In introducing our Greatest Dallasites contest on Monday, I mentioned that Dallas city archivist John Slate was a tremendous help to us in filling in the gaps and culling the chaff from our intial list of prospective competitors, which numbered a few hundred more than we actually put up for voting.
So we asked Slate for his personal Top 5 Dallasites of All Time. Here’s what he had to say:
Both the best and the worst aspects of Dallas planning and urban growth are directly traceable to George Kessler, born in Germany but raised in Dallas. His 1911 plan for the Dallas park system was visionary for its time, and many of his recommendations for vehicular routing and thoroughfares exist to this very day, for better or worse.
“Mr. Stanley” made an indelible mark on Dallas in both business and the arts, leading both in a way that is rarely seen today. Fostering a city known worldwide for art and culture while building a retail empire that emphasized “only the best,” Marcus helped Dallas put its best foot forward, even during the dark days of the Kennedy assassination.
Craft’s contributions to the civil rights movement in Texas cannot be overstated. From her work with the NAACP when it was a banned organization in Texas to her final days of service on the Dallas City Council, her unyielding stance on racial equality mixed with a personal warmth made her a fitting role model for anyone fighting for social justice.
Much of Dallas’ diversity is directly related to Considérant’s promotion of the Dallas area as a utopian experimental community that led to an influx of Europeans with many talents and skills, from stonecutting to botanical science. La Reunion’s loss was Dallas’ gain – a city built in part by Swiss, French, Belgian, and German immigrants.
Martinez’ entrepreneurial spirit represents the best of Dallas – a classic immigrant story, a shrewd businessman, and a founding father of the Tex-Mex food genre. Whether you’re a fan of the food or not, what’s more Dallas than El Fenix.
It’s hard to argue with this list. Give these folks some love.