Signposts and History: Dallas Street Name Changes
In recent weeks, the Dallas City Council has been considering proposals to rename a local street in honor of civil rights activist César Chávez. Due to the level of interest in this effort, the Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division is posting some information about the streets that are under consideration.
If you would like more information about the procedure for changing a street name in Dallas, please see the "Street Name Change" section of the Dallas Development Guide, which begins on page 53.
The streets discussed on this page are:
- Columbia Street
- Industrial Boulevard
- Ross Avenue
- Young Street
- Moody Street
- Pearl Street
Columbia was one of the original 18 streets named by John Neely Bryan. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is a poetical name for America or for a time of discovery originating out of Columbus.
The construction of Industrial Boulevard was part of the Trinity River levee project, providing a road through land that had previously flooded when the Trinity River overflowed its banks. Construction began in 1930 and the road was in use by late summer of 1931. The road was named Industrial Boulevard because it ran through a section of land that was developed for industry.
The 1929 edition of H. A. Spencer's Street Guide and Index of Dallas Texas has the following entry for Industrial Boulevard on page 62:
INDUSTRIAL BLVD. -- To be built in Trinity River Valley about ¼ mile SW of Lamar St.; will run NW from Corinth across new industrial section W of Union Station to its connection with the new NW Highway.
And, the Dallas Morning News ran an article titled "In Line to Be Completed in Short Time . . ." on page 13 of the January 2, 1930, issue. The following is an excerpt from article:
The industrial boulevard, provided for by the recent bond issue, will be the beginning from Dallas of the new road [a new road to Fort Worth]. It will begin east of the levees at Corinth street and curve around to a point just this side of Irving. The right of way will be 100 to 125 feet wide and the roadway will be a wide slab of concrete. Work on that boulevard will begin early this year.
After completion, the road was heralded as a triumph for the city in another article from the Dallas Morning News (on page 12 of the August 30, 1931, issue). The article was titled "Ribbon of Pavement Marks Line Once Battle Front as Engineers Fought and Tamed Unruly River." From that article:
Sight-seeing at home is now within the easy range of every citizen of Dallas. Completion of the paving of Industrial Boulevard, extending through the Trinity River reclamation district from Corinth street on the south to Westmoreland road on the north, enables the Dallas man or woman with an automobile to get a new impression of the city's skyline. A trip over this boulevard unfolds a constantly changing vista, reflecting the magnitude of the city, and the tremendous importance of the reclaimed area to the community as a whole. . . .
Thousands of citizens traversed the district last Sunday and other thousands are expected to inspect the gigantic work this Sunday. Using any river crossing from Cointh street northward, or from Westmoreland road southward, the motorists can drive over a concrete highway through what only a few months ago was river bottom lands, overgrown with jungle verdure, seeing on either hand the evidences of man 's conquest of nature in the relcamation of a vast area of land, within almost literally a stone's throw of the heart of the city, and area destined for vast development for industries when the whole program is completed. . . .
Only by a trip through the district can the citizen understand the work that has been done, or realize the urgent necessity of finishing the job. "Se[e]ing is believing," the adage asserts. A ten-mile automobile trip, starting, say, at the Cadiz street underpass, and taking the traveler over Industrial Boulevard, Westmoreland road, and the Outer Boulevard, back to the Houston street viaduct, will convince even the most skeptical that in moving and curbing the Trinity, Dallas is doing a job that means everything to the city's future.
Ross Avenue was named for two brothers, Andrew J. and William W. Ross, who owned land bisected by the street. According to the Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County, William Ross came to Dallas County in 1866 and was soon joined by his brother. Andrew Ross’ 1905 obituary in the Dallas Morning News indicates that it was Andrew Ross who came to Dallas in 1866. The brothers were farmers and real estate agents. The street has been named Ross Avenue since at least 1868, when the minutes of the Dallas City Council talk about road grading work on Ross Avenue. The first Dallas City Directory was published in 1873, and it shows Andrew Ross living on Ross Avenue.
William Ross was born March 30, 1821, and died November 14, 1899. The younger of the brothers, Andrew Ross, was born September 8, 1835, and died September 16, 1905. The brothers are both buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
Sources: WPA Dallas Guide and History; Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas; the 1873 Dallas City Directory; December 3, 1868, entry in the City of Dallas Minute Books; and the Dallas Morning News.
Pioneer Dallasite Ed Cornwall Recalls Ross Avenue Origin (from the Dallas Morning News, April 15, 1923, page 2)
My father [working as a contractor about 1870] took the credit for opening the road since known as Ross avenue. We graded the road through J. M. Patterson's pasture from Lamar street to Akard street, and cut the trees and ditched the roads from through String Town and Freedman Town to Jack Cole's place now at the intersection of McKinney and Cole avenues. . . . After the street was opened A. J. and William Ross settled on it near Akard street, and later the thoroughfare was named for A. J. Ross, who was for many years a prominent citizen."
Civil War Military Service of Andrew J. Ross (from the Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives Micropublication No. 323; and the Compendium of the Confederate Armies, by Stewart Sifakis, New York: Facts On File, 1992)
Andrew J. Ross enrolled in the Texas 22nd Infantry Regiment in August 1862, which was organized in Tyler (Smith County). He served in various capacities and volunteered as a regimental orderly. His highest rank was first lieutenant and adjutant, confirmed on December 21, 1864. A. J. Ross was present at all roll calls, and he served until his regiment surrendered on May 26, 1865. Ross took the oath of amnesty to U.S. government on July 26, 1865.
Horticultural Activities of W. W. Ross, (excerpted from Horticulture and Horticulturists in Early Texas, by Samuel Wood Geiser, Dallas: SMU Press, 1945, pp. 76-77)
Ross, W. W. -- A citizen of early Dallas interested in horticulture, and one of the most effective workers in North Texas: he was one of the experts on awards for fruits at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. . . . [Mr. Ross] has 18 acres of apples, pears, peaches, and apricots. . . . He has produced 200 to 300 bushels of peaches per acre. . . . His grapes are all made into heavy-bodied wine, yielding about 600 gallons per acre. . . . Before 1884, Mr. Ross moved to Pilot Point, Denton Co., where he helped organize the Pilot Point Horticultural Society, and was its original 1st vice president. Besides horticultural papers published in the Pilot Point Mirror, and The Horticulturist, [Ross also wrote horticultural articles for Texas Farm & Ranch between 1885 and 1887]. In 1875, Mr. Ross was one of the vice-presidents of the Texas State Horticultural and Pomological Association.
Dallas' First "Kitchen Garden" (excerpted from the Dallas Morning News, April 30, 1922, page 6)
My [W. H. Gaston] nearest neighbor was A. J. Ross, who lived on the road now known as Ross avenue, near the corner of Akard Street. His brother, William Ross, a bachelor lived with him. William Ross was perhaps the first man who attempted to cultivate a kitchen garden in Dallas. He selected for his garden spot the land on the west side of Masten street [now St. Paul] between Ross avenue and the creek. I was about to say that his experiment was watched with great interest, but that would not convey my meaning. Nobody believed that vegetables would grow here, and the people laughed in advance at the failure of his venture, which they regarded as a matter of course. But, thanks to an unusually rainy season, and plenty of water in the creek, from which he irrigated his garden, Mr. Ross produced vegetables enough to supply half the town.
W. W. Ross Obituary (from the Dallas Morning News, November 16, 1899, page 6)
Passing of a Pioneer
The Funeral of W. W. Ross Yesterday Afternoon
The funeral of W. W. Ross took place from the residence of his brother, Capt. A. J. Ross, on Ross avenue, yesterday afternoon. Rev. George C. Rankin, editor of the Texas Christian Advocate, officiated and paid a very eloquent tribute to the good qualities of heart and mind of the dead pioneer. There was present a large concourse of people, including many who came to Dallas back in the '60s or earlier.
"It was the largest gathering of the old citizens that has taken place for a long time," said Capt. W. H. Gaston in speaking of the funeral last night. "Mr. Ross was born in Georgia about eighty years ago. He came to Texas in 1854, locating in Smith county, and in 1867 he came to Dallas. Ross avenue was named in his honor. He was a practical gardener and orchard man, and for more than a quarter of a century he was government crop reporter here. He was a very intelligent man, a famous horticulturist, and was at one time president of the State Horticultural Society, I believe. His orchard at Pilot Point was one of the largest in the state.
"He was a splendid type of the early Texas pioneer. Hospitable, progressive and broad-gauged, he was identified with the early development of this city and county and loved the state of his adoption as a mother loves her child. His wife died fourteen years ago and no children survive him. In religion he was a regular communicant of the M. E. church, south, and in politics a Jacksonian democrat."
A. J. Ross Obituary (from the Dallas Morning News, September 17, 1905, page 9)
Texas Pioneer Passes Away
Death of Capt. A. J. Ross, an Old Resident and Enthusiastic Sportsman -- Came from Georgia
Capt. A. J. Ross, a pioneer of Texas, died yesterday morning at his home on Ross Avenue Heights. Capt. Ross, or Capt. "Andy," as he was familiarly known to his friends, was born seventy years ago in Putnam County, Georgia. He came to Texas in 1854, settling in Smith County. Removing from Smith County he came to Dallas in 1866 and has lived here most of his life. He was a Confederate soldier, serving with honor during the Civil War.
Capt. Ross was well known about Dallas, having lived in the same neighborhood for about thirty-nine years. He was an enthusiastic sportsman, and was very fond of hunting dogs. He was a Methodist and belonged to the First Methodist Church at the time of his death. He leaves one son and two daughters -- J. L. Ross, Mrs. H. L. Lawther and Mrs. R. S. Manor.
The funeral services will be held this afternoon and interment will follow at Greenwood Cemetery.
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.
Sources: WPA Dallas Guide and History; Dallas Yesterday; and the Dallas Morning News.
Moody Street appears definitively on the 1882 map of Dallas, but does not appear in the Dallas City Directory until 1888-89. Neighboring streets (Wichita and Payne) are also visible on the 1882 map but do not appear in the directory until 1886. Plat maps of the Ervin Addition from Murphy & Bolanz show the "old corporation line" and "new corporation line," which indicate that a portion of the Ervin Addition and western edge of the Cole Addition (both of which encompass these streets) had just been incorporated into Dallas, probably about 1887. None of the substantial property owners in the immediate area -- J.W. Payne, N.A. Yeargan, Neil McKinnon, or C.E. McCarty -- had family members that were identifiably Moodys, although Payne, Yeargan, and McKinnon all had streets named for them that abutted their property.
We do not know for whom Pearl Street is named. The earliest official mention of Pearl Street is in the 1873-74 Dallas City Directory, which includes Pearl in the street listings and indicates that it ran from McKinney to Pacific. This is corroborated by the WPA Dallas Guide and History (pg. 176), which mentions that, in the mid-1870s, a church was formed from the split of a larger congregation, and the splinter group called itself the Pearl and Main Church of Christ. Research suggests that Pearl Street may be named for a family member of an early landowner, as this appears to be a common trend for early Dallas street names, but library staff has not been able to identify any specific possibilities.
Pearl Expressway was created with ordinance number 5285 on October 16, 1951. Pearl Expressway was Pearl Street, south of Beaumont Street, moving northwestward to Pacific. Additionally, the newly opened sections of Pearl Street and St. George Street between Gano and Central Expressway at Park Row were changed to Central Expressway. Finally, Pearl Street's new extension from Pacific to Central Expressway at Cora was to be named Pearl Expressway.
It is safe to say that Pearl Street is definitely not named for Pearl C. Anderson. She was born in 1898 in Louisiana, at which time Pearl Street had been firmly established for more than twenty years.