Immerse yourself in Texas charm and old-world architecture with these vintage photographs.

Main Street and Ervay Street, date unknown

Main Street Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Around the beginning of the 20th century, Dallas was thriving as a commercial center for cotton, wholesale liquor, drugs, books and jewelry. Later, it began to emerge as an urban financial hub, and in 1907, Herbert Marcus Sr., his sister Carrie Marcus Neiman and her husband A.L. Neiman founded Neiman Marcus at Elm and Murphy, redefining the city’s fashion industry. In 2006, just one year shy of the company’s 100th anniversary, the Neiman Marcus Group celebrated the milestone of reaching $6 billion in revenues.

Main Street between Austin Street and Market Street, ca. 1900

Main Street Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In a 1937 issue of the magazine This Week in Dallas, an ad urging local residents to ride the streetcar exclaimed: “Ride the streetcar–it’s safe, economical and dependable.” But by the 1950s, automobiles had begun to drown out the public transit service, and streetcars ceased to operate in the city until April of this year, when the brand new Dallas Streetcar opened to the public.

President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade approaching Dealey Plaza, ca. 1963

Main Street Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This photo was captured moments before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963. It sheds some light on the massive crowds that gathered to catch a glimpse of the president — it’s estimated that over 150,000 people lined the streets that day.

Looking west on Main Street, ca. 1900

Main Street Photo: Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library

The St. George Hotel opened its doors as a quaint four-story lodging in 1875. According to the book Historic Dallas Hotels by Sam Childers, the building later underwent renovations, doubled in size and received a new entry from Main Street. A new owner purchased the hotel in the 1930s, renaming it Hotel Whitmore and giving it a $100,000 makeover.

Looking down Main Street from the Elks Building, ca. 1911

Main Street Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In 1841, John Neely Bryan, a lawyer, farmer and tradesman from Tennessee, settled at the meeting point of the three branches of the Trinity River. Bryan had a hunch that it would be an ideal spot for a trading post, and his instinct didn’t fail him: Dallas later became a huge commercially successful city and a boomtown for commodities such as cotton and oil. Today, the city is the third largest in Texas and the ninth largest in the US.

Central Station at 2121 Main Street, ca. 1929

Main Street Photo: Dallas Firefighters Museum

The Dallas fire department was established in the 1870s, making it one of the first services in the state to employ paid firefighters as well as one of the first in the country to develop an emergency medical system. The building pictured above served as a fire station until 1963 and the department’s headquarters until 1979 before it was demolished in 1982 to make way for a new building.

Main Street, date unknown

Main Street Photo: Noah Jeppson/Flickr

A sign advertising the E.M. Kahn Company can be spotted in the left-hand side of this photo. The company was founded in 1872 by Emmanuel Meyer Kahn and thrived as a clothier for 92 years, 50 of which Kahn spent as president. The store was the first retail establishment to install air conditioning and the first store west of the Mississippi with fixed prices.

Main Street and Ervay Street, ca. 1909

Main Street Photo: Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library

This photo gives the viewer an idea of the massive crowds that the 1909 Military Tournament drew on August 23rd, 1909. In an article about the tournament, The Fort Worth Star Telegram reported: “Sun-bronzed, khaki-clad soldiers representing the three important branches of the army, paraded through the city evoking the admiration of 60,000 persons who lined the streets all the way from Fair Park to the end of the downtown business district.”

Looking west on Main Street from Stone Place, ca. 1908

Main Street Photo: Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library

The large crowd shown in this photo of the 1908 Elk parade is a fine representation of the group’s influence. The Elks, or more formally the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America, is a network of community centers across the country that supports children, disabled people and veterans.

Looking west on Main Street from Martin Street, ca. 1900

Main Street Photo: Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library

This photo looks west down Main Street towards the Trinity River. The river is named for its three branches: the Elm Fork and the East and West Forks. While the founder of Dallas, John Neely Bryan, saw great potential in the river as a port for ships, the flow of the water ended up being too unpredictable and wild to rely on as a passage for goods. The river was also prone to flooding, which is why city officials built infrastructure to tame its waters, making it a barrier for the city instead of the centerpiece Bryan had imagined.

Main Street, ca. 1905

Main Street Photo: Internet Archive Book Images/Flickr

A sign for the Linz Building can be spotted in the left-hand side of this photo. The five Linz brothers were jewelers from Denison, Texas who moved to Dallas in 1891. The Linz Brothers was incorporated in 1922, and two years later they created the Linz Award — an honor given annually to a Dallas citizen for their contributions to the community. In the 1980s the Gordon Brothers bought Linz Brothers, and Zale Jewelers bought Gordon’s in 1989.

Looking east from Lamar Street on Main Street, ca. 1916

Main Street Photo: Internet Archive Book Images/Flickr

At the beginning of the 20th century, Dallas’s population had reached 42,638 and it had become the international center of inland cotton production. In 1905, a group of businessmen created the 150,000 club, an organization with the goal of helping Dallas’s population grow. The population didn’t hit 150,000 until 1920, but the city was still growing steadily throughout the 20th century, reaching almost 100,000 citizens by 1910.

Developments featured in this article

More Like This

Facebook Chatter