Friday, May 18, 2012

LOST Dallas?

Have you ever heard, "Dallas has NO history?"  Have you ever thought it or said it?  I have heard that all my life.  I know it is not completely true.  I mean my goodness, there is a history of the city, you can find it in classroom text books, or on wikipedia.  I think the true meaning behind this statement hints at the frustration people feel when they see how quick the city of Dallas has been to tear down and rebuild...all in the name of new.

I found myself thinking about this, and what was, after I stumbled upon a podcast a few weeks ago.  It was from the program, Think, on NPR.  The topic was a discussion with author and preservationist, Mark Doty.  He has just written a book, Lost Dallas, a Look at a Vanished City.  It delves into a previous world in which the sometime- rundown businesses on Ross Avenue did not exist. In their place stood a tree-lined, majestic and monied collection of mansions rivaling Swiss Avenue.  This podcast is really worth a listen.  I've found myself many times staring at the old Dallas High School building which butts up to the DART Pearl station.  Each time I see it, I imagine what it must have been like in its heyday.  I can almost hear the bustling teenagers, scurrying to make it from class to class before tardy.  This podcast gives you a rare glimpse of many other examples of Dallas history. As I listened, I was invited to imagine what Dallas was before "progress" took over.   The insightful interview also paints a wonderful picture of the city's current historical buildings, giving me a context from which to appreciate the many things I do see in my travels to downtown.  I am certain the book is even more inviting and interesting.  In fact, I think it will top my "summer reading" list.  How about you?

One of Dallas's Art Deco masterpieces, the Esquire Theater was near the intersection of Oak Lawn Ave. and Cedar Springs Rd.  As pictured in 1931, found in Lost Dallas, by Mark Doty, the theater was torn down in 1985.

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