César Chávez Lives! Or: Looks Like the City Council's Found a Street to Rename After All.
If you're unaware for whom Young Street downtown is named, here's a brief history lesson courtesy the Texas/Dallas History & Archives at the Dallas Public Library:
Young Street was named for Methodist minister Reverend William C. Young. Young had served as a chaplain in the Arkansas Confederate regiment under the command of General W. L. Cabell. At the end of the war, in 1865, Young relocated to Dallas County.
On his arrival, Young built the first home in the cedar breaks that later became known as The Cedars, just south of today's Dallas City Hall building. After Young's original log cabin was enlarged into a clapboard mansion, his home served as a benchmark in the survey of the first east-west street in The Cedars. Young Street was named by County Surveyor W. H. Thomas, later a prominent Dallas banker.
Reverend Young served one term as a Dallas County District Clerk (1867-1868) and was a three-term alderman for the fourth ward, which included The Cedars, during the 1870s. Young died in 1921 at the age of 94. He is buried in what was then known as the Old Masonic Cemetery, now the Masonic Section of the Pioneer Cemetery.
It's also the street upon which the downtown Dallas library, The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-Channel 8 are perched. For now. Say what?
Yup, here we go again, as today Unfair Park has learned that the city has decided to rename Young Street, between Houston Street and S. Pearl Expressway, for César Chávez. Hunh, maybe that's why Robert Decherd was meeting with Mayor Tom Leppert today at 1:15 p.m. ("No, no, no," says Chris Heinbaugh, the mayor's chief of staff. "That was about something else entirely.")
So, whose idea was this?
Turns out, the Dallas city council.
Because, as you'll no doubt recall, after the whole Ross Avenue fiasco, Mayor Tom Leppert said he'd put together a task force to research other streets the city might be able to name for the farm worker and labor leader. Street-name histories were considered; so too were the number of businesses impacted and the amount of historic properties along the street. Heinbaugh doesn't recall exactly how many streets were considered; Carolyn Horner, a planner for the city and the person through whom name changes go, says it was about 22 or 23.
Heinbaugh says he didn't know Young Street had been officially chosen -- and it hasn't, not technically. But Horner tells Unfair Park that Young Street was the one with which the city council was most satisfied. About three months ago, she says, letters were sent to residents and business owners along Young asking for their response.
"We got less than 10 percent back," Horner says. "That information was passed on to the city council, and they went with Young."
Today, a similar letter was sent to city departments, among them Dallas Fire Rescue, the Dallas Police Department and the water department. "In case they have something" that might conflict with the name change," Horner says.
But she stresses, this is by no means a done deal -- just close to it: "It's not official yet in that it has not been initiated."
That, she says, will happen, "sooner than later." Indeed, one source indicated that the council would like to initiate the name-change proceedings before July 4 -- which it can do via memo, as the council's last meeting before summer break is tomorrow. The request will then have to pass through the city's Subdivision Review Committee, then the City Plan Commission, then the city council. And given it was the council that made the recommendation in the first place, well ...