50 Years Ago, the Mayor Formulated Dozens of "Goals for Dallas." So, How'd We Do?

Jonsson.jpg
J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson took over as Dallas' mayor at a turbulent time for the city. John F. Kennedy had just been assassinated on Elm Street, and residents and leaders were struggling to come to terms with the event and its aftermath.

Jonsson responded by preaching a forward-thinking optimism, urging constituents to have faith in the city's can-do spirit. This was given fullest expression in Goals for Dallas, a community-sourced enumeration of concrete objectives, both short- and long-term, the city needed to achieve in order to realize its potential.

The goals themselves weren't developed until 1966, but the process began with Jonsson's inaugural address, delivered 50 years ago this month. That's the anniversary SMU's Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility is marking with its sold-out "Goals for Dallas" symposium on Thursday, which will feature Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, DART founder Walt Humann, and Maguire Center director Rita Kirk discussing Jonsson's vision and its effect on Dallas.

See also: Goals for Dallas, or: A Look Back at When a Mayor Dreamed the Possible Dreams

Below, courtesy of SMU libraries, you can read the second draft of the goals, which were revised and expanded in 1967.

The goals tend to be nebulous, with few being objectively measurable or having any sort of metric attached to them. Nevertheless, it's safe to say that a certain number have largely been achieved:

Establish a system-wide public kindergarten with entrance mandatory for 5-year-olds.
Develop museums of excellent quality for art, natural history and science and industry.

Some are still a work in progress:

Design the Central Business District as a multi-purpose area for commercial, governmental, educational, cultural, recreational and residential use. The growth of the resident downtown population will stimulate life and growth in the other uses.
Provide for adequate and safe movement of pedestrian traffic throughout the city with special emphasis on congested and school areas.

And a few are basically hopeless:

Link State Fair Park to the Central Business District by a park-like development or broad boulevards and adequate connections to major expressways.

But focusing on whether any individual objective has been achieved misses the point. Goals for Dallas is striking not so much for what it got right or wrong but for its matter-of-fact progressivism.

The report doesn't address race, an enormous and inexcusable blind spot, but the writers advocated for public transportation, sex education in schools, job training for convicts, walkability and other measures that would draw cries of "libtard" in the Tea Party era.

Also remarkable is the faith in municipal government and local institutions to do big things and effect positive change. That type of optimism is currently in short supply.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

Goals for Dallas by Megan Nicholson


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27 comments
casiepierce
casiepierce

Oh dear god reading these comments, does anyone not remember that the single-worst thing for downtown Dallas was that sweetheart real estate deal annexing all that land up north?

dingo
dingo

The writers advocated for progressive causes but did not do much more than that. Goals for Dallas was operating on a 150k annual budget by the early 1980s.


Its one thing for Jonsson to run a company like TI and compose a master set of goals that he could autonomously prioritize and see some through to completion, and another to come up with a public wish list in search of funding.

Bill_Decker_III
Bill_Decker_III

Boss squad car on page 15...can't see if it has the bullwhip antenna though. Is that a Chevy? Anyone know what the boys in blue were driving back in '67?

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

No. 17 - Not kill the last truly democratically elected president again. - Check --- Alright alright alright way to go BIG D!!!!

libtard_apologist
libtard_apologist

Eric has faith in his naive faith-based libtard heart that every place that is "too white" can be improved with the addition of lots of blacks and illegal alien Mexicans, the people who constitute the pinnacle of western civilization in his goofy naive pot-addled do-gooder libtard mind.

libtard_apologist
libtard_apologist

Calling yourself "progressive" is so fucking pretentious, libtard. You'd do better calling your horseshit "enlightened" instead.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

To your race point, I see an item on Page 5 that calls for the establishment of a "Human Relations Commission" to "insure(sic) fair treatment to all people." That's, at least, something addressing racial issues. Whether that has come to pass, I can't say.

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

Would love to know why it was so hard to develop housing downtown in the 60s and 70s. Even in the 80s when downtown was hopping day and night, the only apartment building was Manor House.

robert
robert

@casiepierce  never heard of this. I'm fairly new to Dallas. What happened and when? Where could I read more about this?

libtard_apologist
libtard_apologist

You can thank your commie fellow-traveler Oswald for that one.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

@lakewoodhobo The COD had opportunities, just didn't take them. While true, moving out to the burbs ranch house was a fantasy for a "family" of three or four...there was and still is The Village Apts, and all the apartment complexes that ran from NW Highway and Skillman down to Park and Greenville for the swinging singles. The Village Shopping Center was an outdoor shopping/eating feast location.The late 60's and early 70's were a boom for that area. Meanwhile, during the same period we still had some night life downtown with three major retailers, multiple movie houses, restaurants, strip bars, nightclubs, showrooms. The city chose to let it die.

rusknative
rusknative

@lakewoodhobo nighttime in downtown dallas was filled with janitors and cleaning crews...the white collar workers, insurance, banking, real estate, lawyers, retailers...had ALL GONE HOME...downtown was spooksville only.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@lakewoodhobo  

I believe the Fairmont hotel complex was originally planned to be residential.

Could have been cool.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@lakewoodhobo  I could be wrong, but here in Dallas in the '60s and '70s, everyone wanted the idyllic suburban ranch-style home with wall-to-wall carpeting and a green lawn where they could barbecue and play catch with the kid.

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

@libtard_apologist Your Chevy truck all sparkly and brand new was made possible with corporate welfare by a socialist state, cheers!

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

@rusknative Perhaps that's true but I've also talked to people who said a lot of the banks had night shifts. There were several restaurants and bars open downtown well past 5pm.

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

@CogitoErgoSum @lakewoodhobo  I understand the history of sprawl and white flight. But really, did 100% of the population want that? Out of 2 million people in the "metroplex" there weren't 1,000 people who wanted an urban lifestyle back then?

libtard_apologist
libtard_apologist

My psychological warfare tactics are getting under your skin. Good.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@libtard_apologist  Yeah, blah, blah, libtard, blah, blah, white guilt, blah, blah, apologist, blah, blah, divershitty, blah, blah, libtard.

libtard_apologist
libtard_apologist

I don't have a car or truck. I ride public transportation as my sole means of getting around. That's why I'm not a naive white-guilter, unlike you. I'm actually around lots of black people all day, unlike you, you are just another NAIVE sanctimonious white-guilt-libtard.

Guesty
Guesty

@lakewoodhobo @CogitoErgoSum  Probably not.  Most "urban" lifestyles are matters of necessity, not choice.  How many people in NYC would flee to single family residences with back yards if : 1) they could be had for less than the cost of a highrise apartment; and 2) were less than 20 minutes from downtown or work?  

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