New Chapter to an Old Tale - Deep Ellum
Everyone has a story from their first time in Deep Ellum. However, few know the story of Deep Ellum itself. Most see the neighborhood as a place to drink with friends or to discover your new favorite band, but that is only the current page of Deep Ellum.
Deep Ellum was officially born in 1873 when African Americans and European immigrants first moved into the area. The line between reality and rumor has always been vague in Deep Ellum, even the name has a much-debated origin. Legend says the name came from early residents’ pronunciation of “Elm” when referring to the area as “Deep Elm Street”. The name stuck and “Deep Ellum” was adopted by the City of Dallas in the early 1900s.
The early 20th century was Deep Ellum’s prime for jazz and blues singers, visual artists, and industrial workers at local factories like the Ford Model T assembly plant and the Continental Gin Company. These roots still hold a significant influence on the fabric of Deep Ellum, as the Ford Model T factory was converted to the residential Adam Hats Lofts and the Continental Gin Company was converted to artist studios. Even current live music venue, The Bomb Factory, was first part of the Ford Model T plant and later became a literal bomb factory for World War II bombs and ammunition. It was reopened in 2015 as the largest music venue in the area holding over 4,000 people and hosting performers like The Ramones, Erykah Badu, Radiohead, and Jack White.
The 1980s and 90s brought another wave of success with the punk rock music scene and mural artists adding color to the historic, brick walls. Deep Ellum continually proves to be a place of opportunity—a place to start a band like Spector 45, a business like The Mozzarella Company, a successful tattoo shop like Elm Street Tattoo, or an art movement like the 42 Murals project.
New development projects make efforts to fold into the traditional aesthetic of Deep Ellum while accommodating for future growth. The Knights of Pythias building on the corner of Elm St. and Good Latimer Ave. will be restored to its original design and transformed into a boutique hotel. The building itself was designed by the first black architect in Texas and Booker T. Washington’s son-in-law, William Sydney Pittman. It has been recognized as one of Dallas’s historical landmarks.
The 177 acres of Deep Ellum is home to around 270 businesses with 60+ bars and restaurants, 20+ music venues, and 40+ shops and services. Newcomers with novelty desserts and beer gardens mix with old favorite dive bars and music venues. The presence of construction trucks and cranes serve as a reminder that this next chapter of Deep Ellum is only beginning. But as history has shown, Deep Ellum will continue to be the pocket of Dallas where people can experience new adventures and create something meaningful. It will always be a mystery land where nobody fits, so everybody belongs.