The Chicago Tribune Visits "Emerging Dallas"

Categories: Media

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AT&T Performing Arts Center
The Chicago Tribune really likes Oak Cliff, but all those artsy buildings downtown might be a bit much.
Wendy Donahue's Chicago Tribune dispatch from her recent trip to Dallas begins with her family driving their rental car across the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the "symbolic hub of Texas-sized ambitions." She notes the breeze passing over the grasses along the Trinity and that the bridge is otherwise empty.

"Here," she concludes, "is a city at a crossroads."

"Its image often reduced to fast cars, fervent shopping and the fall of JFK, Dallas is striving to diversify that view while uniting its sprawling metroplex with a string of architectural marvels downtown."

Has it worked? Sort of. Donahue casts a somewhat bemused gaze at the "vermilion walls of the Winspear Opera House and the aluminum tube-covered cube of the Wyly Theatre," packed in a bit more closely than in most cities, as she drives toward vacant, depressing West Dallas. But she keeps going a ways and finds that she really likes the vibe in Oak Cliff.

And, of course: "No trip to Dallas would be complete without gawking at the ritzy homes and the Dallas Country Club along Beverly Drive," so she spends time shopping in Highland Park Village, capping it off with a ride down the Katy Trail on borrowed bikes, which leads Donahue to wonder about the absence of bike lanes.

The takeaway from all this is that Dallas is changing for the better, though it tries a bit too hard to impress with shiny new arts buildings. Which isn't too far off, really.


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20 comments
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Downtown Dallas is a bleak place for residents.  Very few stores, no food market, vast wasted areas used as parking lots.  It's quite ugly, a mish-mosh of ugly bland towers, no cozy tree-lined streets, no street vendors, no color.  It's a sad failure.

DMZ3
DMZ3

Actually, yeah. That's a pretty good description of Dallas. Even a few years after JFK, the bosses downtown sought ways to re-brand the city. (The Dallas City Hall building, anyone?) And Dallas is a city where branding is more important than a lot of other cities of comparable size. We don't have distinct geographical features and we're not a seaport. We never had any oil underneath. We're an airport and a city of white-collar salesmen.

 

We built this city the way it is by selling ourselves. And America bought in, and a lot of people got rich. And it made Dallas a pretty nice place to live and gave us nice buildings. But the problem is that non-Dallasites can see that we're kinda faking it.

texasgramaticus
texasgramaticus

Ya know,  back when I was a defense reporter in fricken Prague, writing for this idiot industry rag in Virginia, I wrote this article about how the Czech defense ministry was considering upgrading its fleet of rusting MiG-21s with Western avionics.  I found out that I could run that article every other month and get $200 every time I did, which didn't hurt. And it went on like this for almost five years and the editors never really noticed that I was basically recycling the same article. 

 

I'm glad to see Journalists from the White World of Sports newspapers are doing the same thing with articles about Dallas.  It's not like anything major has happened here since what's-his-face got popped.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

No. Oak Cliff is a horrible, shambles of a ghetto where you'll be carjacked if not murdered at least fifteen or sixteen times. Stay the heck away from Oak Cliff if you value your life, especially after dark.

 

 

(There. Hopefully that will scare off a few hipsters.)

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

"Euw! . . . Dallas!"

 

just tell her you have several white friends who live in Oak Cliff.  That'll confuse Buffy.

 

Actors (aka reporterettes) - Talk to them about things they don’t know. Try to give them an inferiority complex. If the actress is beautiful, screw her. If she isn’t, present her with a valuable painting she will not understand. If they insist on being boring, kick their asses or twist their noses. And that’s about all there is to it. - John Huston (1906–87), U.S. filmmaker. Quoted in: Jean Negulesco, Things I Did . . . and Things I Think I Did (1984). Huston was offering advice to a young director on how to handle actors.

 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

The Chicago Tribune has reporters still? Last time I read it it made the DMN look like the Wall Street Journal.

Anon
Anon

loves Oak Cliff, hates almost everything else? are you sure this wasn't written by the Observer?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

don't complain.

 

young stupid reporters masquerading as journalists merely aiming their provincialist blather at you.

 

It's rampant.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @DMZ3 City Hall is an appalling nightmare of a building, plunked down in the middle of a vast, barren depressing plaza.

coachbranden
coachbranden

@DMZ3 Not quite true. Without any natiral resources or wealth generators, cities just don't exist. Dallas got its start as an agricultiral hub of the region, as many cities did across the country. That's why the state fair started, was a place to showcase the latest in farming tech. What made Dallas explode was the discovery of oil in East Texas. As the hub, there was an already established base of services, support and infrastructure in Dallas, and that led to growth in that industry and the support industries, such as banking, which became a semi-national center. That in turn led to other, non-geographic-specific industries like technology to grow.

BurmaJones
BurmaJones

 @Cliffhanger  From the Dallas Morning News from just the last 2 days: Infant shot in leg in drive-by shooting in Oak Cliff - August 9, 2012-----

 

 Two teenage girls wounded in overnight shootings in Oak Cliff, West Dallas - August 8, 2012

------

 

 

J_A_
J_A_

 @Cliffhanger C'mon, please don't act like holier than thou Austinites. "Oh Austin is not cool at all, stay away Californians because you'll hate it!!"

darrd2010
darrd2010

 @Scruffygeist yes, they still have 3 or 4 at the Trib and DMN now only has two, Bush from The Tribune and some new kid named Robert. God knows where they found him.

DMZ3
DMZ3

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz City Hall also served as the police headquarters in the movie Robocop. Because presumably Detroit didn't look dystopian enough.

 

But I used it as a great example of how far Dallas's city leaders and planners took the "we must move forward" ethos after JFK. They were so desperate to forget the past that they went whole-hog on these super-modern-looking Star Trek buildings that completely obliterate all sense of proportion and humanity.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @coachbranden  @DMZ3 It's the Railroads.  Go to Jefferson TX.  Steven J Gould screwed Jefferson out of the railroad, and Dallas was the beneficiary.  At the time Jefferson was the second largest city in TX.  Dallas is an improbable city, likely the World's largest city not on a navigable river, mountain pass or seaport. 

coachbranden
coachbranden

@scottindallas @coachbranden @DMZ3 It's that thought that promotes this idea that Dallas is so great. It progressed like any other city. The only thing outstanding is the time they grew up. They couldn't have done what they did 50 years earlier because, as you say, there were no natural features. The railroads did what? They got the agricultural products from the region to market. This allowed non-basic industries that serve the agricultural industry to build and grow, which also furthered agriculture to grow. This centralization allowed other business to grow. Then, when another major basic industry, oil, was discovered nearby, Dallas was a natural administration center. Dallas is no different than any other major city. They have natural resources, even if no natural features, that have been exploited to generate wealth, which generated further activity.

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