Dallas: An Improbable City

Dallas Logo with Question MarkDallas is an improbable city. In many ways it seems to have sprung up by accident.

No Navigable River

Unlike most major cities, Dallas does not have a navigable river. The Trinity River is a mess. Most of the time it looks like an innocent little creek, but every once in a a while, it floods into a mile-wide torrent. Early settlers tried to dredge it into a navigable canal, but the river would not cooperate. Eventually Dallasites gave up on trying to navigate the river. They rerouted it away from downtown, where it could flood between a set of massive levees. Today the Trinity River stands mostly as a nuisance, providing neither transportation nor leisure.

Little Heavy Industry

In addition to lacking a major waterway, Dallas also lacks the heavy industry of Rust Belt cities. Unlike Detroit and car-making, or Pittsburgh and steel-making, the city is not associated with a single industry. Oil comes close, but Houston has all of the refineries and the rural parts of the state have the oil wells. And yet the area is home to some of the largest corporations in the world, including the heirs to Standard Oil (ExxonMobil) and Ma Bell (AT&T). Dallas’ biggest industry, it would seem, is housing corporate offices. In fact, the movie Office Space takes place here in the Big D. TPS Reports, it would seem, are our biggest export.

Dallas is a major city because we’ve made it one. It’s simply an arbitrary place filled with like-minded people. But that’s what makes this city so great. We don’t have strong ties to industry or geography. Like Hemingway’s Paris, Dallas is a moveable feast, a mindset more than a location.

Dallasites, what it your take on our city? Let me know in the comment section.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer, photographer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at http://steve-lovelace.com.

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