1962: Construction of Woodall Rodgers is Completed through Freedman’s Town

Freedman’s Town, an area of Dallas that was populated by emancipated slaves after the Civil War, was standing in the current State-Thomas Uptown area of Dallas prior to the 1960s. After Woodall Rodgers Freeway (366) was built through State-Thomas, the historic town was divided, leading to the displacement of many residents throughout the area (Prior, 2020, par. 17).

The residents of Freedman’s Town North Dallas, or State-Thomas, thrived prior to Woodall Rodgers Freeway’s construction because they had built a community filled with churches, businesses, and homes that were within walking distance to downtown Dallas. Many of the residents did not have means of transportation, so being within walking distance of grocery stores and other businesses in Dallas was very important. When the Freeway was constructed, it cut off State-Thomas from downtown Dallas and isolated them from the rest of Dallas, along with growth and opportunity (Prior, 2020, par. 17).

Land Cleared for the Construction of Woodall Rodgers Highway (Bosse, 2016).

When Freedman’s Town was broken by the highway, the residents were forced to relocate to areas throughout South and West Dallas. This relocation was part of the catalyst for the poverty and racial divide between North Dallas and South Dallas. Now, North Dallas is called “Uptown” and is a highly affluent area of Dallas dominated by skyscraper apartment buildings, high-end shopping, and expensive restaurants. All evidence of its history as a Freedman’s Town was pushed out with its residents as minorities and low-income residents have been pushed and trapped in South Dallas (Prior, 2020, par. 18).

Because of the highway systems in Dallas, low-income areas of Dallas have been cut off by foot from Downtown Dallas, forcing the residents of South Dallas to remain in poverty, separated from the vast amount of wealth throughout the rest of Dallas (Holliday, n.d., par. 11).

In October of 2012, Klyde Warren Park opened, reconnecting the neighborhood adjacent to Woodall Rodgers Freeway and offering a community gathering space for people from all backgrounds. While highway redevelopment programs like Klyde Warren are beneficial for reconnecting communities, the harm has already been done for Freedman’s Town. After the residents were cut off in the 1960s, they were forced to relocate and now Uptown is populated by the wealthy upper class, showing that no matter what reconnection efforts have been made, there is no undoing the past (Klyde Warren Park, n.d.).


Bosse, P. (2016, March 2). Woodall Rodgers Freeway Under Construction—1966. Flashback : Dallas. https://flashbackdallas.com/2016/03/01/woodall-rodgers-freeway-under-construction-1966/

Klyde Warren Park | Dallas Texas. (n.d.). Our Story | Klyde Warren Park | Dallas Texas. Retrieved October 29, 2021, from http://www.klydewarrenpark.org/about-the-park/our-story.html

Prior, M. (2020, June 17). TSHA | Freedmantown/North Dallas. Texas State Historical Association. https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/freedmantownnorth-dallas