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D in the Heart of Texas             

Jerry T. Dealey

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Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza (Part 2)

Early History of Texas
The Europeans and American Settlers
John Neely Bryan – And Other Early Founders
Some Wheeling-Dealing to Grow a City
George Bannerman Dealey
The Dallas Morning News is Born
The Great 1908 Flood
G. B. Promotes Other Early Dallas Growth
The "City of Hate"
Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza
The Other Buildings Around Dealey Plaza
The Elder G. B. Dealey
The Dallas "Citizens Council"
The ‘Right Wing’ Direction of Dallas - "City of Hate" Revisited
A ‘Turn-Around’ for the Dallas Morning News
The Pre-November ‘Hate’ Incidents
Dallas’ Law Enforcement
November 1963, Why Dallas?
Dealey Plaza Changes To-Date

Broadway was the road that ran north and south from just west of Southern Rock Island Plow Company to the alley under the Commerce St. Bridge, which started angling up from its base at the western side of Houston St., next to the Victoria Hotel. Commerce St. had a small access road, which stayed level to Broadway. On this level corner of Broadway and Commerce was the Sieberling Rubber Co. sharing the back wall of the Victoria Hotel. To the north of this business at the corner of Broadway and Main Street, was Moore & Co. Across Main Street, at the northeast corner of Main and Broadway was the Dr. Pepper Ginger Ale shipping facility. Finishing the blocks, on the southeast corners of Broadway and Elms streets, was Sproles Motor Freight.


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Elm and Broadway Streets Looking South 1934: This business is the Sproles Motor Freight company. This picture was taken from across Broadway, which the car to the right is on. Note to the left that you can see the Southern Rock Island Plow Company ‘Annex’ building, beyond which is the County Courthouse, and “Old Red” spires. Beyond Sproles, down Broadway to the right, is the Dr. Pepper Ginger-Ale Bottling and shipping building (past the chimney), Main St., and the Moore and Co. building to the far right. Sieberling Rubber Co. is the white building just at the edge of the picture. Beyond that (not shown) is the Commerce St. Bridge. (From the collections of the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division, Dallas Public Library)

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Broadway Street Looking North 1934: This picture was taken from Commerce. (From the collections of the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division, Dallas Public Library)

Broadway at this point was little more than a dirt road, past one set of railroad tracks serving the four businesses beside it (Sieberling, Moore, Dr. Pepper, and Sproles). These businesses’ main entrances were facing the Commerce access road, Main and Elm streets, with docks facing the railroad track and Broadway.


When Bryan had the original map plotted, there was a short block where the Triple Underpass tracks are today. The other street at the top of this hill overlooking the Trinity River was called Water St.


Using the first 220 ft. decline plan the engineers suggested would work without taking this property. However, it would require the lowering of Broadway and that first railroad track some 11-14 feet. This plan caused the four business that used this “Main St. track” to threaten the city with loss of businesses lawsuits, since they would no longer be able to adequately use the track if lowered 10 feet further below their docks!

The second plan was more appealing to everyone involved because it suggested a more gradual decline of the three roads starting at Houston St. It would also give the drivers much better visibility with the businesses removed, and make for a much nicer park area. The city therefore looked into using the extra $250,000 to buy out the 11 property owners. It met with the owners, with this in mind.

The owners got greedy! Ira T. Moore, held out for $80,000 dollars for his Moore and Co. property at the southeast corner of Main and Broadway streets, and claimed he would get it through his “real estate agent”, Mayor Charles E. Turner. The other 10 property owners followed suit and began to set the value of their land at a high price.


By May of 1934, the city was preparing to take court action and condemn the properties, and simply pay what they felt to be fair. Hearing this, and with pressure from the Morning News, Dealey and others, the property owners eventually settled for lower prices. The city got the two-block area for a cost of around $330,000. With the removal of the businesses, Main St. ended up with a gradual 425 feet incline, with Elm St. and Commerce St. each ending up with a 495 feet incline.


In 1934, and proceeding through 1938, the “Subway” and park area were dug out and the Triple Underpass and park areas were built. The buildings were torn down, the Main St. track was removed, and the west and east side approaches were built. Later, through 1938, the reflecting pools, peristyles, colonnades, and common areas were built. The pergola on the Elm St. side (north), from which Abraham Zapruder would one day film the assassination, is today named the Bryan pergola, after founder John Neely Bryan, and the one on the Commerce St. (south) is named after the Cockrells. The pergolas are approximately where each family’s original home was located.


In 1935, the park was officially named Dealey Plaza, in honor of G. B. Dealey, who had promoted the idea, and who had donated land on the west side of the Triple Underpass. G. B. attended the naming ceremony, and was, of course, greatly honored. The bronze statue of G. B. Dealey, which replaced the southern obelisk, and the bronze plaques along the wall behind it, were not built until 1947, following G.B.’s death in 1946. His widow, Olivia “Nellie” Dealey attended the statue and plaque’s unveiling ceremony.


At the University of Texas web site, I recently read that the Plaza was named after “Samuel David Dealey, Jr.” who was a World War II submarine commander. Commander Dealey was the son of G.B.’s 9-year younger brother Samuel David Dealey, and corresponded with his Uncle through the war. His submarine, the “USS Harder”, and his crew had sunk over 9 ships in their first 2 missions, and during their fifth tour alone, sunk an impressive 5 enemy destroyers! Sam Dealey became known as “The Destroyer Killer”. The submarine turned up missing during their sixth mission, and Dealey was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Of course, since the Plaza was named in 1936, and Sam Dealey was a hero years later, this was not the source of the naming. However, there is a Sam Dealey Drive in northern Oak Cliff, as well as a plaque and periscope at Fair Park, in his honor. (I did inform the University of Texas Webmaster of the error, which has recently been corrected.) There was also a Destroyer Escort, the USS Dealey, DE-1006, commissioned in the early 1950’s, in Sam Dealey’s honor.




IE150-1.GIF - 6031 BytesD in the Heart of Texas - Table of Contents
03LEFT.JPG - 1910 Bytes Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza (Part 1)
03RIGHT.JPG - 1880 Bytes Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza (Part 3)


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Last edited June 3, 2003