In 1972, President Richard Nixon (1969-1974) established Federal Regional Councils for ten different regions of the United States. The purpose of the Councils was to foster interagency communications and to strengthen relations between federal, state, and local governments. The ultimate goal was to ensure federal laws and plans were implemented under the concept of “New Federalism,” a philosophical ideal that transferred power back to local governing bodies. Each Council consisted of an assigned delegate from the Department of Labor, Health, and Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.
The Federal Regional Councils Program was amended and expanded under Presidents Gerald Ford (1974-1977) and Jimmy Carter (1977-1981). Each Council was different based on its region’s needs. Region VI, or the Southwest Region, consisted of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. The Southwest Federal Regional Council, which began operation in the mid-1970s, was based in Dallas, Texas. The Southwest Council focused on general federal initiatives such as welfare reform projects and rural development, and its regional-specific programs included the Red Riverway Project in Louisiana, the McGee Creek Reservoir Project in Oklahoma, and the Greater South Texas Cultural Basin Commission.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) issued Executive Order 12407 which officially disbanded all ten Federal Councils. Officials stated that they were cancelled because they had fulfilled their purpose, but many argued the Federal Councils trumped state and local governments. Despite the criticisms, many of the projects implemented under the Southwest Federal Regional Council had lasting benefits for the region that are still visible and accessible today. The Southwest Federal Regional Council Collection in UNT’s Special Collections Department includes hundreds of documents detailing these projects. The collection includes documents detailing the dozens of urban programs that were initiated across the southwest region. Correspondences between federal, state, and local officials in the collection shine a light on the communication between the different levels of government in the implementation of urban policies with the goal of making the future better for generations to come.
-by Chelsea Stallings
In 1924, Adelaida Cuellar and her children took a break from farming in the fields to open a booth at the Kaufman County Fair. The booth served tamales, enchiladas, and chili and brought in $300 in profit-more than the family usually made in a year from farming. From these humble beginnings, the Cuellar children would go on to open and operate a multi-million dollar business founded on the recipes and work ethic of their parents.
After running restaurants separately in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, the Cuellar brothers decided to pool their resources in 1940 to open and operate a restaurant venture in Dallas. The restaurant, located at 3514 Oak Lawn, opened under the name El Chico and was an instant success with two more restaurants soon following in Dallas and Ft. Worth. By 1978, the El Chico Corporation run by the Cuellar brothers had opened 95 restaurants in 11 states and was bringing in $50 million a year.
The Frank Cuellar Sr. Collection contains hundreds of photographs and scrapbook pages of the Cuellar family as well as newspaper clippings and other printed materials documenting the family and business activities of Frank Cuellar Sr. and his family.
Remember when Highway 121 was a two lane country road linking McKinney to Ft. Worth? Or when giant pumpkin patches were in downtown Dallas? Anyone that has visited or lived in North Texas for any period of time recently can attest to the extraordinary growth and development that has been occurring throughout the Metroplex. This is made especially clear when viewing photographs of the region’s cities and towns from years past.
The Byrd Williams Family Photography Collection offers just such a perspective as the changing landscapes and skylines of North Texas are well documented through the photographs, slides, and negatives of four generations of Texas photographers. Ft. Worth, Dallas, and the towns of Collin County are particularly well represented through the works of Byrd Williams IV and reveal the dramatic changes that have occurred over the past several decades.
Due to the recent drought conditions affecting much of Texas and the Western United States, water supply sustainability has become increasingly worrisome and, in many cases, contentious as ownership rights, environmental concerns, urban planning, and farming issues often collide. Rapid population growth of cities and towns coupled with the dry conditions has only served to exasperate already dwindling water supplies resulting in high tensions and severe water shortages in many drought-stricken areas.
In 1989, concerns over the existing water supply and projected population growth of North Texas led to the creation of the Upper Trinity Regional Water District. The agency was created to ensure an adequate water supply would be available to sustain all of rapidly growing Denton County and parts of Collin and Dallas Counties well into the future. One proposal that has been under development by the Upper Trinity Regional Water District for over a decade is the creation of a new lake in Fannin County to be named Lake Ralph Hall. Although critics maintain the lake will do little to ease water supply shortages, it will be the first new water supply lake in Texas in over 25 years and may indicate how the state of Texas plans to handle water supply issues going forward.
Planning documents of several initiatives pertaining to North Texas communities including the Upper Trinity Regional Water District are well represented in the papers of the Tom Harpool Collection. Consisting of over 40 boxes of materials, the Tom Harpool Collection documents the activities of North Texas business owner and civic leader Tom Harpool.
With the much celebrated announcement this week that the Red River Showdown would remain at the Cotton Bowl until the year 2025, an 85 year-old Dallas tradition was upheld. Each year, Dallas becomes awash in a sea of burnt orange and red as legions of fans from north and south of the Red River descend upon the city for the football showdown between the University of Texas Longhorns and University of Oklahoma Sooners. The annual football game between the classic rivals has been played at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park since 1929 and is estimated to generate $20 million for local Dallas businesses each year.
The accompanying image promoting the Cotton Bowl as a major Dallas attraction is from a 1960s souvenir pictorial guide to Dallas-Ft Worth contained within the Lester Strother Texas Metro Collection. Published in the 1960s and 1970s, the Texas Metro magazine was promoted by its owner, Lester Strother, as a “travel, Metro living, and investment oriented magazine whose prime market is Dallas-Ft. Worth and North Central Texas.” The collection contains a wealth of information about the metroplex, Texas, and the state of travel during the 1960s and 1970s and includes research materials for articles such as promotional pamphlets and brochures and a large number of photographs.
With summer vacation season quickly approaching, many of us will soon be jetting off to exotic-and perhaps not so exotic-locales far and near which means embarking on an odyssey through DFW International Airport. As you’re navigating through the perils of parking, the joys of security, and the pageantry of sitting at a gate for hours upon end, you may take a moment to ponder the sprawling 1970s-era structures all around you and the development of DFW as one of the world’s major transportation hubs. The third busiest airport in the world, DFW International Airport covers nearly 27 square miles of North Texas land between Dallas and Ft. Worth and handles upwards of 60,436,000 people annually. The planning and development of DFW International Airport including original planning documents and booklets is well documented in the archive of the Texas Metro magazine and in the papers of Dr. John T. Thompson (1966-1975), both of which comprise part of the Post-War Industry and Development of the Southwest Metroplex Project currently underway at UNT. These and the other collections of the Southwest Metroplex Project relate to the urban planning, politics, industry, industrial education and major infrastructure projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area of North Texas and help to shed light on the explosive growth experienced within the DFW region over the past 60 years.
Everything’s bigger in Texas…and that includes holes in the ground. A little over 20 years ago, Congress halted the construction of what would have been the world’s largest Super Collider. Construction of the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) began in the late 1980s and called for the creation of a tunnel 14 feet in diameter and 52 miles in circumference under and around the town of Waxahachie, Texas. Planned to be much larger in size and energy output than the CERN Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, many believe the Higgs boson particle (discovered at CERN in 2012) would have been discovered a decade earlier in Texas had the SSC been completed. The reasons for the untimely death of the project once $2 billion had been spent and 17 miles of tunnel had been bored are complicated. Much debated, the most frequently cited reasons for the SSC’s cancellation include the mismanagement of physicists not used to managing on such an enormous scale and budget; the end of the Cold War diminishing Americans’ interest in big science research; the objections of other scientific fields competing for funding; the increasing costs of the construction of the SSC; and the politicization of science. Whatever the reason, the project was officially halted by Congress in 1993 leaving a 17 mile hole under Waxahachie.
Contrary to its ultimate fate, however, the initial stages of the project were met with much excitement and optimism. When the project was finally approved in 1987 by Ronald Reagan after several years at the design stage, 43 states submitted applications to host the SSC. Of those 43, 8 states including Texas were selected as the best geological candidates and invited to submit proposals outlining possible sites. Because the Super Collider was expected to create thousands of new jobs and attract an influx of some of the world’s leading scientists, several different Texas cities and regions submitted proposals outlining the various geological, environmental, and economic benefits of their respective regions.
The Superconducting Super Collider Collection-one of the collections included in the Post-War Industry and Development of the Southwest Metroplex project-is comprised of all of the Texas proposals and includes the Dallas-Fort Worth SSC Authority’s winning proposal. Entitled “A Look into Tomorrow: The Plan to Bring the Superconducting Super Collider to Texas,” the detailed proposal, running several hundred pages long, offers a fascinating glimpse into the initial planning stages of the immense scientific project. In addition to the in-depth geological reports and surveys, the proposal contains vast amounts of information pertaining to the then prevailing (and expected future) economic trends of DFW during the late 1980’s and includes data pertaining to population; jobs; housing; transportation; infrastructure; utilities; real estate; hospitals; education; and the economy.
While DFW ultimately succeeded in winning the site, the Superconducting Super Collider unfortunately died a premature death having reached only 20 percent completion. And rather than realizing the dream of bringing big science to North Texas, Waxahachie has been left instead with the remnant of a $2 billion hole in the ground.
The history of the Southwest Metroplex has been defined by the explosive growth experienced within the DFW region in the past 60 years. The special collections department of UNT Libraries holds fascinating evidence of this growth in the form of original documents, photographs and collections of personal papers, however many of these resources have been hidden away for far too long. Over the next two years the UNT special collection department, through the assistance of the Council of Library and Information Resources and the Andrew Mellon Foundation, will make these resources available to the community.
Collections identified as part of this project relate to urban planning, politics, industry, industrial education and major infrastructure projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area of North Texas. Topics included in these collections are especially relevant today– affordable housing, urban design, transportation (highway expansion, mass transit), crime, education and employment.
The papers of Texas Representative Lanny Hall document his constituent’s concerns during years of massive growth in Fort Worth and Arlington as well as political redistricting taking place on the state level (1979-1984.) The planning and creation of DFW International Airport are well documented in the archive of Texas Metro magazine and in the papers of Dr. John T. Thompson (1966-1975). Collections reveal how implementation of the federal Model Cities program (1966-1974) and the Community Development Block Grant programs of the 1970’s affected North Texas. These files contain detailed documents and maps submitted by municipalities across four counties. Site proposals for the Superconducting Super Collider contain extensive documentation of the North Texas site chosen for the project in 1987