A.C. Green once wrote that Dallas has been “led since birth by a citizenry that believed a golden destiny was assigned the place where they lived, taking its ambitions seriously whether anyone else did or not.” Below are a few of those examples
Historically, Dallas has thrived not because of nature or providence, but by the collective will of its citizens. It goes back to our founding. Dallas wasn’t founded by a government as a natural fort, or by some company as a mining camp, nor did merchants flock to our town’s natural harbor or port, and farmers didn’t congregate here because of our great climate or soil. No we were founded by one man. One singular solitude man, who was so determined to build a great city that it literally drove him mad. His vision, determination, and ambition helped Dallas get off the ground and begin its growth.
It doesn’t stop with him though. Early settlers in the 1840’s (all twenty of them) were so convinced that Dallas was a great community that they persuaded the state (technically the Republic at the time) to build the very first state highway through our tiny town. Several decades later in the 1870s, town fathers bribed one railroad to run its north/south line through Dallas, and then they tricked another railroad to run its east/west line through the town. And by tricked, I mean something straight out of Blazing Saddles, or to use an up to date reference, we “Frank Underwooded” them a la House of Cards to come to Dallas. As a result of the junction of those two railroads, Dallas became a hub for commerce and a 19th century center for trade.
There’s also the story of the aviation firm that was planning on moving to Dallas from Connecticut in the 1950’s, but discovered at the last minute that the runways at Love Field were too short. When they called mayor R.L. Thornton to tell him the bad news, he told them “…hold on a minute let me call you right back.” He called back later that day to let them know that construction had just started on lengthening the runways at Love, and that it would be finished within the month. What Dallas wants, we get.
Perhaps the best example for the purposes of the Olympics comes from another story involving Mayor R. L. Thornton and Dallas’ bid to host a prestigious event. In the early 1930’s, the state of Texas was debating which city would host the states’ centennial celebration which was to coincide with a World’s Fair of such. The celebration would be a large and elaborate event, a spectacle spanning several weeks, in which people predicted would bring in millions of visitors, create thousands of jobs, and generating millions in the local economy. When the state was deciding where to hold it (Austin as the state capital had been taken of out of contention), there were two clear favorites. San Antonio, with its cultural and historical significance (i.e. the freakin’ Alamo, was one favorite). As was Houston, the largest city in Texas, a port city (very important in the 1930’s) and the closest big city to the battlefield of the final decisive victory in the War for Texas Independence. Dallas was in the running but considered an afterthought, as we lacked the cultural and historical depth of San Antonio, or the size and accessibility of Houston.
Notice this doesn’t say Houston or San Antonio
Funny thing happened though. Dallas won the bid. How? It was a combination of our package of incentives, our salesmanship, and our politicking. We offered more in our bid, more land to host the celebration, more building for the states’ use, and more money to help cover the operational costs. We also sold the s*** out of our bid. Dallas if nothing is a town with some of the best salesmen. We presented such a vision of what the celebration would look like that in the end it was more appealing than the other cities. Then ultimately, we also won the politicking game. I mentioned early that Dallas “Frank Underwooded” a railroad to come to Dallas, R.L. Thornton wasn’t exactly Frank Underwood, he was more like LBJ but without the presidential ambitions. Thornton, along with civic and business leaders, were so determined to win the bid that they shook more hands, slapped more backs, and made the deals that helped win Dallas the host privileges. In short we out sold, outbid and out worked the other cities. People in Houston are still bitter about Dallas’ tactics and the way things went down.
Okay not really
For a more modern day example, take Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban is the personification of a Dallasite. He bought what was literally the worst team in the NBA. A laughing stock of a franchise that hadn’t had a winning seasons in a decade. But he was convinced that he could build a championship team. He went about building a roster centered around an awkward 7-foot jump shooting German. He surrounded that German with cast-offs, rejects from other teams, players past their so-called primes. The majority of the NBA didn’t take his team seriously. No one thought they could win. They worked their way through the playoffs with each successive win seemingly more improbable than the last to the majority of sports writers. In the NBA finals they came up against a team that every odds maker in the country labeled as a favorite. The Mavericks ran into a team that had been built with the high priced free agents to win back-to-back-to-back-to-back titles. No one thought the Maverick’s group of “no-names, has beens, and never weres,” could win. That is except Cuban, his coaches, and players. I’ll go back to that quote from A.C. Green, the one about Dallas’s people believing in some grand golden destiny for their city, and taking it seriously as others didn’t. Cuban believed in that golden destiny for his team, whether anyone took his beliefs seriously or not. As it turns out they should have. The Mavericks won.
He believed in his golden destiny, no pun intended