What Is the History Behind Dallas Downtown Most Iconic Architecture?


Dallas is among the largest and most populous cities in Texas and the US. Since it is a large city, Dallas really has a lot to show and so much to brag about. One of which is the architecture in the city, which suits almost everybody’s tastes, and of course, needs. 

The city consists of different architectural styles, such as Beaux-Arts, Gothic Styles, Romanesque, and post-modern. When exploring the beautiful city of Dallas, you’ll surely be able to see all the exquisite buildings and other architecture that the city boasts about. 

Watch out for the magnificent Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, a swirling white bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava. You may also see the huge observation deck called the Reunion Tower. Whether walking around the city, biking on the streets, or driving around the Big D, you’ll be able to enjoy sightseeing with beautiful views of the city’s most impressive architecture designed by renowned architects worldwide.

Growth of Dallas and Architecture

Dallas skyline with tall buildings and red structures

It has been 181 years since Dallas was founded and 166 years since it was formally incorporated, and with all those years, the city is known for its high and diverse economy. This economic growth comes mainly from several industries, including defense, financial services, information and communication technology, and the city’s transportation industries. 

All these industries being developed in Dallas come with huge buildings and companies which they use for their operations. Dallas is also home to several leading colleges and universities, most of which were made with beautiful and iconic architectural designs.  

However, even though Dallas is blessed with a large area with plenty of room to establish buildings and other architectural structures, Downtown Dallas was always the area where you can mainly see the city’s beautiful architecture. It’s because the downtown area is the center of Dallas’ economy and has played a huge role in the city’s growth. 

While visiting Downtown Dallas, you’re going to experience the rich history of the city that is reflected in its architecture. Here are some of the history behind Dallas Downtown’s most iconic architecture to know more about the interesting architectural landmarks in the Big D. 

Founders Plaza

It is always important to know your history. So before starting your tour around the Big D, what else should you do but visit the Founders Plaza to pay homage to the founder of Dallas, John Neely Bryan. 

The Founders Plaza, in the heart of the city, is an open park home to a replica of John Neely Bryan’s log cabin, the Old Red Courthouse, and many more beautiful views and spaces. If you want to know more about the founding of Dallas, read our article, Discover Dallas and Its History.

Old Red Museum and Courthouse

image of the big Old Red Museum with several cars passing by

The Old Red Museum and Courthouse is found within the Founders Plaza, so you can easily visit this building before going to other architectural sites downtown. From its name, you will instantly know that the building is red and it’s also old. 

The museum has many photographs showcasing the past, some memorabilia relevant to the city’s history, and several historical artifacts. The museum also has a stained glass design, so people would most likely appreciate the entire structure. Lastly, the Old Red Museum and Courthouse also has beautiful vintage staircases that would look great in your pictures. 

Hotel Adolphus

Adolphus Busch, the founder of the Anheuser-Busch brewing company, commissioned two passion projects in downtown Dallas. One of which is the Hotel Adolphus which was established in 1912. 

The building is known for its beaux-arts architectural style, which perfectly fits the city’s modern skyline. However, when it was first established, Hotel Adolphus stood out and became one of the greatest modern architecture in the city during those times. 

Hotel Adolphus was once the tallest building in the city before the Magnolia Petroleum Building was constructed. The hotel held a great reputation and was named among the best hotels in the city of Dallas. 

The Kirby Building

tall and white Kirby Building

Another passion project and the second gift of Aldophus Busch to the city was The Kirby Building, also known as Busch Building. The Kirby Building was built in 1913 and had a late gothic revival architectural style. 

The purpose of The Kirby Building was to provide space for commercial offices and retail stores that could help and support the Hotel Adolphus, which is two blocks away from the building. When The Kirby Building was first established, it became the second commercial property in the US with a gothic revival-inspired design. 

Reunion Tower

A 170-meter tall observation deck, Reunion Tower is among Dallas’ best and most iconic architectural structures. This tower provides visitors with a 360-degree view of the city and many digital and interactive experiences. 

Here you’ll discover a lot about the history of the city, all about the Reunion Tower, and many more. They also provide several telescopes, which you could use to see the beautiful Dallas skyline. 

After having fun in the observation deck, you can visit the Cloud Nine Café for snacks and refreshers. There’s also the Five Sixty fine dining restaurant on the top floor, where you can enjoy delicious meals while watching the amazing view Dallas could offer. 

The Wilson Building

light brown Wilson Building and tall establishments

The Wilson Building was established in 1904 and was considered the tallest building in Dallas for five consecutive years. The Wilson Building was inspired by the Palais Garnier, a well-known French building in Paris, which is why the building has a 19th-century revival architectural style. 

The Wilson Building comprised 12 storeys and was regarded as the best commercial establishment west of the Mississippi River. This building had a huge role in the retail sector of the city. Its basement was where a successful department store, the Titche-Goettinger, was established.

Bank of America Plaza

Bank of America Plaza, initially called the Dallas Main Center, is among the most iconic architecture in Dallas. It was built in 1985 and took three years to complete, with a 146 million-dollar investment. 

The developers initially planned to build two 72-story buildings with a 600-room hotel and a huge parking area. However, in the mid-1980s, when oil and real estate prices crashed all over Texas, their plan to build a second tower was scrapped. This is why you can see only one Bank of America Plaza building today. 

This 72-story building is the tallest skyscraper in the city and the third in the state. It is known for its clean lines, reflective surface, and green LED light outlining the building that lights up all night. Sometimes, the color changes to blue or purple, but most of the time, the Bank of America Plaza is called the “green building,” one of the most loved and iconic architectural buildings in the whole of Dallas.  

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