Deep Ellum is a neighborhood composed largely of arts and
entertainment venues near downtown in East Dallas, Texas.
The neighborhood lies directly east of the elevated I-45/US 75
(unsigned I-345) freeway and extends to Exposition Avenue, connected
to downtown by, from north to south, Pacific, Elm, Main, Commerce, and
Canton streets. The neighborhood is north of Exposition Park and south
of Bryan Place.
1.1 Early days
1.2 Industrial development
1.3 Entertainment district
1.4 Crime recession
2.1 Jazz and blues
2.2 1983–1999: "Glory Days of Deep Ellum"
6 See also
8 External links
An outdoor barber shop, Fybr, in Deep Ellum
Deep Ellum developed in the late 19th century as a residential and
commercial neighborhood on the east side of downtown Dallas. The area
was originally called Deep Elm, but the pronunciation "Deep Ellum" by
early residents led to its current and historically accepted name.
Because of its proximity to the Houston and
Texas Central railroad,
the area was also referred to as Central Track.
As one of Dallas' first commercial districts for African-Americans and
European immigrants, Deep Ellum is one of the most historically
significant neighborhoods in the city. The district boasts the city's
largest collection of commercial storefronts from the early 20th
century and includes many individual structures significant in their
Robert S. Munger built his first cotton gin factory, the Continental
Gin Company, in a series of brick warehouses along Elm Street and
Trunk Avenue in Deep Ellum in 1888. As the business grew to become the
largest manufacturer of cotton-processing equipment in the United
States, Munger expanded the factory by adding additional structures
along Trunk and Elm in 1912 and 1914, respectively. A
District, the industrial complex was converted to loft apartments in
Henry Ford selected Deep Ellum as the site for one of his
earliest automobile plants. Designed by architect John Graham, who
designed many regional facilities for Ford during the early 1900s, the
building was constructed as an assembly plant for the famous Ford
Model T. The plant remained in this location at 2700 Canton Street
until the mid-1930s;
Adam Hats moved into the four-story brick and
terra cotta structure in 1959. The
Dallas Landmark was converted to
loft apartments in 1997, giving new life—and adding yet another
layer of history to the building.
Union Bankers Trust Building, located at 2551 Elm Street, is one of
the better known Landmarks in Deep Ellum. Constructed in 1916 as the
Knights of Pythias Temple, the building was designed by
African-American architect William Sydney Pittman, the state's first
black architect and the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington.
In addition to serving as the state headquarters for the Knights, the
temple housed some of the city's earliest offices for black doctors,
dentists and lawyers and served as the social and cultural center for
the African- American community until the late 1930s. The building was
Pittman's largest built work. Other
Dallas Landmarks within Deep Ellum
include The Palace Shop at 2814 Main Street (ca. 1913) and Parks
Brothers Warehouse at 2639 Elm Street (ca. 1923).
Trees in 2017
The 1990s were a high point for Deep Ellum as Dallas' liveliest
entertainment district. By 1991, Deep Ellum had 57 bars and
nightclubs. There were restaurants, tattoo parlors, other diverse
retail shops, and an increasing amount of high-rent residential loft
space. Notable businesses of the 1990s included Deep Ellum Live
(closed in 2004), Trees (closed late 2005, reopened August 2009),
2826, Club Dada (closed & reopened 2006), The Angry Dog (a
restaurant, still in business), Monica's Aca y Alla (a restaurant,
closed in 2012), Looker Hair Group (a salon), Galaxy Club (closed
early 2007), the Green Room (closed September 2006, reopened 2010,
closed 2011, reopened June 2013), and The Red Blood Club (closed &
reopened 2007, and then closed again in 2008, and then reopened again
in March 2014).
One notable event involves Russell Hobbs, the former owner of Theatre
Gallery and the Prophet Bar, who, in early 1988, converted to
Christianity, closed his two still-popular clubs, and opened The Door,
a Christian oriented venue. An interesting success story involved
Eduardo Greene, owner of Eduardo's Aca y Alla. In the mid-90's, Greene
divorced his wife, had a highly publicized sex-change and reopened
under her new name, Monica's Aca y Alla.
In 2011, the microbrewery Deep Ellum Brewing Company opened in Deep
Ellum. DEBC currently distributes its brews to bars across
hosts public tours.
States of the goodwillingness of Deep Ellum's people
At one point, Deep Ellum had become such a popular attraction that the
streets often were blocked off to traffic, especially on weekends. It
also spawned several events like the Deep Ellum Film Festival and Deep
Ellum Arts Festival. However, weekend nights later found the streets
much emptier than did the 1990s. New events such as the CODE (Culture
of Deep Ellum) events, and
Dallas Rock Meetup Group monthly festival,
involve multi-venue, multi-band performances that help to maintain
Deep Ellum's viability as a live music hotspot.
On May 2, 2001,
John Battaglia murdered his daughters Faith and
Liberty in his loft in Deep Ellum.
For a time, Deep Ellum struggled with a perception of a high crime
rate that made people reluctant to visit the area. In mid-2006, local
papers had begun to report the near-demise of the neighborhood, as a
large percentage of the long-time live music venues had closed that
year, leaving mostly clubs oriented more towards 'hip hop' and other
music, dancing and drinking, and radically altering the "feel". In
2007, several additional small and medium clubs had closed, although
new live-music venues spring up without warning.
Things began turning around somewhat in 2009 and 2010, as evidenced by
a slew of new bar, live music venue and restaurant openings. Some of
the recent and planned openings include the re-launch of the
near-legendary venue Trees, old favorites such as Club Dada and The
Green Room, Tucker's Blues, The Boiler Room, Anvil Pub and La Grange
(now punk rock hotspot Three Links).
The area is still somewhat in a state of transition, but on the
upswing. In 2007, the City of
Dallas encouraged large scale
residential, multi-family dwelling construction in Deep Ellum, in
hopes of making it more financially successful.
In 2014 and 2015, the streets were repaved to add more parking and
making the notoriously rough pavement much better for vehicular and
foot traffic. Deep Ellum continues to maintain and grow its place as a
cultural and musical center for the DFW Metroplex. Despite the decline
of a decade ago, you can now walk down Elm Street on a weekend and
witness hundreds of pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, and
automobiles, with dozens of venues, restaurants, storefronts, and
parking lots crowded and thriving.
Jazz and blues
Deep Ellum's real claim to fame, however, was found in its music. By
the 1920s, the neighborhood had become a hotbed for early jazz and
blues musicians, hosting the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert
Johnson, Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, and
Bessie Smith in Deep Ellum
clubs like The Harlem and The Palace. From 1920 to 1950, the number of
nightclubs, cafes and domino parlors in Deep Ellum jumped from 12 to
In 1937, a columnist described Deep Ellum as:
...[the] one spot in the city that needs no daylight saving time
because there is no bedtime...[It is] the only place recorded on earth
where business, religion, hoodooism, gambling and stealing goes on at
the same time without friction...Last Saturday a prophet held the best
audience in this 'Madison Square Garden' in announcing that Jesus
Christ would come to
Dallas in person in 1939. At the same time a
pickpocket was lifting a week's wages from another guy's pocket, who
stood with open mouth to hear the prophecy.
At the time, you could find gun and locksmith shops, clothing stores,
the Cotton Club, tattoo studios, barber-shops, pawn shops, drugstores,
tea rooms, loan offices, domino halls, pool halls, and walk-up hotels.
On its sidewalks you could find pigeon droppers, reefer men, craps
shooters, card sharps, and sellers of cocaine and marijuana.
Sometime around World War I,
Lead Belly and
Blind Lemon Jefferson
Blind Lemon Jefferson got
together and began composing folk tunes, with
Dallas often in the
lyrics. In a song called "Take A Whiff on Me":
Walked up Ellum an' I come down Main,
Tryin' to bum a nickel jes' to buy cocaine.
Ho, Ho, baby, take a whiff on me.
Another song about Deep Ellum, "Deep Ellum Blues", performed by the
Grateful Dead included:
When you go down on Deep Ellum,
Put your money in your socks
'Cause them Women on Deep Ellum
Sho' will throw you on the rocks.
Oh, sweet mama, your daddy's got them Deep Ellum Blues.
Oh, sweet mama, your daddy's got them Deep Ellum Blues.
Following World War II, the success of Deep Ellum started to fade. The
ever-growing availability and use of the automobile led to the removal
of the Houston and
Texas Central railroad tracks—to make way for
Central Expressway—and by 1956 the streetcar line had been removed.
Businesses closed, residents moved to the suburbs and the music all
but stopped. In 1969, a new elevation of Central Expressway truncated
Deep Ellum, completely obliterating the 2400 block of Elm Street,
viewed by many as the center of the neighborhood. By the 1970s, few
original businesses remained.
1983–1999: "Glory Days of Deep Ellum"
Deep Ellum Neon Sign
In 1983, the Near East Side Area Planning Study, or "Deep Ellum Plan",
was revealed to the public. The city planned to "downzone" Deep Ellum,
meaning that building height, population, and street width were to be
carefully monitored so as to help the neighborhood maintain an
artistic, historic atmosphere. Artists and musicians began to move
into the area, opening up new galleries and venues, attracting young
creatives to the area. Over the course of the 1980s, Deep Ellum became
well known as a hot-spot for the
Dallas Punk Scene.
According to Murray Hammond of Old 97's, punk and hardcore outfits as
Dead Kennedys were playing at local galleries. With the
insurgence of new nightclubs and venues, Deep Ellum began to explode
as a local music spot. However, throughout the mid '80s, the
neighborhood still faced serious safety issues, one of which being the
overwhelming presence of skinheads, but as Deep Ellum continued to
expand, the threats dwindled. By 1991, over 50 nightclubs and bars had
opened in Deep Ellum, including Trees Dallas.
During the 1990s, musical acts including Toadies, Erykah Badu, and Old
97's began to gain prominence as not only local successes, but
national stars. Once Deep Ellum had gained traction as the heart of
music in Dallas, popular touring artists such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam,
Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, The Roots, The
Notorious B.I.G., and
Fugazi would book shows at venues including
Trees Dallas and The Bomb Factory.
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Murals along the Good Latimer Tunnel
In addition to live music, Deep Ellum was a hotbed for graffiti. Many
of the music venues used graffiti artists to advertise music shows.
In the late 1980s, the city allowed a number of local artists to paint
walls of the
Good-Latimer Expressway tunnel (a major entry to the
neighborhood). The wide variety of images, largely in a 'graffiti'
style, had long been a popular display, leading many to conclude
(incorrectly) that the city allowed graffiti in parts of Deep Ellum.
The tunnel was demolished in spring 2007 to make way for the DART
Green Line train.
While graffiti is popular in Deep Ellum, a large portion of the art
and murals in the area are commissioned by local businesses. Some of
the most recognizable art was completed by artist, and owner of Kettle
Gallery, Frank Campagna along with his daughter Amber Campagna. The 42
Mural project has invited a select number of artists to paint murals
throughout Deep Ellum in hopes of passing along the history and
heritage of the area.
Interstate 345 ( US 75/ I-45 connection)
(US 67, US 80, and US 175 have all previously passed through parts of
Deep Ellum, but are now routed onto nearby freeways.)
DART Green Line
Deep Ellum Station
Baylor University Medical Center Station
North Dallas High School
North Dallas High School serves residents north of Commerce Street
Deep Ellum is served by the
Dallas Independent School District.
Residents of Deep Ellum north of Commerce Street are zoned to Ignacio
Zaragoza Elementary School, Alex W. Spence Middle School and North
Dallas High School. Residents south of Commerce Street are zoned
to City Park Elementary School, Billy Earl Dade Middle School, and
James Madison High School.
Deep Ellum is also home to a free, public charter secondary school
located in the midst of the entertainment district. Uplift Luna
Preparatory opened in 2010 and is considered a high performing school,
according to state reports.
Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex portal
^ "The History of Deep Ellum". Deep Ellum Foundation.
^ Mervosh, Sarah. "John Battaglia,
Texas death row inmate who killed
daughters, loses latest appeal". The
Dallas Morning News. July 15,
2015. Retrieved on March 30, 2016.
Dallas City Council Addendum from 9 April 2008 § Deep Ellum TIF
Dallas City Hall.
Dallas City Council briefing from 9 May 2012 § Comprehensive plan"
Dallas City Hall.
^ a b c d Payne, Darwin (1982). "Chapter VI: The Spirit of
Enterprise". Dallas, an illustrated history. Woodland Hills,
California: Windsor Publications. pp. 157–185.
^ "DEEP ELLUM TSHA" www.tshaonline.org. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
^ a b Freedman, Pete (November 13, 2011). "An Oral History of the
Dallas Music Scene
Dallas Observer" www.dallasobserver.com.
^ "The Deep Ellum Tunnel". Urban Exploration Resource.
^ "Deep Ellum Tunnels". Lowrider Arte.
Dallas ISD - 2006 School Feeder Patterns Archived April 9, 2007, at
the Wayback Machine. -
North Dallas High School
North Dallas High School Archived February 5,
2007, at the Wayback Machine.. (Maps: ES: Zaragoza; MS: Spence
Archived June 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.; HS: North Dallas
Archived June 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine..) Retrieved January 1,
Dallas ISD - 2006 School Feeder Patterns Archived April 9, 2007, at
the Wayback Machine. - James Madison High School Archived February 5,
2007, at the Wayback Machine.. (Maps: ES: City Park Archived June 20,
2007, at the Wayback Machine.; MS: Dade Archived June 20, 2007, at the
Wayback Machine.; HS: Madison Archived June 20, 2007, at the Wayback
Machine..) Retrieved January 1, 2007.
Dallas - Downtown, East, Oak Cliff". Uplift Education.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Deep Ellum, Dallas.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Deep Ellum, Dallas.
Pask, Kevin. "Deep Ellum Blues", Southern Spaces, October 30, 2007.
DEAO (Deep Ellum Artists Organization)
DEBO (Deep Ellum Buskers Organization)
Deep Ellum Arts Festival
History of Deep Ellum compiled by the
Deep Ellum Residents Council on Myspace
Extensive gallery of Good-Latimer Tunnel murals
Downtown Dallas and Deep Ellum from The
The Door moves into Gypsy Tea Room
Shopping malls and shopping/entertainment districts in the Dallas/Fort
Dallas County Super–Regional
NorthPark Center (Dallas)
Irving Mall (Irving)
Firewheel Town Center
Firewheel Town Center (Garland)
Town East Mall (Mesquite)
Dallas County Local
Southwest Center Mall
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The Shops at Park Lane (Dallas)
Prestonwood Town Center (Dallas)
Highland Park Village
Highland Park Village (Highland Park)
Hillside Village (Cedar Hill)
West Village (Dallas)
Grand Prairie Premium Outlets (Grand Prairie)
Mockingbird Station (Dallas)
Mid Cities Super-Regional
North East Mall
North East Mall (Hurst)
The Parks at Arlington
The Parks at Arlington (Arlington)
Grapevine Mills (Grapevine)
Southlake Town Square
Southlake Town Square (Southlake)
and Denton County
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Hulen Mall (Fort Worth)
Alliance Town Center (Fort Worth)
Presidio Towne Crossing (Fort Worth)
Golden Triangle Mall
Golden Triangle Mall (Denton)
Vista Ridge Mall (Lewisville)
Montgomery Plaza (Fort Worth)
West 7th Fort Worth (Fort Worth)
University Park (Fort Worth)
La Gran Plaza de Fort Worth (Fort Worth)
Collin and Hunt County
The Shops at Willow Bend
The Shops at Willow Bend (Plano)
Collin Creek Mall (Plano)
Stonebriar Centre (Frisco)
Crossroads Mall (Greenville)
Legacy West (Plano)
The Shops at Legacy (Plano)
North Hills Mall (North Richland Hills)
Big Town Mall (Mesquite)
Forum 303 Mall (Arlington)
Northtown Mall (Dallas)
Richardson Square Mall (Richardson)
Seminary South Shopping Center (Fort Worth)
Six Flags Mall (Arlington)
Valley View Center
Valley View Center (Dallas)
City of Dallas
Asian Trade District
Bishop Arts District
Professional sports teams
State of Texas
Coordinates: 32°47′02″N 96°46′55″W / 32.784°N