Sunday, April 14, 2024 Apr 14, 2024
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cases, North Dallas is so quiet it looks like a plague just swept through it. Often, the only people outside are those making a quick run to empty the trash. After a long day of peer pressure at school, the children come dragging in to their cable television sets, not to step outside again until the next morning. It can become so still in the north-west part of North Dallas, around the neighborhoods near W.T. White High School, that if you hold your breath, you can hear the electronic bug-killers a couple of blocks away. If you fly into Love Field on a Southwest Airlines flight and look down upon North Dallas, you will see a swimming pool in nearly every other yard. But do you ever see anybody in them?

“I think of it as Dallas’s quiet money,” says Carole Hoffman, one of the most prominent realtors in the area. Of course, living quietly like that doesn’t come cheap. The old estate homes in Preston Hollow (between Douglas and Hillcrest, north of Northwest Highway) can cost up to $7 million. Even the price tags of smaller homes are astonishing, especially in those rare, uniquely situated neighborhoods like Bluffview (a little bit of Connecticut east of Inwood and south of Northwest Highway), which offers a variety of eclectically styled homes built along a cliff that towers over Bachman Creek.

Yet, despite all the North Dallas jokes, people will give away their firstborn to share in ! this peaceful opulence. It might ! not be the most challenging ex-istence, but when you’ve got to i worry about such things as whether to get a phone for the second car, you can only take so i much stress.


By the time you finish reading this article, another $1 million home will have been built in Far North Dallas. Think about it. The wealth of this area is expanding like an accordion, the house notes growing more and more exaggerated. With so many plans for rich neighborhoods throughout the northernmost areas of Dallas County and the neighboring counties, will there be enough wealthy people to go around?

If you drive through FND now, you will note that this stomping ground for the filthy rich has not one iota of natural charm. But try to envision this place in ten years, and you realize that nature is beside the point. The homes will be too big for anyone to see any remnants of the “undeveloped” scenery. Ah, yes. This, chickadee, is the Golden Corridor. And we do mean golden. Take the wealthy communities already thriving in the Golden Corridor section (Bent Tree, Preston-wood, and Preston Trail), and then multiply by the wealthy subdivisions now under way: the Willow Bends Estate along FM Rd. 544, where glitzy homes are going to sell from $2 million to $6 million; the Gleneagles Country Club right next door, where $500,000 homes are going to be put in next to the golf course; a new 18-hole addition to the Prestonwood Country Club. In Addison, there is Bellbrook Estates, where homes costing up to $1 million will be set on half-acre lots bordered by two parks. You can follow the pattern all the way north with the new high-dollar subdivision up on Highway 121 being built to house H. Ross Perot’s executives who will move there when the new EDS plant opens; and you can see it in the little town of Frisco, where Camden Development Company is working on an exclusive 850-acre planned community. Surrounding all these areas are countless second-tier upper-middle-class neighborhoods; dozens of them advertising with little rectangular signs that sit by the road.

And then you’ve got to think: “Are the nouveau riche about to take over?” It certainly looks as though a new kind of high society is being formed, one that is so far too new to make the newspaper society columns. Says one realtor who specializes in the area: “I’ll be honest. The people who are coming to me for the rich homes out here might like to throw their dollars around. They might be a little gaudy at times. But they aren’t snobs. They haven’t lived in Dallas all their lives and thus they don’t feel they have to act a certain way. They’re fun.” And the area will lend plenty of chances for the men in their Mercedes and the women, starved to perfection, to show themselves off at parties. Soon, five or six country clubs will loll within ten miles of one another, joining the Willow Bend Polo & Hunt Club, where spectators, sipping wine while they sit on blankets and gossip, pretend to be enthusiastic over thousands of pounds of thundering horseflesh hurtling toward a poor man trying to hit a white ball with a mallet. If they’ll go that far, then there’s no telling how far this new crowd will go to become Dallas’s society leaders.


In the beginning, the great men of Dallas built and ran the exclusive Park Cities area in the heart of Dallas, just six miles north of downtown. Now, there is a new divine rule: the mothers have taken over.

The creation of the grand Park Cities homes in the early 1900s was meant to tell Dallas of a world that ought to be-an ideal that exists in a rather strange form today, as builders buy tiny lots for half a million bucks, tear the homes down, and erect million-dollar mansions that look like miniature Ramada Inns, with the garage taking up twice as much space as the front yard. This newest generation of old money is, oddly, dominated by the moms. While the Park Cities men watch the balance of power in this city move from the 19th-hole gin rummy sessions at the Dallas Country Club to the Far North Dallas tennis courts, it is the mothers who have stepped forward. They created the top family neighborhood trend of the Eighties-driving children to soccer practice in a huge four-door Suburban (fondly referred to as “my truck”) with a sign in the back window that reads, “Child in Car.” (Where else, in the trunk?) They have added about twenty new charity balls to the social circuit. They have laken out loans and opened up cute little boutiques along the Miracle Mile section of Lovers Lane. They seem obsessed with being just like Highland Park’s Prudence Mackintosh, the nationally popular author who writes about the trials of being a mother while having to live on Beverly Drive,

The men of the Park Cities guard their privacy as carefully as they guard their Mesa Petroleum stocks. You occasionally see them at the end of the work day, dragging themselves from their cars to home like a dying old king in a play. Everyone knows they play a secondary role. Sanger Harris even abolished its men’s department at its store in the Highland Park Village.

Anyway, despite a mild inborn arrogance that they simply cannot eliminate (a popular T-shirt among kids in the area brags about their own zip code: “I live in 75205 and you don’t!”), Park Cities people have created one of the most family-oriented neighborhoods in the city. Even the wrinkled, older residents, who still think a mixed marriage takes place when a Park Cities girl weds anyone living east of Central Expressway, are part of it. They might not know the names of any Democrats, but without a blink of an eye they can tell you the name of Highland Park High School’s starting quarterback.


This area, extending from Central Expressway to White i Rock Lake, has New England-type snobs, nightclub slimeballs, people who put “Save the Whale” stickers on their cars, Southeast Asian refugees, aging yuppies, and youthful old people. It’s a weird area. If you start i south and head north, you first come across the Deep Ellum warehouse community, which everyone keeps proudly referring to as Dallas’s Little SoHo. It’s inspiring to go down there and listen to the wind whistling through the buildings. The rents have become so enormous that few arlists can afford to live there. Then, in the shadow of Dallas’s skyscrapers, there’s Bryan Place, the experimental “downtown neighborhood” in which residents living in Fox & Jacobs townhomes congratulate themselves on their lives as urban pioneers. Of course, they drive everywhere, just like the rest of us, because the problem with living near downtown is that there’s nothing within walking distance to visit.

Continuing north, we reach the old neighborhoods of East Dallas, places like Munger Place, the Swiss Avenue district, Junius Heights, and Mill Creek. The residents there hold annual tours of their neighborhoods, which, because they were built any time before that incredibly distant year of 1930, are considered “historic districts.” They are the kind of people who like to listen to slow jazz records with a lot of bass fiddle pizzicato solos, and they’re constantly trying to make their back closet look like something they saw in Architectural Digest. The women, who took courses in college like “Women and Rage,” feel a bit guilty now that their passion is fixing up the home, so at dinner parties they drive everyone crazy by talking passionately about “neighborhood restoration.”

The same kind of attitude is prevalent throughout much of the large Lakewood neighborhood, where the city’s first yuppies began buying homes in 1974 for $20,000 and are now selling them for $120,000. These first-generation yuppies, previously committed to their dogs and their Volvos, have recently learned how to have children (the Lake-wood Preschool PTA has more than 200 members), and they’re constantly backing over the Big Wheel left out in the driveway. Not all are young, though. Any time a major zoning case involving the area comes before the city council, retired people from Greenland Hills or Hillside Village come storming down to the council chambers, their eyes blazing with fire, just daring the council to allow another new business to come into their beloved neighborhoods.

This area of Dal- las has arguably the prettiest street (Tokalon). the widest street (Swiss), the silliest street name (Bob-O-Link), the street that most resembles Vietnam (Fitzhugh), and the streets that best imitate parking lots (any of the “M” streets by Lower Greenville Avenue, where people park their cars and toss their beer cans while they party until the wee hours at the boozy nightclubs in the area). Indeed, about the only thing you cannot say about East Dallas is that it’s boring.


There is a tendency to look upon the residents of Far East Dallas as unlike the rest of us in some vague, left-handed way. The neighborhoods that lie east of White Rock Lake, extending all the way to the eastern suburbs, are in one of those netherworld regions that never get any attention-probably because the people there don’t feel the slightest need to prove anything. Unlike most of us who strive for status in where we choose to live, Far East Dallasiles never try to make some significant statement about their homes. Life is con-ducted at a steady tempo, the pace unchanging, like a cow, no matter how hungry, trudging toward the barn.

In a city where the custom i home builder gets the kind of at- ; tention at restaurants normally ; reserved for movie stars or such i important Dallas celebrities as Lawrence Herkimer, inventor of the pompon, it’s somehow reas- suring to know there are still “Leave It To Beaver” neighbor- hoods, where the tables have rings on them and the umbrella stand is filled with old tennis i rackets, where the fathers receive power tools for Christmas and like to go out at night and mess around in the garage. Occasionally the Far East Dallas women will look at the pictures of the society ladies in the “High Pro-file” section of The Dallas Morning News and wonder if it’s i wrong that they cannot recognize any of the faces. But the feeling will soon pass, and they will hap-pily return to a life of bake sales for the high school band and charity fashion shows for the women’s league where the organizers, because they couldn’t afford the Kim Dawson agency, hire models with fat thighs.

Lake Highlands, in the north-; east part of Dallas, is probably i the most well-known neighbor-hood in the area. The schools are good, the kids are decent, the yards have trees, there aren’tmany cat fights at three in themorning, and there are stillmechanical rocking horses infront of the grocery stores thatcost a dime and make your childthrow up. In the richest part ofthe area, the Forest Hills neighborhood right next to the lake, there are one-story ranch-style i houses so massive that you could run a 10k inside one.

Buckner Terrace is one of the most racially and ethnically mixed neighborhoods in the city, with one of the most politically ; powerful neighborhood organi- zations. Casa Linda has the city’s prettiest neighborhood shopping ; center, made out of something Spanish and stucco-like. Pleas- ant Grove, the butt of many Dal- las jokes because it represents everything the term “middle i class” has ever stood for, contin- ues to produce its loud-mouthed politicians and its vehicle fami- lies (those who like to collect old cars that don’t run) and its ; common-sense people who, i when they refer to “using the plastic,” are talking about i material with which to cover the ! couches, not credit cards.

But before you gel too far into the stereotypes that come with the territory of Far East Dallas, you should know one other thing. The newest breed of yup- pies is already here. For the last five years, like fire ants on the : hunt, they have been tramping eastward-through Lakewood, i then little Forest Hills, then into Hollywood Heights, Casa View, and the Mount Auburn neighborhoods. They’ve taken the frame homes and Fixed them up by installing flower boxes underneath the front windows. And i now, they have done what no yuppie has done before-they are i crossing 1-30, which is so far east that you can smell Mesquite, and they are moving into a southeast neighborhood called Parkdale.

“It’s already being called The Little Lakewood,’ ” says realtor Carolyn Mclnnis. “These young professionals are taking one look at the neighborhood |a three-bedroom house starts at $70,000 and goes up to $120,000] and saying, ’This is for us.’ “

It is a good deal, but the new Far East Dallas dwellers had bet-ter be prepared for a life that is often strikingly ordinary. That’s the way people out there want it. SOUTH DALLAS

People who live in the neighborhood called South Dallas see the world as a drama, lit by a harsh sun, in which they, the underprivileged, must fight against the established power and are destined to suffer along the way. South Dallas (a thirteen-square-mile area near Fair Park, bounded by White Rock Creek on the east, the Trinity River on the southwest, and R.L. Thornton Freeway to the north) is home to low- to moderate-income minority neighborhoods-like Lisbon, Trinity, and Cedar Crest-that must struggle to endure urban blight and the ravages of poverty.

In the early 1900s, along South Boulevard and Park Row, just north of Forest Avenue in South Dallas, stood the great prairie-style mansions of the city’s most prominent Jewish merchants. But that was long ago. This area has withered significantly, due in part to a large number of absentee landlords who let the property deteriorate and also because the city government’s rezoning decisions allowed factories to be built within the neighborhoods.

Throughout most of the Seventies, many young blacks tried to get out. The population declined 25 percent between 1970 and 1980. The vacant lots and dark beer joints multiplied, as did the crime and the general sense of decay. White people who drove through the neighborhood’s streets on their way to the State Fair would shake their heads in disbelief, and perhaps with a little fear.

Now, many of the 55,000 residents of South Dallas are ready to change. “It’s coming back,” says Mabel White, a realtor in the area. “People don’t want to see this neighborhood die. This is where a lot of blacks grew up, and they would love to be able to come back.”

Some already have. Dilapidated homes are being repaired by black yuppies and families. Neighborhood Crime Watch programs have been enhanced, a few. new frame homes are even being built, and most importantly, the city council has allocated $150,000 for a study to see how the neighborhood should be preserved. If this place can prosper, it will be an inspirational success story for other poorer neighborhoods as well.


Are you getting a little tired of the stories claiming that Oak Cliff, in the western part of southern Dallas, is on the verge of a comeback? The newspapers have been writing these stories for nearly a decade. Real estate men, still waiting to capitalize on the Oak Cliff boom, continue to perpetuate rumors about marvelous things to come, The young whites who have moved there return to their friends’ parties back north with smug looks on their faces, as if to say, “Hey, I’ve been through the fires, and I’m a much more significant person.”

The truth is that no one is sure whether Oak Cliff is ever going to become Dallas’s newest urban mecca, filled with trendy restaurants and boutiques and a challenging mix of residents. The other truth is that many longtime Oak Cliff residents don’t particularly care. They don’t care that most people north of the Trinity River still have the “Oak Cliff-oh” mentality (when ! someone says he is from Oak Cliff, the North Dallas listener pauses, then says, “Oh.”). They are not sure they want to deal with developers who take one look at all the trashy shops on Jefferson Boulevard and say, “Let’s build a high-rise.” And they don’t know what to think about these young ones coming in who believe in neighborhood preservation and say embarrass-ing things like, “Isn’t it marvelous how black people are starting to fix up their neighborhoods?”

Sure, Oak Cliff has lost something of its old character from its glory days. Crime has moved in, businesses have moved out, etc., etc. Still, Oak Cliff is not in any danger. In the heart of Dallas’s best topography, with rolling hills and eye-pleasing terrain, Oak Cliff is home to the Kidd Springs neighborhood, bounded on two sides by beautiful parks; the mansion-filled, silk-stocking neighborhood of Kessler Park; and the historical district of Win-netka Heights, built in 1908. Winnetka Heights is the prime example of how touchy Oak Cliff people are. The neighborhood organization here tried to block one resident from building a garage apartment in his back yard as living quarters for his in-; valid mother, and they went before the city council to keep a couple in the neighborhood from painting the outside of their i house blue.

Oak Cliff, it seems, will always be treated by the rest of Dallas like a stepchild. Oak Clifibrs are well aware of their status. In a study conducted by the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, 41 percent of the respondents thought the area should consider changing its name to improve its image.


There’s always been a certain amount of fun, trashy living in Oak Lawn, the area north by northwest of downtown. Neighbors sue each other over the silliest things-an Oak Lawn stockbroker once sued the woman who lived behind him because he said her dog barked too loudly. The men in the Oak Lawn gay neighborhoods occasionally get into terrible rows right out on their front lawns. The singles who live in the duplexes act cultured by putting posters on their walls advertising art museum exhibits that they never went to.

Oak Lawn is our little postage stamp of urban reality. There is every bad fast-food restaurant on Lemmon Avenue and every ugly hooker on Cedar Springs. There are classy high-rise condominiums on Turtle Creek that house such prima donnas as movie queen Greer Garson, and there are neighborhoods where conversation is sometimes impossible when the airplanes from Love Field roar over at between sixty and seventy decibels. There are five-star restaurants and Mexican restaurants with food so horrible it makes your eyes water There are pockets of quiet family neighborhoods like Northern Hills and Perry Heights, and then there are funky apartment complexes where the residents stick old mannequin heads or black and white television sets out in the front yard. They plant herb gardens in little two-foot patches of ground between apartment units.

But because Oak Lawn has this multiple identity, it remains susceptible to massive change. With property in some parts of Oak Lawn appreciating as much as 800 percent in the last five years, the commercial developers have moved in and started building things that look like the space shuttle. In another decade, you won’t even be able to recognize this place. Between 1983 and 1984, the amount of office space built in Oak Lawn tripled. The lovely area of Turtle Creek has been hit lately with some nasty buildings, including the eighteen-story Reverchon Plaza, which local architecture critic David Dillon calls “a suburban freeway building.” The formerly quaint Knox-McKinney area is on its way to looking like a Rodeo Drive with high rises. The much-heralded Oak Lawn Plan-approved by the city council in 1983 to keep Oak Lawn a neighborhood-has hardly touched the problem. The old State-Thomas area, a former freedman’s town located just north of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, has been cleaned out; in the first phase of development, 400 multifamily units will be constructed. Even the gays, who flock to their bars on Cedar Springs at night, are beginning to move out. Who knows? Perhaps they’re going to move to the suburbs.

Oak Lawn neighborhoods are still fighting-the most significant victory being the City Plan Commission’s harsh rejection last year of a proposed $1 billion office and housing project on forty-one acres near Lemmon Avenue and the Dallas North Toll-way. The area is still in a state off flux, and no one is sure what it will turn out to-be. But Oak Lawn controversies aren’t anything new. When the white men arrived here in the early 1800s, they found Indian tribes engaged in battles with one another to see who would have the rights to hunt on the prime land that is now Oak Lawn. No matter what happens, you get the feeling Oak Lawn will always keep its funky appea


We can talk all we want about Dallas’s nice tree-lined neighborhoods with front yards and a park at the end of the street, but the truth is that 51 percent of the people in this city occupy rental units. The renting life of Dallas, in fact, has created a whole new subculture among neighborhoods-the apartment neighborhood.

There are 141,000 apartments in the city of Dallas alone and an extra 90,000 if you add the suburbs. Most of these are grouped in large apartment complexes that have an extraordinary impact on the way Dallas operates-because an apartment is where one learns the first lessons about how to survive in the big city.

Most people who come to Dallas when they’re young first stay at an apartment complex, often in North Dallas, in that string of complexes that begins around University and Greenville Avenue and continues north to the Oklahoma state line. Almost everyone has heard of or spent some time at The Village Apartments, the monument to Dallas youth that has now taught a generation of young Dallasites that love means being bold enough to ask. “Was it good for you. too?1’ The Village includes more than 7,000 units on 400 acres, and here you develop such skills as a) how to cook two steaks at once on a tiny hibachi on the porch, b) how to fall asleep despite the fact that the people in the next apartment are playing music so loud that it sounds as if the entire stereo is about to come crashing through the wall, c) how to come in from an all-night date, tie askew and hair looking like the coat of a dog dragged backward through shrubbery, and act completely nonchalant when a neighbor asks where in the world you have been, and d) how to carry on a conversation with a half-naked person beside you at the pool (“So. you want me to cook you a steak on my hibachi?”).

A young Dallasite must learn to pick from a myriad of apartment neighborhoods that offer what they think every single person really needs, from a free microwave to free cable television. S&S Properties, which runs apartment complexes in North Dallas, announced late last spring that if you come live with them, they’ll do your laundry free for six months.

The apartment neighborhoods have also given Dallas a startling number of creative apartment names. If you drive down Meadow Road east of Central, you will come across Meadows North, Meadows Crossing, Woodbcnd, Woodcreek, Woodscape, Wood Throw Up (no. just kidding). Hunter’s Hill, Pine Branch, Wildflower, and Woodglen. The ironic part about this, of course, is that there is nothing near this maze of apartments that resembles either a meadow, some woods, or a wildflower.

That’s why an apartment complex in northwest Dallas finally gave up the creative name route and decided to be honest. “We were tired of all those elaborate names,” says manager Carol Hughes of the 300-unit complex on Royal Lane. “We used to call ourselves ’Royal Gardens.’ but that didn’t really make any sense.”

So, this spring, she and her staff did some thinking. They looked at their apartment complex thoroughly. Then, they made their decision.

They called their complex Generic Apartments. “That’s just what we wanted to be,” says Hughes. “Clean living at a good value


Once, Dallas had quasi-suburbs. They were the little hamlets that touched Dallas’s boundaries. The chamber of commerce in each town would come up with desperate slogans like, “When you’re tired of the big city, then take a look at us!” What everyone already knew, of course, is that suburbs like Mesquite, DeSoto, Irving, Farmers Branch, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson, and even Piano were simply residential appendages of the main body of Dallas. They had a remarkable lack of individual identity (please, someone, tell us what actually goes on in Farmers Branch). Most people who lived in them really felt they were from Dallas-they just spent more time in traffic.

Now, Dallas-in the tradition of all great cities experiencing runaway growth and utterly at a loss as to what to do about it-is developing suburbs beyond the suburbs, outposts so far away they should be called “ex-urbs.” For the last decade, these exurbs have been the kind of sleepy towns where policemen chase down horses that stray from the pasture. There is a bank, maybe two. but not one with drive-up windows. The people here listen to the morning traffic reports on the radio, then wonder why in the hell anybody would want to move to a city.

They don’t need to wonder any longer. The city is moving to them.

Let’s consider the town of Coppell on the edge of the D/FW Airport. A couple of years ago it fit every small-town cliche, right up to the kids climbing up the water tower and painting on its side the names of the girls they love. Coppell grew by just 2,000 people from 1970 to 1980. Then, whomp! From 1980 to 1985, the population went from 3,826 contented citizens to a staggering 8,300. More new subdivisions are on the way. And Coppell didn’t even get its first major supermarket until the end of 1984.

Flower Mound bloomed from 4,402 people in 1980 to 10,300 in 1985. (We didn’t know plumbers could put that many bathrooms in so fast.) Grapevine, one of the larger of the exurbs, a pleasant place that in 1980 had more than 11,000 people, suddenly has shot past 20,000 and is still exploding.

Other cities are poised on the launching pad, about to take off. Frisco, north of Dallas’s “’Golden Corridor” development area, grew by more than 1,500 people from 1980 to 1985. Developers are already planning to build that many homes and apartments out there within the next twelve months. And just close your eyes in far southwest Dallas, because whatever you see now isn’t going to be there in five years. With the completion of the 6,367-acre Joe Pool Lake, Cedar Hill is about to become Middle-Class Resort Heaven, USA, with bait shops, boat shops, fishing tackle shops, ski shops, bathing suit shops, and more new brick homes than you ever thought possible. Nearby, a massive new lakeside development will hold a community of more than 60,000 people in ten years.

The great bulk of construction in the ex-urbs is residential, which means these new extensions are essentially huge neighborhoods. The suburbs inside the exurbs became large-scale neighborhoods decades ago, no matter how hard they tried to appear to be something else. A few years ago, a group of northwest suburbs tried to establish their own uniqueness by joining together and calling themselves “Metrocrest.” Now that’s a great name with which to fight anonymity.

Frankly, the only quasi-suburb near the Dallas city limits that people will really fight to get into is Richardson, where the average price of a home is a shocking $165,000. They go there to get away from the Dallas schools. The school system is certainly excellent. Berkner High School in Richardson last year produced the greatest number of National Merit Scholars in the metropolitan area {thirteen), while J.J. Pearce High School won its second straight national academic decathalon contest. Pearce’s students also have the highest average SAT scores of any public school in the area, with an average of 979 points.

As long as thirty people an hour continueto move into the Dallas/Fort Worth area (asthey did in 1985), it won’t be too long beforeanother ring of suburbs will be constructed,and then another ring around that. Think ofthis. By the time we write this story again ina decade or so, we’ll be calling Wichita Fallsthe “newest” suburb of Dallas.

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