Friday, February 25, 2005

Dream of Oak Cliff

I woke up this morning thinking about a part of this city, Oak Cliff. I don't live in this part of town, although when I was househunting I did look there. It's south of downtown. It's hilly and tree-lined. There's a lot of history there. Some residential neighborhoods are full of beautifully kept mock-Tudors, prairie style houses, etc. Others, just a block away, are run-down and gang-ridden. There are a lot of artists, some valiant attempts at urban renewal, some Mexican grocery stores but no Tom Thumb, second-hand tire stores but not much current retail. And, then there's crime, of course.

It's not too different from the sector of the city that I call home.... When I was househunting, I really wanted to buy in Oak Cliff. I looked at probably a dozen houses there. For one thing, in several areas, the house values were much lower than where I wound up buying. There was the real potential to get more house for less money. Also, the architecture was great. But also, to me, Oak Cliff stood for a part of the city struggling to grow; a piece of the city trying desperately to knit itself together, and I wanted to be part of that. But I didn't buy there. Mostly, it was too far from my office. But also, ultimately, I was a little nervous about it. I still bought in an urban area, part of that patchwork of prosperity and poverty, but in my part of town, the difference between the quilt squares isn't quite as obvious.

So why am I still thinking about Oak Cliff?

Maybe because it's like a pocket Dallas. The manicured mansions of Kessler Park, a few miles away from the barrio. It's a metaphor for the entire city, future and past all rolled into one. It's the most extreme example of what Dallas is right at the moment. Thinking about this city. Does Dallas work, or doesn't it work? Where are we, and where are we going?

Some food for thought: "Dallas at the Tipping Point:"


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