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HAMILTON PARK, TX

HAMILTON PARK, TEXAS. Hamilton Park, originally an all-black subdivision, is ten miles north of Main and Akard streets in downtown Dallas, Dallas County. Two developments usually are associated with the founding of Hamilton Park. In 1950 several black residences in the South Dallas area were bombed. In a January 1953 bond election the decision to demolish housing in black neighborhoods for the expansion of the municipal airport, Love Field, was approved. Although these events were important, several home builders had attempted to relieve the housing shortage well before the bombings began. They worked with the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce (now the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerceqv) to publicize African Americanqv' desperate overcrowding in the city. But strong opposition from adjacent white landowners defeated the largest and most attractive projects, and blacks rejected a 3,000-acre "riverbottom" site 5½ miles northwest of downtown.

The search for solutions made some business leaders aware of the problem. In May 1949 Karl S. J. Hoblitzelleqv, theater magnate and philanthropist, told the trustees of his charitable foundation about "the desperate need of the negroes of Dallas for housing" and proposed a large development. Though the Hoblitzelle Foundationqv failed to secure a site, it lent the Dallas Citizens' Interracial Association $216,872.93 in 1953 to purchase the land for Hamilton Park (233 acres). The association was established in October 1951 by the chamber of commerce and the Dallas Citizens Council. In addition to the Hoblitzelle Foundation transaction, it borrowed $423,619.99 from three Dallas banks to finance water and sewer lines to the property. FHA and VA guaranteed loans were available to Hamilton Park home buyers.

The subdivision was named for a black civic leader and physician, Dr. Richard T. Hamilton. It was dedicated in October 1953 and formally opened in May 1954. By 1961 the addition was virtually complete, with 742 single-family houses, an apartment complex, a shopping center, a park, a twelve-grade school (which was later reduced to six grades), and several churches. The demand for middle-class black housing spurred this growth. Organized community activity characterized Hamilton Park. The Civic League worked to improve the park and to enforce deed restrictions. The Civic League, the Parent-Teacher Association, and the Inter-Organizational Council were involved in the desegregation of the Hamilton Park School, a facility of the Richardson Independent School District. Their actions helped to establish the innovative, nationally acclaimed Pacesetter program. Pacesetter, a "magnet" as well as a desegregation program, opened in 1975. The parents of non-black children volunteered to send them to Hamilton Park from other attendance zones in the Richardson district. Pacesetter ended the school's one-race status.

In 1985 a developer proposed to buy all or part of the subdivision for high-rise buildings. The offer stirred considerable interest and discussion, but the negotiations collapsed in 1986. Hamilton Park had a population of 2,148 in 1990. It was still mostly residential. Desegregation in housing had, however, brought changes. Though once entirely black, the neighborhood is now only predominantly so.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dallas Express, March 4, 1950, January 24, 31, February 14, 1953. Dallas Morning News, January 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 1950, March 10, May 24, 1985. Warren Leslie, Dallas: Public and Private (New York: Avon, 1964). Jim Schutze, The Accommodation: The Politics of Race in an American City (Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel, 1986).

William H. Wilson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

William H. Wilson, "HAMILTON PARK, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrh53), accessed December 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.