New York Times Can't Help Itself, Strains to Tie Oak Cliff Rejuvenation to JFK Murder

Categories: Media

Deserted out of JFK shame, says the Times.

We get the impulse. The easiest way to dive into a story about Oak Cliff, especially if you've never spent more than a few days there, is to talk about November 1963. Failing that, you can talk about crime, making it seem as if people who cross the Trinity heading south are taking their lives into their hands. Bringing up things like successful organic growth through the promotion of Dallas rarities like density and walkability requires a lot more thought than headlining a travel piece "In Dallas, Turning the Page Marked Nov. 22, 1963," as The New York Times did in an article published yesterday.

Mention that the Texas Theater was the site of Lee Oswald's capture sure, that's interesting enough. Checking out the phone on Top Ten Records counter that J.D. Tippit is said to have made his last phone call from can be a unique experience too, but the NYT fails to even mention that bit of trivia.

Attributing the neighborhood's recent growth to declining institutional memory of the assassination is just lazy. It didn't even happen in Oak Cliff. Oswald happened to live here, but the neighborhood was no more complicit in President Kennedy's death than the rest of the city. Oswald's actions haunt the city as a whole, but it doesn't change the fact that Oak Cliff's decline in the second half of the 20th century has far more to do with white flight stemming from school desegregation and widespread neglect from city officials than any single action.

Despite the fact that each restaurant mentioned in the article is either in the Bishop Arts District or closely proximate, Carol Huang, the author of the piece, insists on telling readers:

"Though crime remains an issue in Oak Cliff and gunshots are sometimes heard, these days you can also hear bands at the Texas Theater and at the Kessler Theater, a 1942 Art Deco playhouse that holds dance and music lessons during the week."

Clunky segue aside, Bishop Arts is not dangerous, or even particularly edgy, no matter what a Times writer might think.

What's happened in Bishop Arts is a victory of groups like Jason Roberts' Better Block project, not the inevitable passage of time. Roberts is the only local quoted in the story, but his contribution is limited to contrasting Lucia and El Jordan's price points.

Unfair Park's hopes that the passing of the 50th anniversary and all of its macabre remembrances would end this sort of thing have been dashed.

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the nyt used to be a great paper, now it's just a leftist rag that appeals to sheltered limousine liberals and their ilk. 


I gave up on ny times years ago

They are focused on an audience in nice areas of Manhattan

Harlem :  increase in homicides over 2012. overall crime rate increase 17%

China Town , calmed downed but there were Tong wars where gang members would shoot up restaurants of non paying for protection Chinese, much to the dismay of white diners

Dumpy , scary sections of Brooklyn , many

Organised crimes murders, down because of the work of the FBI

Construction costs , high , due to payouts to Unions controlled by organised crime

Some one once wrote that NYC is a fourth world city masquerading as a first world city

Just look up poverty stats\, grinding poverty


Unfortunately for Dallas, NY really does not like us.  But loves to taunt us now that it is growing up and making marks on the cultural landscape.  This happened to L.A. for many years until NY was impressed enough by the volume and level of institutions they developed.  It is all about how the money of a community can build an intellectual impression that compares to great historical cities.  The fact that NYTimes publishes an article on Oak Cliff is something of a tribute, if you know what I mean.

holmantx topcommenter

Such is the state of polarization in the American press today.

The New York Times may or may not know that Dallas votes Democrat and the Dallas Morning News, like every major metropolitan newspaper in the state, is left of center, bashes Senator Cruz, Palin, Perry, supports amnesty, defends man-caused climate change and fills half its space with NY Times purchases . . . but even if they do realize the extent of Dallas' modernity . . . 

they just can't help themselves but feed the local New York trolls.  This view of Oak Cliff is framed for New Yorker consumption.  There is zero tolerance for any deviation from the script.  

Dallas is in Texas.

Texas sucks.


who cares.


I grew up in Oak Cliff, frequented the Texas Theater and many other hangouts in the  area. I have since traveled the country and the world, and no one has ever asked me what it was like to be a teen in Oak Cliff in 1963. But I have occasionally been asked about being in Dallas at that time.

The NYT's focus on an Oak Cliff/JFK connection is just plain strange, and citing it as the cause of problems in the area's development is completely off the mark. Even so, it's good to see several Oak Cliff establishments get some positive PR. I can let the Oswald stuff slide; my expectations aren't all that high for the NYT anyway.


Plus Bonnie and Clyde never lived there. They hung out in that much newer center of gentrification - West Dallas.


Oak Cliff is such a unique and fascinating place that it is misunderstood and unappreciated by many. But once you've lived there or spent considerable time there, you begin to understand its wonder.


Why is the New York Times just plain lazy when yakking about Dallas?

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