Flashback: Revisiting Uptown’s Complicated Past

Special Contributor

What does it mean to celebrate a neighborhood? That’s a question Uptown Inc. is asking today, as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Uptown Public Improvement District. Of course, most Dallas residents know this area simply as “Uptown”.

Matilda, a McKinney Avenue Trolley, rides past on the streets of Uptown. Several areas in Uptown placed in The Dallas Morning Newsââ¬â¢ Top 10 list of best areas for urban sophisticates.

“Can you imagine wide, tree-lined sidewalks with people walking all along the street and a trolley going down the middle?'” asked Henry Rossi, discussing the possible future of Uptown in a 1993 Dallas Morning News article. Rossi at the time was the president of Uptown Inc., the non-profit group that was founded to serve the Uptown Public Improvement District, and distribute its money accordingly.

for DMN 125 project – dancers at opening of Pike Park, 1978 / Chita Guerrero (center) and her two daughters Veronica (left) and Rebecca (right).

Whether or not that vision has completely come true depends on your perspective, but it’s clear that in the 25 years since the Uptown Inc. group was founded, Uptown has undergone a transformation.

But there is another question raised by this anniversary, which is what does it mean to celebrate a neighborhood’s transformation when those changes meant different realities for various Dallas residents. After all, Uptown is a neighborhood with a extensive and important history that extends well beyond the 25th anniversary. Long before it was called Uptown, parts were known as “Little Mexico”, others as “Freedman’s Town”, both home to vibrant communities of color that formed at a time when Dallas was deeply segregated.

Neither of these questions has a single answer, but it’s important to keep asking them.

A street sign of McKinney and Haskell Avenues with an one way sign is seen in Dallas, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. Urban planner Patrick Kennedy, who was hired by Uptown Dallas, Inc., proposed a redesign of converting McKinney and Cole to two-way streets Monday evening to about 200 people at the Church of the Incarnation. (Jae S. Lee/The Dallas Morning News)

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