Early Days of Deep Ellum

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We asked our residents: "In the 1800s, Deep Ellum was unofficially referred to as…"
The answer: Central Track
The name, Central Track is in reference to where the two railroad lines, The Houston and Texas Central railroad, that that split the early business districts in the area. Although we may think of Deep Ellum as one neighborhood east of downtown Dallas  today; in the early days, it was two seperate business districts, Deep Elm and Central Track. Central Street was where the railroad lines ran in its early years, hence name Central Track comes from. Deep Elm district was named after Elm Street. Because of the local dialect, pronounciation of the area by the locals sounded more like 'Ell-um', and the name Deep Ellum stuck to this day. 

Many of the early residents from the area did not make the distinction between Deep Ellum and Central Track, which is why Deep Ellum was also referred to as Central Track. A poem published in 1936 by the local African American folklorist, J. Mason Brewer, a Spanish teacher from Booker T. Washington High School, called "Deep Ellum and Central Track" reinforces this idea:


Talk about Harlem ef yuh wants tuh,
An Lennox Avenue
But Ah got sumpin' now, Baby
Ah kin talk about oo.
Harlem's got hits browns an' hits yallers
And sealskin mamas in black.
But 'tain't got nothin' on dallas,
Deep Ellum and central Track.
Hamlem's got hits gin and hits whiskey
uh li'l penthouse o' two;
But Ah'm still telling you, Baby,
Dallas got sumpin, 'too.
Not hit mought not be no apartment
Mought be uh 'shot-gun' shack;
But de gals sho makes you 'member
Deep Ellum and Central Track.
Done been all eroun' yo' big State Street,
Uh way up dere in Chi;
An hits uh pretty good hang-out-Baby, dat ain't no lie.
Gals up dere do de snakehips,
On de streets fuh uh fac';
But gimme my gall an' de Jig Saw
Deep Ellum an' Central Track.

After World War II, both the Houston and Texas Central railroad tracks were removed to make way for the Central Expressway.

Today, Deep Ellum is still considered one of the most historically significant neighborhoods in Dallas.

Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas – Alan B. Governar, Jay F. Brakefield
"The Cool Blue History of Deep Ellum" – TheCommonDesk.com

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