Visitors’ Guide to Deep Ellum

The Deep Ellum District in Dallas holds a special place in history. Initially, it was predominantly a residential and commercial area in the 1880s. However, over time, it transformed into a neglected space filled with warehouses. From the late 1960s until the year 2000, an incredible evolution took place, turning Deep Ellum into the vibrant entertainment, restaurant, and services district that it is today.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Deep Ellum witnessed the performances of renowned music legends like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Bessie Smith. Fast forward to the present day, and you’ll find aspiring legends gracing the stages of Deep Ellum almost every night. By attending a live performance tonight, you have the chance to become a part of the ongoing history being made in this remarkable district.

Deep Ellum has blossomed into an entertainment and arts hub, attracting a multitude of jazz, blues, and other artists. It has also established itself as a prominent retail center, catering to those seeking a distinctive experience. For young urban individuals, Deep Ellum stands as a popular nightspot, offering fashion boutiques for the stylish and a wide array of merchandise, including antiques, crafts, and art.

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Nestled within this lively district are an array of captivating restaurants and trendy residential lofts. Previously abandoned historical buildings and warehouses have undergone a remarkable transformation, now teeming with bustling individuals relishing in dining, working, residing, and indulging in leisurely pursuits. Furthermore, this neighborhood hosts a myriad of clubs, each showcasing a diverse range of musical genres, from the soulful melodies of blues and jazz to the rhythmic beats of reggae and alternative rock. Additionally, it serves as a haven for theatrical performances and artistic exhibitions, adding to its multifaceted allure.

For an unparalleled musical experience, mark your calendar for the first Friday of any month. On this extraordinary occasion, you can gain access to five participating clubs for a mere five dollars. This district has garnered a well-deserved reputation as an enchanting entertainment and retail shopping hub, catering to the diverse tastes and preferences of its visitors and residents alike.

Among the cherished establishments within this district, the renowned Gypsy Tea Room takes the spotlight. Celebrated as a local favorite in the Dallas area, it earned the esteemed title of “2000 Best of Dallas Scenes.” Regardless of your musical inclinations, the Gypsy Tea Room offers an extraordinary selection that is sure to captivate your senses and satisfy your cravings.

The Tale of Deep Ellum

Deep Ellum, a vibrant neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, was originally known as Deep Elm and earned the nickname Central Track due to its close proximity to the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. Established in the late 1800s, this residential and commercial area flourished on the eastern side of Downtown Dallas, boasting the largest assortment of commercial storefronts dating back to the early 20th century.

Since its inception in 1884, when the first industrial business set up shop in Deep Ellum, this land has witnessed a multitude of enterprises, ambitious entrepreneurs, and industrial components. Over time, it has also welcomed a diverse array of restaurants, art galleries, retailers, bars, and visitors. The streets of Deep Ellum have endured the constant hustle and bustle of countless feet, tires, and railroad tracks. It is within this lively entertainment district that the convergence of these elements has given rise to a unique cultural heritage, serving as the foundation for the creation of The Traveling Man.

Legend has it that sometime before 1900, an old steam train was buried near the intersection of what is now Main Street and Good Latimer. A majestic elm tree grew in close proximity, providing a shaded gathering spot for visitors and a sanctuary for numerous songbirds. As the roots of the elm tree gradually intertwined with the buried train, a touch of enchantment infused the surroundings. The soil, enriched by the essence of Deep Ellum, became a fertile womb. Late one fateful night, as a splash of gin seeped into the earth, it reached the tip of the elm tree’s root, which rested upon the train. This serendipitous event marked the conception of The Traveling Man, whose gestation period was now nearing its completion. In the summer of 2009, this extraordinary figure would finally come to life.

In 2007, The Traveling Man made contact with Brandon Oldenburg and a group of artists located in Deep Ellum at Reel FX Creative Studios. As The Traveling Man’s image and personality gradually unveiled, the individuals at Reel FX sensed that something extraordinary was about to unfold. However, they required the assistance of Dallas sculptor Brad Oldham to finalize his appearance. Continuing his tradition of fostering creative collaborations, The Traveling Man brought together Reel FX and Brad Oldham to bring him to life above the ground.

Displayed on the left is an initial sketch of The Traveling Man. It is essential to acknowledge that he does not merely represent a single aspect of Deep Ellum; rather, he beautifully embodies numerous facets of the community in a timeless manner. The head shaped like a guitar pays homage to the rich musical history. The robotic form symbolizes the vibrant and captivating essence of Deep Ellum. The towering height, spiraling legs, and outstretched arms embody the lofty ambitions of the Deep Ellum community and its future development. The dynamic posture of The Traveling Man reflects the constant progress and dynamism of this district. The open heart signifies the spirit of acceptance that characterizes Deep Ellum. The materials utilized in constructing The Traveling Man consist of metals commonly found in the industries that initially established this neighborhood. Lastly, his sense of humor and whimsy are inspired by the multitude of creative individuals who reside, work, and visit Deep Ellum.

For countless years, the enigmatic figure known as The Traveling Man has served as a subconscious wellspring of inspiration for artists. Deep within the heart of Deep Ellum, an unidentified allure has captivated individuals for over a century, and its origins can now be attributed to none other than The Traveling Man. Seemingly emanating from the very roots of the elm trees, his profound ruminations are carried through the air by melodious songbirds, traversing the neighborhood with grace. Birds, cherished companions of The Traveling Man, gracefully dance across the sky and serenade the surroundings with their exquisite melodies, serving as conduits for his profound inspiration. Interestingly, The Traveling Man himself remains a silent observer, his wisdom honed over years of attentively listening to the vibrant tapestry of street-level occurrences.

The indelible mark left by The Traveling Man’s influence can still be discerned in the subject matter explored by restless artists seeking to capture his essence. It manifests in the steady influx of visitors flocking to Deep Ellum, drawn by the allure he radiates, which, in turn, bolsters the local business owners. Furthermore, it even extends to the establishment of a brand-new DART rail station, specifically designated to serve the community. Whether one is a traditional artist or an astute entrepreneur, it is undeniable that travel holds the key to success, serving as the unifying thread that interlaces Deep Ellum’s past with its promising future. In due course, this gentle and sagacious figure will proudly stand tall, elevating the dreams and aspirations of all those who hold steadfast belief in his enigmatic power.

Introducing the Sculptural Series: The Traveling Man

The Traveling Man Sculptural Series encompasses three carefully chosen locations: the intersections of Good Latimer and Swiss Avenue, Good Latimer and Gaston Avenue, and Good Latimer and Elm Street. At each of these sites, the focal point is the iconic Traveling Man, portrayed in distinct poses that not only narrate his story but also symbolize different facets of Deep Ellum’s rich history.

  • Location: Corner of Good Latimer & Swiss Avenue

The largest of the three sites, situated at the corner of Good Latimer and Swiss Avenue, hosts The Traveling Man – Walking Tall. Standing proudly at a height of 38 feet, this rendition of The Traveling Man assumes a walking pose, serving as a remarkable beacon of welcome for both local residents and visitors to the neighborhood. Taking a light-hearted step from the southeast side of the lot, he gracefully bridges the gap between the community and the nearby rail station, seemingly soaring above it.

Crafted from a sturdy steel framework, the sculpture boasts a brushed stainless steel exterior held together by countless visible mono bolt rivets, giving it a distinct appearance. The stainless steel birds positioned on the ground serve a dual purpose, functioning as both functional seating and integral elements of the artwork. These avian figures are meticulously polished to achieve a mirror-like finish, reminiscent of the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture found in Chicago’s Millennium Park. To further enhance the sculpture’s ambiance, xeriscaping techniques have been employed, seamlessly blending with the artwork’s overall tone. A circular concrete pad, encircled by crushed rock, provides an aesthetically pleasing landscape around the sculpture.

The Intersection of Good Latimer & Gaston Avenue

Nestled at the southwest corner of Good Latimer and Gaston Avenue, we find The Traveling Man – Waiting on a Train, gracefully leaning against a solid portion of the original Deep Ellum Tunnel. This artistic representation pays homage to the historical significance of the tunnel, which served as a gateway to Deep Ellum for many years. Here, The Traveling Man patiently awaits the arrival of his train, strumming his distinctive guitar with passion. Positioned strategically, this site serves as a captivating backdrop to the Deep Ellum Rail Station, while also serving as a welcoming entrance to the neighborhood, complemented by The Traveling Man – Walking Tall sculpture located across the way.

In this particular pose, The Traveling Man reveals his true nature as an artist. The avian figures encircling him symbolize the essence of artistic expression, which he shares with his fellow wanderers. The rounded shape of his guitar body mirrors the core of his being, underscoring the fact that his music emanates from the depths of his soul.

Waiting on a Train stands tall at a height of 9 feet, gracefully positioned upon a stained concrete platform. Its internal framework consists of sturdy steel, while the exterior showcases brushed stainless steel adorned with numerous visible mono bolt rivets. Resting against a substantial segment of the former Deep Ellum Tunnel, this sculpture also doubles as a seating bench, inviting visitors to relax and gaze towards the heart of Deep Ellum. The avian companions are crafted from mirror-finished, polished stainless steel, just like the birds found at the other two sculpture sites. The lighting and landscaping have been thoughtfully designed to maintain a harmonious ambiance throughout, creating a cohesive and immersive experience for all who encounter it.

Intersection of Good Latimer and Elm Street

The convergence of Good Latimer and Elm Street holds immense significance in connecting the rail station with the surrounding neighborhood. This location not only brings the captivating concept of The Traveling Man right to the heart of the neighborhood, but also serves as an inviting space for both visitors and residents to gather, rejuvenate, and continue their exploration of Deep Ellum. The Traveling Man sculpture emerges from the ground at this corner, with his head standing tall at a width of eight feet. It appears as if he is rising from the depths beneath Deep Ellum. People can comfortably rest and engage with one another on his welcoming head, engaging in conversations, singing, or simply waiting while immersing themselves in the vibrant atmosphere of Deep Ellum. Additionally, the birds surrounding the sculpture graciously offer their bodies as seats for guests, providing ample seating arrangements.

The pathway design further encourages visitors to temporarily leave the sidewalk, allowing them to indulge in a brief moment of respite. From this vantage point, they can observe the bustling activities at the busy intersection while enjoying the serene surroundings.

Similar to the other two sculptures in the area, this particular artwork is crafted using brushed stainless steel, while the birds are made of cast stainless steel and meticulously polished to achieve a mirror-like finish. The site itself is xeriscaped, following the design aesthetics of the other two locations, featuring crushed rock and stained concrete elements.


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