History of Deep Ellum
Long before anyone was concerned with garage door repair in Dallas, Texas, there was the founding of a special place called Deep Ellum. It has a deep history that dates back to 1873 when it was established as a commercial and residential neighborhood in an area, east of downtown Dallas. Originally, the area was called Deep Elm, but the name later changed to Deep Ellum’ as pronounced by the early residents. Since then, Deep Ellum’ has been adopted as the official name of the region. Additionally, the area was also referred to as Central Track due to its proximity to the Houston Texas Central Railroad.
The first cotton gin factory was built in Deep Ellum
Deep Ellum is recognized as the first commercial districts for African-Americans and European immigrants. Deep Ellum has the largest collection of retail stores from the early 20th century. The first cotton gin factory, the Continental Gin Company was built by Robert S. Munger in a series of brick warehouses along Trunk Avenue in Deep Ellum in 1888.
As the cotton gin factory expanded to become the largest manufacturer of cotton processing equipment in U.S.A, Robert expanded the cotton gin factory by putting additional structures along Trunk and Elm in 1912 and 1914. The industrial complex was later on converted into to loft apartments.
Deep Ellum is the home to the first Ford Factory
Apart from housing the first gin factory, Deep Ellum was to later on house another huge facility. In 1914, Henry Ford, the brains behind Ford automobiles settled on Deep Ellum to build one of the earliest automobile plants.
The assembly plant was designed by architect John Graham, who was also instrumental in developing other regional Ford facilities in the early 1900s. The first automobile plant for Ford was constructed as an assembly for the famous Model T automobile. This plant remained at its original location; 2700 Canton Street until 1930’s. Adam Hats, later on, moved into the four-storey brick in 1959. This Dallas landmark was also converted to loft apartments giving new life to the Deep Ellum district.
Deep Ellum housed the Grand Temple of the Knights of Pythias
Adding to another layer of Deep Ellum history was the first Grand Temple. Union Bankers Trusting Building on 2551 Elm Street was initially the Grand temple, designed by architect William Sydney Pittman who was the state’s first black architecture. He was also the son in-law of Booker T. Washington.
In addition to serving as the headquarters for the knights, the building also housed the earliest offices for black lawyers, doctors, and dentists. It also served as the social and cultural center for the black people until 1930’s. This was one of the largest projects done by pitman.
Other recognizable landmarks within Deep Ellum include the Palace Shop at 2814 main streets and Parks Brothers Warehouse at 2639 Elm Street.
Deep Ellum and Music
Deep Ellum was able to rise to fame due to its rich music scene. In the early 1920’s, the neighborhood was known for early jazz and blues musicians. Some of the famous musicians who hailed from the city include the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Texas Bill day, Huddie and Bessie smith. From 1920 going forward, the number of nightclubs, domino parlors, and cafes increased tremendously.
The Fall of Fame
Following the Second World War, the fame of Deep Ellum began to fade. The increased availability of automobiles led to the removal of Houston & Texas Central railroad tracks to give way for the Central Expressway.
By 1956, the street car line was removed, businesses were closed, music was stopped, and residents moved to the suburbs. The central expressway cut Deep Ellum completely obliterating the 2400 block that was seen by many as the center of the neighborhood.
Re-ignition of music scene
Deep Ellum music scene came back to life in the 1980’s giving birth to local bands such as old 97s, Butthole Surfers, the New Bohemians, Tripping Daisy and a host of other bands. Music venue trees opened in the 1990’s becoming a favorite spot among locals to watch bands and nationally known acts.
For a long time now, Deep Ellum has been referred to as the center for visual artists who exhibit their artistry skills through street murals, galleries, public art and other type’s public displays of creativity. Restaurants in Deep Ellum have been commissioning local artists to paint original murals o their walls for decades.
“Additionally, Deep Ellum has hosted the Deep Ellums Arts Festival which started as a one street block party. Deep Ellum Arts Festival now” consists of more than 100 musical artists performing on five stages. The festival also includes foods and beverages served by more than 20 restaurants.