Thursday, September 27, 2012

What Says 'Dallas' to You?



The New York Times recently published a great series offering "The History of New York in 50 Objects" inspired by the BBC's radio series "A History of the World in 100 Objects."  The idea was to feature tangible things that capture the essence and history of a city.  New York items such as the ubiquitous MetroCard, the AIDS button, the Greek coffee cup and a bagel all immediately come to mind.

New Orleans Water Meter
New Orleans has things like the fabulous water meter lids.  Las Vegas has casino tokens.  Chicago has pizza.  You get the idea.

What about Dallas?  What captures the essence of our town?

Reunion Tower

Reunion Tower?  That's a building.  Pegasus?  The new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge?  Sure, they come to mind but they don't quite fit the bill.

A large can of hair spray?  A Neiman Marcus credit card?  Big diamonds?  A Mambo Taxi?  Lee Harvey Oswald's bullet?   

Those pop into my head immediately.  But I struggle to think of something so iconic that truly screams DALLAS.  Can you?

Is it because our city has a branding problem?  Does Dallas have an identity?  You can say it's one of commerce.   Dallas is a relatively friendly environment in which to do business.  I say this coming from a long line of self-made entrepreneurs.  My grandfather was an early real estate developer in  Oak Cliff.  My stepfather had a gallery in Caruth Plaza for years.  My mother still has her boutique residential real estate firm headquartered in Lakewood.  My biological father started and sold an oil and natural gas company in the 70's before the big 1980's Dallas payday that had everyone building ranches in downtown Dallas or buying diamonds by the ton.  You can make a lot of things happen in this town.

But can you name something, a simple tangible object that says "Dallas"?  If you could tell the story of this city through items that represent it, what would be on the list?  A State Fair of Texas food coupon?  A Tolltag?  Help me.
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