Cigarette Hill

On July 16, 2017 · 1 Comments

I focused attention on unusual street names awhile ago. That theme played itself out over time so I left it behind for the most part. However, every once in awhile, I came across something interesting enough to mention on Twelve Mile Circle. This time it appeared in Texas. What was it about Texas? Once I found a subdivision with streets named after South Park characters. This time I found something stuck in an even earlier period of time, probably the 1940’s or 1950’s. Cigarettes had a positive image back then. Sometimes advertisers even promoted alleged health benefits (e.g., "More Doctors Smoke Camels than Any Other Brand"). In that context, perhaps, a subdivision with streets named for cigarette brands might have seemed like a good idea.

Cigarette Hill



Cigarette Hill; Dallas, Texas

Imagine the possibilities. One could live on Pall Mall Avenue, Camel Court, or Kool Avenue. Lucky Street seemed to be a stand-in for Lucky Strike. Maybe Durham referenced Bull Durham tobacco. I also spotted a Fatima Avenue. I’d never heard of Fatima cigarettes although they used to be quite popular. Liggett & Myers launched the brand in 1913 to capitalize on the popularity of Turkish tobacco. Fatima faded as the century progressed. It disappeared completely by the 1980’s.

The neighborhood earned a name, Cigarette Hill.


Hard Times on Cigarette Hill



Cigarette Hill stuck in a time warp just like the vintage cigarette brands of its street names. Its residents lived in poverty with a median household income of less than $15,000 in 2014. It also became a highly segregated neighborhood with an overwhelmingly (88.6%) African American population.

Ripple Road also traversed Cigarette Hill. Perhaps it existed as a coincidence or perhaps not. Ripple was an old type of a particularly nasty, cheap fortified wine. The television character Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx) considered Ripple his favorite drink. It gained "a reputation as a drink for alcoholics and the destitute."

By 2008, the City of Dallas recognized that Cigarette Hill and the larger Lancaster Corridor needed help. The local NBC television station reported on the situation that led to a Community Revitalization Plan.

…the neighborhood in the middle of the City of Dallas seems like a piece of old rural Texas. Residents complain the neighborhood has been overlooked for decades with no sidewalks, no storm sewers, few streetlights, and overgrown roads to name just a few problems… The Cigarette Hill area is very close to other Southern Dallas neighborhoods that have proper lighting, wider streets and complete sidewalks.

Still, it held a lot of promise. Cigarette Hill had ready access to employment centers and a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) rail station. It also offered scenic views from its elevated position. Revitalization efforts still continue.


Cigarettes in Sterling Heights



Sterling Heights, Michigan

I found another cigarette subdivision in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Residents there could choose from Camel, Pall Mall, Parliament, Winston, Newport and Viceroy Drives. Ironically, it also included a Tarry drive (which by one definition meant "covered with tar"). I supposed a street surrounded by cigarettes would eventually become tarry as a result. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything else about this neighborhood beyond its themed street names. It seemed from Google Street View that the houses probably dated from the 1950’s or 1960’s based on their architecture.


Pall Mall


Pall Mall
Pall Mall Circa 1900. Reproduced by Leonard Bentley on Flickr (cc)

I found myself with a little extra room left in this article. Maybe I should take a look at one of those old-timey cigarette brands. What inspired the naming of Pall Mall I wondered?

The mystery solved itself pretty quickly. Pall Mall is a street in London, England (map). It connected St. James’s Street to Trafalgar Square, running past St. James’s Square. The 18th Century brought a lot of wealthy people to Pall Mall who lived in ornate mansions there. It also became known for art galleries and auctioneers. It didn’t take a lot of effort to see why a cigarette brand would emulate its name. Obviously it wanted to trade on the high-class status of London’s Pall Mall, a good bit removed from its later namesake on Cigarette Hill.

Reaching back farther, the street got its name from a lawn game. Pall mall — the game — grew in popularity during 16th Century. Later it evolved into croquet. The street ran along an area that once hosted a popular pall mall field. First came the game, then came the street, then came the cigarette brand, and finally the cigarette-themed neighborhoods.

Recent NIMBY

On May 28, 2017 · 4 Comments

The topic became my white whale. I came close to conquering it when I wrote Nimby Lane in 2015. Even then I joked about my problem, my seeming inability to write an article about the NIMBY phenomenon even after several attempts. NIMBY stood for "not in my back yard." In that earlier article we established that the acronym even appeared outside of the United States. Subsequent research also showed that it seemed to be transitioning from an all-caps NIMBY to a lowercase nimby. I think I’ll make that adjustment too.

It might be worth repeating the definition as listed in Dictionary.com. That could be helpful to readers who don’t speak English natively. It’s used to describe:

… opposition by local citizens to the locating in their neighborhood of a civic project, as a jail, garbage dump, or drug rehabilitation center, that, though needed by the larger community, is considered unsightly, dangerous, or likely to lead to decreased property values.

Anyway, the day finally arrived! Today I offer my nimby article at long last. The solution, once I discovered it, came easy. I simply typed nimby into Google and selected news. I chose examples only from the initial page of results as they appeared in front of me. Your results will vary.

I don’t mean to imply that any of these stories actually qualified as examples of nimby behavior. I’m not making value judgments. However, somebody though they did or the news articles never would have been published.


Falls Church, Virginia


Railroad Cottages
No to Railroad Cottages. My own photo.

Actually I noticed the first example in person before I ever saw it online. I spotted little placards stuck along the side of the Washington & Old Dominion trail as I biked through Falls Church a few days ago. They read, "No to Railroad Cottages." I didn’t give them another thought until my recent search results popped-up some commentary about them, Cottage Criticism is Just More NIMBY Opposition. I think Google fed it to me because of my geographic proximity.

The City of Falls Church provided more detail about the Railroad Cottages Project. Ten small standalone houses would cluster closely together around common open space and a social interaction building. It would cater to residents aged 55 years and older. The 1.3 acre triangular lot sat at the eastern end of Railroad Avenue, hugging the W&OD trail (map). Supporters cited it as an example of smart growth that also allowed city residents to downsize as they aged. Opponents worried about traffic, parking, density, noise, emergency response, displacement of flora and fauna, and diminished property values.

The lot also hid an interesting history. An African-American family purchased it just after the Civil War and retained ownership for the next 150 years. The man who sold the lot to developers was the great-great-great grandson of the person who first bought it for $75 in 1865.


Snow River, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska


Moose Pass
Moose Pass. My own photo.

Next I came across The NIMBY state on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Twelve Mile Circle visited the area back in 2010 so I paid particular attention. Huge numbers of people traveled down to the Kenai each summer for salmon fishing. Fishermen needed guides, equipment, food and places to stay, so tourism dollars fueled a huge part of the local economy.

People got angry when they heard that the Chugach Electric Association wanted to consider damming the Snow River (map) near Moose Pass. As the article noted, "Dam is a four-letter word worse than the f-word in that community." This one would reach 300 feet high and 700 feet across, too. Chugach Electric hoped to figure out whether a dam might actually increase salmon along the Snow River. Theoretically a better controlled river could improve spawning channels. However, that question will always remain a mystery. The public outcry forced Chugach Electric to abandon its effort. Citizens felt the risk to the local economy was too great.


Rainford, St Helens, Merseyside, England


Rainford - farm in the snow
Rainford – farm in the snow. Photo by Ian McFegan on Flickr (cc)

One person at least proclaimed she was Proud to be a Nimby in Rainford, England (map). This came in response to social media statements made by a member of the St. Helens Council. The Councillor remarked, "As I say you are nimby’s," referring to members of the Rainford Action Group. The group opposed turning over some of the village’s green belt to developers to build more than a thousand homes. It cited loss of agricultural land and jobs, as well as "extra pressure on our roads, surgeries, dentists, drains, or schools." The battle raged on.


Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand


Aukland from Across the Bay
Auckland seen from Devonport. Photo by Jeremy Oakley on Flickr (cc)

The nimby phenomenon existed in New Zealand too. There I found Nimby wars: everyone’s a winner in Devonport, or are they? Ryman Healthcare wanted to build a retirement village on a vacant parcel in suburban Aukland, along the scenic Ngataringa Bay (map). Opponents didn’t so much care for the design aesthetics, and they also feared the impact on endangered plants. Plus they claimed it would cut the neighborhood in half. This situation seemed to have resulted in a happier ending than most. Ryman Healthcare agreed to a number of design changes that pleased most, although not all local residents.

Maybe I’ll run this experiment again in a few months and see how much the results change. Maybe I won’t.

Dallas Park Cooperative Housing

On May 25, 2017 · 2 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle posted an article I titled Mutual Ownership Defense Housing in January 2014. It focused on a little-known unit of the of the United States government’s Federal Works Agency. This resulted in eight housing developments constructed between 1940 and 1942. Seven of them thrived. However the eighth seemed lost to history, a place called Dallas Park in Texas. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Recently I received an email message from David Perry saying he’d rediscovered the hidden location of the former Dallas Park. I asked for permission to share his findings as a guest post on 12MC and he graciously agreed. What follows is his original email message lightly edited to fit into a blog format. I embedded some images, added paragraph headings, removed some personal identifying information, and also shortened a few sentences. Otherwise it faithfully represented Mr. Perry’s excellent thoughts and original analysis.

Enjoy.


An Interest in Cooperative Housing



Mutual Ownership Defense Housing, Google Map by Twelve Mile Circle

I took an interest in the history of cooperative housing developments when my wife and I considered joining a similar community a few years back. It’s very lovely and surprisingly well maintained, but the units were just too small. Of the eight Mutual Ownership Defense Housing projects, I’ve visited Pennypack Woods in Philadelphia and the three in New Jersey, so I have some familiarity of the types of construction used in those communities and the patterns in which they were laid out.


Uncovering the Missing Development


Dallas Park
Dallas Park via Ashburn’s Dallas City Map (1949)

I had always been curious about the location of the fabled lost Dallas Park myself, and your page inspired me to try to solve the problem once and for all. Eventually, Ashburn’s Dallas City Map turned up from 1949. If you zoom in, then find the number 19 on the lower left hand edge, you’ll see the words "Dallas Park" about 1.5 inches to the right, under the words "Ft. Worth Pike." A somewhat better view, albeit at a slightly earlier stage of street development in the neighborhood, can be found on this 1942 Dallas transit map. Again, zoom in and find the letter "L" on the left edge; a little ways to the right. You’ll see a red square with the number 54 next to it. Dallas Park is inside this square.

This is consistent with the entry for Dallas Park that I found in the Directory of Consumers’ Cooperatives in the United States, Volume 1949 (second entry from the top). It gives the address as 100 Randolph Rd.

Punching that into Google Maps gives this result. You’ll find this is in the same neighborhood as noted on the other two maps, although the street layout is quite different and some of the names have changed.


Investigating Dallas Park



Dallas Park, Google Map by David Perry

I have also put together a Google map with my best guesses at the boundary of the development (yellow line) and how long the streets were (other colored lines). The east side is definitely a guess, because obviously that side of Randolph Dr. has been shifted radically, and an entire new neighborhood laid out between it and Mt. Ranier St.

However, the properties on the one side of the long alleyway seem to be very differently oriented than the ones on the other side, and the houses on the Mt. Royal street side of the line don’t fit the defense housing model. Looking at the older maps, it seems hard to believe that they could have fit so many streets between where Mt. Royal Street is now and Albrook St. Perhaps the maps aren’t very accurate, or else the shift from where Randolph was to where Mt. Royal is now is so great that it throws off my bearings.


Evidence


Lakehurst Court in Dallas, Texas
Typical Co-op Housing in Dallas Park. Notice the former cul-de-sac street layout.
via Google Street View, August 2016

More pieces of evidence are as follows:

(1) You’ll notice that there is once again a theme to the street names. Here, it’s military airfields: Barksdale (misspelled "Burksdale" on both of the 40’s maps), Orlando (misspelled "Orland" on the transit map), Mather, Langley, and Chanute either are or were Air Force bases. Pensacola, Lakehurst, and Moffett are all Naval Air Stations. As you point out in your discussion, Hensley Field was the base near Avion Village and I suspect a lot of Dallas Park residents worked there too.

(2) If you look at the ends of the lines I’ve drawn for the streets on Google Maps, you’ll see cul-de-sacs, which in most cases have been cut through to let the street continue. In the case of Moffett and Langley, the names were wiped out when they were connected to Mather and Orlando, respectively. This is very typical of how these projects were laid out.

(3) While obviously many of the units from Dallas Park were torn down and replaced with other structures (most notably, the huge "Casa de Loma" apartment building that was thunked down where the management office was). Quite a few of them survive, and they are very much like the buildings I have seen at the other defense housing developments. Some good examples are 4236 Barksdale Ct., 188 Randolph Dr., 4106 Barksdale Ct., and 4119 Lakehurst Ct.. Going through the neighborhood with Street View will reveal quite a few others. The wooden frame construction, the sharing of walls, the way the sidewalks are laid out, and the shared off-street parking spaces for some units, rather than driveways, are all telltale signs.


Epilogue

Sadly, given how well many of the co-ops have worked out over the years, this area doesn’t look like a very good one. Neither the original units nor the more classically suburban "Monopoly" houses seem to be very well maintained in most cases. The newer parts of the neighborhood seem a bit better, with some serious investment having been plowed into some homes, but overall, it looks pretty impoverished.

Were I President or in Congress, I’d push to have all of the public housing projects converted into co-ops. I think giving people responsibility for maintaining their own properties is good both for the housing and the tenants. The fact that these communities, which were thrown up as cheaply and quickly as possible with no thought for the long-term, are in many cases still in good shape and pleasant to live in 75 years later is a testament to the power of the cooperative model.

I hope this isn’t a repeat of something you already know, but I just thought it was neat to see at least one other person with the same highly esoteric interest (I guess this person thinks they’re cool, too).

Purpose
12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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