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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Competing Cities

Before moving to Houston in the mid 70s we (myself,1st hubby, son Marty and daughter Patty) lived in Dallas for a little more than 2 years. Even then Houston and Dallas were in competition with each other for the spot of ‘TOP’ Texas city. The Oilers against the Cowboys , the Rangers versus the Astros, oil versus cattle, Top TV show versus man walking on the moon, and this is probably just a modified list of the most obvious competitive issues.
As the years passed and I became more ‘Houstonian’, my memories of Dallas faded and it began to seem that Dallas was smaller, more provincial, more country, their accents more SOUTHERN –they wore bigger belt buckles, bigger hats and taller boots. And in comparison Houston was more cosmopolitan, had more arts and museums, and a broader mixture of people from different countries and home states. Sophisticated.
This weekend Patty, Marissa and I drove to Dallas for a 3 day Volley ball tournament. I spent the weekend wondering if I had ever been downtown Dallas. We lived and worked in Irving. Did we ever drive downtown to see the sites? Did we ever go to a play or a concert or even a movie while living in Dallas? I suspect not. I can remember going to a ‘titty bar’ (yes topless waitresses) and one time a football game – but I am sure there was never money for theater or a concert. Leads me to a conclusion that my memories of Dallas are a direct result of who WE were at the time not what the city was like in the 70s.
Well no matter what it was, now , today downtown Dallas is a beautiful, modern, clean, well proportioned city. The streets are full of art, and gardens, the sidewalks wide and complete with designs. and Dallas has surpassed Houston in planning its downtown traffic control by adding a light rail system that is easy to use, quiet and attractive, and can take you anywhere you want to go.
dartrailmapsept2009large In 2008, Dallas had a population of 1.2 million with a metropolitan population of 6.3 million and Houston had a population of 2.2 million with a metropolitan population of 5.9 million. All of these statistics just proves how far behind Houston is in doing what is important to keep up with its neighbors.
In 2009, Houston finally opened one light rail line. It runs from the Astrodome area south of the medical center to just north of downtown. Which unless you want to go to a baseball and a football game on the same day does nothing for daily traffic problems.
Dallas has 4 lines (if I counted them right). When we arrived late afternoon on Thursday the streets and freeways seemed almost deserted. Today as I drove downtown Houston for lunch the traffic was a snarled mess on the 610 loop and stayed that way for my return trip in the afternoon. the city planners just finished adding more lanes to the I-10 as it passes through Houston – it is now – lets see – 3 lanes of access each direction (6), and SIX lanes on the freeway each direction (12) that is EIGHTEEN lanes wide And in order to get downtown I had to get off the freeway and take back streets – it was just a big, high speedscreech to a halt mess. AND yes if I could have gotten on a light rail out in Missouri City and gone down to the city center I would have.
click below to see a few photos of downtown Dallas today.


  1. Amazing how things change while our memories of them continue on.

  2. Memories are all we have and can always keep. yvonne