Dallas' skyline gets a lot of attention, but how much do you really know about the buildings that make Big D so recognizable? If you're answer is "there are some towers?" then perhaps you should check out the Dallas Center for Architecture's walking tours, sponsored by Downtown Dallas Inc.
These informative tours reveal the fascinating histories of some of Dallas' most well-known neighborhoods. For example, which area was once known as the Silk Stocking District? Where could you find the "gateway to Fort Worth"? What famous building was formerly a funeral home that housed Clyde Barrow's body?
All those answers and more await on the three tours, which cover the Dallas Arts District, Main Street District, and West End. The tours are family-friendly and affordable: $10 for adults, $8 for AIA members, $5 for seniors, and free for kids 12 and under. You can make reservations here.
The first tour explores what is the largest urban arts district in the nation, examining buildings from the 1890s to present day. Throughout the 90-minute tour, which is held rain or shine on the first and third Saturdays of each month, a trained guide reveals tidbits about the Dallas Arts District that will surely come in handy on trivia night.
Although you may be familiar with the Nasher Sculpture Center, Winspear Opera House, Wyly Theatre, and Meyerson Symphony Center, you may not know that each of their architects has been awarded the Pritzker Prize. Or that the building that now houses Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is a remnant from one of the Freedman's Towns, vibrant African-American communities that sprang up after the Civil War.
Exploring the Main Street area takes approximately two hours, during which you'll learn about many important commercial buildings of the 20th century (those 1980s post-modern towers you kind of knew about). Main Street Garden provides a wonderful time capsule of Dallas architecture, touching on nearly every era and style from 1910 onward.
Beaux Art, Art Deco, Post-Modernist, Renaissance Revival, and Victorian designs can all be seen. But there are also smaller masonry and brick structures that were an integral part of downtown Dallas in the late 1800s which still stand today. This tour happens on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.
Dominated by the red brick warehouses that grew with the arrival of the railroads in the 1870s, the West End was Dallas' first commercial historic district. It was also the birthplace of Dallas, encompassing the earliest plots of land settled by John Neely Bryan and others beginning in the 1840s.
Today it serves as a juxtaposition of past and present. It is still the center of county government, but it is surrounded by important architectural reminders of significant events in Dallas' past such as Dealey Plaza and what is now the Sixth Floor Museum. Tours for this district are the first and third Saturdays of each month.