It’s hard to believe that just 30 years ago Uptown Dallas was predominately comprised of single-family residential properties. Back then, all of the action was downtown, where Trammell Crow and others were putting up skyscrapers during the 1980s building boom.
A stark contrast to the shiny buildings that stand tall in Uptown today, the area originated in the late 1800s as a neighborhood inhabited by Eastern European Jewish immigrants. By the early 1930s, and as a result of displacement by the Mexican Revolution and job opportunities created by industrialization in Dallas, Mexican immigrants moved in alongside them. The flourishing area changed and evolved from Little Jerusalem into Little Mexico, and gave birth to such Dallas institutions as El Fenix and Luna Tortilla Factory. Later, through eminent domain, the neighborhood saw a flurry of commercial redevelopment.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, the City of Dallas began changing and chopping roads in order to create better fluidity for commuters traveling into and out of the city’s core. By the ’60s, the Dallas North Tollway had created a physical divide through Little Mexico. By the ’70s, Cedar Springs and Pearl Street had been significantly widened, while Harry Hines Boulevard; McKinnon, Carlisle, and Cole streets; and Lemmon and McKinney avenues all became one-way. A connection at Maple-Routh was chiseled across existing street lines, and disintegration of the grid in what had been Little Mexico led to disinvestment.
Uptown’s evolution into a commercial standout began in 1983 with development of The Crescent. Even in a city known for “wow” developments, this $400 million project stood out. Built on 10 acres, the 1.1 million-square-foot office, hotel, and retail complex opened to great fanfare in 1986. Its neo-French classical design was unlike anything the market had ever seen.
“The neighborhood in 1983 when The Crescent started construction really was just bland, on the edge of downtown,” says John Zogg, managing director of Crescent Real Estate Holdings. “The Crescent was an extremely ambitious project for the time, and it really jump-started a new neighborhood.”
Read the rest of this feature, including a historical timeline, in the Winter edition of the Dallas-Fort Worth Real Estate Review, produced in collaboration between the Dallas Regional Chamber, The Real Estate Council, and D Magazine Partners. Click here for free access.