Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ruins of the Metroplex: Signs of our Past

   I love when I find an old building that still sports a remnant of it's past, in the form of signage. Especially the classic white letters painted on a black background over brick or metal. 

   Here is a collection of signs of our past, some left by their new owners, others just left to the ravages of time. 


Located at Northwest highway in Dallas near Plano Road. This sign spans the entrance of the old parking lot. Penny Whistle Park was an indoor amusement park that featured rides for very young children 


I spotted this on an renovated building next to Gilley's  in Dallas' Cedars neighborhood.  The Chase Bag Company is long gone but it's sign was left by the current owners. 



Found on Jefferson Ave in Oak Cliff, the recently closed Oak Cliff Hardware, whose sign was reused from a previous furniture store. 





From the Cedars neighborhood just south of downtown. This renovated property kept the Piggly Wiggly and Hotel Sign for their project. 



The Atlas Metal Works in West Dallas at the corner of Sylvan and Singleton. This building is still in use, but the natural decay of their signage often leads motorists to think it's an abandoned property .






Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Update: The Katy Trail Extension


NOTE: The original post is followed by a further update



   Dallas has one of the most extensive bike and jogging trail systems in the U.S. One of the most exciting developments in recent years have been plans to extend the popular Katy Trail to White Rock Lake.


   The plan is to build a bridge over Mockingbird Lane and then have the trail mostly follow the Dart line from Mockingbird Station to White Rock Station on the north side of the lake.
Rendering of the Katy trail Bridge over Mockingbird Ave.

      There has only been a small bit of work done at Mockingbird Lane. It will be the last piece of the trails extention to be completed.  Most people, including myself, would probably be surprised how much work has already been done.

      I noticed a few days ago that a portion of the trail that follows Northwest Highway towards the White Rock Dart Station had already been finished and striped.

This final portion of the Katy Trail Extension runs parallel to Northwest Highway.  It follows the path of an old alley which some homes still use to access their garages.  I wonder how this is going to work.
   I decided to walk the new portion of the trail and follow to where it disappeared from view of Northwest Highway motorist. I discovered that a significant portion of the extension is already finished.

The Katy extension headed north toward Northwest Highway
Standing in the same spot, looking south


   What's interesting is that the trail will follow the Dart Green line from Mockingbird Station until it reaches the as of now undeveloped Union Pacific Trail. A tall ramp will be built to bring the trail down to the rail line. It appears that for now the trail will go north to Northwest Highway, then east to the Dart Station. From there, you take another trail south to the lake. 
   

Pylons being built for a ramp that will lower the trail to the Union Pacific Trail, which is owned by DART

Sadly,  I'm not the only person to discover this portion of the Katy Trail Extension. A tagger has already ruined a portion of the trial. 


   Unlike the original portion of the Katy Trail, this section of the Extension is very secluded. Even though the trail bisects two neighborhoods, it's set considerably lower and gives you a feeling of being out in the country.   
    We are still a few years away from the Extension being completed. The bridge over Mockingbird will be the final piece. In the meantime, joggers and cyclist will still have a considerable amount of trails to discover.


UPDATE:   July  2014

   More sections have been completed, but you'd really have to search to find them.  The bridge that connects the trail from the Dart Line to the Union Pacific Trail toward Northwest Highway has been completed, although it is not open yet.



FACING EAST AT RIDGEWOOD REC CENTER

An unfinished path of the Katy Trail Extension just north of Mockingbird at Fisher Ave and Ridgewood Park.  This is a view facing east.  The trail parallels the Dart line and will turn north toward Northwest Highway via the old Union Pacific Rail Line

A couple of views of the bridge that lowers the trail from street level to the old rail line



FACING WEST AT  RIDGEWOOD REC CENTER

Facing west at Fisher Avenue, the trail travels behind the Ridgewood Rec Center.  A trailhead parking lot is being used as a  construction site

The trail passes buy a new splash park


Headed west, the trail near the Dart Line headed toward Mockingbird Station

    
UPDATE October 2015

    The Bridges over Abrams and Skillman are finally being installed after sitting near Flagpole Hill and Northwest Highway for the past two years.
   The bridge over Skillman now spans that roadway, but as of this post, it is not ready to be crossed.  The trail on the west side of the bridge has yet to be finished.

The first of two bridges, spanning over Skillman

The bridge has been installed but is not ready to cross. 


   The bridge over Abrams has yet to be installed, but the bridge mounts on with side are almost completed. 




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Friday, October 2, 2015

Missing Signs of the Metroplex

A Look At Some Notable Signs That Have Disappeared from Our Landscape




The Alamo Plaza Hotel Court Sign


   This sign sat in front of North Oak Cliff's Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts since the 1940's. At one time, the chain motel on Fort Worth Ave was a delightful stop before entering downtown Dallas. When it closed in 2007, it was hardly a gem


   In December of 2010, the motel met the wrecking ball to make room for a new development called Sylvan Thirty, which would feature loft apartments, retail and a grocery store. The developer promised that the iconic sign which was left standing would be part of the development.

   Sadly, the sign was removed in April of 2013 from the site even thought the developer promised Preservation Dallas, the city staff and the Dallas Morning News that the sign would remain.

STATUS: Returned

   After the sign was removed there was considerable uproar. The developer put up a website asking for suggestions with what to do with the the sign.

"We’d like for you to submit ideas for the sign’s future. We’re open to using it somewhere on our property, repurposing it, moving it somewhere else in West Dallas, donating it…nothing is off the table and all submitted ideas will be considered"

   The website also added this disclaimer:

"To be clear, we have plans in development for using the sign on our site, which was our original intention. However, community members have come forward suggesting that we allow it to be used as public art to represent West Dallas and the Fort Worth Avenue corridor. As we’ve said before, we’re open to all ideas."

  UPDATE  On recent vist to the Sylvan Thirty development, it was discover that the developer did indeed use the sign in an imaginative public art project. different parts of the sign were refurbished and repurposed to add character to the common space.


The Main Portion of the sign displayed in a crush gravel courtyard

The A atop the sign has it's neon refurbished and sits in this permanently parked classic Chevy truck

The arrow atop the sign now points down and has had it's neon restored




7th Street Theatre Marquee - Fort Worth


   Sadly, I am surprised how quickly Fort Worth has forgotten this West Side landmark. The family owned theatre was closed and demolished in 2002. The family owned theater was known for running first run movies a few weeks after their premier at a discounted price. The ticket taker, projectionist and the concession stand operator were all of the same family, often the same person. 

  I always found it funny how I would often arrive at 6:55 for the 7:00 showing, only to find the movie had already started, so the family could get home early. (There was also a clock in the lobby that would indicate it was only 6:55)

  The theatre closed after a family tragedy in 2001 and never reopened. The property was bought by the FPA Foundation, who tore down the theatre despite local protests. The Foundation saved the marquee and promised that it would be used in any future development.

STATUS: Unknown

    The status of the FPA Foundation is unknown, so the location of the ownership of the sign is also in question. The 7th Street / University intersection has gone through massive redevelopment. A tall building with Eddie V's Restaurant sits at the location of the old theatre. The marquee has yet to be used in any of the new projects in the area and there seems to be little call to bring it back. 




Casa Linda Pegasus atop the Mobile Station


   One of the most iconic buildings in the Casa Linda Shopping Center in East Dallas was the Mobile Station that sat on the Northeast corner of Buckner and Garland Road. The station was torn down in 2003 and replaced with a bank .

STATUS - Saved

   The iconic sign which originally was displayed at the 1939 World's Fair was saved and is now on display ay the Museum in the Old Red Courthouse.









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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

One Man's Dallas Ballpark Proposal


   Recently, D Magazine's Peter Simek wrote an intriguing piece about the City of Dallas getting behind a future Rangers Ballpark proposal.

   The article suggested proposed sites for such a ballpark,  including Fair Park and Downtown.  Do we really want the Ranger's in Fair Park?  Is that going to bring the Wrigleyville atmosphere that we all crave?  Mention Fair Park to most people and few think about spending their summer nights there.

   Another site mentioned is the old Reunion Arena plot.  I went to many games and concerts at the old arena. I recall a facility tucked away in a far corner of downtown with a total lack of any urban atmosphere.  Would that really change with another sports facility?

   Of course any site chosen in Dallas County would be perceived as a slight to fans in other parts of DFW.  Especially fans in Tarrant County, who have hosted the Rangers since they moved here in 1972.

   But what if there was a site in Dallas, that was just 15 minutes from Globe Life Park?  What if there was a site that was near Downtown Dallas in a long forgotten neighborhood?  A neighborhood that had recently been rediscovered with new restaurants, apartments and bars.

    What if there was a site that had access from I-30, I-35, Woodall Rogers, Loop 12 and was just a few miles from Central, the Tollway, I-45, not to mention Mockingbird and Inwood?

   Say hello to West Dallas.  Better yet, say hello to the corner of Sylvan and Singleton, just a few blocks from the end of Woodall Rogers and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.  There is perhaps no other site in DFW that has better access.  For fans driving from Fort Worth, it's just 15 minutes further west from Globe Life Park on I-30. And unlike Downtown Dallas and Fair Park,  Tarrant Country drivers won't have to navigate through the choke hold that is the I-30 canyon.



    You can reach it from I-35 via the Sylvan exit or the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge exit.  Loop 12 is just 5 miles away on Singleton Avenue.  The Dallas North Tollway ends just two miles from the proposed stadium site.  Central Expressway and I-45 both empty into Woodall Rogers which enters West Dallas via the bridge.



   There is even a rail line on the south end of the propose site that could be used for a future commuter rail line.

   The area has a number of new gathering spots at Trinity Groves with more planned and Singleton Avenue has recently been widened and is ripe for future development.

Imagine the downtown skyline and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge being seen from the outfield of a new proposed stadium.


The ballpark could even be built with the downtown skyline and the iconic Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge as a dramatic signature outfield backdrop.

   One downside, the site is currently an iron works foundry and might be a possible brown site. But other stadiums, specifically San Antonio's Alamodome, have been built on similar sites after a cleanup.
A stadium on the proposed corners of Sylvan and Singleton in West Dallas. Notice the rail line in the lower right corner. 

    Another potential downside is that it does not have access to the Dart Lines, but a street car line not unlike the new Oak Cliff line might be a possible solution.

   But with it's central location, it's access and potential for mass transit, and the number of bars and restaurants proposed for the area, this could be Dallas' best shot at landing a ballpark that becomes a true urban destination.



Mark "Hawkeye" Louis is the longtime host of 'Hawkeye in the Morning' on NEW Country 96.3 KSCS.  He is an avid baseball fan, an outfielder for the amateur Fort Worth Coyotes and a former member of the TCU Baseball Broadcast Crew. 








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Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Day The Davis Cup Came to A Dallas City Park

   The year was 1965. Tennis' premier international event, the Davis Cup was scheduled to hold the semifinals in Dallas. Usually an event of this magnitude would be help at a first class arena or a top notch country club. In fact, several local country clubs did offer to host the event

   With one important caveat.

   Their clubhouse facilities could not be used by Arthur Ashe, the first African-American to be named to the Davis Cup team. The organizers of the event did not see this as a viable request.

   Stepping up to save the day, the city of Dallas. The city had just opened up a 20 court facility in East Dallas at Samuell -Grand Park. The city offered to resurface Courts One and Two into one center court and build temporary stands to accommodate the crowds. On July 31, 1965, a city park in East Dallas, hosted one of the world's premier sporting events.

   Samuell - Grand Park Today: When I first moved to East Dallas in 2008, I was excited to find the twenty court facility so close to my home. I stopped by multiple times only to find the pro shop locked and twenty well preserved unaccessable vacant courts. I called the number posted on the door several times but never received a reply.
   A few months later, I started to see signs of life, including a  new sign advertised a website. I searched the web to find that the city has allowed the Midcourt Tennis Academy to run the facility.
   The city  passed a bond package and a new club house was built and the courts were resurfaced. It's once again the most popular and modern tennis facility in Dallas. If you visit the Samuell Grand Tennis Center,  ask for Court 1. Arthur Ashe once played there.




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Friday, April 17, 2015

Oops, We Need To Take that off our Tuesday Morning Shelves


   One of our employees has a relative that works at Tuesday Morning at Preston and LBJ in Dallas.  We love Tuesday Morning and their deep discounted, upscale close out merchandise.

  Somewhere, this merchandise was on a shelf somewhere else. Luckily, the employees of Tuesday Morning discovered this picture board and made sure it never made it to their shelves.


  This Picture Board looks pretty harmless from a distance, but up close the design feature a World War II vintage German Postmark complete with Swastika and Hitler image.  Tuesday Morning caught this piece of merchandise quickly.  It makes us wonder,  who had this first, before it became a closeout item?



 


 

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Grave Sites of Bonnie and Clyde

   I recently set out to visit the grave sites of notorious bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde. Both  are buried in Dallas. Despite their wish to be buried together, the Parker family denied their request.


    Bonnie Parker was originally buried in Fishtrap Cemetery off Singleton Road in Dallas but in 1945 her body was moved to the new Crown Hill Cemetery.





Directions to Crown Hill Cemetery 

Enter Through the Lombardy Lane Entrance



   Clyde Barrow was buried next to his brother in west Dallas' Western Heights Cemetery off Fort Worth Avenue. The cemetery has a (easily climbable) fence and a locked gate. There is currently no access to the general public

Directions

No criminal mind could penetrate this fortress of security. 




   Not far from the Barrow gravesite is a old gas station that was once home to the Barrow family. Located on 1221 Singleton, the building is vacant and for sale.

  Directions 

The gas station in its early days

Available for purchase, the gas station today 




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Dallas' Free Observation Deck

   One of the most iconic buildings in the Dallas skyline is Reunion Tower, but a ticket to the top is now $16.
   Equally iconic is the Chase Tower, with a keyhole near the top of the 55th floor.



   The Sky Lobby observation deck sits right below the keyhole and offers spectacular north and south views of Dallas. Although the deck is free, you must check in at the security desk and show ID before heading up.

Directions

The Sky Lobby, A Garden on the 40th Floor



Looking north toward Klyde Warren Deck Park and the Museum Tower



Looking South toward the Sheraton and my reflection




Looking up toward the Keyhole





Be prepared to check in at the Security Desk before taking the Express Elevator to Sky Lobby. The deck is open during normal business hours. 


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