From Tragic Events That Earned National Headlines To Heartwarming Memories That Will Last A Lifetime, This Is How Dallas Did The 2010s.
Fuck anyone who tells you that Dallas isn’t one of the Great American Cities. It objectively is.
Time and time again throughout the 2010s, our city repeatedly proved itself a vital cog within the American zeitgeist, consistently finding its goings-on at the forefront of the national conversation, be it through chatter about our sports teams leading ESPN talk shows or discussions involving our local headlines dominating CNN panels. No, there was nary a time within the 2010s when Dallas didn’t find itself squinting under the harsh national spotlight — and sometimes for reasons that weren’t possible in decades prior.
For example? Well, our region is responsible for such viral social media sensations from the ’10s as Kombucha Girl, #planebae, Chewbacca Mom and Overly Attached Girlfriend. Even more famous are the trick-shot specialists of Dude Perfect, who spent the decade creating most of their billion times-viewed videos from within the confines of their tricked-out warehouse found just a short drive north of the city in Frisco. And lest we forget, the massively popular, social media-spread, late-’10s dance craze The Woah also sprung from North Texas, having been birthed by the Def Jam-signed Dallas rapper 10k.Caash almost exactly a decade after its D-Town Boogie-era dance craze forefathers (i.e. the Dougie, the Stanky Leg, the Rack Daddy and the Ricky Bobby) swept the nation in the late ’00s.
In fact, much of the greater pop music landscape of the ’10s was dominated by Dallas-sprung talents, with some of the most internationally recognized names of the decade — among them Post Malone, Maren Morris, St. Vincent, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, the Jonas Brothers, Kacey Musgraves, Leon Bridges, Neon Indian, Yella Beezy and Power Trip — bearing local ties.
Meanwhile, and for the second decade in a row, Dallas once again found itself a reality television darling. Fans cheered on such locals as Sean Lowe in The Bachelor, JoJo Fletcher and Rachel Lindsay in The Bachelorette, Alyssa Edwards on RuPaul’s Drag Race and Courtney Kerr in her quest to develop a Bravo show that might stick. Meanwhile, The Real Housewives of Dallas somehow perpetuated worse stereotypes of the city than Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making The Team ever could, and Oliver Peck cemented his place as tattoo royalty as a judge on Ink Master just as MTV gave a local breastaurant chain known Redneck Heaven a brief on-air audition as possible trash TV bait.
The Dallas area was responsible for plenty of bad video during the decade, actually: Glenn Beck moved his start-up The Blaze network to Irving after calling it quits at Fox News, then introduced the world to Tomi Lahren. NRA TV‘s short-lived run too was a Dallas-broadcast operation, unfortunately. Additional Donald Trump sycophants including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and ex-White House Communications Director Hope Hicks also got their starts here.
On a more zoomed-in scale, Dallas endured four mayors across the ’10s: the very tail-end of Tom Leppert; an interim, four-month acting mayoral reign from the later-incarcerated Dwaine Caraway; an eight-year, two-term stint from figurehead-in-chief Mike Rawlings; and the first few months of Eric Johnson‘s still-nascent mayoral stint. We also saw the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and the Margaret McDermott Bridge open over the Trinity River in hopes of growing Dallas westward. At the same time, we watched as Deep Ellum rose from the ashes, Uptown transformed from top dog to mostly dead, Lower Greenville got up-zoned beyond all recognition, Downtown Dallas discovered its pulse and Bishop Arts gentrified its way into acclaim.
After a seemingly endless debate, we also managed to remove a Robert E. Lee statue from Lee Park, which was later renamed Turtle Creek Park. We somehow did this even as racial strife continued to play a major role in a number of national headline-grabbing incidents that took place within communities immediately surrounding the city — like the “Clock Boy” incident in Irving, the gunfire attack of a “Draw Muhammed” event hosted in Garland and, among other horrific police-involved shootings from throughout the region, the death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, who was tragically shot and killed by a Balch Springs cop while trying to leave a party.
Sports provided a welcome distraction throughout the decade, no doubt. Dallas fans sure had their pick of adorable athletic bromances to choose from over these last 10 years: Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus on the Rangers; Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the Stars; Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott on the Cowboys; and, most recently, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis on the Mavericks. We also saw Dallas’ own Jordan Spieth win three golf majors before turning 24, watched an undefeated Errol Spence Jr. become the undisputed welterweight boxing champion of the world and collectively agreed that, yes, Dez caught it. We bid adieu to some bona fide sports heroes, too: Mike Modano, Tony Romo and Adrian Beltre all ended their pro careers as unquestioned Dallas icons — as did Jason Witten, who briefly retired then un-retired. But we all saved our biggest tears of all for the Dirk Nowitzki farewell tour, which our city council then even extended by naming a street in his honor outside of the American Airlines Center just a few months later.
We said goodbye to a number of other Dallas cultural touchstones over the last decade, in fact: In 2012, State Fair of Texas icon Big Tex famously went up in flames under the most dubious of circumstances (albeit only to return to Fair Park the next year as a bigger and stronger model, hmmmm); the revered alternative rock station 102.1-FM The Edge folded and was reformatted as a pop station that plays holiday hits when seasonally appropriate; and venerable nightlife hotspots like Fallout Lounge, The Door, Crown & Harp, Curtain Club, Rio Room and July Alley all shuttered their doors, right along with the most romantic restaurant in town, the Lower Greenville mainstay The Grape.
Fortunately, some new blood popped up to fill those voids: World-class music venues like the Kessler Theater, The Bomb Factory, Canton Hall and The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory upped the volume substantially around these parts in the ’10s, and the many adventurous new contributors to city’s thriving dining scene — spots like Khao Noodle Shop, Petra & The Beast and Revolver Taco Lounge — eventually earned Dallas a nod as Bon Appetit‘s 2019 Restaurant City of the Year.
Oh, and a little site called Central Track launched in early 2012. Neat!
The really crazy part, though? We’d argue that none of those aforementioned things — with many apologies to the many we surely missed — defined Dallas quite as significantly as the following events, which we’ll all surely be remembering around these parts for decades to come.
What a bizarre turn of events this was! Just a few months removed that wild night in which Dallas collectively lost its mind as all of the tornado alarms in the city mistakenly went off at once, group-think once again struck Dallas — this time rearing an even uglier head — as frightened folks all across the city readied themselves for the possible weather effects Hurricane Harvey might have on our region’s petroleum supplies. Picking up on some early media reports that made mention of the possibility of a shortage, fears of the city running out of gas ran rampant on social media, leading to some actual, real-life mayhem. For one insanity-filled afternoon-into-evening, massive car lines stretched out from nearly every gas pump in the region, with the most apocalyptic among us even filling up entire trash cans full of gasoline in order to prepare for the worst. Crazily, though the madness grew out of a baseless concern of a shortage, the run on gas actually created one. The wound was entirely and embarrassingly self-inflicted — and, turns out, wholly unnecessary. Harvey’s actual effects on Dallas were minimal; our Gulf Coast neighbors down Houston, however, weren’t so fortunate, suffering a direct hit. To our city’s credit, though, our combined reaction to Harvey’s Houston effects was better than our advance concerns about its impact on Dallas. In the days following the hurricane’s landfall down south, North Texas residents stepped up as only Texans can in times of crisis, working diligently to help bail our rival city out through fundraising campaigns like our very own DTX4HTX effort, which brought together restaurants and diners across the city to raise some $67,000 for the cause.
The ’10s were something of a boom for the North Texas economy at large, with the region luring a number of major corporations into opening major hubs in the area — Toyota to Plano, the PGA to Frisco and Charles Schwab to Westlake, just to name a very few. But whereas the suburbs thrived at bringing business to town, Dallas continuously whiffed in its efforts — most famously by missing out on convincing Amazon’s HQ2 to enter the local fray. The decade ended on something of a high note in this regard, though, with Uber announcing plans to open its second-largest national headquarters within a massive development called The Epic in Deep Ellum. The score was an early win for new mayor Eric Johnson, even if it was likely built on the back of his predecessor Mike Rawlings’ efforts. But: Is it really a win at all? Uber is kind of a trash company; it’s losing money by the billions each quarter, it’s continuously earning bad press for being problematic and, frankly, there’s no real guarantee that the company will still be around by the time it’s slated to fully move into its new offices in 2023. Worse, there are a number of legitimate concerns about what the company’s arrival could mean for Deep Ellum’s future as an entertainment district — something already at the front of mind given the uptick in neighborhood crime. Time will tell how this all plays out, but as a story about the for-better-or-worse corporatization of Deep Ellum, it’s impact is undeniable.
Super Bowl XLV was supposed to be a huge coming out party for North Texas — and for its crown jewel of a venue in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium, which daylights as the home of the Dallas Cowboys. But rather than formalize North Texas’ place on the map as a major event-hosting hub, the entire run ended up being a major disaster. Right as the city was to become the entertainment epicenter of the world for a week, a freak storm covered the city in snow and ice — and stayed there too, due to temperatures dropping into the teens. The city was brought to its knees in turn: Rolling blackouts led to power outages across the region, getting to the literal hundreds of star-studded events taking place throughout the week a near impossibility because of the ice-covered highways and a number of people were even injured by sheets of ice that fell from the Super Bowl host stadium’s roof. It’s tough to say how much money was lost as a result of Mother Nature’s wrath — billions, maybe? — but its fallout has lasted well beyond any economic impact study’s scope. While a handful of other major sporting events (the NCAA Final Four in 2014, WrestleMania in 2016) have indeed come to town in the wake of this epic disappointment, the NFL has yet to again dial up Dallas’ number as a possible host site for its crown jewel event. (Sorry, but hosting the NFL Draft, as the Cowboys did in 2018, just ain’t the same.)
It took a reported $110 million to build, but the funds it took to build Klyde Warren Park out of thin air sure looks like money well spent even all these years later. Though it may be named for the son of a noted asshole, the positives that this green space brought to the city are undeniable. Beyond being something of an engineering feat, the deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway connected the neighborhoods of Downtown and Uptown, gave Dallas a long-overdue signature outdoor community gathering space and helped spur all kinds of development within the city’s core. Perhaps most excitingly, it’s also served as inspiration for more construction projects just like it, with at least a couple of new deck parks currently being proposed for other parts of the city that could sure use the same kind of kick in the pants that Klyde Warren Park brought to its immediate surroundings after opening. If Klyde Warren Park is a sign of the smart city planning Dallas can expect in the decades to come, then our city’s future sure looks bright — or, at the very least, a little greener.
They came with almost no warning — and right as the city was distracted by a Sunday night Dallas Cowboys game against the rival Philadelphia Eagles. At least 10 powerful tornadoes touched down in North Dallas, cutting a scar across one of the most populated parts of our city. Somehow — thankfully, mercifully — there were no deaths. But the twisters still managed at least $2 billion in estimated property damages, and left thousands in Dallas stranded without power and without passable roads for weeks. There’s no doubt that their effects will be felt for years to come. The craziest weather event in a crazy year and decade of crazy weather events, the tornadoes served as a stark reminder that it’s not just rural areas that can be subjected to these gnarly monsters. Nope, we’re all vulnerable to their ruthless brand of destruction. Even us city folk.
One out away. Just one. The Texas Rangers were about as close as a team can get to winning their franchise-first World Series in 2011. Alas, the Baseball Gods had different plans for the team, which remains to this day the oldest organization in Major League Baseball without a series win in the Fall Classic — an unfortunate trend that dates all the way back to the franchise’s early days as the Washington Senators. The more tortured sports fans out there like saying that past heartbreaks only serve to make future successes sweeter — and, if true, the Rangers sure are due for righteous glories down the line. This Game Six loss to the St. Louis Cardinals hurt: The Rangers were up two in the ninth, and the Cards were down to their last out when third baseman David Freese stepped up to the plate and lined a drive to right field, just a hair beyond the outstretched glove of outfielder Nelson Cruz, sparking a Cardinals comeback. No, Cruz may not have been the best defensive outfielder on the Rangers. Sure, maybe he should’ve been swapped out for a better defender to help clinch the win. And, yes, he might’ve been out of position to start the play. But people forget that, without his offensive firepower, the Rangers might not have ever found themselves in such a position to win the World Series in the first place. Still, someone‘s got to be the goat, and Cruz’s misplay very much led to everything falling apart. Eiher way, Freese’s hit eventually earned the Cardinals an extra-innings W. Then, the very next day, the Cards took Game Seven — and dashed Rangers’ fans dreams of a ‘ship. Neither the Rangers organization nor its fan base has quite been the same since. Maybe the ’20s will be better to them? If nothing else, the new stadium the team’s slated to open up next season should spark some immediate (and much-needed) excitement surrounding the squad.
For a brief spell in the fall of 2014, Dallas became the setting of an unpublished Michael Crichton thriller as a distant plague found its way to our city and threw us all into… well, at least a mild, low-level panic. Yes, Dallas’ experience at the forefront of the national Ebola was a wild one, to be sure. The whole situation began when a Liberian man named Thomas Eric Duncan traveled to Dallas to visit family, having lied to customs about previously coming into contact with an Ebola-infected acquaintance before hopping on his flight into town. Shortly after his late-September arrival at his destination in the Dallas neighborhood of Vickery Meadow, he fell ill. He was officially diagnosed as the first Ebola patient on American soil at Texas Presbyterian on September 30, and succumbed to the disease on October 10 — but not before passing the virus on to two of the Presby nurses who looked after him, Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson. Both nurses would eventually win their battles with the horrific disease, but cable news still had a field day with the entire ordeal. Even Pham’s pet Cavalier King Charles spaniel Bentley became part of the national conversation when he was placed in quarantine for fear that he too had contracted the virus. (He hadn’t.) A few weeks later, the city was back to business as usual, as if the scare had never happened in the first place. Still, it was a watershed moment: At the time, it was arguably the second-biggest news event to ever take place in Dallas — after the JFK assassination, of course. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t hold onto that title for long, as the second-half of the ’10s saw Dallas repeatedly earning national headlines, and for all the wrong reasons.
The Dallas Mavericks were a rather hapless NBA organization prior to Mark Cuban’s purchase of the team in 2000. But things only turned around so far with his acquisition, really. Well, at the start, anyway. In the eyes of most NBA pundits, the Mavericks had transformed only into paper tigers. Led by Dirk Nowitzki, the team put up big regular season numbers, but repeatedly came up short in the playoffs — most crushingly when it lost to the Miami Heat in 2006 in an NBA Finals match-up that conspiracy theorists still believe was the result of some referee-backed game-rigging. In 2011, though, the Mavs finally broke through their glass ceiling — and gloriously, at that. The team rode the back of a God-level Nowitzki performance through the Western Conference playoffs, then systematically extracted revenge upon the same franchise that had bested them in the finals five years prior. Making things sweeter? This Heat squad was an objectively better team, with LeBron James and Chris Bosh having famously taken their talents to join Dwyane Wade in South Beach. Still, the Heat had no answer for the Big German, who cemented his NBA legend and Dallas icon status alike as the Mavs took the series in six. It was the team’s first-ever title, and this sports-obsessed city’s first pro title since the Dallas Stars’ Stanley Cup win in 1999. Even better? Sixth man Jason Terry predicted the whole thing! Before the season even started, dude got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien Trophy on his bicep in what has to go down one of the greatest acts of manifesting success in sports history. In the days following the cathartic championship win, we got some killer additional treats, too: Dirk singing “We Are The Champions” from a balcony at the American Airlines Center was great, if laughably off-key; but that picture of Cuban holding the championship trophy while taking a leak at a urinal will forever be priceless.
Must we really spill more proverbial ink on this horrific and trying ordeal? You already know what happened: On September 6, 2018, a Dallas police officer named Amber Guyger walked into the wrong apartment in her building, allegedly believing it to be her own, and then shot and killed Botham Jean, the innocent man who lived there. Fanning the flames of this tragedy? The fact that Guyger was white and Jean was black. Yes, in many ways, this entire case felt representative of our national ongoing struggles with police brutality and racial strife throughout the ’10s. That’s no doubt why it became such a major national story. Following a drawn-out series of twists and turns that went on for more than a whole calendar year, a jury of peers eventually found Guyger guilty of murder on October 1, 2019, and justice was finally served. Or was it? During the sentencing phase of her trial, Guyger was only given 10 years in prison — and, on top of that, some curious courtroom hugs from both Jean’s brother and the judge who presided over the case. Fact of the matter is, people would’ve been upset about this situation no matter how it ended. The good news: It did eventually end. Just a super shitty situation from any and all perspectives, though. Yet, somehow, it’s not the biggest — or worst — incident that Dallas suffered through in the ’10s? I mean, c’mon: How jarring a realization is that?!?!
Throughout the mid-’10s, protests centering around police brutality and racial tension weren’t exactly, well, out-of-the-ordinary occurrences in Dallas — or anywhere else in the country, really. Even so, the one organized to take place in Downtown Dallas on July 7, 2016, felt somehow more pressing than some of its predecessors from the jump. Held in memory of the then-just-slain-by-police Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the evening was intended as a peaceful but impactful call for those in power to listen to the voices of the marginalized and victimized. And, right up until the night’s final moments, it was exactly that — a rather ideal public voicing of frustration, during which the cops assigned to keep watch over the event somehow wound up smiling and posing for pictures alongside those who called for reform among their ranks. But that all immediately went to shit when the shots rang out. As the march meant to cap off the event passed by El Centro College in the heart of Downtown Dallas, an Army veteran named Micah Xavier Johnson took matters into his own, violent hands. Tactically, he started shooting at the uniformed Dallas police officers working the protest, eventually taking the lives of five such cops in the process: Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson and Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa. Frightened crowds scattered. Breaking news helicopters took their place in the skies above. Johnson’s extended standoff with DPD would last into the wee hours, with police eventually taking a holed-up Johnson’s life with a robot that they’d armed with explosives. In the days following the lone gunman’s unconscionable act — easily the biggest remember-where-you-were moment in Dallas history since November 22, 1963 — the entire city fell into a daze. But by grieving together — and at the behest of civic and religious leaders who duly rose to the occasion by providing Dallasites the healing words we all needed to hear — we slowly began coming out of it. I suppose it’d be easy — and cliche — to say that Dallas emerged on the other side of this tragedy stronger. I’m not sure that’s true; I still get a weird feeling when I find myself driving past El Centro to this day. But this much is undeniable: The Downtown Dallas shooting on July 7, 2016, was something that every Dallasite — every American, perhaps — experienced together. And there’s something to be said for shared experiences, how they can open up the door for conversations centered around common ground. We may never quite understand why Johnson did what he did on that fateful night. But maybe, after suffering through a tragedy such as this one together, we can relate to one another on a more intimate level. And, with that kind of empathy in place, maybe we can prevent future horrors from taking place in this city that we all call home in future decades. Here’s hoping, anyway.