We drive by them every day. Perhaps we even give others directions using them. But rarely do we pause to investigate their histories or why they're there. Here are the stories behind nine of Dallas' coolest and most unappreciated visual landmarks.
Lucas B&B sign
Venturing down Oak Lawn Avenue, you may have noticed the Lucas B&B sign in front of Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. But where is the B&B? It’s no longer in business. The namesake came to be in 1923 on Akard Street. It was open 24 hours a day, and the founder, Faithon P. Lucas, grew his own food for the restaurant at Lucas Farms in Mesquite. In 1953, Lucas moved his restaurant venture to Oak Lawn and Lemmon avenues, where it remained open until 1989.
Ferris wheel(s) of Dallas
Unless you’ve attended the State Fair of Texas, you may have only seen the Texas Star Ferris wheel in photos or from afar. Built in Italy, it’s the largest Ferris wheel in North America, and it debuted at Fair Park more than three decades ago in 1985. To operate the mammoth contraption, more than 15 employees staff the ride, which takes riders up 20 stories high. During the fair, the wheel lights up the Dallas sky with 16,000 incandescent red, white and blue bulbs. A new Ferris wheel is making its way to Dallas, but this one is hitching its ride to a barbecue joint. Ferris Wheelers Backyard BBQ debuts soon after Labor Day and will tout a 50-foot Ferris wheel. So grab a rack of ribs and enjoy views from up in the sky.
The Traveling Man is one of the most iconic and photographed fixtures of Deep Ellum. There are three large installations referred to as the Traveling Man, all created by the artistic eye and hand of Brad Oldham. The figures were created to replace a selection of murals that were originally seen as welcome symbols of Deep Ellum. The murals were taken down because of construction of a light-rail system, and ta-da, the Traveling Man statues came to life. The first statue is Awakening, the second is Waiting on the Train and the third is Walking Tall.
Union Station is almost seen as a rite of a passage or stamp of approval for a major city, and Dallas boasts one in the Reunion District. This iconic landmark dates to 1916, and serves as a blend of architectural and monumental proportions. Massive arched windows, 48-foot ceilings and original chandeliers contribute to the charm and grandeur Union Station exudes. Its original purpose was to consolidate five rail stations scattered around
Dallas into one, making Dallas a major transportation center in the Southwest. Now, Union Station is home to many events and weddings.
Pegasus (old and new)
The original Pegasus, seen as a Dallas icon, flew above the Dallas skyline for more than 60 years atop the Magnolia building. A new, rust-free version replaced it at the turn of the century. But what happened to the original weathered winged horse? It was banished to storage for 15 years but was recently revealed in fully restored glory — at a cost of $200,000 — in front of the Omni Dallas Hotel downtown. Admirers can view the original, now on street level, up close.
Coors Light waterfall billboard above Katy Trail
There's nothing like a refreshing waterfall cascading above the Katy Trail, urging you to drink Coors Light. This area of the trail is referred to as Goat Hill. You may have noticed the beer brand is a mainstay on this piece of billboard real estate. But it was constructed for San Antonio’s Pearl Brewing Co. in 1962 and advertised the brewery for more than a decade. After that, the billboard became home to an array of products, eventually landing on Coors Light. In 2008, the waterfall sign received a makeover and expansion.
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Old Red Museum
Now a popular destination for weddings and photo ops downtown, the former courthouse was built in 1892. Although this landmark has a long heritage, the exhibits are up to date with new technology, including 41 touchscreen computers and four mini theaters to help visitors learn its history. Its location downtown and proximity to historic West End make it a popular event space; 320 guests can enjoy the sparkling chandeliers and 20-foot ceilings.
Ever notice a cattle drive in the heart of downtown Dallas? Thanks to the Texas Tree Foundation, Pioneer Plaza was created in 1995 to celebrate the historical importance of downtown Dallas. The plaza highlights Dallas’ beginnings by portraying the trails responsible for leading settlers to Dallas. Native plants and trees, a flowing stream and, of course, bronze statues of a cattle drive provide the backdrop for the plaza. You’ll also spy three cowboys horseback, leading the drive. Robert Summers of Glen Rose crafted the statues, which can be found at the intersection of Young and Griffin streets.
The Texas Theatre
One of Oak Cliff’s most recognizable and historically significant landmarks is the Texas Theatre. On Nov. 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested there for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the killing of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit. The iconic theater attracts folks to enjoy special events and independent and repertory cinema. Aviation Cinemas signed a lease in September 2010 to serve as the operator of the theater.