Fear and Hope in The Bottom, as Dallas Finally Prepares for That Historic Neighborhood's Long-promised Makeover

Patience, the city said, again and again. Patience. As though waiting years — decades — for change that never came to the historic land known as The Bottom wasn't being patient enough. Houses kept disappearing; residents kept dying off. And the neighborhood slowly returned to nature, as whole blocks vanished beneath high weeds and a sagging canopy of long limbs belonging to old, tall trees. Many of the utility poles still standing here were long ago stripped of their wires and purpose.The Bottom — a 126-acre historically black neighborhood contained by a bluff and a Trinity River levee, with a close-up view of downtown's skyline — is now more rural than urban. A horse, which belongs to an artist whose giant corner property is a clutter of materials one might call trash, roams free. On a Wednesday afternoon, you can stand in the middle of empty streets and hear nothing but the whine of cicadas and crowing of roosters and rustling of leaves.Patient they were, those few who remained in The Bottom. And while they waited for a revival, so much of their Oak Cliff neighborhood was rendered a blank slate ready at last for new development. Or, as some residents fear, the do-over. Only now does the City Hall machine finally warm its engines. Soon, the residents will hear the roar of the bulldozers tearing into old concrete to expand narrow streets and plant new water mains and ready the scraped-clean landscape for the new things so many want and worry about down in The Bottom.  Continue reading...

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