streetcar can tell which direction one is moving. (Thanks, Bob and Bob for the correction!)

Streetcars ran back and forth across the Trinity River on a special trestle just south of the Oak Cliff Viaduct/Houston Street Viaduct. It had been in use since 1887 (through various renovations) and was demolished in the early 1970s to build the present-day Jefferson Street Viaduct. The streetcar shown is from the Dallas Railway & Terminal Co. fleet.

My previous post mentioned above, “Waiting for a Streetcar on a Sunny Winter Day in Oak Cliff — 1946,” contains a fantastic photo taken by the same photographer, four months earlier, showing people waiting for the approaching streetcar just after it’s crossed the river; that photo can be seen here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: