West Dallas – Dallas, Texas

West Dallas is an area consisting of many communities and neighborhoods in Dallas, Texas, United States. West Dallas is bounded by Interstate 30 on the south, the Trinity River on the east and north, and the Trinity River’s West Fork on the west.

One of the city’s up-and-coming areas for urban revitalization, West Dallas is seeing new developments emerge. They include:

  • Trinity Groves, on Singleton Boulevard
  • Sylvan/Thirty, on Fort Worth Avenue
  • Alta West Commerce
  • Alta Yorktown
  • Cliff View (West of Sylvan and north of Fort Worth Avenue)

These developments bring top-tier chefs, yoga studios, fresh-food markets, hip retail, and apartments and condos with views of the downtown Dallas skyline, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and the Margaret McDermott Bridge.

Other newer residents of West Dallas include the Belmont Hotel; the restaurant/bar complex Chicken Scratch/The Foundry; The Workroom, the SPCA of Texas, Dead White Zombies theater company, Salon Las Americas event center, and MetroPaws Animal Hospital, among many others.

A budding industrial turned arts area of Dallas, West Dallas right past Trinity Groves, is filled with entertainment and murals. Find live music, mini golf, hidden taquerias, old-school restaurants, and more, plus a great development for the whole family, known as Sylvan Thirty! 

The History of West Dallas Timeline will guide you through West Dallas’ history, from environmental injustice t to the housing crisis faced throughout its history. In each event, you will find information from books, articles, and news sources along with a video or podcast diving deeper into the topic. The history below, compiled by Cristal Mendez and Shelby Peck, was intended to highlight key events in the past, but also explain how those events are still shaping the future of West Dallas.

History

West Dallas originated as a community on the outskirts of Dallas. The community was founded in 1886.

In 1909 the Thomas A. Edison School was built. Murphy Metals (later known as RSR Corporation), a secondary lead smelter processing company, opened a 63-acre (250,000 m2) facility and in 1934 started operations at the site. The process of secondary lead smelting melts the collected lead materials or, lead scrap, into metallic lead that can then be used to cast into molds. Significant lead emissions can occur from poorly controlled refining, casting, and drossing operations.

The city of Dallas annexed West Dallas into the city limits in 1954. Before that year, many residents lived in an area lacking basic services because they resided outside the city lines. Then in 1956, a 3,500-unit public housing complex was to be built just north of the RSR lead smelter facility. The southern edge of the public housing complex was located 50 feet (15 m) from the lead smelter’s property line.

In 1968 the City of Dallas enacted an ordinance prohibiting more than 5 micrograms per cubic meter over 30 days. This act went unenforced because in the 1960s RSR Corp West Dallas facility released more than 269 tons of lead particles into the air each year. During that time few residents could afford the luxury of air conditioning, so in the summers they kept their doors and windows open to combat the heat, directly exposing them to the toxins in the air, even in their own homes. It wasn’t until 1972 that Dallas officials learned that lead could be finding its way into the bloodstreams of children who lived in West Dallas and the bordering community of East Oak Cliff.

The Dallas Health Department then conducted a study of its own. They found children living near smelters had elevated levels of lead. Lead could reach their bloodstream through the air, soil, and households in and around their living environments. In areas near smelters, children had a 36 percent increase in blood lead levels. The city failed to take immediate action and in 1974 the city sued local smelters. The company agreed to pay $35,000 and install new pollution control equipment. This did little to resolve the problem because in 1983 the pollution equipment had still not been installed at RSR Corp. Pressure from the community on government agencies was beginning to rise.

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