So this is what it used to look like? New foto book compiles Big D’s history pre-Civil War through 1970s
For all the bitching about how Dallas doesn’t know the meaning of architectural salvage, you have to admit: Big D certainly has grown. After looking at the first few pages of “Historical Photos of Dallas” ($39.95, Turner), it’s easy to see that Dallas was a depressingly fugly, flat-as-a-pancake landscape back in the 1840s. A real dust town.
But by the 1930s, the skyline was already an impressive image of urban promise surrounded by rural scenes.
In just 200 pages, the book walks us through the centuries: 1840-1970. There’s not much historical text about Dallas just huge black-and-white pictures: a two-page spread of the police force in bowler hats, circa 1908; the ornate Wilson Building looking exactly the same since 1903; heaps of confiscated stills from the Prohibition era; all the old theaters that used to line Elm Street The Washington, The Old Mill, Hippodrome, Queen Moving Pictures, The Majestic
It’s not the best of its kind. “Dallas Rediscovered,” first published in 1978, is by far superior. But a stroll through the olden days is always fascinating.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 15, 2007.