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.

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).

Residual Braniff

On October 2, 2016 · 1 Comments

I’m not sure if I ever flew on Braniff Airlines although I certainly recognized the name. That’s why I mentioned it when I spotted Braniff Street outside of Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas in the previous article.

A Very Brief History of Braniff


Braniff_DC8_N1805_Calder_CS_0249-006_Colormailer_Flickr
Braniff (Calder colors) DC8 N1805. Photo by Bruno Geiger Airplane Pictures and Collection on Flickr (cc)

Braniff International Airways began flying in 1928, the creation of brothers Thomas Elmer and Paul Revere Braniff. They flew first out of Oklahoma City. Braniff grew and expanded into Texas in the 1930’s, and then throughout the American Midwest. Over time it expanded the network even farther, within the United States and later into Latin America and Europe. Braniff also moved its headquarters to Dallas, Texas, initially to Love Field and later to the new Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The airline came to be known for its customer service and its brightly colored jets, including a couple that sported designs by Alexander Calder.

The United States deregulated its airline industry in 1978 and that spelt trouble for Braniff. It had been one of the strongest, fastest growing airlines in a regulated environment. However it simply couldn’t compete with cheaper, more flexible airlines that soon flooded the marketplace. Braniff folded in 1982, surviving only five years into deregulation. The name lived on for awhile, used by other companies that purchased it after bankruptcy, reduced to a zombie-like state.

Many people remembering Braniff fondly and have tried to preserve its legacy.


Dallas

Braniff retained a particular stronghold in Texas during its heyday. The Braniff Street in Houston wasn’t unusual. Other ghostly fingerprints remained throughout the state. I found Tom Braniff Drive running along the edge of the University of Dallas (map). It intersected with Airport Freeway, leading directly to Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport. I found it odd that someone placed a road honoring one of Braniff’s founders so far away from the airport however, a good 10 miles (16 kilometres) distant. I didn’t feel the choice was completely coincidental although I wondered what connection it might have with the university.

A little light searching uncovered a Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts at the University of Dallas. That implied something larger than a casual correlation. However Tom Braniff died in 1954 and the university didn’t exist until 1956. That chronological mystery revealed itself easily too. Braniff teamed up with his friend, businessman (later Senator) William Blakely to form the Blakely-Braniff Foundation in the 1940’s. The foundation provided a substantial donation to the university in 1966, creating a graduate school in Braniff’s memory.


San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas became and remained a Braniff destination from the airline’s earliest days.



Braniff Drive, San Antonio, TX

I didn’t have any more to say about that other than noting how nicely Braniff Drive aligned with one of the runways at San Antonio International Airport.


Corpus Christi


Braniff International Airways
Braniff International Airways. Image provided by Boston Public Library on Flickr (cc)

A much more interesting situation presented itself in Corpus Christi, Texas. This city included a street named for Braniff too. Nearby stood other streets named for airlines, airplanes and aviation pioneers like Eastern, Stinson, Wright, Curtiss, Lockheed, Cub, Fairchild and Ryan. Airport Road ran perpendicular a few blocks away. Yet, Corpus Christi International Airport stood several miles away (map). I had unwittingly uncovered the remains of the old Cliff Maus Field.

Cliff Maus left as airport manager in 1934 to take a job with Braniff Airways. He was killed soon afterwards when his plane crashed in a thick fog on the outskirts of Fort Worth… the City Council voted to change the name of the airport to Cliff Maus Municipal Airport.

Ultimately Cliff Maus Field didn’t have runways long enough to accommodate emerging jet aircraft. Corpus Christi International opened in 1960 and Cliff Maus fell by the wayside. Redevelopment took place over next half-century and largely obliterated the field. Del Mar Community College took a portion of it for its west campus on Airport Road. The Cliff Maus Apartments occupied another corner. A public golf course claimed another section. Housing developments also moved in.

Few remembered Cliff Maus, and soon, few will likely remember Braniff.


Beyond Texas

A few airports outside of Texas also hid remnants.

However, I figured the weird conglomeration of Braniff Road, Place, Crescent, and Green in Calgary, Canada was probably a coincidence.

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12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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