While Dallas is a very young city, you can still find quite a few architectural treasures, especially downtown. Here, I’ve created an architectural photo walk which you can do on your own. Here’s the link for a google map. Or, send me a message if you’d like a local guide to show you around plus I’ll take you to some of my secret spots I don’t list here.
Let’s begin! Architecture Walk – Dallas
Love Architecture? Build a Self-Led Dallas Walking Tour
Most people think of Dallas as the land of cowboy hats, oil wells, and big hair. A brash new city, where you are tested to find culture or history. Much to my surprise, I’ve been finding all kinds of architectural gems tucked into the landscape of Dallas.
Main Street Historic District
This is a great place to begin your Dallas walking tour. Start at the corner of Harwood St. and Main St. at the Dallas the Municipal Building. Once a jail, this is where they took Lee Harvey Oswald when he was arrested for shooting President Kennedy. It’s also where he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. A bit of Dallas I had forgotten, but re-learned while doing the research for this story.
Main Street Garden
Across the street from the Main Street Historic District, this is Dallas’ answer to an urban park. There’s a small taco stand here where you can stop for a drink or snack. Lots of people bring their dogs and kids here as well. This photograph was taken just before the Christmas holiday. If you look closely, you can see the Christmas tree in the center foreground.
The Mercantile Bank Building
The clock tower which you see in several photographs crowns what was originally the Mercantile Bank Building. The building was completed about 1942 and the current clock tower was added in 1958. It’s a downtown landmark, and one of my favorites.
The Dallas Statler Hilton
On the east side of Main St. Gardens, you’ll see this outstanding example of mid-century architecture. It was originally the Dallas Statler Hilton. It’s been vacant for some time now and in typical Dallas fashion, there have been repeated attempts to tear it down. However, it now appears to be in the process of a makeover and whoever bought it has lit it from the inside with those cool blue lights. An interesting bit of history of the building, Tina Turner left her abusive ex-husband Ike sleeping in this hotel, when she finally left him, forever.
From the park, walk south on Main St. The entire Main St. Historic District can be seen in about a day. It’s an easy walk and there are plenty of restaurants and bars when you feel like taking a break. When the weather is nice you can enjoy an alfresco table.
The Wilson Building
This is my favorite building in the area. I’ve photographed it many times trying to find the perfect angle. I’ve always thought it had a distinctly European flavor to it. I like the rounded corners and the tall columns supporting it. Wiki says it was modeled after the famous opera house, The Palais Garnier, in Paris, France. I don’t think it’s quite as opulent but at the time of its completion, it was the tallest building in Dallas and considered a premier commercial building. It was completed in 1904.
The landmark Neiman Marcus luxury retailer is across the street. I recommend stopping in at Porta di Roma, the restaurant on the ground floor of the Wilson Building, and having a glass of wine, as this is a great corner for people watching.
The Kirby Building
This is sort of a sister building to the Adolphus Hotel. Completed in 1913, it is historically known as the Busch building because it was developed by Adolphus Busch of the famous Anheuser Busch brewery. It’s now a luxury residential building.
The Majestic Theater
One block over on Elm St. is the Majestic Theater. The interior is extremely ornate and I recommend you try to see it on your Dallas walking tour. It’s done in a Baroque style, with beautiful crystal chandeliers, a double marble staircase and lots of gold leaf. It is still a functioning theater, hosting live acts and cultural events, so you may have to plan a visit on the evening of a performance.
The Pegasus is a landmark in Dallas. This one, across from the Kirby Building, is a replica of the original, which can now be seen in front of the Omni Hotel. When I was growing up here, you could clearly see Pegasus from almost anywhere in the city but now it’s blocked by all the other buildings that have gone up. I took this shot from a bridge just east of downtown.
The Adolphus Hotel
Just around the corner, find an elegant historic hotel, built by the beer magnate Adolphus Busch, who also built the Kirby Building. The oxidized green turret is just a detail, seen from the rooftop of the Kirby Building.
One of the great things about blogging is the people you meet. I met up with a fellow blogger and expat, Ana O’Reilly, and took her on a mini-tour of Main St. I have always wanted to see the inside of the Kirby Building, and as you can see below, we did! The beauty of the architectural details and materials used makes me want to tour more of these old buildings.
I’ll finish my Dallas walking tour with this photograph of a big Texas sky. It’s a rare day we don’t have some good cloud action in Dallas. When I see a storm coming in, or a particularly beautiful sky, I try to go for a photo walk because, let’s face it, a good sky makes for a better photograph.
If you have any questions about any of the buildings or photographs, send me an email! Love to hear your comments as always.
All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2013. All rights reserved.