View Full Version : Power Plant & Smokestacks
29 December 2002, 04:40 PM
Anyone have any photographs or know of any book with photographic evidence of the old TXU power plant on the downtown periphery (for decades)? I'm looking for a view from an automobile on one of the main roadways. In other words, a closer view than aerial-esque photographs. Any photograph, with smokestacks, especially, but also when they were dismantled, would be greatly appreciated.
29 December 2002, 05:27 PM
Here's just one pretty cool old photo:
I'll look around online for some more photos - I know they're out there on lots of sites. I don't really know of a book, but, there just may be one out there somewhere!
29 December 2002, 06:59 PM
You just made my week!
Thank you so VERY much.
30 December 2002, 01:35 AM
I really liked those and wish they hadnt been removed.
30 December 2002, 03:21 AM
I still can't believe they got away with tearing all that out. It was such a great historical building. It could have been good and useful, but no, they needed 40mil to "fix it up"...
30 December 2002, 10:55 AM
That's an incredible photo. I wish we still had cars like that.
Anyway, about the smoke stacks, are you kidding me? They always cried out "ugly!" to me. It was like saying to the world "We don't care about this area, lets have old, usless, ugly, empty buildings left up!"...
When you say it could have been useful, how do you mean? I can't think of anyone who would want to live or work in an old power plant building with smoke stacks still looming overhead. When the first phase of Victory is complete, it's going to be an amazingly beautiful area to live/work/play. Far more so than it could have been with these, in my opinion...
30 December 2002, 11:07 AM
I am afraid I agree with blood on this one too. I am all for restoration and reuse, but that was just plain ugly and dirty to me. Despite my being a big proponent for Victory, how could this have been used for something good?
On another note, that picture depicts how dense Dallas used to be.....too bad that is missing now too!
30 December 2002, 06:50 PM
Well, the utility stuff on the building could have been moved, but have you ever seen Quarry Market in San Antonio? The place is awesome, and it still has its stacks. It's really cool.
Just click here (http://www.alamoquarry.com/photos.htm) to see it.
30 December 2002, 06:57 PM
Okay, I could do without the parking, but at least they get credit for moving in the right direction, before that kind of redevlopment was "popular"...
30 December 2002, 08:12 PM
I suppose what I shall say/type will be an affront to people with a certain aesthetic idea of what a should city be.
When I was a kid, the Power Plant (which I had no idea what it really was) with those giant smokestacks and the area that surrounded from the Neuhoff building to all the other industrial infill, had more visual punch than the daytime skyline of Dallas. To me it was the heart & soul of the city, a potent piece of the past still settled in the present. It looked lively (which it wasn't, really). It looked urban as opposed to the bland tall towers (which, still, in my opinion, suffer from the daylight exposure--only livening up at night). A car approach from Stemmons going towards downtown signified, from that industrial glut, that something was happening, that this was urban. Someone mentioned the smokestacks as "iconic" (another fellow mourner) and I'd have to agree. I put them (in their death) among there with Reunion Tower, the "argon" building and the Pegasus. They were all standouts, but the one that captured my imagination of them all (because it was visible day & night, and neither hidden amongst canyons of glass) was the smokestacks. To me it was a soulful image. A reminder.
In retrospect and being older, I understand the history of such smokestacks. Of their pouring detritus and bad air into the environment. But I also understand that they served in their time as the near locus of all the growth, the buildings, the neighbhorhoods that constitute a city. The same held for Dallas. The same held for that power plant that started out in the early 1900s. And had been there for so many years, an image seen by millions nearing a century. It's not a beauty, I'll grant that in the understanding that it's not showpiece saying "look at me, I'm significant." Its crime was looking low-key, not modern & and "ugly". Doubtless, few people would have rallied to have saved them. Many consider it strange to want to keep something not aesthetically pleasing in what I consider the collective sense.
So forget the past, unless it's pretty. Or unless it resembles the NYC style of loft warehousing.
And furthermore, for them to be replaced by a city subsidized upscale housing/retail project (Victory--or shall I say "Uptown II") conceptualized in the overblown economic climate of the 1990s, primarily fronted by two quite greedy little men of big monies...is laughable. I admire the brownfield cleanup, the removal of the junk below the surface, but I am wary of projects that tout that they are drawing Banana Republic or the Gap or Starbucks or Urban Outfitters or Old Navy, because every other project has the same tout list. How many Banana Republic-Gap-Starbucks-Urban Outfitters-Old Navy-Crate & Barrell-Pier 1 stores are needed? I remember seeing those in the mall. That's not urban culture. At all. It's a very classist orientated view of urban culture. Long-running rinky dinky small businesses might be "praised" or admired for their history, but they aren't often in that "upscale" mode. They are dying out. Quite quickly. Barnes & Nobles! Borders! Yeah, I used to get excited at the thought of Barnes & Nobles coming soon to a block near me. Not really anymore. Buying at those places, to me, is like giving monies to a Monoculture fund. This makes me weep.
All the fanfare for instantaneous, "revitalized" new Urban environment, living a lifestyle of "urban edge" is more of an illusion to me than anything else. It's a conditional love for a city for WHAT IT COULD BE rather than WHAT IT IS. There's always room for improvement, but blindly running towards a certain type of improvement yields short term benefits with huge question marks for the long term. For instance, the upcoming downside to a speculation-driven 1990s and the potential failure of a massive service sector economy to sustain itself. I can't even guess at what that would mean for the already made inroads into luring people back into urban living--which depends so much on those so-called white collar jobs. History has not been so kind.
So much depends now on chain-orientated growth, not small business. This is frightening.
Another one is this whole mass transit idea. A look at Chicago & New York's transport makes one wish for the same. Even if the city doesn't have the density to support it. Even though it pretty much has an unbreakable car culture (there's even more road traffic as some cities have discovered). Bulldozing strips through neighborhoods to accomplish such new transportation. I once daydreamed of such new transportational opportunities, but that died. Too much wreckage, too much pushing and shoving people around. And for what? Naturally it will be more useful in lower income neighborhoods who have traditionally made up the majority of bus passengers. It's useful to get to work and back, but how much for any real patronizing of establishments? The unweildy packages that most people collect drive them back to their cars. Maybe not yourself, but I'm talking about folks coming out of East Dallas, etc when they could just drive to their local shopping strip. I just don't see it bringing in the numbers the city wants into downtown. The only way I see downtown picking up any real numbers, ideally, is to support the notion of what the city used to be, its utilitarian purposes, and its collection of small useful business--usually, gasp, blue collar--if not in class, then in functionality. And shops. It's a mix that works. And can work for a while. Lot of places worked through economic downturns merely because they had a purposeful existence. So it looks dowdy! So what. Reasonable rents can encourage a place to thrive. And the city would have done itself some good by building, yes, parking garages on those idle vacant-looking parking lots sprinkled around the downtown environment. That's nothing new. There's plenty of those. But the real potential lies in LOW COST parking. After five free parking. That would be a real investment.
As for used car parking lots--those disdained dowdy messy things--I discovered reading in some other posts (and since I'm on a run, I'll just touch on it here) that this is apparently blight.
I see that the average business just hasn't any place in urban america anymore. Might mess with property values (you know, indicators of how much a place will sell when whoever bought might just want to sell for profit). (And remember that White Flight from the city had a lot to do with property value obsession and "how much I can get so I can run away from living next door to someone with a different skin coloring" mentality --in addition to the steady loss of the urban manufacturing corridor, car culture & other compounding factors, of course.) With the aesthetically unpleasant used car lot, I guess the auto mechanic shop might as well be squeezed out to Harry Hines Boulevard or assorted other strips where "revitalization" has yet to occur greatly. Dry cleaners, no brand name grocers, and basically anything else that's not a hot spot or, let's just say it, CLEAN, needs to go. Urban Renewal Part Two. First there were the Sixties brainchilds who thought that the innercity with all it's "messy" working class fixations needed to be CLEANED. Class-cleansing style. So, and pick up a good documentary or book on the Urban Renewal plans of the Sixties and Seventies, these neighborhood places were destroyed. These places holding on--some of them centers of real activity--were literally destroyed because they weren't crime-free, and mostly, they just weren't classy. (Be sure to look up the Pittsburgh case of the North Side neighborhood that lies close to downtown.) And the poorest of the low-renters were housed in lovely soviet style prison architecture. And people wonder what happened to community. All over America. And now we want to just magically create community. Clean community. Free of used car lots. Those nasty things.
Be careful what you want, is my motto. It took me a long while to get over my passive acceptance of what Big Business wants (and for everyone who's thinking that I am a socialist by now, Big Business leaders are hardly capitalists--witness how quickly community falls aside if some corporate (or wannabe) big name wants something RATHER BADLY. Let's not forget all those brilliant projects conceieved in the 1980s.
Zeroing back in on the main topic, the Power Plant was symbolism of urbanity in a way that few other structures had accomplished. And no, I don't mean an Urban Wasteland theme park. That would only have ridiculed it. To have saved that & made it into something for every citizen (with about, like most museums, 20 percent of the population--and the school field trips--& those visitors making tracks in it), maybe something more unique than the New Art Center Museum and perhaps with a nod to what it was--a museum of industry & culture, urban research library, what-have-you would have been something original (for the area). You know, both Austin and San Antonio have projects retrofitting factories--and even one with smokestacks!
I'm left wondering, bitterly, how many more beautification projects Dallas is going to co-finance to lure people (a certain class) back into its inner core. And more grotesquely, how much more generic and how much more pathetic those "revitalized" neighborhoods and the downtown might look in the event of an economic downturn.
How many low key and how many low rent businesses are going to pushed out in the latest frantic progress projects.
There's the good side, of course. Restoration of buildings begging to be brought back to life. I understand the need for increased rent rates to maintain these distinctive structures. I despise the "get mine" land speculation, though. I balk at all the idolizers of the NYC "miracle" who give little, if any, consideration to what was wrought for what was accomplished. It's the luxury of being priveleged to disregard the outright economic exodus (or the dorm-like situations) for people who aren't pulling in the big wages..you know, the ones that bus tables, tally up receipts, guard art, sweep floors, take phone calls, file documents. Hello?!
So many (but not that many) enjoyed the influx of wealth from a false 90s economy and became priveleged. Priveleged enough to begin mass speculations on the urban environment. Sounded good, but in the end it was just Gordon Gecko's extended (and upped) hollow mantra of "Greed is Good"....Businesses are being built in a major way, still, in the suburbs. Relocations galore, as you know. Shoveling around companies from one metro area to the next (that wonderful jobs creation scenario that is often just jobs relocation). I don't know, but I foresee a future run on the suburbs again. Internet advertising sales didn't save us; they didn't happen in any big way, except to falsely overvalue our economy. Tech will be around, but not so much, and for all the urban lifestyle fixation (created, in large part, by those media displaying the "coolness" of it all,) I wonder how the inner core of the cities, the inner core of Dallas is going to handle this all. How they are going to handle AA Center AND Reunion (still in debt, as well) if there's a return to the suburbs.
I hear they are making "urban villages" in some suburbs. Insta-community. No used car lots, of course. Plenty of banks, I'm certain.
30 December 2002, 08:51 PM
Great post Smokestacks.
30 December 2002, 09:28 PM
Wow. That really is amazing. I wish I could send that to everyone I have ever met. That is publisher quality. Thank you, Smokestacks, for the insight. Your view is completely invaluable, in fact, I could have never said it that well.
This evening, at a restaurant, I heard suburban (trash!) people my age, talking excitedly about Stonebriar and The Galleria. I feel this pain, only, I am caught up in it, and no one actually listens to my opinion, aside from the internet, which is sad.
Homogenous culture is another brick in the wall of destruction. What is it going to take to make people reaize their mistakes?
31 December 2002, 12:05 AM
I just liked the landmark of the smokestacks in contrast to the skyscrapers, just like the few remaining grain elevators. I moved to Dallas as an adult so there was little history between me and the powerplant, although my friends who grew up in Dallas would have joined in a rally to save the smokestacks.
I hope Dallas Smokestacks continues to contribute to this site. My dad accuses me of being a socialist, but I just think the "rights" of corporations have grown beyond what is necessary. Ummm, okay that's enough,
Maybe the designers of the Victory project would include replacement smokestacks into the development as a nod to history.
31 December 2002, 01:23 AM
I doubt that they would, but proposing such an idea could be successful. I would certainly want to be a part! Hey, we're all Dallasites, or at least, those who care about it. I think that all of us could put together a coalition to...
31 December 2002, 10:31 AM
London turned an old power plant into a modern art museum. It has some of the best modern art from the 20th century.
02 January 2003, 12:41 AM
Interesting to see that the Power Plant didn't go unnoticed.
The idea of using the smokestacks in a new structure was brought up by someone else recently, as well. It's an interesting idea that a persuasive, very persuasive, developer or mayor might possibly rally up support. But I doubt it will happen.
I don't think they would fit into a World Class City Scheme. Dallas has worked dilligently & successfully at eradicating its past and reinstating the smokestacks as a nod would undo all those great strides to world classiness.
02 January 2003, 12:46 AM
Let me restate:
It's interesting to see that the Power Plant didn't go unnoticed
at least it had a few admirers. All those years should have garned at least a few.
02 January 2003, 01:05 AM
in an urban design studio a couple of years ago here at tech that was reconsidering the victory development, a friend of mine proposed transforming the powerplant into a mixed use (office, residential, retail) structure. it was to be the retail/entertainment (house of blues, etc.) node of victory and also be the main dart station in the development. trains would pass right through the building! (there were once rail lines that fed directly into the basement to deliver coal). the station would be a large multi-level atrium with alot of natural light and landscaping. he also proposed a large semi-circular sloped plaza (with parking beneath) between the plant and houston street. this plaza would serve as a large outdoor event space (concerts, etc.) quite a nice proposal. i'll send him a link to this post and perhaps he will post images.
02 January 2003, 02:13 AM
JSoto, now that I've got to see. That sounds quite intriguing, indeed. Hopefully he can lend a few photo takes our way sometime soon.
03 January 2003, 01:37 AM
Oh, the mayor would hate it! She's a b****; I, among others, have "interacted" with her, and she's a whiny soccer mom. I can't stand the woman, and I can't understand how she got to be of power. She has all the wrong ideas, for the wrong reasons. Often, it's basically the World vs. Miller.
Would be nice, anyhow.
05 March 2003, 07:35 PM
I tell you what was funny about that, was not the power plant but the cars!! What, was everyone driving ford mustangs or'67 chevys? hahaha
06 March 2003, 10:47 AM
Smokestacks-some of that was poetry, I almost got misty eyed. How did I miss that when first posted? (thanks texmexgal for your post making this thread show up as a new post) It will make me rethink some of my views (perhaps on my next drive down Ross avenue I'll appreciate the car dealers rather than see the potential for how nice the street could be with their removal).
For some reason I can't remember the name at the moment (it's like not rembmering the name of the Louvre, but I can't at the moment), but Paris turned an old train station into a museum as well.
I don't want to get political, but since it was mentioned...I have never met Miller, but she will have my vote again. I'm a republican and generally a fan of big business, but also concerned about them buying our city and politics. From what I've heard Poss is positioning herself as pre-bought by big business. At least I'm confident that when Miller gets bought the price might be big, and she might get something for Dallas in exchange.
06 March 2003, 11:02 AM
06 March 2003, 11:03 AM
For some reason I can't remember the name at the moment (it's like not rembmering the name of the Louvre, but I can't at the moment), but Paris turned an old train station into a museum as well.
Musée d'Orsay (http://www.musee-orsay.fr:8081/ORSAY/orsaygb/HTML.NSF/By+Filename/mosimple+index?OpenDocument)
06 March 2003, 11:34 AM
thank-you. And I was just there this summer!!! I was just sitting at the computer like an idiot trying to remember. It's almost as bad as forgetting my own name.
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