DFW Is Still Class-Divided, But It’s Getting Better

Source: The Atlantic
Source: The Atlantic

The Atlantic Cities project is currently exploring the divides of class and wealth in American cities, and today’s take was on Dallas-Fort Worth. It was aided by research from UT-Arlington doctoral candidate (and Shiny Around The Edges frontman) Michael Seman. They found:

The class divide in the city of Dallas largely follows a north-south axis demarcated by Interstate 30 and the impressive steel and glass skyline of Dallas’s downtown core. The map shows the band of purple radiating out of downtown and spreading out in the north of the city, while the south is a sea of red (service class districts) with spots of blue (working class locations). There is also a lesser east/west divide runs along the Trinity River just south of downtown, separating the working and service class neighborhoods to the west of the river from the creative class to the east.

There are significant developments afoot in the city, according to Michael Seman, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Arlington’s School of Urban and Public Affairs and occasional Cities contributor, to spur redevelopment and address these class divides. Seaman, who reviewed early versions of these maps, points out that Dallas’s Oak Cliff is a transitioning neighborhood that only shows up as a sliver of purple, but is gaining residents from members of the region’s budding creative core of artists, writers, and musicians. Adjacent to Oak Cliff, just south of downtown and straddling service class (red) and working class (blue) neighborhoods, the “massive culinary-based Trinity Groves redevelopment project” is moving from planning stage to reality, notes Seman, who consulted on the project. A mixed-use redevelopment project encompassing roughly 80 acres, it features a restaurant incubator, microbreweries, specialty epicurean shops, culinary education programs, and a plethora of restaurants, which are designed to “appeal to members of the creative class residing both in the city and the region,” Seman says.

And there are projects rolling into place to aid this further:

“It is important to think of the DFW region as geographically expansive with a robust, integrated economy,” Seman says. At the same time, both the city of Dallas and the larger metro region are indelibly marked by long-standing divides. While issues of race are currently being addressed, the polarization previously set in motion continues to widen along class lines.

Steps are being taken to address these divides. Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas established GrowSouth, an aggressively implemented holistic economic development plan targeting the city’s southern neighborhoods, to address issues of infrastructure, education, culture, urban design, community engagement, and regional marketing. “Mayor Rawlings’ initiative is not only the right prescription for Dallas, but for the greater metro region as well,” Seman comments. “Metropolitan regions are like living organisms,” he adds. “If one part is unhealthy, it will eventually affect the entire body. The increasing separation of classes in the DFW region may hamper its underlying economic dynamism, potentially disrupting social and political stability as well.”