What Should we call the Area of Dallas that’s just east of White Rock? Seriously What’s it called?

What is the area east of White Rock Lake Called?

The question comes in a roundabout way from a reader asking “I was wondering, what do you know about the area just east of White Rock Lake?” Her overall email regarded schools and neighborhood characteristics, but it got me thinking that we, as Dallasites, have no idea what to call this area of Dallas.

To clarify, I’m not talking about the neighborhoods in this area. Forest Hills, Casa Linda Estates, The Peninsula, Claremont, Little Forest Hills are all established and recognized neighborhoods in this area. What I’m referring to is the overall community that exists in that area and which is made up of those neighborhoods. Think about other community names like Old East Dallas, Uptown, Pleasant Grove, Lakewood, Lake Highlands, etc. Those are all communities that are made up of different, but similar neighborhoods. It’s this designation for the area that I’m after.

The community (or larger geographic area) I’m talking about is indicated on the map below.


And before you start to chime in that I’ve extended Lakewood north of Mockingbird, have Lake Highlands too far east, or have Old East Dallas too far north; keep in mind that these notions of communities I’m speaking of are fluid, ever changing concepts in the minds of Dallasites and North Texans; and they’re open to interpretation. Further, what’s considered Lakewood today may not be considered Lakewood tomorrow. The notion of Lakewood may grow, shrink, or morph into another area throughout the years. Case in point: North Dallas High School. When it was built almost a century ago, it was built in a community that people called “North Dallas.” Today, even though North Dallas High School still sits in the same spot, that spot is located smack dab in the middle of the community we call Uptown, and what we now consider “North Dallas” is nowhere close to it.

Really what the map is meant to do is to draw your attention to the fact this area can’t be easily be grouped together with other communities around it. Like it or not, Forest Hills or the Peninsula neighborhoods are not in Lakewood. And though you might be thinking, isn’t Casa Linda in Far East Dallas, you’re probably thinking Casa View.

Casa Linda


Casa View


(They’re Not the Same)

No this area can’t be grouped together under some surrounding communities banner, it’s a distinct different community and it deserves a name of its own.

So how do we go about creating a new name? Well, it used to be that some eloquent newspaper man, or some well-spoken local broadcaster would coin a nickname for the area much like they would for local sports heroes. Which when you think about it, is really what a communities name is; just a nickname. Unfortunately, our local media hasn’t come up with anything. It’s kind of hard to truly blame them. The Dallas Morning News’ non-sports workforce is basically just Robert Wiloksny and a bunch of interns: Local TV stations, according to Local TV News Demi-god Tracy Rowlett, just report on the weather nowadays. And local radio, or what’s left of it, can hardly even can’t afford to be, well, local anymore.

So lacking a credible Molly Ivins or Blackie Sherrod or even Joe Bob Briggs type to create a nickname what are we left to do?   We could try to let a business or realtor association hold a naming contest, though it looks like that was tried recently, and we ended up with a name that sounds like we were a pre-war industrial section of town that specialized in building pre-fab lake houses and garden gnomes.

lake and garden district

I feel that the best remaining way to create a name is through an organic and almost random process. Someone throws out a name one day and it sticks. Other people pick up on the name and run with it. It’s worked for years, think about Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum didn’t get its name from a focus group or online poll.  It got it because someone a hundred years ago combined a geographic colloquialism “Deep” and a mispronunciation of the street  Elm, or “EL-M”.  They started calling it that, people latched on and it stuck. It was crowd sourcing before crowd sourcing was a thing.

So let’s start throwing something out there. My suggestion is not so much a specific name per se, but a way to get started on the name. Many of the best names for communities come from agglomeration of streets, features or something special in the area. Think, SoHo, or Tribecia in New York. Or Deep Ellum, Lower Greenville/M-Streets even Lake Highlands in Dallas.

So let’s throw together, East Dallas, White Rock Lake, the Big Thicket, maybe Garland Road, or Buckner Blvd, etc and see what we get…



Old East Dallas/ East Dallas – What They Both Mean

I keep hearing people say “Old East Dallas” and East Dallas. Are they interchangeable? Is there a difference? Is Old East Dallas just the old part of East Dallas, or are they using it as an adjective, like saying, “old man Stevens is a ornery fella”? – RM

No they are not interchangeable, they have two different meanings. In fact depending on who you’re talking to, even the term East Dallas can have different meaning. But first East Dallas v Old East Dallas.

east dallas orginial

Know what it means before you wear the shirts guys.

Old East Dallas refers to a particular neighborhood in Dallas. It’s a triangle-ish shaped neighborhood bordered by I-30, Central Expressway and Munger Ave.   A hundred and thirty years ago, before the freeways, it was its own separate town complete with an 18 mph speed limit for horses.   The town, incorporated in 1882, had begun to develop in the 1870’s after the railroads arrived at a junction roughly where Baylor Hospital is today.


Notice this Mosaic at the Hall of State, says the railroads came to East Dallas, not Dallas.

The settlers had initially wanted to name it after its leading citizen Colonel Gaston. However they eventually settled on the name “East Dallas.” The Old East Dallas neighborhood sits where the much of the original town site for East Dallas was. The reasons why East Dallas is no longer a town and now part of Dallas, goes back to Dallas’ hunger for growth and a shady state senator.


This guy.

East Dallas grew rapidly, and by the late 1880’s had 6,000 residents. The City of Dallas, had been trying to annex the new and quickly growing East Dallas throughout the 1880’s. Dallas’ goal was to annex East Dallas before the 1890 census in the hopes of combining the populations and becoming the largest town in Texas. But again and again, East Dallas rejected and voted down the annexation effects. That is until Dallas went over the head of the East Dallas citizens. In 1889, state senator R. S. Kimbrough revoked East Dallas’ charter with the state and allowed Dallas to proceed with an annexation scheduled for January 1st, 1890. As part of the agreement, Dallas promised to take over the debt, public holdings, property and streets of East Dallas. So on December 31st, 1889, the day before East Dallas was to be annexed, they dedicated the land for numerous streets and passed bond measures to fund their construction. Dallas was forced to take on the debt and ultimately build the roads. Hence the reasons why Old East Dallas is bisected by nice, fairly wide (for the time) streets like Live Oak, Ross, or Gaston.

 imagesCAAL4F01East Dallas seen here sticking to the Man (i.e. Dallas.)

As far as the term “East Dallas,” depending on whom you ask, East Dallas can mean a wide variety of places. If you’re talking to a man in his 80’s and who begins any discussion with “When I was a kid, the streetcar down Gaston cost a nickel!”, then he’s probably going to have a pretty strong opinion about which neighborhoods are actually in East Dallas. Same goes for the hipster transplant that has lived off Ross for 5 years. They may claim that you can only call the old 1,400 acre town site of East Dallas…East Dallas.



The East Dallas railline station of the “old school East Dallasite”


The backyard chicken tour of the “new school East Dallasite”

And they might be right. But the vast majority of the almost 7 million people living in DFW, and most of those with a vague familiarity with the area have a different understanding, It’s best summed up by the following conversation I swear I had with a half dozen kids when I started college.

Them: So, where’d you grow up?

Me: Dallas.

Them: Oh, me too, I’m from Plano what about you?

Me: Um…Dallas…Dallas.

Them: Oh, cool, where abouts?

Me: East Dallas?

Them: Like Lakewood, the Arboretum, White Rock Lake?

Me: Um, yeah, there abouts.

To many people living out in Frisco or somewhere out in the North Texas hinterland, that is what East Dallas is. White Rock, Lakewood, the Arboretum.


East Dallas right?

To them, East Dallas is some general area, vaguely identified by those markers, located north of I-30, east of Central, and including everything all the way out to Garland and Mesquite. Of course that thought usually pisses off the old timers who correctly point out that White Rock was built 20 year after “East Dallas” was incorporated into Dallas, and several miles away from the Old East Dallas city limits. Who’s right? The answer is probably somewhere in between. And it’s probably somewhat of a generational opinion. My great grandparents most assuredly did not call the White Rock Lake area East Dallas. They called that area of unincorporated Dallas County; the Big Thicket (best hunting in the county). But my great grandchildren, if they live in Dallas, will most likely say East Dallas includes White Rock Lake. Of course they may also call Tyler a suburb of Dallas by then.

future people

Future population of Dallas discussing whether or not to put a “Hoover-Expressway” along the Trinity River bottoms.



Who Founded Dallas, Why its Called Dallas and what is has to do with Russian Czars and an Indian named Ned

Who Founded Dallas and who did they name it after?  HB

So the founding of Dallas, its name and its founder are all a little vague.  There are variations, but generally the story involves, murders, shootings, insane asylums, Russian Czars and an Indian named Ned.  Though there are different variations, I’ve included what most accept as the rough story.

Much of the vagueness behind the story lies in our founder, John Neely Bryan.  He was a rugged outdoorsmen who had lived with Indians, fled the Dallas after shooting someone and was driven to the bottle.  He was also a man who was described by author John Rogers as” “…a mortal whose life show spurts of considerable practical initiative, altering with the desire to wander off into dreams.  And as so often happens, his spirit must have been the unhappy battlefield.”  Well said John.


 John Neely is on the left and looking none to happy

He was a Tennessean by birth and moved to the American wildernesses in 1830’s to live for a number of years with Indians.  When he returned to the white man’s world, he helped to found the town of Van Buren in western Arkansas.  But hearing that there was fortune to be made in the newly formed Republic of Texas, he headed in search of his riches there.  His traveling group consisted of his faithful dog, Toby, a painted horse that he had given the Indian name of “Neshoba” which meant Walking Wolf, and an Indian, who he had given the white man name of Ned.  I should point out that this might actually have been the Indian’s real Indian name, but I doubt so.

Indian_large“Ned”…… maybe

Sometime, in 1841, the party came upon an embankment above a river that John thought would make a good trading post.  As legend has it, John took out a piece of buckskin, carved his name on it, and staked it to the ground.  Hence, Dallas was “founded.”


A replica of the Bryan’s cabin in downtown dallas

The town would slowly grow, and Bryan had some early success, even getting married and having children.  But for some reason he grew despondent, maybe it was the wanderlust in him, but it was said he took to the bottle more heavily than he normally did.  In 1855, believing that another man had insulated his wife, Bryan, while drunk, shot him.  Fearing that the man was dead and that the law, or worse, his enemies were after him, Bryan, while still drunk, rode off in the night leaving his family and Dallas behind.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

At least Ms. Bryan remembered Dallas fondly

He wandered around the American West for the better part of the next decade.  In 1862 he returned to Dallas after learning that the man he had shot hadn’t died and that he held no ill will towards him.  Bryan’s next ten years in Dallas wavered between those productive times and those periods chasing dreams.  By the 1870’s, the bottle had taken most of his mind, and he died in the state insane asylum in Austin in 1877.


John towards the end of his life

As far as the name of the town, you first have to clear up the idea that the county and the city are named for the same person or reason.  The town was founded in 1841, and referred to in personal journals and publications as such before the county was founded in 1846.  When the county was founded, they wanted to name it after the current US president James K. Polk, however there was already a county named after him in Texas.   So they went with the Vice President, George Dallas, who had been a respectable attorney practicing in Philadelphia and former ambassador to Russia before becoming Vice President.


Our counties namesake, George Dallas

But as I said, the town was founded in 1841, five years before the county.  And Bryan for his part said that “I named the town after my good friend, Dallas.”  This is according to a 1930’s history of Dallas published by Frank Cockrell, the son Alexander Cockrell, one of Bryan early and good friends in Dallas.  Who just so happens to have been tragically shot shortly after Bryan fled town by the town marshal while trying to collect a debt.  So, was Bryan good friends with the Russian ambassador, and did he get paid to start a spy settlement on the banks of the Trinity.  Well it’s highly unlikely that Bryan, who had spent the past decade living in the wilderness with Indians or in a frontier town in Arkansas knew who Dallas was at all.

56604819John and Alexander ran a ferry and bridge across the Trinity early in Dallas

No…who Dallas is named after is about as clear as the town’s early history.  There are plenty, plenty of theories.  But the best is that a man, who Bryan knew well, who shared property boundaries with him in Van Buren Arkansas, and who moved briefly to Cedar Springs in Dallas County in the 1840’s, is the friend Bryan mentioned to Cockrell.  That man, a “Joseph Dallas,” is the best bet for the town’s namesake.


Is this Joseph Dallas?

home alone

No it’s the old man from Home Alone

Why Campisi’s is called the “Egyptian Restaurant” and why people claim it’s tied to the mob

Why do they call it Campisis’s Egyptian Restaurant, is it because they’re in the mob? A.M.

So first of all, apparently whenever you’re writing about people you know personally, you’re supposed to say so.  I first met the Campisi family when I started preschool in Dallas at age 3 and met the twins.  But I’m not close to them; almost all kids that grew up in East Dallas in the 90’s knew the Campisi’s, or their extended family of the Fry’s, Culter’s, Dome’s, etc.  Now let’s get to the strangely named “Egyptian” Restaurant and its Italian food, wonderful pizza…and the alleged mob connections.

The Egyptian Restaurant                                              Obviously would specalize in this delicious pizza

Campisis Campisis-pizza

The Egyptian part of the name dates back the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.  The Campisi family had run a grocery in Dallas since the turn of the century, but had only started to make pizzas (very good pizza) after World War II.  In a few short years they had become somewhat successful, out growing their location on McKinney Ave. and moving to the current location on Mockingbird.  Before Campisi’s moved in, the space had been known as the Egyptian Lounge, a nightclub and bar.  Campisi’s spent most of their money on the move and renovations to the interior and kitchen, leaving little for a new sign for the restaurant.  So they took the Egyptian Lounge Sign that was out front, and paid what little money they had to remove the lounge part and add the restaurant part.  Since then the name has stuck…going on 60 years.

filename-p1120048-jpg  They changed this sign

What has also stuck is the reputation that the Campisi’s are involved in and the restaurant is run by the Mafia in Dallas, or at least associated with the mob.  Why?  Well, the Campisi’s are an Italian American Family, a large successful Italian American Family, a large successful Italian American family that deals in (up until recently) what is an all cash business.  Doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots or make the accusations.  Of course what people who make these accusations neglect to realize is that Dallas has never really been a big mafia town.  Our crime, the organized kind, is usually gunslinging-murdering Benny Binion gamblers, underhanded Dad Joiner oil wildcatters, or crooked Danny Faulkner land developers.

l  But see, it looks like a place the mob would hang out in

What’s usually the biggest evidence pointed out for the mafia connection is the fact that Jack Ruby visited Campisi’s and allegedly ate with Joe Campisi the night before Ruby shot Oswald.  Or as the conspiracy theorist go, Ruby was a solider in the mob and got his marching orders to kill Oswald from Joe, a local mafia member.  The problem here beyond the fact that mob in Dallas wasn’t really big, was that Ruby was never really considered a member of the mob.  He was a wannabe, all the press corp members and vice cops of the era said as much.  A.C. Green a columnist and former metro writer for the Dallas Times Hearld who knew Ruby, called him, “…an undistinguished man”  who ran “…an undistinguished club”  that “didn’t even have  elementary class.”  And because Dallas lacked a strong organized estblishament, there wasn’t much need for a pleadingly crummy nightclub manager.  For his part, Joe Campisi said he hardly knew Ruby, and told the Warren Commission that Ruby was “…a crazy S.O.B.”

jack-ruby-nightclub-operator-everett  The crazy S.O.B. is on the left.

What’s more realistic is that the Campisi’s had interaction with people who were involved in organized crime as a fact of running a restaurant.  Running a restaurant in the 50’s and 60’s you had to deal with them.  Consider Thorton Mellon’s hidden cost of development lecture. It made sense for Joe to have good relations with liquor suppliers, labor, town officials, and other suppliers. Some of whom were likely involved in organized crime.  Plus Campisi’s likely had a few organized crime members that ate at the restaurant, it wasn’t like the cabana in the Goodfellas, but Tom Landry also ate there, and he’s about as straight laced as they come.  The relationship has been played up recently mainly for publicity now that one Campisi became a Playboy Playmate and another got a short lived TV show.  But really, it’s not as glamorous not as interesting as people make it out to be.

Swimming in White Rock and Why It’s called White Rock

Can people swim in White Rock Lake?  If not have they ever been able to?  From MR

Round Rock is named after an actual Round Rock, is White Rock Lake named after an actual white rock?  AH

I put these two questions together because, well, they’re both about White Rock.  And the simple answer, kinda yes sorta no…but really here you go.

First you can’t technically swim in the lake, not since 1952, when a drought forced the City to go back to using the lake as a public water source.  Could you swim in the lake before then?  Well, the Bath House on the east side of the lake used to have a beach with real sand out front. That beach on the lake in the 1940’s used to attract 10,000 people a day during the weekends.  They’d catch a streetcar down the Gaston line to last stop there at the spillway, and be ferried across by boat.  So a lot of people used to swim in the lake, back when White Rock Lake was considered the out skirts of town and a recreation lake like Possum Kingdom Lake or Lake Tawakoni is nowadays.


The building of the Damn

Much like those lakes, White Rock is a manmade lake. As a result of drought concerns in 1910, a damn was built on a creek the following year, and the lake eventually filled up by the mid-decade.  The Lake, was built on land that was mainly farm land, notably the Cox Family Farm.  The area had been originally settled by the Beeham family in the 1840’s not long after John Neely Bryan founded Dallas. The Beehams were among the first settlers of Dallas, Beeham’s wife was actually the first woman to visit the Dallas settlement.  She recorded on her first visit to the general store in Dallas, it had two items, a spool of fabric 3 yards long, and a barrel of whiskey.

1840-fabric-folded                awt-bourbon-cask-640_s640x427

Some of This                                                                                 And some of this

When  Beeham settled in Dallas, he settled along an escarpment above a creek.  An escarpment comprised of white chalky rocks, so he called the creek that ran through the white rocks, “White Rock Creek.”  The Lake would eventually take it’s name from the creek that he named.  So White Rock Lake is actually named after a bunch of white rocks, not one.


White Rocks from White Rock Creek

So why can’t you swim in white rock anymore?  Because the lake was never really a well-designed manmade lake.  The lake was only used as a water source until 1929, when Lake Lewisville was built.  So really only 15-20 years, which is a really short time for a public water source.  Of course from 1910 to 1930 Dallas went from 42,000 residents to over 250,000 so simple little White Rock wasn’t gonna do as a public water source, but it was still a lively recreational attraction.

In the years following White Rock’s removal as the public water source, there was some debate as to what to do with the Lake and the property around it.  Most, including George Kessler, agreed that the land immediately surrounding the Lake needed to be park land, but some wanted a Coney Island style attractions, while others, including Mayor, J. Waddy “Hot Dog” Tate wanted more subdued park amenities.  In the epic battle between the Coney folks and the Hot Dog folks, (ha) Hot Dog won.

jwt                                                     hotdog

Mayor Hot Dog                                                                                            Also Mayor Hot Dog

Well it might be more a result that the mansions begun to spring up around white rock, the planation style Bella Nora was built in ’29, H.L. Hunt’s Mt. Vernon’s replica was built ’38 and E. L. DeGolyer’s Rancho Encinal (currently The Dallas Arboretum) was built in ’39.  All surrounded the lake and likely won’t have taken to a giant Ferris wheel or fun house next to their million dollar homes.

So from the early 30’s to the late 40’s, a combination of Dallas County  chain gangs, New Deal CCC workers and German POW’s, built much of the trails, roads, benches, bridges and buildings currently serving White Rock.

ccc_chow_hall2          ccc_camp_view-400   CCC workers and their barracks (watermelon-kid.com

The lake since then has had its ups and downs.  The lady of the lake stories, the motorboat races,  the years of the submarine races at the lake(teenagers necking), the years of the lake used as a cruising ground for gays, the marathons,  the 75 pound cat fish that were pulled from the lake, etc.

But with local East Dallas volunteer groups like For the Love of Lake, it’s become hugely successful as an urban natural amenity in a town that has few.

117-rray-cycling-wrl  Also an artist’s Inspiration  (dallasartrevue.com)

Why the Cowboys are called “America’s Team”

Why do the Dallas Cowboys call themselves America’s Team, kinda presumptuous for a mediocre team to do that isn’t it. –  KZ from Chicago

Well obviously you’re not a Cowboys fan.  But in short the answer is that throughout the 1960’s, 70’s 80’s and 90’s the Cowboys were both extremely successful AND extremely marketable.


The Team that was first called America’s Team (dallascowboys.com)

The term was coined in 1978 by NFL Films.  They were producing an end of the year highlight film, and were looking for a nickname for the Cowboys.  It was the late 1970’s and football was coming into its own as a sport.  Though pro football had been around for a number of years, the 70’s saw huge gains in popularity for the sport.  This was in part because football, more than any other professional sport; looks and plays great on TV.  And the Cowboys, in particular looked and played great on TV more than anyone else.


The 1978 “America’s Team” included your balding Uncle, Questlove’s cousin, and a porn star.

In 1978, the Cowboys had just finished their 12th consecutive winning season, a streak that would hit ultimately hit 20.  In those 20 years they made the playoffs 18 times, both are records.  They owned their conference, the NFC, playing in the NFC championship every other year for over thirty years.  In the 1970’s they played in as many Super Bowls as all the other teams in the NFC combined.

But they weren’t just successful in transformative years of the NFL, they were marketable.  They had that iconic Blue Star on their helmet, one of the most recognizable sports logos worldwide.

dallas-cowboys-helmet-logo-e1325797190394-250x192 People on tiny islands in the Pacific know what this is (dallascowboys.com)

They played in a stadium that unlike many in the NFL was also recognizable.  The not quite a doom, not quite an open air stadium that looked like it had a hole on the roof.  That hole by the way was put there so that , as linebacker D.D. Lewis said, so “  God can watch His favorite team play.”  Now that’s presumptuous.

Texas%20Stadium-dallas ob Why God had to put a hole in the roof to see is beyond me(dallascowboys.com)

As for the players, the teams of the late 60’s and 70’s included a Heisman Trophy winner (and future hall of fame) running back, and another Heisman Trophy winner at Quarterback who just so happened to be a Navy War Hero (also a hall of famer).  At Wide Receiver, they had a bona fided track star.  As in a Olympic Gold Medal winner, literally the world’s fastest man.  Bob Hayes, Or Bullet Bob Hayes was the  Usain Bolt of his generation who then also became Calvin Johnson, (not to be confused with Navin R. Johnson).  Of course they also had true blue western cowboys, Danny Dons, members of the Rodeo Hall of Fame, the author of whats considered the best novel ever about professional football, Tonight Show guest hostslotto winners, pro wrestlers, and other assorted characters.

As coach they also had one of the best known hat wearing man in the western world…Tom Landry


So by 1978, when NFL Films was trying to think of a nickname, they realized that no matter where they went to film the Cowboys on their road games, there were always Cowboy fans.  The Cowboys also played more national TV games than anyone else, including the Monday Night games and the Thanksgiving Day games. When foreigners were asked to name an American football team, the Cowboys were named most often and their Blue Starred helmets identified.  The Cowboys had become the most popular team in the NFL, so if football was quickly becoming America’s new past time, the Cowboys were becoming America’s Team.

0123_largeSports Illustrated, back when the cover was edited by 7 year olds

The name has stuck in part because of the wave of successful and the characters of the 1990s.  If the Cowboys had only been successful and charismatic in the 60’s, 70’s and into the 80’s, the name may have faded.  But in the 1990’s, football’s second boom time with the explosion of cable tv, espn, highlight shows, and fantasy football; the Cowboys were just as successful and just as marketable as they were in the earlier years.


Available on ebay for a small fortune

They’d play in three Super Bowls in the 90’s making the playoffs eight times, their quarterback, Troy Aikman would win more games in that decade than any other quarterback in history had and would date America’s sweetheart in the early 90’s Nancy Kerrigan.  They also had a fur coats wearing Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith the all time leading rusher NFL history, and their biggest free agent of the time was nicknamed, “PrimeTime”  for his antics.  He also had a rap song…it’s awesome. It inlcudes the lyrics…”Hey, my snakeskin shoes gonna change into gators- Hey, my library cards gonna change into credit cards”

deion1992skyboxprimetime Deion’s Poster c2_24343_0_PrimeTimeNFLStarringDeionSande Deion’s Game

And though the Cowboys have not had the success they had in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s or 90’s, they do still have this.


Which should make America’s Team forever