Dallas: A Structural Analysis

The Magnolia

The Magnolia

If you haven’t been to an ACS national meeting in Dallas—the last one, if memory serves, was in 1998—there’s a few interesting things to see. This is a summation after spending some time walking the streets here the past week. Located on the Trinity River, Dallas was first settled in the early 1840s when Texas was its own country. A few homesteaders moved into this area and built small log cabins. There’s a reconstructed cabin near the convention center. Dallas is now the ninth largest city in the U.S., with about 1.2 million residents, swollen by an additional 10,000 souls this week with the ACS meeting.

Dallas has a compact downtown with a surprising structural diversity when it comes to the architecture of its buildings. The Magnolia Hotel, which dates from 1922, features a neoclassic beaux-arts style common in those days and was once home to Magnolia Petroleum Co., which was one of the forerunners of ExxonMobil. The building is famous for its Pegasus sign placed on the roof. This is the iconic red winged pony you see today on gas pumps.

Big Brother is watching.

Big Brother is watching.

Next door to the Magnolia is the Adolphus Hotel, another beaux-arts building, which opened in 1912. It was built by Adolphus Busch, renowned founder of the Anheuser-Busch company. Another Dallas classic is the original Federal Reserve Bank Building, constructed in 1921, another example of the beaux-arts style. The much larger new Reserve Bank Building is a glass and stone box that is not as easy on the eyes. Yet some of the modern buildings in town have an appreciated distinctive look, such as the polygonal glass Wells Fargo Building. It might at first glance look like a shard of glass, but to the country chemist in the big city it is reminiscent of a crystal of some exotic metal salt.

Among the other interesting sights in town, there’s the giant eyeball. This is a 30-foot-tall ocular oddity set up in a park (maybe it is an empty lot) adjacent to the Joule Hotel on Main Street. The big eye got its start as part of a pop culture arts project in Chicago before joining the hotel’s modern art collection. But that still doesn’t explain why someone would create it. I wonder how they moved it here from Chicago?

A longhorn.

Git along little dogie.

For ACS meeting-goers, another point of interest in Dallas this week has been Pioneer Park, which is adjacent to the convention center. The park features an art installation of a herd of oversized longhorns crossing a stream, pressed on by a pair of cowpokes. Oddly there’s also a cemetery right outside the convention center, where some of Dallas’ founding fathers rest in peace. It was relaxing, albeit somber, to stroll through the headstones during lunch breaks to see who’s there.

But perhaps the most important thing about Dallas at the moment is that the area will host the NCAA basketball tournament Final Four coming up in the first week of April.

Author: Steve Ritter

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2 Comments

  1. That eye is BEYOND creepy. I could see it (or rather, it could see me) from the window of my hotel room at the Magnolia.

    • Apparently the artist, Tony Tasset, modeled “the eye” after his own eyeball, including blood vessels and what may be a Wolfflin spot or a kind of freckle on the iris. I hope he didn’t have to take an eye out for the modeling.