When a friend moved to our neighborhood a few years ago, I overheard her telling someone that she lived in South Dallas. “No,” I had to inform her. “You can’t say South Dallas. You live in Oak Cliff; South Dallas is a totally different neighborhood.”
After the same friend moved to the Kiest Park area recently, she described it as South Oak Cliff. Wrong again, I told her. Anything north of Ledbetter is Oak Cliff, not South Oak Cliff. The area south of Ledbetter but west of Interstate 35 is still not South Oak Cliff but Red Bird.
So where is South Oak Cliff? The question came up this week when two news organizations, the Dallas Morning News and WFAA, each ran stories about a shooting on East Ledbetter near Interstate 35. One called the neighborhood East Oak Cliff, and the other called it South Oak Cliff. WFAA also called an area near Marvin D. Love Freeway “South Oak Cliff,” and I definitely would describe that as Red Bird.
Now that we have Southwest Center Mall and Dallas Executive Airport (but still Red Bird Lane), am I the only one who still says Red Bird? Does the term “South Oak Cliff” have a stigma, like “Red Bird” seems to have? That could explain why the News has begun using the designation “East Oak Cliff.” After all, I-35 and Ledbetter is just over a mile from South Oak Cliff High School, and isn’t that definitely in South Oak Cliff?
Does it matter? Some terrible crime stories are reported from the area south of South Dallas and east of Interstate 35. Is that why residents of our neighborhood, sometimes called North Oak Cliff, would prefer a modifier for the other side of Oak Cliff? Maybe it’s to disassociate our real estate from that neighborhood’s, even though most residents in the areas we might call South Oak Cliff or East Oak Cliff describe their neighborhood as just “Oak Cliff ” too.
There are some who would say my friend is right, that Kiest Park is in South Oak Cliff because South Oak Cliff starts near Twelfth Street, where the street names change from North to South, no matter which side of I-35.
Am I right about any of this? Do you think it matters?
Having received the old-school Oak Cliff “oh,” from someone who lives in Plano, just this past weekend, I tend to think it does not.