Elm Street in 1970. (Video courtesy Dallas Theater Center)

Local News

You Need To Watch This Colorized Version of Downtown Dallas In 1970

Elm Street was alive.

This morning, FrontBurner friend and Flashback Dallas founder Paula Bosse pointed to a video owned by the Dallas Theater Center that puts you atop a vehicle as it cruises through a fully colorized 1970-era downtown Dallas.

Then-and-now Elm Street sticks out the most, which attracted the sort of commerce and foot traffic that Main does today. Dozens of people pour out of a bus at the corner of Elm and Ervay, outside a Russell Stover’s chocolate shop that is now the home of a 7-Eleven. Above it, you can see how radical the architecture of the aquamarine 211 N. Ervay was for the time. The marquees of the Majestic and the Capri and the Tower and the Palace theaters are all lit up. There’s a rather large S.H. Kress & Co. five-and-dime, a cafeteria, an amazing looking restaurant called King Beef that’s selling roast beef sandwiches. Mostly, though, you notice that the dense infill that once drove foot traffic to Elm has been replaced with parking garages. Storefronts have emptied out. We’ve lost the vibrancy you see in this.

Full-screen the video:

The rest is interesting, too. I love the Adolphus’ Main Street marquee. The slow-stroll east out of downtown looks markedly similar as it does today, albeit with a little bit more activity and another restaurant or two. The video was published on YouTube by the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection at SMU. It originated from the Dallas Theater Center Collection, and Bosse says “there is more to come from this source.” Looking forward to it.


  • MattL1

    Super cool video. I highly recommend watching it at half speed in addition to full screen.

  • Chris Ullom

    Thanks for sharing this D. Sidewalks look open in construction zones-Dallas didn’t hate pedestrians back then!

  • Dan Koller

    Bring back King Beef.

  • Odd seeing One Main Place without 901 Main. Like a 9/11 That Could Have Been.

    Also fun seeing the original convention center with no City Hall across from it.

  • Cole Daugherty

    What a tour. Thanks for sharing.