Cedar Springs Place : housing, citizenship, and city-making in Centennial Dallas
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Cedar Springs Place (1935-37), a public housing development designed by Walter Sharp and the Dallas Housing Associates, was built under the auspices of New Deal progressivism alongside the 1936 Texas Centennial. A modern complex with an emphasis on public space, Cedar Springs was built for white residents on a vacant land parcel at the city’s edge. Originally lauded as a slum eradication project for Depression-era Dallas, the narrative behind Cedar Springs is problematized when seen through a larger landscape perspective. Although the design, programming, and promotion of Cedar Springs Place was reformist in nature, the gradual conception, planning, and building of the development suggests how the project became less about ameliorating the lives of Dallas’ poor and more about paying homage to a set of ideals that did not necessarily match the building in practice. Cedar Springs bespeaks both progressive action and inequitable inaction, including a failed project for African American residents and the inability to actually replace a slum community, a disparity that belies Dallas’ moniker as the “City of Opportunity.” As a case study, Cedar Springs Place speaks to the tension between ideology and practice in architectural production, and further calls into question notions of access and opportunity—both spatial and architectural—in 1930s Dallas.