The Walls Are Rising: AIA Dallas to Screen 1967 Film on The Future of Dallas

Dusk Skyline

Past, meet future.

It’s just incredible how often we think and talk about the destiny of our city and how it is tied to the Trinity River. The discussion we’re having about this natural resource that bisects Dallas, some of them behind closed doors, isn’t a new one. In fact, we’ve been talking about the Trinity River’s influence since at least 1967, when Rob Perryman, an Austin writer and photographer, took 8,000 photos of our downtown and turned them into a narrated 40-minute movie called “The Walls Are Rising.” It was a commision of the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, whose goal was to spur development through awareness.

Signs+Skyline

I love the vintage signs in this view from Southern Dallas, where you can see a billboard for the Oak Cliff shopping center Wynnewood Village.

Downtown Street

Street life in downtown Dallas was much more lively in the 1960s, it seems.

The film was supposed to focus on design for livability, on transportation, and on the Trinity River. It was screened for the Chambers of Commerce, Rotary clubs, the Kiwanis, Lions Clubs, women’s groups, and just about any group of people heavily invested in the future of Dallas. However, if it was a call to action, it obviously fell flat. Maybe we were still a bit pre-occupied with the Kennedy assassination at that point to take a cold, hard look at our infrastructure and how it shapes our society.

We cannot afford to lose any more time in developing a coordinated plan to make Dallas a more beautiful and effective city, for all around us the walls are rising, the city is being built…

Some of the suggestions to the Greater Dallas Planning Council have been adopted, such as the Katy Trail, rapid transit (although this is just after Dallas followed the misbegotten tearing out its streetcar system), and freeway design (yay?). But there’s no better time than to revisit the key aspect of the presentation, the Trinity River, and how it affects the feel of our city.

It is almost too fortuitous that the AIA just discovered this footage, it seems, but if you want to see it yourself, you can get a ticket for a Jan. 19 screening on the AIA Dallas website. The 6:30 p.m. screening is followed by a 6 p.m. reception at the Dallas Center for Architecture at 1909 Woodall Rogers Freeway, Suite 100  UPDATE: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in the West End. It’s free for AIA Dallas members, and $10 for non members. There will be a panel discussion afterward moderated by Robert Wilonsky, too.