Notes on the Geography of The Western United States: Recent Subdivisions in Dallas
The subdivisions of 1950 look archaic today. Here we survey some more recent additions to the city's landscape.
This topo sheet from about 1900 shows a ring of towns surrounding Dallas: clockwise they include Richardson, Garland, Mesquite, and (up at about 11 o'clock) Carrollton. The city today--forget urban boundaries and look instead at the built-up area--reaches far beyond all of them.
And here's how you get there, in this case via the High Five, a junction that makes the cloverleafs of the 1960s look like Aunt Martha.
Looks like a hundred miles from nowhere, but we're actually at the very northern fringe of metro Dallas. Turn the camera 180 degrees.
Here's the view. The residents can enjoy the wheat fields for now, but not for long. (We're somewhere west of Prosper and north of U.S. 380.)
Over on the east side of Prosper, there's a big residential development called Gentle Creek, where homeowners enjoy their fantasies.
The city has grown subdivision by subdivision. This map shows that growth nibble by nibble around Garland, on the city's east side.
New development occurs not only at the periphery but on patches of land that were missed in the city's expansion. Here's a good case: the entry gate to Keller Springs, just east of the Dallas North Tollway and south of the Bent Tree Country Club. The gatekeeper will make a copy of your driver's license and forbid you to take pictures of the mansions within.
A mile or so to the south, just off Belt Line Road and across from the Prestonwood Country Club, there's a subdivision that isn't gated but which suggests the kind of houses being built in Dallas near the high end of the market. One simple indicator is siding, which basically starts at fiber cement, jumps up to brick, and with stone emerges above the clouds to inhale the smell of money.
The combinations are endless. We're at Beacon Hill in Frisco, a town whose population jumped from 1,200 in 1960 to 34,000 in 2000 and 98,000 in 2008. The city happily projects over 250,000 by 2024.
A bit like California's Santa Clara Valley in the 1950s: subdividers advertising their handiwork just north of Prosper.
We'll take a closer look at one particular development, Lantana, which is about 15 miles north of DFW and covers about 1,700 acres of unincorporated land. There's room for 4,000 houses, according to the owner, Republic Property Group. Only half had been built by early 2008. The windmill is an especially nice touch, and is perhaps an effective marketing tool. The Little House on the Prairie is still a potent symbol, after all. (The Eclipse wind engine, made from 1867 into the 1920s, was probably the most popular of all windmills on the southern Great Plains.)
What would Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was born the year that Eclipse windmills were patented, make of this, the main entrance and exit of Lantana? Despite the windmill, Lantana is a bedroom community, not a settlement of farmers.
The developer speaks of Lantana's 22 "communities." A more accurate label might be "price points." Homes of any particular price range are clustered together, so everyone's with their own kind.
Here's the high end, starting at $700,000.
Not the same house, but you're forgiven if you thought it was.
One more, with mortar oozing between every brick.
You get fancy plantings, too.
Here's the starter-kit model, in the "community" called Magnolia.
Not the same house, but you're forgiven if....
And now for something completely different. It's Tucker Hill, west of McKinney, where the developer (the Southern Land Company) decided to build a neighborhood of new houses that look as though they've been wheeled in from a neighborhood of 1900. The setback is very unusual. In 1900, those would have been front yards; here, that space is kept public, which means the owners don't have the hassle of gardening. They're busy commuting, after all.
More Tucker Hill.
There's all kinds.
A neighbor, perhaps a descendant of Napoleon III.
Inside, they've stuck to traditional cabinetry.
But not to traditional floorplans.
Tucker Hill is supposed to cover 800 acres, although there were probably 30 houses built by early 2009.
Developers have trouble with street names. They're tired of Third, bored with Washington, reluctant to try Mortgage. Here's one that will amuse passersby for years to come.
Kessler Woods is only a few miles west of downtown, and a lot of it sits on ground formerly occupied by apartment buildings, since demolished.
Here's what's interesting. Where else, at least in the middle of the country, will you find a subdivision where every house is strictly modern, rather than pretending to be French this or Spanish that?
And a third.
Urban Reserve, just inside the LBJ and east of the Central Expressway, picked up the idea.
Fewer than a dozen houses were on the site by early 2009.
One of them had a reedy pond.
Only for the committed modernist.
You have to love the window box.
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