Deep Ellum Life

Truly Historical

Of all the neighborhoods in the City of Dallas, none is more famous than the area of Deep Ellum along the northeastern edge of downtown. The name Deep Ellum is a pronunciation of Elm Street, which was used by the residents, many of whom were freed slaves. The area dates back to 1873 and began as a Freedman’s town along the railroad tracks and eventually evolved into one of the most culturally significant neighborhoods in the entire city. The district has many historically recognized buildings, including an early cotton gin factory, the Continental Gin Company, which was at one time the largest manufacturer of cotton gin equipment in the United States. The former Cotton Gin facility was used as loft apartments but has since been converted into a mixed-use building containing retail and commercial space as well as food and beverage services.

During the early 1900s, the area of Deep Ellum was the heart of the African American community in Dallas, with many black-owned businesses and a thriving live music scene (which continues to this day). If live music is what you live for, the Deep Ellum area would be a great place to live. Venues such as Adairs Saloon and the All Good Cafe will fulfill your thirst, hunger, and desire for good food and great live music.

 In 1914 Henry Ford selected the area to construct a new Model T assembly plant. Designed by noted industrial architect John Grantham the plant remained in operation until the mid-1930s. In 1997 the four-story brick and terra cotta structure was converted into loft apartments and continues in use to this day, more than 100 years after initial construction.

As you walk around Deep Ellum, admiring the incredible architecture like the Adam Hats building, you might work up a bit of an appetite. Don’t you worry; Deep Ellum has a fantastic array of restaurants. You might want to live here just for the unique eating experiences that will surround you.

Just like the community of Deep Ellum, the restaurant Ebb & Flow embodies a stylish and eclectic vibe. Their menu is varied with mouth-watering delights that will have you asking for more.

Another notable building in Deep Ellum is the Union Banker’s Trust building which opened in 1916 as the grand temple of the Knights of Pythias. The building was designed by William Sydney Pittman, the first black architect in the State of Texas and the son-in-law of Booker T Washington. In addition to serving as the headquarters for the Knights of Pythias, the building was also one of the first professional spaces in the south occupied by African Americans. Many black lawyers, doctors, and dentists had their offices here. Until the late 1930s, the building served as the cultural hub of the Deep Ellum black community. It was converted to a boutique hotel, the Pittman, many years later, so it remains today.

If you decide to stay at the Pittman Hotel and experience Deep Ellum up close, be sure to stop in at Electric Shuffle, just around the corner from the Pittman Hotel. This unique gathering spot is a great place to get a group of friends together and play a game of shuffleboard; yes, you heard that right, shuffleboard is making a comeback, and drinks are part of the fun.

During the 1920s and 30s, large numbers of European immigrants settled in the Deep Ellum area and opened a variety of businesses, including tailor shops, barbers, saloons, grocery stores, and more. The willingness of these immigrant populations to open their shops to any and all made Deep Ellum the first desegregated area in the City of Dallas and contributed to the rich cultural mix. Many other historic buildings date from this era, including The Palace Blacksmith Shop, Parker Brothers Warehouse, and the Boyd Hotel, among others.

In the spirit of these new American entrepreneurs, shopping is a big part of the Deep Ellum community. One shop worth stopping into is the Dallas Pinup; this store boasts a collective of female-owned businesses that offer a collection of women’s clothes and accessories for all tastes and styles. Don’t stop there, though; Deep Ellum offers something for everybody. Into Photography? Make sure you check out Photographique, where you can use their darkroom and purchase refurbished 35mm cameras or film. Or maybe skateboarding is more your thing, so we encourage you to check out HUF World for all the latest skateboard fashions. There is much to see and experience in Deep Ellum.

As with many historical areas, Deep Ellum has seen its ups and downs, and by the 1970s, Deep Ellum was but a shadow of its former self. Still, during the ’80s ’90s, it underwent a burst of renewal and gentrification, which saw the live music scene return with full force and many bars, shops, and restaurants open to serve the growing population. Today Deep Ellum remains a vibrant and dynamic space with a vibe unique in the City of Dallas; the live music here is part of a rich tradition that dates back to the late 1800s.

By the 1920s Deep Ellum had become a hotbed for early jazz and blues musicians. Hosting such famous names as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Huddle “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, Texas Bill Day, Bessie Moore, “Lightnin” Hopkins, Blind Willie Johnson, and Alex Moore, among others. Nightclubs, theaters, domino halls, and cafes dominated the landscape. Deep Ellum is home to more than 30 live music venues making it one of the largest entertainment districts in the state and the center of the Dallas music scene.

During the 1980s and ’90s, Deep Ellum hosted a variety of local and national bands, including such luminaries as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, the Flaming Lips, Radiohead, and others. Today the reborn Trees, a world-famous music venue, are joined by other outlets such as the Sons of Hermann Hall, The Bomb Factory, Ruins, Three Links, and the intimate AllGood Café. The local music scene is more dynamic than ever and an excellent place for lovers of the live musical experience.

Deep Ellum has long been a place for visual artists to come and make a name for themselves. A vibrant community of galleries, public and street art, murals, and other artistic creativity complement the local music scene nicely. Local restaurants and other businesses have a decade-long tradition of hiring artists to paint colorful murals on their walls. Today there are more than 100 public paintings displayed across Deep Ellum. Since 1994 the neighborhood has hosted the Deep Ellum Arts Festival. The community event now hosts more than 100 musicians performing on five different stages and over 200 visual artists displaying and selling their work. There are also food and beverages served by more than 30 restaurants, live street performances, and more! In 2019 the first Open Studios Event was held, allowing the public to get a peek into the workspaces of artists and musicians, recording studios, tattoo parlors, and more. Galleries, tattoo shops, photographers, graphic designers, and other forms of creative enterprise help round out the rich tapestry of the Deep Ellum experience.

So, have you decided that Deep Ellum is the neighborhood for you?  We agree that it is an amazing and exciting place to live.  Uptown Apartment Locators can assist you with finding your perfect apartment in the Deep Ellum area.  Make sure you give us a call to find your next home.