Oak Cliff’s street names

On a recent run to Lone Star Donuts on North Beckley, I encountered a never-before-noticed street sign: Oregon Avenue — a “state” street.

It brought to mind one of the questions I often have as I travel around: What is the rationale of naming city streets? I decided to do a little research and, in the process, came up with some interesting finds.

First, Dallas doesn’t have streets named for all 50 states, but there are quite a few. And these state streets are prevalent here in Oak Cliff.

In the Trinity Heights neighborhood, you’ll find the main clustering of “state” avenues: Iowa, Vermont, Idaho, Michigan, Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, Illinois and Montana (where my grandmother’s house used to be, now underneath the interstate). There’s even Alaska Avenue!

Plus, eight others are in our area: Tennessee Avenue, running south from the Elmwood area to Kiest Boulevard, was named for the former Tennessee Dairy, which operated on the Elmwood subdivision property before being sold for residential and retail development. Makes sense.

But why is Texas Drive — not to be confused with Texas Street (which is near Baylor hospital) — way over in Westmoreland Heights, all by itself? And then there’s the aforementioned Oregon Avenue plus Colorado Boulevard and Delaware Avenue, all located in north Oak Cliff, separated both from each other and from their sister “state” streets over in Trinity Heights. Wyoming Street is in Western Heights. Kansas Avenue and West Virginia Drive both border I-20, but in two different zip codes.

Who makes these decisions?

Now if you want to go around the world, Oak Cliff offers that opportunity as well. You can visit Montreal, Melbourne, Genoa, Toronto, Tangiers, Touraine, Bahama(s), Toluca, Monte Carlo, Morocco, Acapulco and Moulin Rouge. Also available are Trinidad, Matagorda, Volga, Sumatra, Sicily, Warsaw, Fiji, Crete, Peru, Lebanon and Scotland. Who knew?

You can also travel America when you locate Sedona, San Jose, Ithaca, Nantucket, Sonora, Pensacola, Orlando, Montclair, Ann Arbor and Bar Harbor, Marfa and Presidio (Texas) and even Nob Hill. Want to tour the Pentagon? Cruise Pentagon (Parkway). Want to visit Graceland? It’s in Oak Cliff, too. You can even go to Hollywood!

Then there are the “president” streets: Madison, Adams, Van Buren, Tyler and Polk.

But where is our first president? Washington Avenue hugs the east side of Baylor hospital and Jackson is downtown. (Monroe is out of place, as well, alone in North Dallas.)

Jefferson Boulevard, presumably named for Thomas Jefferson because it originally intersected with Jackson Street in downtown’s Central Business District, now exists only in Oak Cliff. In 1944 the downtown portion of Jefferson was changed to Record Street.

You can also cross the “Atlantic” on the “Mayflower,” stomp at the “Savoy,” cruise down the “Danube,” or paddle the “Neches” or “Sabine.” Go to the Beverly Hills neighborhood and you can climb “Mt. Washington,” “Mt. Everest,” “Mt. Ararat,” and a number of other mounts. And, in the Cedar Crest area, we have the “bird” streets: Cardinal, Canary, Parrot, Eagle and Skylark.

Returning Lt. Comm. Angus Wynne Jr. named the streets surrounding his development, Wynnewood Village, for World War II U.S. naval leaders, battles and vessels: Woolsey, Mayrant, Bizerte, Manus, Nicholson, Grayson, O’Bannon, etc. And some streets further south, off Polk, were tagged for battle sites such as Anzio, Garapan and Salerno.

Across I-35 and south of Saner, the streets reflect WWII military leaders: Nimitz, Bradley, Krueger, Brodie, Mitscher and Eisenhower. Power players, for sure.

Street-wise, some additions around the Cliff have themes. Kiestwood has a slew of “wood” streets, as does Polk Terrace, while Country Club Fairways (southeast of the former Oak Cliff Country Club) has all the golf-related avenues. Travel to Irwindell and you can cruise all the “dell” streets. And Singing Hills, well, sings!

One of the interesting stories I stumbled onto is the renaming of a portion of East Kiest Boulevard. One of the eastern stretches of what is now Kiest was originally tagged “Ukraine”. However, with the Cold War heating up so intensely, the name “Ukraine” disappeared from the map around 1953.

Another story concerns the new houses being built in the early ’60s on what was formerly the lower end of Kings Highway. The homeowners wanted a name change, to separate themselves (and secure their property value) from the upper end of the thoroughfare where, in those days, a significant difference in pride of ownership, construction material, style of home and occupancy were evident. Thus, Timbergrove Circle was birthed, separated from Kings Highway by not only Mary Cliff Road but by name, as well.

With travel so expensive, why not pull out a map or fire-up your GPS and hit the local streets. Gather the family, grab a six-pack of Dr Pepper, and take off … around Oak Cliff. You can travel the globe in your car or, for the really rugged, on your bike. Oak Cliff has it all!

As a side note: Along with my grandmother’s house on Montana Avenue, my dad lived for a time on Montclair. Growing up, my family actually lived on both Monte Carlo Street and on Acapulco Drive. And, for a brief time around 1970, my parents had an apartment on Pentagon Parkway.


WANT MORE?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Oak Cliff.
  • Raenell Horn Davis

    Great info –  I lived on Texas Drive while atending Kimball High School.  This was the short 2 blocks that was east of Stockard Junior High School.  Most people thought Texas Drive started at Stockard and went west to Cockrell Hill Road.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Thanks for the info, Jeff. I’d have to look through my notes, but someone gave me Mr. Barnes name and number and I had planned on contacting him at a later date…regarding Stevens Park. Seems like a good subject and one that readers would like. I appreciate your comments. Good info!

  • Jeff

    Gayla:

    When we moved here in the mid-1960s, everyone I knew in North Oak Cliff told me, as Ty said, that Jefferson and Davis were named for Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, not for Thomas Jefferson. It was considered a fact back then anyway but perhaps a widely held misconception.

    I have a wonderful story though about another street. Coming off of Fort Worth Avenue, near where it intersects Colorado west of the Minyards is Anniels Street. I was talking to long standing Oak Cliff historian Jim Barnes about it and it suddenly, out of the blue, dawned on him where the name come from.

    It is a shortened version of Annie L. Stevens, the woman who founded Stevens Park. And her brother was Walter, which crosses Fort Worth Avenue a couple of blocks away.

    Crossing both is an Odeans street, which makes me think there must have been an O. Dean Stevens as well, although I don’t know of that.

    Of course, most of the streets in Stevens Park are named after elements of Cape Cod (Mayflower, Plymouth, Atlantic,) and many of the homes have Cape Cod architecture (although much of that has been bastardized by newer owners, sadly).

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Thanks, Michael, for all the “river” info. Great stuff.

    One of the things I like most about writing this column is the added data from readers, you among them. And, you’re right about Rio Grande and Guadalupe being in another location. Technically, Kiestwood ends at or around Ravinia. These streets are farther west, almost to Cockrell Hill Rd. I’m not not sure what the exact name of that sub-division/addition is, but you’re right about the location. What’s also interesting is that my brother used to live on Guadalupe! I forgot to include that in my column–but, at the same time, there was no more room. There is a word limit for what I write and, quite frankly, I always have to cut out a LOT.

    Thanks, again, for your input. If I ever get to use this material again, I’ll include it.

  • Michael Edwards

    The reason Colorado Blvd. is in North Oak Cliff and not in Trinity Heights is because it’s named for the Texas river, not the state. If you look where Colorado intersects Zang you’ll see that there are other streets named for rivers, Sabine, Comal, and Brazos. Neches St is not far away. In other areas of Oak Cliff you can fine Guadalupe, and Rio Grande, in Keistwood. Naming streets after Texas rivers is popular in the state, heck Downtown Austin has all the major streams of texas in order, east to west!

  • Michael Edwards

    Colorado Blvd is away from the other state streets as it is not named for the state at all, but for the Colorado river in Texas. The other east west streets around Zang Blvd. are also named for Texas rivers, including the Brazos, Comal, and Sabine Streets. Poor Neches Street is on the other side of Lake Cliff, though. There’s a Frio Drive that crosses East Keist, Rio Grande and Guadalupe in Keistwood.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Thanks to everyone for all your wonderful posts. What a great list of information and…such interesting stories! It’s fun to see how everyone’s memories differ and how the many areas of Oak Cliff all have their individual histories.

  • Robert Nelson

    My dad worked for Roland Pelt in the 70’s managing all the apartments Roland built in W. Oak Cliff. I was told that Roland donated the land to Dallas Baptist College when it started up. He also developed all the houses and apartments along W. Walton Walker and Mt Valley area. Lots of good stories there Gayla :)
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane

  • Reed McKay

    Gayla,
    I spent my early years on a street that my grandfather told me was named after General George C. Patton. Patton St. is located just North and East of Adamson. The old Dal-Hi stadium was renamed for Dr. Cobb. His granddaughter went to Sunset in the late 60’s.

  • Reed McKay

    Gayla,
    I spent my early years on a street that my grandfather told me was named after general George Patton. The street is located just

  • Ted Miller

    Gayla:

    The Miller family and children Ted, Jack, Sandra and Joyce lived on Polk which was the district dividing line between Sunset and Adamsom High Schools. Good fortune for us because we lived on the Adamson side. Sandra and YOur sister, Lynda rode their horses all over the area behind our house between Polk and Tyler. John High, his wife and our cousins lived on E. Ohio before they moved out in the country near Lancaster TX. Perhaps the reason there aren’t too many duplicans in street names in Oak Cliff and Dallas (and the changing of Jefferson in Dallas to Record is a result of the extreme animisoty that developed when Oak Cliff and Dallas fought for being named the Dallas County Seat. I know you are familiar with the charge by Oak Cliff of Dallas’ ballot box stuffing. Good article!

  • Steve Watson

    On the lighter side. 1969 & 70 meant hippies, music, and the sock-it-to-me era. Woodstock Drive in Oak Cliff was more than a road, it was a teen challenge. This street sign must have been on record as the “most stolen” during that timeframe. Having this sign would have certainly elevated my status to COOL DUDE. I never had the nerve to try…

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Ty~I most certainly remember you and your family. Neighbors in the old East ‘o Kiest Park addition. (Yes, that’s what the addition was called.) The City of Dallas archivist said that Jefferson was most probably named for Pres. Thomas Jefferson, as it originally intersected with Jackson Street (named for Pres. Andrew Jackson)in downtown Dallas. Washington and Monroe were already named, as were the ones mentioned by Viv Skinner. When Oak Cliff was annexed, Dallas couldn’t have two streets with the same name. So, the Oak Cliff streets were renamed. They probably had lower density development, making it was easier to rename them that the older, more established streets in Dallas.

    Bill~
    I’d love to do something on your Dad and Glen Oaks. And you’re right about the Smith Bros. Hoke was their dad, and he did have a grandson with the same name. I actually did a search last night on Hoke Smith and saw some recent “activity” on the family. I think Roland Pelt was one of the cousins back-in-the-day. I also heard (in this thread) from one of Roland’s great nieces (?): Sherry Shelby. I believe all the Pelts lived, at one time, in Duncanville–on Pelt Place! Hoke Smith was from D’ville and attended school there. He was the architect for the old Dal-Hi Stadium, what we later knew as P.C. Cobb Stadium/Field House. Sooooo much to write about.

    I’m very glad you enjoy the stories and that you are from a proud Oak Cliff family–even if you now call North Carolina home. You’re a loooong way from the OC, but you’re still one of us! (I had some ancestors from NC, so I’m sure it’s a great place.)

    G.

  • Ty Thomas

    Great article. My family lived on Tennessee for a time, my aunt and uncle lived on Monte Carlo, and both sets of grandparents on Hollywood. We eventually moved out where the streets were named for flowers: Larkspur, Bridal Wreath, Begonia, Crepe Myrtle, Periwinkle and Gladiolus.

    I always assumed Jefferson was named for Jefferson Davis, since it parallels Davis as both cut across Oak Cliff.

  • Bill Wyman

    About Hoke Smith:Seems to me Mssrs. Vernon and James Smith had a father named Hoke and Mr James Smith has a son named Hoke too. Maybe some of them will read your column and comment. Bye.

  • Bill Wyman

    Hi. My dad and his dad did land developments in Oak Cliff from 1940s to 1970s. My memory is my dad tried to pick street names that sort of described the area of the street. And he spent hours talking about how or why a street had a particilar name. Like Rockport was the entrance to Glen Oaks and it was a pretty rocky area and Fox Hill was a place where he once saw a fox. My grandfather on the other hand picked names like Madrid and Cape Cod. I guess he was dreaming of places he’d like to have visited and never did. The main thing I remember is they both loved Oak Cliff from the Trinity River to the southern city limits and beyond. They simply loved the community. Thank you, Gayla, for these articles, they each bring a special memory or message for me all the way over here in North Carolina.

  • Bill Melton

    Another great Gayla Brooks Kokel story that just brings all the memories of growing up and living in Oak Cliff so special!

  • LON OAKLEY Jr.

    You my young child continue to come up with some great stuff. Hope to link you up with former KLIF newsman Gary DeLaune sometime this month for a possible story on JFK shooting and Oswald/Ruby shooting from November 22-25 1963. Thanks for your support at Texas Theater last week too. I’ll be in touch

    LON OAKLEY Big A Class of ’65

  • Patsy Summey

    What fun to see the state streets in print! I began teaching at Harrell Budd–the old Trinity Heights School–in 1970–and did many a home visit on those very streets until I retired in 2001!

    As far as naming streets, yes, the developers got to choose names. My dad was a land surveyor over in East Texas and on several occasions when he was helping plat a new subdivision, he would be asked for input on street names. One time, my younger brother was helping and the developer asked what was his name–“Victor”–so the developer named one of the streets Victor! (I hadn’t thought of this in years.)

    Keep up the good work, Gayla. You jog our memories–of Oak Cliff and other places and events, too!

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Sherry,
    Yes, I’d love to chat. Contact me through FB.

  • Sherry Shelby Smith

    Yes, Greg Pelt (Superior Painting) is a 2nd cousin (by marriage). Roland’s wife was Stella Mae Shelby Pelt. As kids we had trouble saying “Stella” so we all called her Aunt Mae. There were 5 children in the “Shelby” family and youngest was named Roland. Hence we had a “Big Roland” (Pelt) and “Little Roland” (Shelby). Would love to get together with you (in person or by email) to discuss other OC events (i.e., my Mother was the 1st female Dallas County Grand Jurist, think my Daddy was the 1st OC Junior Chamber President, etc.).

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Sherry~
    Thanks for your added info. More “good stuff.”

    I was aware of your uncle’s involvement in the progress of Oak Cliff, and, in fact, I just visited last week with one of the Pelt cousins about some house repairs and painting. When I see the name “Pelt,” especially in this area, I know it must be one of Roland’s kin.

    I did know that Rolinda was named after Roland’s daughter (was Roland’s wife named “Linda”?), but I had no idea about Myrtlewood. Makes sense, though. It’s among the “wood” streets, so adding “Myrtle” to “wood” carrys on the theme.

    Please send any further info my way. Hopefully, with everyone kicking in, we’ll have at least some of our wonderful Oak Cliff history documented for future generations. Thanks, Sherry!

  • Sherry Shelby Smith

    Gayla, another great article! The developers did name the streets, as the streets had to be “built” and named before any house could be started. It was not unusual for a neighborhood to be built in two stages. Sometimes when the 2nd stage was started, it was by a different developer who didn’t want similar names or similar street names were already taken, which would explain why some street names (i.e., state names) are in different areas. My Dad and his brother (Shelby Brothers) worked with their brother-in-law Roland Pelt (developer) on many OC neighborhoods. Two street names I know about is Rolinda street is named after Roland Pelt’s daughter (my cousin), and Myrtlewood was named after an Aunt Myrtle.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Viv~
    I actually knew about the developers making the decisions, especially when driving through certain sub-divisions all over the place and one sees street names like “Cindy,” “Lyndalynn,” “Ida Bess,” “Lanette,” and “Renee” (in DeSoto) all grouped together. There are other such street name groups all over the place. I probably should have written: “What were the developers thinking when they made these decisions?” LOL! One of the ones that is the strangest (from this column) is the West Virginia Dr. (all by itself)–off the intersection of I-20 and Hampton Road. Kansas Ave. is off I-20 and I-35 E. Wyoming is way over in Western Heights, off Cockrell Hill Road between Kiest and Illinois. These state streets don’t “go” with any of the surrounding streets!! I guess the developer either forgot to name them and the city just picked a name…or the developer needed to name one single street and grabbed a leftover “state” name.

    All the Wynnewood North Streets are WWII-related…except for Shelmire. Shelmire was Angus Wynne’s mother’s maiden name! In Wynnewood Hills, there are only a handful of streets: Bar Harbor (Maine, I think), Acapulco (Mexico), Caracas (Venezuela)and Boca Chica (“girl mouth” in Spanish), and the main drag–Redbird Lane–on the north side of which are Trinidad, Sea Island, Key Largo, and Matagorda. Destinations, most…but what was the developer’s thinking process on these names??? Guess we’ll never know.

    Again, thanks for the info.

  • Linda Shipp Moon

    Mr Kirtley, I’m pretty sure Hoke Smith was the father of Vernon and James Smith…Gayla, you’ll have to check that out!!!

    I so enjoy your articles…such memories and what a “fun” job you have!!! Hugs to ya girlfriend. :)

  • Charles Benny Kirtley

    Just a tidbit of trivia about a street in Oak Cliff. Vernon and James Smith were mega developers when I was in my teens and one of the streets off of Kiest and Polk area is named Hoke Smith after one of James Smith’s sons.

  • Vivian Skinner

    To answer your question, “who makes these decisions?” I am pretty sure it is the developers who at least propose street names, with the city giving final approval.

    I remember reading a story about Junior Drive in Kessler Park at some point in my Oak Cliff research. I believe it is named for a little boy who died at around age 5, but can’t remember a last name — seems like a prominent Dallas family, though.

  • Angeline Churchill

    What a wonderful and informative article!

    My father’s family moved here just after the Civil War and purchased a piece of land in Western Heights. My great aunt, Mabelle Robinson, was “nominated” to have a street named after her. Unfortunately, there was already a Mabelle Street (at the time), so the street was named Mobile instead.

    The Robinson Family Cemetery is located behind the house at 1019 Mobile. My great great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Robinson, is buried there. He brought the family down from Missouri where he was a state legislator, and was instrumental in establishing the Western Heights Church of Christ.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    To all the readers:
    If any of you know of other “street” stories or renamings, please post. As the column limits me to c 800 words, I’m not always able to include all the details and historical background, unless I zero-in on a narrow subject and/or drop other info and details. Sometimes there’s more than can be written, but no remaining space. So……come on Cliffites! Post your info.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Viv~
    I’m putting you at the top of my “Oak Cliff Info Sources” list!! Great data. I had wondered about the rest of the presidents, and did realize that Washington, Jackson, and a few others probably fell with the annexation conflict (as did some of the steets in Eagle Ford that had to be renamed), but I didn’t know all the details. Thanks! Your comments really add to the story. Good stuff, glad you posted. I think the rest of the readers will enjoy your added info.

  • anorman

    Gayla, that was fun! I grew up on Tennessee Ave. and then we moved to the “country” by Polk and Camp Wisdom. It was the sticks back then and I figure Camp Wisdom was named after…Camp Wisdom of Boy Scouts fame.

  • Mary Newton Maxwell

    I love Trivia (and Alex Trebeck ain’t too bad, either), so this was right down my alley. That would be the alley behind any of the streets you recited. Found the Kiest history very interesting. I lived on Keats and anytime I told someone unfamiliar with ‘near’ Cockrell Hill, they thought I said Keats.
    Love your stories and love you, girl !

  • Vivian Skinner

    Gayla – I’ve got info for you on the “presidential” streets. When Oak Cliff was a city, they started with Washington and went all the way to Polk, in order, east to west. Then came the unfortunate annexation, and Dallas already had a Washington, Jackson, Monroe, etc. So Oak Cliff had to rename several streets. Washington became Zang. We lost Monroe, Jackson, Harrison and got Bishop, Llewellyn and Vernon in their places. Can’t remember the story on Jefferson, but do know it curves around because of the curve of the hills and the tracks that ran down the center — they needed to climb gradually.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    A little added info:
    As a small child, I lived on one of the noted, WWII-related streets: Nicholson Dr.(near Wynnewood). As an adult, I also lived briefly on one of the “wood” streets: Whitewood Dr.(in the Kiestwood Addition. And, after submission, I learned that my Dad also lived on Delaware Ave. With friends who lived on many of the mentioned streets, I hope this trip around Oak Cliff is a fun read and bit of a “mental vacation” for everyone.