I had lunch recently at a taco joint (aptly titled The Taco Joint) that recently opened up on Gaston Ave. and Peak Street, in the urban no man's land between Lakewood and Deep Ellum. Across the street sat the Hotel Adler. The window unit air conditioners and the bars on the door reveal a few subtle clues that this may not be the nicest hotel in Dallas.
"I used to live in that building." The unsolicited comment came from a well dressed elderly woman who sat next to my wife and me at the lunch counter.
"I had just graduated from college in Denver and I was hired to work at Neiman-Marcus. I asked Mr. Marcus where a single woman in Dallas should live and he suggested the Hotel Adler"
"What year was that" my wife asked?
"It was in the 50's. This was such a great neighborhood back then. There were movie theaters, little shops, a street car line leading into downtown. At the other end of Gaston, you had big mansions just like on Swiss Avenue. Old money. Cotton Money. The oil people, they all lived in Highland Park. That was new money, this was old money"
Lakewood is still home to impressive, well tended homes. But Gaston Avenue, which runs parallel to Swiss Avenue and its stately mansions, has become a fascinating mismatch of restored mansions and mid century apartments. Some of the apartments have been renovated and updated. Others, often next to 70 year old mansions, look dangerous and poorly kept.
New business is slowly coming back to Gaston. Old homes are being bought and restored. Some of the apartments are being replaced or restored. No master city plan. No grand scheme. Just a city breathing new life into an old neighborhood.
"I still keep a home here in Dallas, though I mainly live in San Francisco," the woman added. "How long have you two lived here?"
Google Map to the Adler Hotel and The Taco Joint