April 1942: Major Flood of the Trinity River

South Dallas is located on the Trinity River floodplain, which is the low lying area next to the Trinity River that is subject to flooding. A floodplain is an undesirable place to live because it floods often, devastating homes and communities both physically and economically. Historically, African-Americans were forced into undesirable areas like the South Dallas floodplain, and they struggled to rebuild their communities every time the rivers flooded (Payne, 2015, p. 71).

In 1942 specifically, there was a major flood of the Trinity River that caused extensive damage to Bexar Street. According to a paper written by Briana Payne that included quotations from South Dallas residents, Bexar Street used to turn into a river and force evacuations from the area. The Red Cross would help with the evacuation and safety of the residents during bad floods like the one in 1942 (Payne, 2015, p. 71).

Flooding in South Dallas during the 1935 flood (Bosse, 2018).

Later in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the floods continued to cause damage on the South Dallas neighborhood, with the cost of continually repairing homes and businesses becoming too high for residents to continue living there. As people continued to leave the neighborhood, house vacancy increased and the population in Bonton and Ideal dropped from 5,000 people to 2,400. As houses continued to get abandoned, it became the perfect place for crime to multiply and drugs to take root in the community (Payne, 2015, p. 96).


Bosse, P. (2018, February 20). Forest Avenue-Area Flooding, South Dallas—1935. Flashback : Dallas. https://flashbackdallas.com/2018/02/20/forest-avenue-area-flooding-1935/

Payne, B. (2015). Oral History of Bonton and Ideal Neighborhoods in Dallas, Texas (United States – Texas – Dallas County – Dallas) [Thesis or Dissertation, University of North Texas]. https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc848166/m1/1/