There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour from walkthetown.com is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
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...