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Oak Cliff is a borough of Dallas, Texas, United States that was formerly a separate town located in Dallas County; Dallas annexed Oak Cliff in 1903. It has since retained a distinct neighborhood identity as one of Dallas' older established neighborhoods. As the city grew larger, it had more recognition.

Oak Cliff has turn-of-the-twentieth-century and mid-20th century housing, many parks, and proximity to the central business district of downtown Dallas.

The boundaries of Oak Cliff are roughly Interstate 30 on the north, Loop 12 & Spur 408 on the west, Interstate 45 on the east, and Interstate 20 on the south.

History

Oak Cliff originated on December 15, 1886, when John S. Armstrong and Thomas L. Marsalis bought a farm of 320 acres (1.3 km2) on the west side of the Trinity River for $8,000. blocks, and the plat of the new town made. Armstrong and Marsalis began to develop the land into an elite residential area, which proved to be a success by the end of 1887, with sales surpassing $60,000. However, after a disagreement between the partners, Marsalis secured complete control over Oak Cliff's development. Armstrong would go on to create his own elite residential development on the north side of Dallas, known as Highland Park.

According to the first plat filed, the original township of Oak Cliff extended as far north as First Street, later named Colorado Boulevard just north of Lake Cliff, then known as Spring Lake, and as far south as a pavilion below Thirteenth Street. It was bounded on the east by Miller Street, later named Cliff Street, and on the west by Beckley Avenue. Jefferson Boulevard was the route of a steam railroad, then called Grand Street.

On November 1, 1887, $23,000 worth of lots were sold in the newly opened Marsalis Addition (Oak Cliff) before noon, and on the following day, ninety-one lots were sold for $38,113. park that included a two-mile (3 km)-long lake and a 2,000-seat pavilion in which dances and operas were held. Another was the Park Hotel, modeled after the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, which included several mineral baths fed by artesian wells.

US-TX(1891) p826 OAK CLIFF, HOTEL
The Hotel (c. 1890)
US-TX(1891) p826 OAK CLIFF, OAK CLIFF UNIVERSITY
The Female University Projekt of T. L. Marsalis, president of the Dallas Land & Loan Company (c. 1890)

Oak Cliff incorporated in 1890 with a population of 2,470, and secured a post office which operated until 1896. The community had four grocery stores, two meat markets, a hardware store, and a feed store. Businesses included the Texas Paper Mills Company (later Fleming and Sons), the Oak Cliff Planing Mill, the Oak Cliff Artesian Well Company, Patton's Medicinal Laboratories, and the Oak Cliff Ice and Refrigeration Company. A number of new elite residential areas developed by the Dallas Land and Loan Company had pushed the community's boundaries westward to Willomet Street. Oak Cliff's first mayor was Hugh Ewing. In 1891 the community's first newspaper, the Oak Cliff Sunday Weekly, was published by F. N. Oliver.

Over the next three years Oak Cliff's development continued, but, during the depression of 1893, the demand for vacation resorts decreased, and the community's growth stagnated, forcing Marsalis into bankruptcy. Consequently, the Park Hotel was converted into the Oak Cliff College for Young Ladies. Another educational institution, the Patton Seminary, was established two years later by Dr. Edward G. Patton. By 1900 Oak Cliff was already no longer an elite residential and vacation community. Many of the lots once owned by the Dallas Land and Loan Company were subdivided by the Dallas and Oak Cliff Real Estate Company and sold to the middle and working classes, a trend which lasted well into the early 1900s. The census of 1900 reported Oak Cliff's population as 3,640.

In 1902, an interurban electric streetcar line controlled by the Northern Texas Traction Company, was constructed passing through Oak Cliff, and connected Dallas to Fort Worth. This line discontinued service in the late 1930s. Smaller residential streetcar service ran throughout Oak Cliff's neighborhoods, spanning over 20 miles (32 km). Known as a streetcar suburb, Oak Cliff's characteristic twists and turns are largely due to the area's topography, and the paths and turnabouts created by the streetcar service. Residential streetcar service ended in January 1956.

Oak Cliff was annexed by Dallas in 1903, after numerous attempts beginning in 1900. The proposal had met with little success, until the community's depressed economy produced a vote in favor of annexation by eighteen votes.

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Lee Harvey Oswald being brought out of the Texas Theatre immediately after his arrest

On November 22, 1963, shortly after the fatal shooting of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the wounding of Texas Governor John Connally (who was a jump-seat passenger in the Kennedy limousine) at 12:30 p.m., as well as the fatal shooting of Officer J. D. Tippit at approximately 1:16 p.m., Oswald entered the Texas Theatre, located in West Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff, shortly after 1:30 p.m. without paying for a ticket, ostensibly to avoid police. The police were later informed by the assistant manager that a man had entered the theater without paying.

The films being presented on that day were Cry of Battle and War Is Hell. Oswald briefly viewed the latter. Open daily, the theater today hosts a mix of repertory cinema and special events.

In the early 1970s, many Oak Cliff schools, along with those in South Dallas, became the focus of a long-running and bitter court battle over desegregation, famously overseen by Federal Judge Barefoot Sanders. As a result, DISD's schools were not officially declared desegregated until 2003.

Natural disasters

In April 1908, the Trinity River flooded its banks, rising to a height of 37.8 feet (11.5 m) by April 21. A temporary recession occurred, but rains continued into May, finally raising the river's height to 51.3 feet (15.6 m). The only bridge remaining that connected Oak Cliff with Dallas after the flood was the Zang Boulevard Turnpike, an earthen fill with a single steel span across the river channel, slightly to the north of the present Houston Street Viaduct. About this time, George B. Dealey, publisher of the Morning News, returned from a trip to Kansas City with the idea of securing for Dallas an intracity causeway similar to the one there. From his proposal sprang the Houston Street Viaduct (originally named the Oak Cliff Viaduct), begun October 24, 1910, and opened to traffic February 22, 1912, acclaimed as the longest concrete bridge in the world. This latter designation was later disputed as a publicity stunt.

In 1909, a disastrous fire occurred in Oak Cliff, consuming fourteen blocks of residences, including the Briggs Sanitorium.

On April 2, 1957, a tornado ripped through Oak Cliff as part of the Early-April 1957 tornado outbreak sequence, killing 10 people and causing more than $1 million in damages.

In culture

Oak Cliff has been home to a long list of musicians. When T-Bone Walker made his debut with Columbia in 1929, he lived in Oak Cliff, and recorded as Oak Cliff T-Bone. Edie Brickell's second album included a song about life in Oak Cliff titled "Oak Cliff Bra". Other musicians from Oak Cliff include Michael Martin Murphey, Stevie Ray Vaughan, B. W. Stevenson, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Jimmie Vaughan. Actors Yvonne Craig (television’s first Batgirl) and Stephen Tobolowsky lived in Oak Cliff.

Former NBA Player and now Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman grew up in Oak Cliff.

Oak Cliff is the home of the Texas Theatre, where former resident Lee Harvey Oswald, the man suspected of killing U.S. President John F. Kennedy, was arrested. The theater has appeared in many books and movies on the Kennedy assassination including Oliver Stone's 1991 film, JFK.

Oak Cliff is the setting of City Limit, the novel by Lantzee Miller is a coming-of-age story and metaphorical portrait of the beginning of Oak Cliff's recent rebirth and self redefinition.

Legendary Dallas radio station KLIF (the call letters survive today on different frequencies on both AM and FM) was named after Oak Cliff, the community the station was originally licensed to cover when it was founded in 1947.

Areas within Oak Cliff

  • East Oak Cliff
  • West Oak Cliff
  • Southwest/Red Bird
  • South Oak Cliff

Population and area

  • Oak Cliff: 290,365 (Area: 87.27 sq mi)
  • East Oak Cliff: 27,517 (Area: 25.72 sq mi)
  • West Oak Cliff: 107,824 (Area: 19.21 sq mi)
  • South Oak Cliff: 61,952 (Area: 18.26 sq mi)
  • Southwest/Red Bird: 93,072 (Area: 24.08 sq mi)

Neighborhoods

  • Alta Mesa Estates
  • Tray Overton Projects
  • Arcadia Park Shale
  • Budussy Heights
  • Beckley Club Estates
  • Beverly Hills
  • Brackins Village - Housing Projects
  • Bishop Arts District
  • Brentwood
  • Bronx Park
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • Cadillac Heights
  • Carver Heights
  • Cedar Crest
  • Cedar Haven
  • Cedar Oaks
  • Crestwood
  • Dallas Land & Loan Phase I & II
  • Dells District
  • Deer Path
  • Druid Hills
  • Elmwood
  • El Tivoli Place
  • Encinos Park
  • Five Mile (Dallas)
  • Fruitdale
  • Gannon Ln (Dallas G-lane)
  • Glendale
  • Glen Oaks
  • Hampton Hills
  • Hideaway Valley
  • Highland Hills
  • Kernwood
  • Kessler Circle
  • Kessler Highlands
  • Kessler Park
  • Kessler Plaza
  • Kiest - Polk
  • Kiest Square
  • Kiestwood
  • Kings Highway Conservation District
  • Kidd Springs
  • Lake Cliff
  • Lancaster-Kiest
  • Las Haciendas
  • Las Villas
  • Legendary Hollow
  • Lisbon (Dallas)
  • Los Encinos
  • Loupot Heights
  • L.O. Daniel
  • Mountain Creek
  • North Cliff
  • Oakland Terrace
  • Oakland Hills, Woodtown
  • Oak Park Estates
  • Oak Tree Colony
  • Pinnacle Park
  • Polk Terrace
  • Ravinia Heights
  • Redbird
  • Rolandale
  • Ruthmede Place
  • Singing Hills
  • Skyline Heights
  • Southern Hills
  • Stevens Park Estates
  • Stevens Park Village
  • Summit Lawn
  • Sunset Crest
  • Sunset Hills
  • Tenth Street Historic District
  • The Bottoms
  • The States
  • Timbergrove Circle
  • Trinity Heights
  • Vista Real
  • Western Park
  • Westmount (Dallas)
  • Wheatland Estates
  • Winnetka Heights
  • Wolf Creek
  • Woodtown
  • Wynnewood

In addition, the Oak Cliff area encompasses Cockrell Hill, a separate municipality which is an enclave of Dallas.

Transportation

Light rail

  • DART: Red Line
    • 8th & Corinth Station
    • Dallas Zoo Station
    • Tyler/Vernon Station
    • Hampton Station
    • Westmoreland Station
  • DART: Blue Line
    • 8th & Corinth Station
    • Morrell Station
    • Illinois Station
    • Kiest Station
    • VA Medical Center Station
    • Ledbetter Station

DART is planning extensions of both the Red and Blue Lines as part of the 2030 Plan, the latter of which will serve the new University of North Texas at Dallas campus.

Streetcar

The Dallas Streetcar is a 1.6-mile (2.6 km) modern-streetcar line connecting Oak Cliff with downtown Dallas. It opened in April 2015, and extensions are planned.

Highways

Demographics

Prior to neighborhood desegregation, Oak Cliff was predominantly white. Many neighborhoods in the Oak Cliff area, especially the most southern portions, were targeted for desegregation. As was typical of desegregation in the country, many all-white neighborhoods transitioned to Black and Mexican neighborhoods due to white migration.

In 2001 Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer referred to northern Oak Cliff as "Dallas' own Jerusalem, where various ethnicities choose to live close to each other and not get along."

Climate

Oak Cliff is considered to be part of the humid subtropical region.

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