History of West Dallas

The History of West Dallas Timeline will guide you through West Dallas’ history, from environmental injustice t to the housing crisis faced throughout their history. In each event, you will find information from books, articles, and news sources along with a video or podcast diving deeper into the topic. The history below, compiled by Cristal Mendez and Shelby Peck, was intended to highlight key events in the past, but also explain how those events are still shaping the future of West Dallas.


Beginnings of Cement City  

Many workers fleed the Mexican Revolution and started working in cement villages.

Unwanted families, including Clyde Barrow’s, settle in an untended part of Dallas 

Families look for jobs in the city and are pushed to West Dallas.


Population Increases and Health Disparities Plague West Dallas 

Without basic services such as plumbing and clean water, diseases increase. Brother Bill’s Helping Hand steps up.

West Dallas Annexation

West Dallas is officially annexed in 1954, despite their isolation across the Trinity River.


Racially Segregated Housing Opens   

The housing project is meant to solve the “Negro Housing Problem.”

Tornado hits Oak Cliff and West Dallas

A devastating F3 tornado hits Dallas, damaging many business and houses in West Dallas.

April 2, 1957

Lead Emissions Ordinance Passed Against RSR Smelter 

RSR Smelter’s lead emissions were sanctioned by the government, but little action was done by the government to enforce it.

Elevated Lead Levels Found in Children

The lead emissions from RSR Smelter continued, causing health problems in residents of West Dallas.


Four Residents File Federal Discrimination Suit for Fair Public Housing

Residents said the DHA used discriminatory policies when assigning housing, placed a significant amount of blacks in West Dallas, and did not allow them to live in other parts of DFW.

Community Member Receives Award from George Bush Sr.

The “Mother of West Dallas” is recognized for her efforts to improve the lives of children.

April 26, 1991

EPA Places RSR Corporation Site on Superfund List 

Following RSR Smelter’s lead pollution, they were placed on EPA’s Superfund list for federal cleanup.

Trinity Groves Founded with Plans to Work Responsibly with the Community

Resident have mixed feelings about the new development.


Creation of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge was built to connect West Dallas to downtown, opening the door for development and gentrification.

Concrete Plant Near Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Moves to Residential Area

A concrete plant is moved into a West Dallas neighborhood to make room for a hotel in the developing Trinity Groves area.

June 15, 2016

300 Families Receive Eviction Notice

Families in West Dallas are evicted from their homes because landlords refuse to bring the homes up to the new codes.

September 20, 2016

2018: Property Values Spike, Start of Equity Plan

West Dallas residents see an increase in their property tax bill. Some are unsure of how they will pay.

Residents Organize to Push Back on GAF’s Federal Permit Renewal  

The company is one of the top polluters in the county, and residents want them out.

February 2021
June 18, 2021

Performance Art Company Highlights Lives of Residents

A performance art company creates an immersive performance highlighting many issues that plague West Dallas residents like gentrification and poverty.

West Dallas STEM School Opens 

SMU, Toyota, and DISD partner to provide a school focused on equity and innovation for the students of West Dallas.

August 2021

Do you have any suggestions of events or sources that we missed? Please let us know by clicking on the tool icon above!