Even being a long-time Dallas resident, you might not be familiar with the official lines of Old East Dallas, unless perhaps looking at homes in the area. Looking at the neighborhood’s past is like a fascinating history lesson! Four adjacent, amazing historic neighborhoods are all part of Old East Dallas: Swiss Avenue Historic District, Peak’s Suburban Addition, Munger Place, and Junius Heights.
Old East Dallas resident Elizabeth Nelson says the area is “often overlooked by real estate agents and people moving to Dallas, but when people do discover our area, they are usually thrilled to find us and do not want to leave.”
With the wealth of information on the area, this is no surprise at all. Rich in history, beauty, community, and popularity, Old East Dallas is getting a proper introduction in this piece. In articles to follow in the next several weeks here on CandysDirt.com, all four neighborhoods will be highlighted in more detail.
One of the interesting and important facts about Old East Dallas is it is the closest single-family zoned neighborhood to downtown Dallas. The neighborhood offers an eclectic mix of significant historic architecture, spacious lot sizes, and memory-making front porches. In addition, it is close to all of the great classic and newer entertainment districts of Dallas, without being right in the middle of the sometimes lovely chaos. Old East Dallas zip codes include 75246, 75214, and 75204.
East Dallas has always had an independent spirit and rich history. In 1872, William H. Gaston started promoting the land east of the city, and then a year or so later, railroad workers started setting up houses on the land in the undeveloped area between Dallas and East Dallas.
Gaston persuaded the railroads to go through his East Dallas property, and soon streetcar lines running to fairs and horse-racing tracks made the area a popular recreation destination.
According to the Texas State Historical Association:
On September 9, 1882, East Dallas was incorporated on a site of 1,400 acres. Some residents believed the town should be called Gaston rather than East Dallas…East Dallas was considered the most luxurious place to live in Dallas County; 90 per cent of its houses had running water pumped from deep wells by 1889. The main thoroughfares were well maintained, and a speed limit of eighteen miles an hour was set to slow down swift horses… In 1886 the first all-brick schoolhouse in Dallas County was built in East Dallas. In 1887 another boom occurred in East Dallas when the Texas State Fair and Dallas Exposition at Fair Park opened. In the late 1880s East Dallas reached a population of 6,000.
On January 1, 1890, after state senator R.S. Kimbrough’s successful bill to remove the charter of East Dallas, it officially became part of the city of Dallas. Along with its streets, schools, and public buildings, Dallas also took over East Dallas’ debt, including a recently-approved $45,000 for street improvements. Around the same time, the annexation of East Dallas made Dallas the largest city in Texas.