Turns Out, the 1941 Dallas City Code Isn't As Antiquated As You'd Think

I keep on a bookshelf in my office a hardbound copy of the City Code of Dallas, Texas 1941, which once belonged to attorney Milton Norton -- at least his name is stamped inside, next to the enormous zoning poster I keep meaning to get framed. Among the to-don'ts: "throwing fruit peelings on sidewalks" (wacky!), "skating on sidewalks" (what the ...?) and "a female person eighteen years of age or over [having] sexual intercourse with a male person over the age of fourteen years, other than her lawful husband, within the corporate limits of the city of Dallas" (hey now!). Also not allowed: "No one shall have or maintain any fruit stand, huckster's stand or other stall on any sidewalk in the city of Dallas."

Apparently, that last bit of antiquated no-you-don't has been allowed to stand ever since, per Bike Friendly Oak Cliff's reading of the current city code in advance of its Better Block Project, which we wrote about last week. Writes BFOC's BMOC: "Awnings, street flowers, and café seating each require a $1000 per year license fee -- due payable to the City of Dallas."

That awning thing likewise dates back to '41, as does the part of the current code dealing with attracting a crowd: "If anyone shall, by loud talking or unusual acts of exhibition, attract a crowd on any sidewalk, and shall refuse to desist when requested to do so" by a police officer or anyone else, they'll be charged with a misdemeanor and charged $25, says the '41 code. Writes BFOC by way of response to the modern-day nuh-unh, "As a city, we should be encouraging this type of sidewalk experience.  We hope you agree that our business owners and sidewalks deserve better treatment."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky