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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • POUR IT ON: WWII POSTER

Dallas After Dark: 1942

Dallas After Dark: 1942

January 1942. "Night view, downtown section. Dallas, Texas." Medium format negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Office of War Information. View full size.

 

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It's actually not the Merc

Not that it really matters, and not that I want to be contrary, but the building under construction would be in the 1500 block of Commerce, in a spot now occupied by a parking lot (and/or the building now at 1511 Commerce). The Merc is a block to the east of here. Love this photo - now I need to go take a look at the Pegasus next summer during the annual family trip to the Metroplex!

[You're off by two blocks. We're at the 1700 block of Commerce - note the address on the C.E. Hoffman Co. sign. Also, the building at the right, now with additional floors, is at the corner of Commerce and S. Ervay, immediately across S. Ervay from the Merc. -tterrace]

Dang - you're right! I did see the address, but ignored it when I agreed with a previous post that this was the corner of Lane Street, and could not see Ervay passing to the north. I think it's easy to get fooled by the foreshortening difference between these photos and Google street view cameras! I learn something every day from Shorpy! I also shouldn't try to post things when I'm up past my bedtime.

It's Actually the Merc

The building under construction (directly across the street from Neiman-Marcus) did indeed survive, having been completed in 1942 as The Mercantile National Bank. It is presently 'The Merc' apartments. Here's a tidbit from their leasing brochure...

"The Merc is more than a place to live. It is a place of history, rooted in the city's legacy of entrepreneurship, industriousness, and the good life. Completed in 1942, the 523-foot Mercantile Tower with its stately clock and soaring spire was the home of the Mercantile National Bank, founded and owned by Dallas' powerhouse banker and civic leader, Robert L. Thornton. This landmark building has reclaimed its place of honor amidst Dallas' vibrant skyline".

The photo shows The Mercantile National Bank shortly after completion. Neiman-Marcus is directly across the street.

Big D, little a

The song "Big D" is from the musical "Most Happy Fella" by Frank Loesser. It's a delightful show, and popular among community theater groups. The same show also includes the show-stopping "Standing on the Corner" (as in "watching all the girls go by").

Pegasus reborn

Here's the story of the search for, and discovery and restoration of Pegasus.

It's now front of the Omni Dallas, according to this.

John F. Beasley Construction Company

This construction company is still going strong in the Dallas area, but the building under construction on the right in our photo didn't survive.

Pirouetting Pegasus

Revolving atop the old Magnolia building, the red flying horse was a Dallas landmark for a couple generations. I remember competing with my brother to be the first to spot it as we drove into "Big D" on our semi-annual trips from Deep East Texas to Abilene. The return trip eastward usually put us in Dallas after dark and the glowing Pegusus was the halfway mark. I've heard they found and restored the neon sign and installed it at the Omni hotel downtown.

Does anyone remember the song Big "D", little "a", double "l"- "a-s" - may have been a jingle?

Goober Pea

The Magnolia Building

The main feature here is the Magnolia Building, completed in 1922. Headquarters for Magnolia Petroleum, later Mobil Oil, it was topped by the rotating, neon-lit Pegasus, put in place for the American Petroleum Institute's 1934 convention, hosted in Dallas. A replacement Pegasus sits atop the building today.

Back then, Pegasus was visible for miles, as it was when my mother moved in Dallas the next year. That year (1943), it would be eclipsed in height by the Mercantile Bank Building, the only skyscraper completed during the war, and the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Today the Magnolia Building is the Magnolia Hotel, and the Merc has been converted into apartments.

'36 Terraplane

A 1936 Hudson Terraplane sitting at the curb.

Lane and Commerce

It seems I was off in my original post, this isn't Commerce and Lane, it's Commerce and Prather. The depth of field of the Google cameras can be quite different from the vintage photos.

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