Stand at the corner of Tulip and Camellia, and you probably won’t see either. Drive up a block to Royal Lane – which is followed by Royalton, Rex and Royal Crest – and there probably won’t be any nobility, either.
And if flowers and kings don’t appeal to you, drive north, across Northaven, and you can spend time in the woods, at Forest Creek, High Forest , Pine Forest, and Forestshire. None of these, of course, are to be confused with Meadow, Brookshire or Lawnhaven.
And that’s just a start. Take a walk or drive, or thumb through a Mapsco, and you’ll discover something about Preston Hollow that is as much a part of the area as spacious lots, pricey real estate, and that annoying traffic light at Preston and Royal. No matter what you call them – be they street, road, avenue, boulevard, lane or parkway – each of the couple of hundred in Preston Hollow probably has a story to go with its name.
W.W. Caruth III, whose family developed much of University Park and parts of Preston Hollow and the area around White Rock Lake, knows a thing or two about these street names: He was responsible for naming many of them.
“Sometimes,” Caruth says, “you’d run out of names. That’s when you’d have real problems – when you’d come up with a name for a street and find out someone had already used it.”
Names from the past / Naming streets has been a favorite pastime in Dallas almost from the day John Neely Bryant arrived in the middle of the 19th century. Streets after all, have to do with real estate, and real estate has always been one of the city’s reasons for being. Ever wonder why the streets in downtown Dallas are laid out in such a haphazard fashion, with some in neat squares and others zigzagging here and there? According to a 1935 newspaper story, the city’s earliest developers sold land based on its distance from certain landmarks, but they didn’t try too hard to measure the distances accurately.
That meant that when the city started putting in streets after the Civil War, officials discovered buildings standing where the streets were supposed to go. And that meant they either had to go around the buildings or construct very narrow streets.
One example is Poydras, a one-block street between Commerce and Jackson that used to extend all the way to Elm. In three blocks, Poydras had three widths to make room for buildings (documented in an 1877 lawsuit in which a property owner sued the city to prevent it from taking part of his property to build a wider street).
And none of this takes into account that Dallas changed its street numbering system three times by the turn of the last century.
Preston Hollow, thanks to its birth as a one-developer town and later as a community where planning was a lot less haphazard, was spared much of that silliness. This also helps to explain why Preston Hollow doesn’t have streets named after cigarettes (Pall Mall, Camel, Lucky and Kool in Oak Cliff), cliches (the Dallas area has one Eazy and four Easy streets), or even worse word play (Best and Better in North Dallas, and a Lois Lane in Garland and Mesquite).
But that doesn’t mean everything about the street system is perfectly logical. Jourdan Way runs from Northwest Highway to DeLoache, and then reappears seven blocks later. Or consider Edgemere, which runs from Northwest Highway to Walnut Lane. There it turns into Tibbs, and an East Edgemere parallels it a block to the east all the way to Northaven – but there is also a two-block stretch of East Edgemere below Walnut Hill that parallels the original Edgemere, which makes you wonder if those people ever get their mail delivered correctly.
And what about the dilemma of people who live on the Preston Hollow side of Northwest Highway, where it fronts University Park? The Dallas street numbers run from 6000 to 6900; on the other side, they go from 3300 to 4000 in the opposite direction.
What’s in a name? / Not everything is that confusing. The streets near the original center of town at Preston and Northwest Highway (back when Preston Hollow was an independent community before World War II) are named DeLoache (for Ira DeLoache, Preston Hollow’s founder) and Preston Hollow. Joyce Way, below Walnut Hill, takes its name from the A.G. Joyce family, which owned land in the area at the start of the 20th century.
Caruth says even those street names that might sound odd to a 21st century inhabitant were well known to someone who lived in the first couple of decades of the 20th century. One example is Lomo Alto, which was the name of the horse farm of Col. Henry Exall, an early Dallas mover and shaker. Lobello, on the other side of the Dallas Tollway, is named for the man who ran Preston Hollow’s general store when the city was incorporated in 1939. Royal Lane is named after Royal A. Ferris Jr., an industrialist who had a second home near the country lane.
“The street naming actually became a sort of family game,” Hugh Prather Sr., who developed Highland Park and whose family owned 80 acres at Northwest Highway and Preston that is today a cemetery, told an interviewer in the mid-1950s.
“During the planning stage, we all spent many a pleasant evening in the Armstrong home figuring out the best names to go on the blueprints spread out before us.”
The Armstrong whom Prather mentioned was John S., Prather’s father-in-law and the source of the name for Armstrong Avenue and Parkway in Highland Park. When Dallas annexed Preston Hollow in 1945, Douglas Avenue in University Park turned into Armstrong Boulevard in Preston Hollow, which was so confusing that Dallas renamed the street Douglas Avenue. On the other hand, several other street name changes after annexation were to erase duplicates and similar discrepancies. That’s how Lone Post Road, below Park Lane west of Inwood, became Ravine.
Not all inherited names were changed. Tulane and Turtle Creek are University Park names, although Turtle Creek doesn’t flow anywhere near Preston Hollow. Preston Road was part of an old stage line that ran from St. Louis to the Gulf Coast in the mid-19th century, which took its name from William G. Preston, who fought in the Texas war of independence.
Lovers Lane, meanwhile, was actually that, a dirt road in the early 1900s where young people went park. And legend has it that a rise in the road near SMU made Hillcrest a logical choice. Northwest Highway went to Wichita Falls, which is, of course, northwest of Dallas.
Airline Road also was inherited, but it has nothing to do with airplanes. It got its name 150 years ago because it was a straight shot – an air line – between Dallas and the cotton farms in the northern part of the country. One well-told story in the Caruth family is of William Barr Caruth, the family patriarch, driving his wagon and mules down Airline from the family farm near what is now NorthPark to Dallas to buy supplies. Airline was such a good road, in fact, that he was able to make the trip back and forth in one day.
Once and forever / Naming, let alone renaming a street, isn’t easy. For one thing, no one is quite sure how many street names there are, although the best guess is somewhere around 9,000. As a general rule, Dallas and most suburbs let developers name the streets in their developments (which is why so many streets, especially in the suburbs, sound like ads for genteel English living).
But that’s only the beginning. The Dallas street name ordinance takes up seven pages, and any proposal must be reviewed by 13 groups, from the police and fire departments to the postal service to the Dallas County Historical Commission. Only then can it be approved by the city council. In addition, Dallas streets can’t be named after a living person or a business, and a new name can’t duplicate the name of an existing one.
But duplication is in the eye of the beholder. Baylor Medical Center, for example, wants to call a new street Baylor Boulevard, since it is part of the hospital’s expansion near downtown. Whether this is too similar to Baylor Street, which runs for three blocks below Second Avenue and is home to the Dallas police property unit, is something for the bureaucrats to decide.
Perhaps the Park Cities have the right idea. They don’t have any ordinances regulating street names, since almost all of their streets were named nearly a century ago, and there is little land for new ones.
And that’s rapidly becoming the case in Preston Hollow, even in the parts north of Northaven.
Besides, renaming streets probably isn’t a priority for the area’s residents. True, for every name such as Norway (which seems more than a bit out of place among the Lakehursts and Stonetrails and Crest Meadows), there are dozens of others that help to define Preston Hollow.
Once you’ve lived near the intersection of Mum and Orchid, what else is there?
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