Historic Apartment Building
832 Blaylock Drive
Circa 1917

Lake Cliff may have the most colorful history of any neighborhood in Oak Cliff. It was once part of the original township of Oak Cliff that Dallas annexed in 1901, and it has been the gateway to Oak Cliff since the 19th century.

Named after the small freshwater lake created by the exclusive Llewellyn Country Club in 1890, Lake Cliff was part of businessman T.L. Marsalis’ vision to transform Old Oak Cliff into the most affluent suburb of Dallas. In 1889, he built his private grand mansion at Colorado Boulevard and Marsalis Avenue, and a string of affluent buyers began building the following year.

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Oswald House Vernon Bryant DMN

It seems as if people are coming out of the woodwork to offer their experiences and opinions on Dallas and how it relates to the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. What will prove frustrating to many Dallasites are the blatant generalizations made by these one-off columnists who’ve had only a glimpse of the city they are hot on critiquing.

Take, for instance, James Reston Jr.’s piece in Slate that serves as a journal of his tour through the city, following the footsteps of  alleged JFK shooter Lee Harvey Oswald after the he fled the Texas School Book Depository in downtown’s West End and hopped a bus for Oak Cliff.

While Reston, an acclaimed journalist and author, offers no criticism of downtown, Jefferson Boulevard’s Texas Theatre, or the corner of 10th Street and Patton where Officer J.D. Tippit was gunned down by Oswald, he chooses to single out Lake Cliff, specifically the boarding house where Oswald lived at the time of the assassination.

Reston was recalling how he made his way through the city with retired Dallas Times-Herald journalist Darwin Payne, Sixth Floor Museum historian Sam Childers, and Dallas native and SMU historian Michael Hazel, and had this to say about 1026 N. Beckley Ave.:

The current owner, the granddaughter of the 1963 owner, is trying to sell the place, a low-slung ramshackle of a house in what is still a fairly rough neighborhood. Darwin and Sam thought the place might fetch about $200,000, but the owner is asking $400,000. She suggests that the house should become a public museum where you could see the closet of a room where Oswald slept or the downstairs dining room where he ate his meals. So far, no one is biting.

Now, the issue isn’t that Reston says that the home is “ramshackle” (even though it isn’t), or that he implicates that she might be asking too much for the property, but instead, the issue is that Reston categorizes the neighborhood surrounding this home as “fairly rough” without having actually perused the neighborhood. I think the residents of Lake Cliff, which has some gorgeous craftsman homes and surrounds the beautiful and placid Lake Cliff Park, wouldn’t agree with Reston.

What do you think? Should Dallas be poised for more criticism from outsiders as the anniversary draws near?