Not that long ago, my husband and I flew to Dallas for the weekend. The objective was to spend as much time as possible with friends we have not seen in more than a decade.
I knew sightseeing was going to be very limited but that didn’t stop me from reading many “What to Do in Dallas” articles.
During that research time, one thing was getting clearer and clearer. Dallas is a great city for murals and street art lovers.
Articles such as “Best Walls in Dallas” and “Most Intagrammed Places in Dallas” kept popping as soon as I hit the search button.
I had no time to go on a comprehensive tour around the city. Therefore, I opted to visit the place with the densest concentration of street art in Dallas.
That is how a beautiful Monday morning I ended up in Deep Ellum, an arts and entertainment neighborhood which is part of Downtown Dallas (some consider it an independent entity).
The story of Deep Ellum is full of ups and downs. The roots of the area go back to the late 19th century when it functioned as a commercial district for certain minority groups.
Industrialization arrived to the area when a cotton gin factory was built (and later expanded) along Elm Street and Trunk Avenue. In 1914, Henry Ford placed one of his first automobile plants in the neighborhood.
Once the industrial companies moved from the area, Deep Ellum gained reputation as Dallas’ liveliest entertainment district. Bars, night clubs and restaurants flooded the streets.
During the first decade of the 21st century, the area was perceived as having a high crime rate. That factor combined with the closing of different music venues contributed to the demise of the neighborhood. Things started to change when the City of Dallas welcomed large scale residential, multi-family dwelling construction to the area.
The neighborhood has gone through a series of revitalization projects but, in my opinion, the most impactful one has been 42 MURALS.
This is a project run by the real estate company 42 VENTURES and curated by Lesli Marshall. Artists from anywhere were asked to submit mural proposals. Ultimately 42 were selected.
Not all the murals and art expressions in Deep Ellum derive from the project but a great majority does. The project has attracted hundreds of visitors to the area for one single reason: it has help to produce some of the best street art in Dallas (and we can even say in surrounding areas).
I visited Deep Ellum on a Friday evening right after my plane landed at the Dallas Love Field. The night was already upon us, so, picture taking was complicated. We walked around the neighborhood after dinner (battling the cold) and scanned some of the best murals.
On Monday, I had less than an hour to walk around and take some pictures. There are apps and PDF documents that can help you to spot the best of the best in the area. I didn’t have time for that. Therefore, I had to employ the ancient method of walking around in search of the unknown.
The effort paid dividends since I walked the main and side streets and scrambled behind the buildings. It was a sprint full of fun and laugh. There were several others doing the same thing I was doing. After almost being run over by two cars and sacrificing my two little toes (they still hurt), I think I got a decent feel for Deep Ellum.
My final thoughts? I got really impressed by all the murals in Deep Ellum. What a blast of color, creativity and artistry! This is some of the best street art I have seen in a long time.
There is no doubt I be back in search of more street art in Dallas.
- This page has an interactive guide to discover the murals: http://interactives.dallasnews.com/2016/deep-ellum-42-murals/tour.html
- To find more about the 42 MURALS project and their upcoming works, visit their official page: http://42murals.com/
- There are a lot of good eateries in Deep Ellum. We went to the Pecan Lodge (dinner) and Baindead Brewery (lunch) and the food was finger licking good.
Do you enjoy street art? What cities, areas or neighborhoods do you recommend to see street art?
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