Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Downtown Dallas, Last Week

ervay-north-from-commerce_det_052417_bosseSo many architectural styles! (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Last week I went downtown to check on the restoration of the St. Jude Chapel mosaic (I’ll write about that soon…). Sadly, I’m hardly ever downtown, so I took the opportunity to walk around a bit and was struck by how much construction and beautifying is going on. Parts of it are verging on the overly hipsterized, but, generally, downtown is looking better these days than I’ve ever seen it.

I parked at an incredibly affordable parking garage behind Neiman’s — Dal-Park on Commerce just west of Ervay (you do not have to be a Neiman’s customer to park there). Three bucks! (Just drive slowly on your way out — it’s kind of cool, but it’s like going down a spiral staircase … in a car.)

One of the first things you see when you emerge from the parking garage is the Mercantile Building. I never tire of seeing this building. (All photos in this post are much larger when clicked.)

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Head north on Ervay from Commerce and you see that great view seen in the top photo — it’s kind of crazy to see so many wildly different styles of architecture, from so many eras all clustered together: the Neiman Marcus building (opened in 1914) on the left, the Wilson Building (1904), 211 N. Ervay (1958), the Republic Bank Building (1954), Thanksgiving Tower (1982), and just out of frame to the right, the Mercantile Bank Building (1943). Too bad the Old Red Courthouse (1891) is in the other direction! 

Heading up Ervay from Commerce, Neiman’s takes up the whole block to your left. The display windows on this side might not get the glory of the Main Street side, but the display seen in the photo below is great. I chuckled to myself when I realized that the star of a Neiman Marcus window was corrugated cardboard. But those dogs are fantastic! The name of the Dallas artist who made them is Loran Thrasher and you can see other examples of similar works at his website — click on “Installations” (those poodles!!).

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As you approach Main Street you see this elegant sign (Neiman-Marcus, for me, will always have that hyphen in it!). (See what this block looked like around 1920, looking south from Main, here.)

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Turn left on Main, and you’ll see this wonderful building across the street, just west of Stone Place — it’s one of the oldest buildings downtown, built sometime between 1892 and 1899. (I wrote about this building — and its two immediate neighbors — here.) I love this building which was very nicely restored by the fine folks at Architexas about 15 years ago.

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After admiring the Sol Irlandes building I turned around to see this surreal sight several stories above street-level.

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It’s an infinity pool — part of the Joule hotel (see what the pool looks like from up there here). It was pretty odd. If I felt a twinge of vertigo looking at this from the ground, I can’t even imagine how I would handle looking down. If the view isn’t obstructed, those brave swimmers can get a pretty good look at Pegasus (who is probably also a little concerned). This must be quite a sight at night.

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Just to the right of the Magnolia Building, you can see the Adolphus peeking through.

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One of the most impressive buildings in Dallas is the Wilson Building, at Main and Ervay (…and Elm and Ervay). It’s even more impressive when you see it up-close. I love seeing all these intricate decorative details on a building so unlike anything else in Dallas. (See what it looked like under construction in 1902 here.) Thank you, Sanguinet & Staats, for building us such a lovely architectural landmark.

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I decided to walk over to see how work on the Statler was coming, so I headed to Main Street Garden Park. This photo isn’t the best, but I wanted to get the Municipal Building (which is currently being restored to its original 1914 grandeur) in the same shot. The Statler is coming along nicely and should be open soon. I’ve always wanted to see inside that building. (Even if it no longer has its original heliport!)

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Speaking of the Statler Hilton Hotel (opened by Conrad Hilton in 1956), it’s nice to see that someone has repainted the “Hilt” on the side of what was the first hotel Conrad Hilton built anywhere, The Hilton Hotel, built at Main and Harwood in 1925 (it is now Hotel Indigo). (See the original “Hilton” sign in about 1925 here; it was repainted when it became the White Plaza a few years later.)

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I took the photos above from St. Paul, looking east. I turned around and saw this great view of the Merc! It looks good from every angle. (Here it is around 1942, looking west from Harwood.)

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It’s nice to see that so many of Dallas’ landmark buildings are still looking good — and it’s also a little strange seeing the places I read about and write about every day standing right in front of me. I need to get back downtown again soon — there’s so much more to see.

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All photos by Paula Bosse; they were taken on May 24, 2017.

All are much larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 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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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.

The Dallas Clippers

baseball_dallas-clippers_cook-coll_degolyer_smu

by Paula Bosse

The Dallas Clippers were one of the city’s earliest baseball teams — their games were covered in local papers as early as 1888, and they appear to have played through at least 1905.

I’m not sure what’s going on in this photo. Tryouts? Practice? The stances are interesting — the way they’re holding their gloves (especially the catcher) — the gloves themselves. Cool photo. Here are a few details, a little closer up.

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Those gloves are interesting — similar styles can be seen in the Wikipedia entry, here.

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Many early baseball games in Dallas were played at the “base ball park” located in Oak Cliff Park (the park now known as Marsalis Park). A fantastic article on early sports in Dallas (“Gradual Development of the Scope and Popularity of Sports in Texas” — no byline — Dallas Morning News, Oct. 1, 1910) can be read here.)

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Dallas Morning News, Jan. 28, 1888

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DMN, Feb. 3, 1888

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June, 1888

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Photo “Dallas Clippers Baseball Team” from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information on this photo is here.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Neiman-Marcus Corporate Flag, Designed by Emilio Pucci — 1966

neiman-marcus-corporate-flag_emilio-pucci_1966_dallas-public-library“Emilio Pucci was our Betsy Ross…”

by Paula Bosse

While looking through the Neiman Marcus Collection at the downtown Dallas Public Library, I stumbled across this perhaps long-forgotten part of Neiman-Marcus history: the “corporate flag” designed by Italian fashion legend Emilio Pucci. The image was featured on a Neiman’s postcard; the text on the back of the card reads:

Flying high over the fashion land of Neiman-Marcus: our new corporate flag, the Lone-Star-and-Stripes. Emilio Pucci was our Betsy Ross.

Betsy Ross and Emilio Pucci mentioned in the same breath! An 18th-century American seamstress who became a patriotic icon, and an Italian fashion designer whose vividly colorful, boldly patterned designs came to symbolize the youth and energy of the 1960s… talk about your strange bedfellows!

The only thing I could find about this unusually colorful flag was a brief mention in a Dallas Morning News fashion article about Neiman’s 28th Neiman-Marcus Exposition Award in early February of 1966. Gay Simpson wrote in The News that the luncheon centerpieces “carried the colors of the new Neiman-Marcus house flag. The flag, designed by Emilio Pucci, Italian couturier, has the colors of a Texas sunset dramatized with the Lone Star and stripes” (DMN, Feb. 9, 1966).

Stanley Marcus wrote in his 1974 memoir Minding the Store that his business relationship with Pucci (“the most copied designer of our time, aside from Chanel”) began in Italy in 1948 when Marcus met with the struggling young designer and placed an order for several of his scarves. Though Neiman-Marcus had not yet expanded beyond their single department store in Dallas, the store’s reputation and influence were certainly known in fashionable circles around the world, and this N-M “stamp of approval” must have been immensely important to Pucci, whose name was not yet known. This friendship and business relationship blossomed into a mutually beneficial and very profitable partnership, and it seems perfectly reasonable that Pucci would design a flag for his friend and early supporter, Stanley Marcus. (Read more of Marcus’ thoughts on Pucci here.)

There you have it. Who knew?

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As a postscript, any Dallas blog worth its salt cannot let a mention of Emilio Pucci go by without noting his main connection to the city: Pucci will forever be remembered as the man who brought outrageously colorful and super groovy mod designs to the stewardess uniforms of Dallas-based Braniff International Airways (designs so retinally exciting that they make that little Neiman’s flag look a little dowdy in comparison!).

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The image of the corporate flag is from a Neiman’s postcard, which can be found in the extensive (!) Neiman Marcus Collection of the Dallas Public Library (the back of the card can be seen here); it is used with permission. Thanks to the incredibly helpful staff of the Dallas History & Archives division of the downtown Dallas Public Library. (Much thanks, particularly, to Digital Archivist Misty Maberry!)

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: A Tour of St. Paul’s Sanitarium — 1910

st-pauls_flickr_coltera“They sure are good to a fellow…”

by Paula Bosse

A couple of years ago I posted several great photos taken inside St. Paul’s Sanitarium (later St. Paul’s Hospital) by noted Dallas photographer Charles Erwin Arnold. The photos are great. See them in the post “St. Paul’s Sanitarium — 1910,” here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Ewing Avenue, Oak Cliff

oak-cliff_ewing-avenue_flickr_colteraStately and serene Oak Cliff… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Another lovely hand-colored postcard from the C. Weichsel Co. — this one shows a sleepy, gauzy-looking Ewing Avenue in Oak Cliff, probably around 1910. According to the 1910 Dallas directory, Ewing Avenue stretched from S. Jefferson (now E. Jefferson) to 18th Street (it may have extended beyond that, but 18th Street was, apparently, the city limits).

If anyone knows the location of this view or the owner of this house, please let me know. I don’t think any part of Ewing — North or South — looks like this anymore!

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Postcard found on Flickr, posted by Coltera (sorry, did not note the link).

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Wide Open Spaces Northeast of Central and Lovers — 1957

central_north-from-mockingbird_060657_squire-haskins_UTAUTA Libraries, Special Collections

by Paula Bosse

Here’s another great aerial photo by Squire Haskins, taken on June 6, 1957 — sixty years ago. The view is to the north, from a little south of Mockingbird. Mockingbird runs from left to right at the bottom of the photo; at the far right you can see the still much-missed Dr Pepper plant, which stood at the northwest corner of Mockingbird and Greenville Avenue. The only “tall” structure north of Mockingbird is the Meadows Building, at Greenville and Milton, just south of Lovers Lane. North and east of Lovers and Greenville is … pretty much nothing. The old Vickery community was north on Greenville, around what is now Park Lane. To the east? I don’t know … lots of open land and then … Garland?

Let’s turn it around and look south, toward downtown, from just north of Lovers Lane, with the Meadows Building in the foreground. Greenville is at the left, Central Expressway at the right. This photo, also by Squire Haskins, was taken on June 20, 1956.

central_south-from-lovers_062056_squire-haskins_UTA_meadows

If, like me, you’ve always wondered where the legendary Louanns nightclub was, it was just out of frame at the bottom left of the photo above — at the southeast corner of Lovers and Greenville, where Central Market sits these days. You can see it below, in a detail of another great Squire Haskins photo (click on the thumbnail of the photo on this page to see the full photo) — it was taken on Dec. 4, 1953 and shows the Meadows Building under construction. In this detail you can see a slightly blurry Louanns, with what looks like an unpaved Lovers Lane at the bottom and Greenville Avenue at the right. I’d always  heard that Louanns was way out in the sticks in its heyday in the ’40s and ’50s. And looking at the top photo, I can see how true that was — especially before the arrival of the Meadows Building, which was, I believe, the largest “suburban” office building in Dallas beyond the downtown Central Business District. And for those who went out “parking” along Lovers Lane back then, you can see how the street got its name.

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Here is a clipping from the 1957 Dallas city directory showing the businesses along East Mockingbird — between Airline, west of Central, and Greenville Avenue.

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1957 Dallas directory

See the Greenville Avenue businesses from the same 1957 directory here (the directory is scanned in its entirety on the Portal to Texas website here).

Here’s a map showing what this same area looked like a few years earlier, in 1952, when Mustang Airport was still out there (between Lovers and Northwest Highway, and between about where Skillman would later extend to and Abrams). (On the map below, Central Expressway is red, Greenville Avenue is blue, East Mockingbird Lane is purple, and Lovers Lane is green.)

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1952 Mapsco

Today? The area looks like this.

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Top two photos by Squire Haskins, from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, UTA Libraries, Special Collections. Additional information on the first one, looking north, is here; additional info on the second one, looking south, is here. (To see HUGE images of both photos, click the thumbnails on these linked pages.)

Images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: KRLD’s Beautiful Art Deco-Style Transmitter Building — 1939

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by Paula Bosse

When even industrial buildings were aesthetically pleasing. See the original post — “KRLD’s Beautiful New Transmitter — 1939” — here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Happy Mother’s Day from Mrs. Baird’s Bread — 1949

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by Paula Bosse

Sure hope Mom can handle all that gluten!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Newspaper ad from 1949. The “Freshie” ad campaign — featuring a Mrs.-Baird’s-Bread-obsessed kid — ran in Texas newspapers from about 1945 to 1953. More of the ads can be seen in the post “The ‘Freshie’ Ads for *-@!!@!* Delicious Mrs. Baird’s Bread — 1945-1953,” here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

A Bird’s-Eye View of the Central Business District

skyline_aerial_flickr_colteraThe Statler Hilton and the Merc at dusk… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’ve recently experienced a long, long involuntary separation from my beloved laptop (the welling anxiety! the withdrawal pangs!), but now it’s back home from the shop, resting comfortably and ready to go back to work.

Here is a “welcome back” shot of the Dallas skyline, with a view to the southwest: the neon begins to come on in the CBD as “magic hour” arrives.

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Postcard image posted on Flickr by the ever-reliable Christian Spencer Anderson (aka Coltera), here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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