10/21/03 Everything Old is New Again?
Did you know Dallas had a city sanctioned red light
district in the early 1900's?
I didn't either, but Stan Aten
remembered reading about it in SMU Professor Emeritus Darwin Payne's wonderful
Big D, Triumphs and Troubles of an American Supercity in the 20th
Century, Revised Edition.
latest (stupid) proposal an issue. I knew about the early red light
Heard Darwin Payne talk about it at a luncheon hosted by
Friends of the Library back when I was a new council member.
the idea was received by the audience as an antiquated oddity.
Wouldn't you know our liberal council would think the idea is "progressive."
It so happens I have a copy signed by the author
himself. He spoke at a meeting I attended in October, 2000, and
autographed my copy with a special note. I had been keeping the book
in a special place -- always intending to pick it up and read it cover to
cover. Now, I will for sure because there is just so much juicy
history in this book.
I can't believe they are seriously considering a red light
district for the Naval Air Station.
This may be where the City Council
finally "jumps the shark". Where they are so devoid of judgment, ideas and
leadership that they just lose it.
If they can't come up with their own
revitalization plan, they should simply copy another city.
Preferably not Amsterdam.
Anyway, starting on page 48, "Fallen Women", through page 56 "Breaking up the
Reservation" is just heart-break reading. We never learn, and much of the
bad that has happened in this city was done to us by the forebears of Our
Downtown Betters (the ODB), whose names are plastered on our parks and high
You really have to get a copy of this book, but here is some really good stuff
nor civic nor government leaders ever spoke publicly of one very visible
aspect of Dallas: its flourishing
trade in prostitution. The "social evil," as it was called, operated
openly with official city blessings in a designated "reservation" a few
blocks away from where John Neely Bryan had settled in 1841....
City police and county officials permitted prostitutes to practice their
trade in this designated location without interference. The number of
"fallen women" living and working in this area was estimated to range
between 240 and 400, with the higher figure the most commonly accepted one.
The rationale behind concentrating the prostitutes was to prevent them from
contaminating the rest of the city....
The first area set aside for prostitutes by the city had been in
the "South End." The new charter of 1907 condoned its existence, ...
Because that property now was being taken up by the expansion of railroad
property, prostitutes were dispersing to different parts of the city,
inflicting a condition" on reputable families which should not be tolerated.
For the public good, then, the "social evil" again needed a precise,
1910 Dallas' city commissioners adopted an ordinance specifically
designating new boundaries for the prostitutes in Frogtown....
"We find that under the existing conditions bawdy houses and bawds are
promiscuously scattered throughout the City, greatly menacing the decent
neighborhoods and offending decent and respectable....
A preacher/reformer named J. T. Upchurch .... observed in
scathing terms the contrast between Dallas' public proclamations of civic
progress and this hideous, accepted evil in its midst. "Some hundreds
of girls are kept in this district as White Slaves; ..."
... Upchurch went into the district to conduct an open-air service,
accompanied by his wife and several supporters. Two skeptical police
officers asked why he would bring his wife into such a disreputable area.
Upchurch responded with his own question: What right did Dallas have
to tolerate any street within its city limits where his wife could not go
with perfect safety? ...
If the vice district were truly a necessary adjunct for advancing
the city's general welfare, he wrote, no one would raise objections if he
reproduced in his publication photographs of some of the houses and the
names of the absentee owners of these houses, ... the "two immoral
resorts" at 2116-2114 Griffin Street were said to be owned by the
aforementioned Chastain and a local physician, W. W. Samuell, ...
... the city faced condemnation as well at a meeting of the American
Medical Association. In a speech to this influential organization
Cincinnati's health officer said that the "Dallas
plan" places prostitutes in the
heart of the city and invites the world to come in and contract horrible
I had never heard of Rev. Upchurch until Monday, October 20, but
he must have been sitting on my shoulder when I wrote "Throw Away Women" over the
weekend. He was right to call prostitutes "White Slaves", and I am right
to call our current sex club industry "America's
last slave trade".
Did you find it interesting that some 70 years later the ODB and Belo created
Plan"? The first
modern day Dallas Plan director was a tall fellow from New York, who spent most of his time
interviewing community leaders. In those days, I was on the A-list of
community leaders and had my requisite interview. He was replaced with
another out-of-state person, Karen Walz.
Jim Schutze describes one of her meetings:
Big Brother does Dallas
Jim Schutze unmasks the Orwellian Dallas Plan Inc
BY JIM SCHUTZE
a community meeting sponsored by the "Dallas Plan," and on the surface, it's
the kind of earnest town-hall public hearing--let's all skip dinner, swill
weak coffee, and talk about curbs and gutters till we're dizzy--that
seasoned reporters rank right up there with a root canal in terms of how to
spend an evening.
... There are bunches of chairs up front. A
podium. An easel for the Dick-and-Jane visuals.
But something is seriously amiss.
First of all, when they start the meeting and everyone is up at the front of
the room, people aren't allowed to speak.
This is a public hearing that appears to be put on by the Dallas planning
department and the city council, and it has a lot to do with the proposed $2
billion reconstruction of the Trinity River, which runs right through this
part of town. But people are told they cannot speak.
... Then you're ordered to go to your
... Yes, there are monitors. With clipboards and
stopwatches. And they scold you if you try to talk about things that aren't
on the list.
...At one table sits a very suave, sharkish
young woman in black pants and a black top, almost certainly not a
neighborhood mom. She is way, way ahead of the curve on everything, but
tries to come across like just another interested citizen who's wandered in
off Westmoreland Road to chat about the Trinity River project.
... You've suddenly passed into Dallas' version
of George Orwell's Ministry of Truth, where nothing is quite what it seems
to be and the truth is whatever a passel of shady, spooky characters tells
you it is.
... Out of this process will come something that
will be presented as a consensus on the Trinity River plan.
... "The committee's consensus-building process
was immediately halted when Ron Kirk became mayor," Pelon said in her
... Her group was supposed to produce a
consensus report stating what people believed should be the economic
development philosophy of the Trinity River project.
... Seemingly out of the blue, and with no
reference to what the subcommittee had said it wanted, a new draft of the
consensus report appears in the files at one point....
The author of this new version of the report was Pelon's co-chair of the
subcommittee, Karen Walz, who happens to be executive director of a private
foundation called "The Dallas Plan Inc."
... the sponsor of all these "community
review" sessions is not the Dallas plan department at all. But the Dallas
The Dallas Plan Inc.
What on earth is that?
The Dallas Plan looks and smells a
lot like a city agency. It occupies rent-free office cubicles mixed in with
the rest of the cubicles in the city plan department. It has used the
official city of Dallas logo in public presentations in the past. It has a
city of Dallas phone number....
Well, after November, it won't have a city of Dallas phone number because The Dallas Plan will be no more.
Most of its funding came from Belo Corp because other ODB commitments dried up.
Belo must have
got all they wanted from it or not enough. It's still ironic the ODB pulled up a name for their
"control the masses" vehicle that was used in 1912 to
describe the city's codified Red Light District -- the "Dallas Plan" (Big
D, p. 53).
Professor Payne has more on the subject in:
the Reservation, page 53
Rev. George W. Truett was featured speaker the first mass meeting at the
First Methodist Church. ...
castigated men who were unwilling themselves to operate houses of
prostitution but were perfectly content to reap profits by permitting others
to use their properties for such immoral purposes.... A
prominent member of Dr. Truett's congregation was Dr. W. W. Samuell ....
I am still a Methodist, just taking a sabbatical this year. I believe in
church parishes, because churches duplicate each other's efforts and pull
membership back and forth -- waste money and members' energy. I had
intended to move my membership to a large Methodist church near my neighborhood
until I heard the wife of a sex club operator attends that church. Unless
the church's members never read
The Dallas Managed News
(and you can't blame them), some of them must have recognized the last name of one
family that was much in the news with various lawsuits against the city trying
to keep some sex clubs open on Northwest Highway.
For the same reason that two Red Light Districts were not good for the city's
image in the early 1900's, there is no place in this city to collect all the sex
clubs and designate a Red Light District. Even if there were such a place, like Rev. Upchurch asked in 1912:
What right did
Dallas have to tolerate any street within its city limits where his wife
could not go with perfect safety? . . .
||What right does City Hall have to
force any part of the city to tolerate what
NW Dallas experiences with sex clubs in our area?
Recognizing your frustration
in dealing with
people who would propose a
Red Light District anywhere in
Dallas, I'd like to remind them
that the air station you mentioned is next door to Grand Prairie.
The good people over here west
of Mountain Creek Lake deserve better from our eastern neighbor than to keep
collecting Dallas' refuse. It's hard enough for
Grand Prairie fathers to keep that portion of the city from being a 'ghetto'
only then to have it next to a Red Light District.
me, but people do live over here and more new homes are coming into the area
of the old station. The location might not affect
Dallasites too much but Grand Prairie doesn't want your problems.
Dallas won't run these people out of
town but might want to
put them on your neighbors' doorstep.
Grand Prairie (125,000 people,
with a bright growing future)
right does City Hall have to allow massage parlors and bathhouses in our city
||What right does City Hall have to allow Silver City to violate its
certificate of occupancy and remain open?
||What right does City Hall have to consider turning the former Naval Air Station
into a Red Light District?
||Shouldn't our elected officials be looking for
development that will add to our tax base?
Here's an interesting response to
Throw Away Women:
first time I heard the
Naval Air Station/Red Light District proposal was from Ed Oakley, about a
year and a half ago.
I predict the Naval Eight might be Oakley, Hill, Fantroy, Garcia, Miller,
MTR, Loza and Salazar.
The reader may be right with his prediction, but I doubt Councilmen Rasansky, Loza or
Salazar would support a Red Light District
anywhere in Dallas. It's their hometown -- unlike Oakley, Lill, Miller,
Greyson who come from points North of the Red River.
We cannot let our current elected officials repeat mistakes
made 90 years ago. There's a test to determine if you're "crazy" -- when
you do the same thing over and over expecting the results to be different.
Dallas needs NO RED
Special thanks to Prof. Darwin Payne for allowing DallasArena.com to use
citations from Big D, Triumphs and Troubles of
an American Supercity in the 20th Century, Revised Edition.
Order your own copy at