John Neely Bryan first came to what would become Dallas in 1839, scouting a natural ford in the Trinity River for a trading post. He eventually aimed his sights a bit more ambitiously and set out to create a town. While still a part of the Republic of Texas the village was surveyed and platted. Some say it got the name Dallas from George Mifflin Dallas, a Pennsylvania senator who got elected Vice-President with James K. Polk partly on his support for the annexation of Texas by the United States. Others say it was inspired by his brother Alexander who was a Navy office and still others claim Bryan named the settlement after his friend Joseph Dallas. 

Bryan worked hard in the early years to build his town by running the post office, operating a ferry and recruiting newcomers. One group who came were a coterie of cultured Europeans seeking to establish a utopian community in North Texas in 1855. When the dream died a few years later many of the 350 scientists, artists and professionals re-rooted themselves in young Dallas, giving the frontier town an unusual level of sophistication.

Dallas bumped along through its early years until the Houston and Texas Central Railroad arrived in July 1872. In short order the town became the most important inland cotton market in the United States. When the first trains rolled into Dallas the population was about 3,000; by the end of the century it was over 40,000 and the town was serviced by six railroads. 

There were so many railroad tracks coursing through Dallas that downtown growth was strangled. George Kessler, a pioneering city planner, devised a strategic plan that called for the consolidation of the railroads into a Union Terminal, the uprooting of much of the above ground track in the city and a moving of the Trinity River channel. Dallas now had a blueprint for its development into a modern city.

A century later Dallas has evolved into that modern city but traces of its architectural heritage remain scattered around downtown. Our walking tour will seek them out but first we will begin in the plaza where the city of Dallas was seared into the American consciousness on November 22, 1963... 

Dealey Plaza
west side of Houston Street between Elm and Commerce streets

George Bannerman Dealey was 11 years old when his family sailed from England in 1870 and settled in Galveston. Dealey replaced his brother as an office boy with Colonel A.H. Belo’s Galveston News in 1874 and steadily assumed increasing authority. In 1884 he was sent to North Texas to identify a site for a sister publication to the News. He chose Dallas. Dealey was running The Dallas Morning News by 1895 as he would continue to do until his death in 1946, purchasing the paper in 1926. Dealey championed the redevelopment of the West End district and when this park at the convergence of Main, Elm and Commerce streets was completed in 1940 it took his name. On November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade rolled through Dealey Plaza the President was shot and killed by a rifle shot fired by Lee Harvey Oswald; a white “X” has been painted in Elm Street on the north side of the park to indicate the location of the assassination. Other buildings surrounding the Plaza remain as they were on that day.


Texas School Book Depository/Dallas County Administration Building
411 Elm Street at northwest corner of Houston Street

This site was part of John Neely Bryan’s original land which was developed as a wagon shop after Bryan’s death in 1877. The Rock Island Plow Company erected a five-story commercial building here in 1898 which burned after a lightning strike three years later. It was rebuilt with red bricks assembled in a Romanesque Revival style by 1903. On November 22, 1963 the seven-story building was being leased by the Texas School Book Depository Company as a storage warehouse for textbooks when a recently hired employee, Lee Harvey Oswald, shot and killed John F. Kennedy from the sixth floor, southeast corner window at 12:30 p.m. In 1977 Dallas County purchased the building and the sixth floor has operated as a museum since 1989.


John Neely Bryan Cabin
Founder’s Plaza, southeast corner of Elm and Record streets

John Neely Bryan was a Tennessee lawyer when he set out for the West to set up a frontier trading post in 1839 when he was 28 years old. He settled on a spot on the Trinity River and built a cabin but he learned that a recently signed treaty had called for the removal of the American Indians from North Texas, sending a large chunk of his anticipated customers away. Instead, Bryan began laying the groundwork for a permanent settlement and founded Dallas, platting the land and using his cabin as a courthouse. The original Bryan cabin was washed away in a flood during the 1930s and this one-room structure is a replica. 


Higginbotham Pearlstone Building
1701 Market Street at northwest corner of Ross Avenue

A cluster of industrial brick buildings remain in the West End of Dallas, now housing bars, restaurants and other attractions. This handsome four-story building with corbelled cornices was erected in 1909 for the Hobson Electric Company. In 1926 hardware merchants Rufus W. Higginbotham and Hyman Pearlstone purchased the property and their company stayed for half a century. 


Fountain Place
1445 Ross Avenue at northeast corner of Field Street

Celebrated modernist architect I.M. Pei designed this glass prism skyscraper in 1984 as part of a two-tower complex but a downturn in the Texas economy of the 1980s prevented its companion from ever being built. The greenish glass walls reach 720 feet into the air. The building takes its name from 172 animated fountains designed by Dan Kelly situated around the plaza.


First Baptist Church
northeast corner of Ervay and Patterson

Eleven members strong, the Baptist congregation formed in Dallas in 1868. A one-room wooden meetinghouse was occupied on this corner by 1871 and today it is the only church in Dallas remaining on its original location. The red brick Romanesque church here dates to the 1890s; enough additions followed for the church to now seat over 2,000 worshipers. 


First United Methodist Church
1928 Ross Avenue at southwest corner of Harwood Street

The congregation traces its roots back to 1846 when circuit-riding Methodist ministers stopped in the tiny village of Dallas. The current building stems from the merger of the Trinity Methodist and First Methodist congregations in 1916. The cornerstone was laid in October of 1921 and the sanctuary, designed in an English Gothic style by Herbert M. Greene and R.H. Hunt, held its first services on February 7, 1926. 

Belo Mansion
2115 Ross Avenue at northeast corner of Olive Street

Alfred Horatio Belo was a North Carolina native who fought with the Confederacy, sustaining wounds at Gettysburg and in Richmond. After the Civil War the colonel migrated to Texas where he entered the news business in Galveston. In 1885 his A.H. Belo & Co. founded the Dallas County News. In 1890 he constructed this mansion that was a replica of the antebellum Belo family home in Salem, North Carolina. At the time Ross Avenue was the street of choice for the town’s elite and the Belo Mansion is a rare survivor from that era. The newspaper publisher never completely recovered from his Civil War wounds and spent much of his time out of the Texas heat and back in the Blue Ridge mountains where he died in 1901 at the age of 61. For many years the mansion served as the funeral home of George Loudermilk and Will Sparkman, garnering national attention when the bank robber Clyde Barrow’s body was displayed for public viewing after he and Bonnie Parker were ambushed in Louisiana in 1934. Some 30,000 people filed past the casket. In the 1970s the Dallas Bar Association refurbished the Neoclassical home into its headquarters.

Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe
2201 Ross Street at northeast corner of Pearl Street 

The mother church of Dallas Catholics was constructed between 1898 and 1902. The Dallas parish had been established by the Bishop of Galveston in 1869. Nicholas J. Clayton, a popular Victorian architect from Galveston, blended Romanesque details into his Gothic Revival scheme which was executed in red brick with limestone trim. The slender 219-foot bell tower was not added until 2005 to complete the original plans. The congregation is considered the second largest in America with an average attendance of over 10,000 worshipers every Sunday.


Hart Furniture Building
1933 Elm Street at northwest corner of Harwood Street

This three-story brick building crafted in the Italianate style is one of the rare commercial buildings in Dallas from the 1800s. Dating to 1888 and sporting a cast-iron cornice, it carries the name of the Hart Furniture Company that operated here from 1914 until 1991. 

Majestic Theater
1925 Elm Street

John Eberson, America’s foremost designer of atmospheric theaters, created the Majestic in 1920 as a vaudeville house. Intended to transport the theater patron on an exotic journey of the mind, the baroque-styled Majestic boasted a ceiling festooned with floating clouds and twinkling stars. The Majestic was at the heart of the town’s Theatre Row along Elm Street and stands as the only souvenir of that lively age. It was converted to a movie palace in 1932 and operated until a final screening of James Bond’s Live and Let Die in 1973. After dodging the wrecking ball it re-emerged as a showcase for the performing arts in 1983.

Tower Petroleum Building
1907 Elm Street at northeast corner of St. Paul Street

Architect Mark Lemmon crafted this Art Deco tower in 1931, employing a Zig-Zag Moderne motif and stepping back the upper floors as it rises to its full 315-foot height. Green spandrel panels are inset into the window panels to emphasize the verticality of the skyscraper.

Titche-Goettinger Building
1900 Elm Street at northeast corner of St. Paul Street

Edward Titche, a 36-year old Louisiana native, teamed up with German-born Max Goettinger in 1902 to start a fledgling retail business. Within two years they were operating from the luxurious Wilson Building and in 1929 Titche-Goettinger settled into this flagship building. Renowned local architect George Dahl provided a Florentine Revival design for the block-swallowing store that was one of the largest in the southwest. The price tag for the seven-story retail palace was $2.5 million. The neon sign along Elm Street announcing the arrival of Titche-Goettinger weighed three tons. A “Texas-sized” addition doubled the selling space in 1955 as the store lured shoppers with three restaurants and a 1,600-seat auditorium. The iconic retailer disappeared in 1979 when Allied Stores purchased the chain and converted all stores to the Joske’s nameplate. in the 1990s the downtown landmark was converted into classrooms and loft-style apartments.


Hilton Hotel/Aristocrat Hotel
1933 Main Street at northwest corner of Harwood Street

The first Hilton hotel was set up by Conrad Hilton in his family’s adobe home in San Antonio, New Mexico in 1907. Business reversals in his father’s general store necessitated the conversion of six of the rooms in the house into quarters for transient lodgers. Hilton, then 19, worked all day in the store and went to the train station at 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. to meet the train and solicit guests. Room and board was $2.50 a day. When Hilton began building hotels this 14-story, U-shaped high-rise was the second in his chain and the first to carry his name when it opened in 1925. Architects Otto H. Lang and Frank O. Witchell infused the building with Beaux Arts details, including an elaborate bridge at the tenth floor. Although the name on the stationery has changed repeatedly over the years the building has always operated as a hotel.  


Dallas Municipal Building
106 South Harwood Street between Commerce and Main streets

Charles D. Hill used native Texas gray granite to craft the town’s fourth city hall in 1914. The Beaux Arts structure boasts marble interior floors and mahogany woodwork. The building gained worldwide notoriety on November 24, 1963 when accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, who was jailed here after his arrest, was shot dead in the basement garage by Jack Ruby, a 52-year old nightclub owner with ties to organized crime. Ruby was convicted of murder and sentenced to death but died of lung cancer in 1967 while appealing the verdict.

Dallas Gas Company/Lone Star Gas Building
west side of Harwood Street between Jackson and Wood streets 

The Dallas Gas Company began operating in a four-story building at the corner of Harwood and Wood streets in 1924. Three years later the operation was absorbed into the Lone Star Gas Company which piled on six brick floors to the original building. In 1931 an Art Deco annex was constructed next door as the company commandeered the entire block. The architectural firm of Otto H. Lang and Frank O. Witchell prepared the plans for both buildings.

First Presbyterian Church
401 South Harwood Street at southwest corner of Wood Street

With eleven congregants First Presbyterian Church was founded on February 3, 1856. Lacking a meetinghouse, services were conducted in private homes and businesses around town until its first church was raised on Elm and Ervay streets in 1873. The current Greek Revival sanctuary, constructed on plans drawn by C.D. Hill and assembled around a central dome, is the fourth home for the congregation. Dallas had never seen anything like the fluted Corinthian columns that grace the entrance porticos - each was crafted from a single stone and shipped by railroad flatcar from Indiana.  

Dallas Scottish Rite Temple
500 South Harwood Street at southeast corner of Young Street

Herbert Miller Greene was the go-to architect for the Masons in Texas in the early years of the 20th century. This was his first major commission for the world’s oldest fraternal organization, obtained in 1907. His elaborate Neoclassical design was completed in 1913; it features a grand Corinthian portico, balustrade along the roofline and corner quoins. Greene became Master of Tannehill Lodge #52 in Dallas in 1910 and was eventually elevated to the rank of 33rd-Degree Inspector General Honorary of the Scottish Rite in recognition of his contributions to the Masons.  

Masonic Temple
501 South Harwood Street at southwest corner of Young Street

The Masons also erected the temple across the street in 1940 to service ten lodges in the Dallas area. The Art Deco structure is composed of limestone and steel and came with a price tag of $332,870. It eventually was purchased by the Tannehill Lodge that assembled in Dallas in 1849 as the town’s first.      


J. Erik Jonsson Central Library
1515 Young Street at northwest corner of Ervay Street 

Steel king Andrew Carnegie funded over 2,500 public libraries around the world, including the first one in Dallas in 1901. That same year John Erik Jonsson was born in Brooklyn, New York. Jonsson graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and began his working life with the Alcoa aluminum company. He moved to Dallas in 1934 where he co-founded the corporation that would become Texas Instruments. Jonsson, who served three terms as mayor beginning in 1964, led the contributions that resulted in this eight-story main library building in 1982. In addition to lending books the library curates such treasures as an original print of the Declaration of Independence from 1776 and a compilation of Shakespeare’s First Folio from 1623. 

Dallas City Hall
south side of Young Street between Ervay and Akard and streets

Working with space requirements dictated by the city government, architect I.M. Pei created this striking inverted pyramid design for the Dallas city hall in the 1970s using glass and buff-colored concrete. The building slopes at a dramatic 34-degree angle. This is the fifth home for the city government.

Pioneer Park Cemetery
southwest corner of Marilla and Young streets

This slice of shady ground contains remains from four pioneering graveyards where several of the town’s early influential citizens rest, including Barton Warren Stone, Jr., a Kentucky-born lawyer who came to Texas with Sam Houston and commanded the Sixth Texas Cavalry in the Civil War. The Confederate War Memorial in the cemetery was crafted by Frank Teich of San Antonio and features statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Johnston and Jefferson Davis. Dedicated in 1896, it was relocated here in 1961 and is said to be the oldest outdoor sculpture in Dallas.

Pioneer Plaza
southeast corner of Young and Griffin streets

Now the largest open space in downtown Dallas, this plaza fronting the Convention Center once was filled with railroad tracks and warehouses. The bronze sculpture group, the biggest in the world, features 70 larger-than-life longhorn steers and is an homage to the cattle drives that once plied the Shawnee Trail, the earliest Texas route to the northern railheads. Robert Temple Summers, a much-honored self-taught Texas artist, created the sculpture. 


Higginbotham-Bailey Building/Founders Square
900 Jackson Street at southwest corner of Griffin Street

This block-swallowing edifice began life in 1914 as a brick warehouse for Higginbotham-Bailey-Logan, a dry goods firm that manufactured work clothes for men and house dresses for women. Dallas designers Otto H. Lang and Frank O. Witchell drew up the plans for the Chicago Style structure, anchored by square towers on the corners. The architects were called back twice to expand the building to its current size by 1923. Today it serves as office space. 

Bank of America Plaza
901 Main Street

This 74-story curtain-wall glass tower has been the Dallas sky king since 1985 when it was completed at a cost of $146 million as a joint project among several local financial companies. It was originally slated to be called the Dallas Main Center but has carried the name of whatever bank has owned it through the years. At night over two miles of green argon lighting outline the edges of the 921-foot tower. 


Santa Fe Building
1114 Commerce Street/1118 Jackson Street

This was the location of the original depot for the Santa Fe Railroad around which the city of Dallas emerged. When Union Station was constructed the Victorian pile was razed in 1924 and plans were hatched for a four-building merchandising and operations complex for the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway. Architect Lloyd R. Whitson designed the buildings in a Mission Revival style anchored by the 20-story Santa Fe Office Building (#1). The quartet were connected by an underground rail tunnel with three lines plied by small steam locomotives. Through the years Building #1 was taken by the federal government during World War II to orchestrate the war effort in Dallas and is still in government hands. Building #3succumbed to the wrecking ball but #2 and #4 have been adapted for residential and hotel use.

Hotel Adolphus
1321 Commerce Street at northwest corner of Akard Street

Beer baron Adolphus Busch set out in 1910 to build the first luxury hotel in Dallas. He hired fellow St. Loiusan Thomas P. Barnett to design the dream guesthouse and he delivered a posh Beaux Arts confection that was hailed as one of the most beautiful buildings in the West. The Hotel Adolphus opened in 1912 and was such a hit that regular expansions came in 1916, 1926 and 1950 until the hotel boasted 1,200 rooms. The French-Renaissance-inspired upper floors with a corner turret were the tallest point in town for several years. The Hotel Adolphus remained the hotel for visiting celebrities and power brokers to check in until 1981 when it received a complete makeover. Pared to 425 rooms the landmark hotel continues to be a mainstay on Top Ten lists of America’s best guest houses.

Magnolia Hotel
1401 Commerce Street at northeast corner of Akard Street

In 1911 several pioneering oil companies consolidated into the Magnolia Petroleum Company. In 1923 the company set out to construct the tallest building in Texas, the tallest west of the Mississippi River in fact. The architect was an Englishman practicing in America, Alfred Bossom, who was a great champion of large sky-tickling buildings in the first decades of the 20th century. This was one of his final projects before he returned to England to embark on a long career as a member of Parliament in the House of Commons. Bossom’s Beaux Arts design incorporated two wings around a light well, featuring a bridge at the 18th floor. In 1934 Magnoleum installed an symbolic oil derrick on the roof to display two neon signs featuring its logo, Pegasus, the flying horse. When Mobil Oil absorbed Magnolia in 1959 it retained the logo. Mobil left downtown Dallas and gave the building and the signs to the city, both of which deteriorated into disrepair. The sign was turned off in 1997, the same year the building was purchased to be reborn as a 330-room hotel. The Magnolia Building was restored but the original sign was too far gone and the current flying red horse is a $600,000 duplicate.

Dallas Power and Light Building
1506 Commerce Street

As utility companies expanded rapidly in the 1920s and 1930s they often moved into Art Deco buildings that were ideal to contain their bulky operations. The Dallas Power and Light Building was typical of the era, coming on line in 1931. German-born and trained Otto H. Lang and Frank O. Witchell, a South Wales native, executed their 18-story design with a black marble base and terra cotta trim. Lang & Witchell were among the most prominent architects in Dallas in the first part of the 20th century and eagerly embraced the coming of Art Deco in the 1920s. Here they employed Zig Zag Moderne motifs to emphasize the soaring verticality of their structure. The engineers constructed the Dallas Power and Light Building with the largest welded steel frame in the South.

Crowdus Building
1514 Commerce Street

J.W. Crowdus opened a retail drug company in Dallas in 1866. He would eventually serve as mayor of Dallas in the early 1880s and construct a Romanesque-style five-story brick store and warehouse on this site in 1904. In 1933 this became the first air conditioned building in Dallas. In 1940, in the city’s largest construction project that year, the top eight floors were added for the principle tenant, the Continental Supply Company. Over the years the old bricks were sheathed with Indiana limestone and a granite base. 


Mercantile National Bank Building
1700 Main Street at southeast corner of Ervay Street

Robert Lee Thornton abandoned his schooling at an early age and went to work picking cotton, clerking in a general store and then spent time on the road as a traveling salesman. In 1916 when he was 35 Thornton and three friends formed the Mercantile National Bank with Thornton at the helm. He remained president until 1947. In 1942 the bank raised this 31-story Moderne style tower on plans drawn by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager. The building rises in a series of setbacks before reaching an illuminated 115-foot clock tower. Inside, the lobby boasted the largest Art Deco wooden murals of its kind in America. Nicknamed the Merc, the bank tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River when it was topped off and remained the Dallas sky king until 1954. The bank failed in the 1980s and the Merc has been largely vacant since 1993.


Neiman Marcus Department Store
1618 Main Street at southwest corner of Ervay Street

In 1907 Herbert Marcus, once a buyer for the Sanger Brothers department store, went into business with his sister and brother-in-law, Carrie and Al Nieman who were both alumni of the town’s other major retailer, A. Harris and Company. They turned down a chance to own a pioneering Coca-Cola franchise and instead set up shop in Dallas, peddling high-end clothing Carrie Nieman brought back from buying trips to New York City. The business was an immediate success and by 1914 was operating from a four-story red brick and white stone building on the corner of Main and Ervay streets. The founders designed their new home with an eye for expansion and indeed the business flourished, necessitating regular additions and modernizations, the last coming in 1983. Today the Nieman Marcus flagship is the last original department store still operating in downtown Dallas.


Wilson Building
1623 Main Street at northwest corner of Ervay Street

J.B. Wilson was born outside of Toronto, Canada in 1847. When he was 18 years old he migrated to New Orleans where he wound up running a lumber camp. He would retain extensive interests in timber his entire life but after relocating to Dallas in 1872 Wilson would be better known as a cattleman. Wilson built one of the state’s great fortunes running cattle out of the 7-D ranch near San Angelo. In 1903 he commissioned the construction of this building that was the first eight-story structure completed in Texas. Architects Marshall R. Sanguinet and Carl G. Staats of Fort Worth provided the curvilinear French Renaissance design that was based on the Grand Opera House in Paris (France, not Texas). The original tenant was the Titche-Goettinger Department Store that Max Goettinger and Edward Titche had founded a year earlier; J.B. Wilson was the company treasurer. The Wilson Building was hailed as the finest commercial building west of the Mississippi River and helped shifted the retail focus of Dallas from several blocks west to here. In 1911 a 12-story addition rose along Elm Street in the fashion of the original building. Titche-Goettinger moved out in 1929. H.L. Green’s Department Store became the new main tenant and sold its goods as the “poor man’s Neiman Marcus” for almost 70 years. In 1999 the Wilson Building was adapted for residential use and now houses 135 upscale apartments.   


Dallas National Bank Building/Joule Hotel
1530 Main Street

The Dallas National Bank bankrolled the construction of this Gothic Revival skyscraper, a rarity in the city, in 1927. Architect Herbert Miller Greene crafted a symmetrical facade for the mid-block 16-story tower. It now operates as a boutique hotel.

Thompson Building/Iron Cactus
1520 Main Street

This two-story brick building with a white decorative terra cotta facade was constructed at the turn of the 20th century. Since 2003 it has housed an Austin-based tequila bar which constructed a three-story curved glass wall addition. 

Busch Building/Kirby Building
1501 Main Street at northeast corner of Akard Street

After establishing a beachhead in Dallas with his Hotel Adolphus, St. Louis beer magnate Adolphus Busch commissioned this 17-story skyscraper in 1913 to complement his hotel with retail and office support. His go-to St. Louis architects, Barnett, Hayes & Barnett gave the tower an ornate Gothic Revival look dressed in terra cotta panels and crowned with finials. Busch died shortly after the building opened and his heirs sold the property to the Kirby Investment Company in 1918. The signature tenant from the beginning was retailer A. Harris and Company which stayed for more than 50 years, eventually merging with Sanger Brothers to become Sanger-Harris. In 1999, “The Old Girl,” as the Kirby Building was known, became the first downtown high-rise in Dallas to be converted into residential lofts.

Marvin Building/Gulf States Building
1415 Main Street at northeast corner of Akard Street

Z. Earl Marvin hailed from Michigan and entered the drug business in Dallas in 1905, eventually operating 16 apothecaries across the city. This flagship building was constructed in 1927 with ten stories. In 1931 the skyscraper was purchased by the Gulf States Security Life Insurance Company, which Marvin controlled. In 1935 architects Otto H. Lang and Frank O. Witchell added six additional floors with an Art Deco flair. The historic office center now does duty as residential space, featuring its own bowling lanes.

Republic National Bank Building/Davis Building
1309 Main Street

This Neoclassical tour-de-force is the creation of Charles D. Hill, an Illinois native who became one of the town’s leading architects of the early 1900s after his arrival in Dallas in 1904. Hill died while still in his fifties, a month before the grand opening for the Republic National Bank in February of 1926. Perched atop the 20-story tower is a classically-influenced four-story cupola. That is the original tower, a matching addition was tacked on in the 1930s. The Republic National Bank moved on in 1954 and businessman Wirt Davis led a consortium that acquired what was then the town’s largest office building. The Dallas landmark has been renovated into a mixed use facility with shops below and apartments on top. 


Renaissance Tower
1201 Elm Street at northwest corner of Field Street

When it was constructed in 1974 this was the tallest building in Dallas, stretching 710 feet into the sky. The money men were First International Bancshares, holding company for the First National Bank in Dallas, and the architects were Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, America’s largest design firm. In the 1980s a communications center and towers were added to the roof which brought the structural height to 886 feet. Today the Renaissance Tower is the second tallest structure in Dallas and among the 25 tallest in the United States. To the west at ground level is a glass pyramid that contains a food court.  


Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company Building
701 Commerce Street at northeast corner of Market Street

The Missouri, Kansas, & Texas Railway was organized in 1870 and eventually “the Katy” line ran passenger trains between St. Louis and Texas. The road reached Dallas in 1886 and terminated in San Antonio in 1901; the railroad operated into the 1980s. This seven-story office building with large Chicago-style windows and classically-inspired decorations came online in 1912 and served the Katy for over 50 years. The designer was Harry A. Overbeck.


John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza
Main, Market and Commerce streets

The memorial featuring a low block of granite inscribed with the name of the 35th President of the United States was dedicated on June 24, 1970. It sits symbolically alone inside the empty white open tomb, designed by American architect Philip Johnson. 

Dallas County Courthouse
100 South Houston Street between Main and Commerce streets

Constructed of red sandstone and trimmed in marble this grand turreted Victorian pile was designed by Arkansas architect Max A. Orlopp in 1892. Orlopp incorporated many elements of the brawny Richardsonian Romanesque style that was based on the work of Boston designer Henry Hobson Richardson and favored for statement government buildings of the early 1890s. Look for powerful entrance arches grouped in threes, rounded corner towers, rough-hewn stone, colored bands of roof slates and wide gables. All are hallmarks of the style. The government moved out in 1966 and today the renovated Old Red Courthouse operates as a local history museum.  


Hotel Lawrence
302 South Houston Street at southeast corner of Jackson Street

With the construction of Union Station, many hotels sprung up in the vicinity to service the arriving travelers. The only one still standing is the ten-story Hotel Lawrence that rose in 1925 as the 160-room Scott Hotel, operated by Texas hotel man George C. Scott. The hotel is said to be haunted by three deaths that have occurred on the 10th floor - a woman falling from a window, and the murders of a businessman and a gambler.

Union Station
400 South Union Street

In the early 1900s Dallas blossomed into a leading transportation center in the American Southwest with five major railroads servicing the city, each with its own depot. To better organize the traffic the five stations were consolidated into the Dallas Union Terminal in 1916. Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt, who specialized in large railroad buildings, designed a grand Beaux Arts station capable of handling 80 trains and 50,000 passengers a day. The last of the private passenger trains chugged out of Union Station on May 31, 1969. Amtrak began handling Dallas passenger service in the 1970s and light rail service came along in the 1990s.


Reunion Tower
300 Reunion Boulevard

University of Washington classmates Walter Wurdeman and Welton Becket settled in Los Angeles in 1933 and set about designing some of that town’s largest and most notable buildings. The firm they founded came to Dallas in 1978 to erect this landmark 561-foot observation tower. The composition includes a three-story geodesic dome perched atop four concrete shafts. It began as a free-standing structure but is now a part of a hotel complex.


Dallas County Criminal Courts
500 Main Street at northeast corner of Houston Street

Dallas architect Harry A. Overbeck drew up the plans for the county’s new jail and courts in 1915. The top six floors of the classically-inspired, H-shaped building contained cells for 200 prisoners and two courtrooms could be found on the second floor. The building was not air conditioned until 1951 and no trials were held during the summer months. The world’s attention focused on the court building in 1964 when Jack Ruby was tried and convicted here for killing presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.