Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Goat Hill Revisited

One of the touchstones of my childhood years in Dallas was the Pearl Beer waterfall billboard. The iconic billboard was constructed high atop Goat Hill in 1962 to tempt thirsty motorists traveling the Stemmons Freeway just north of downtown. It has since been used to advertise Salem Cigarettes, Absolut Vodka and the Dallas Stars.

Seeing this sign from afar always seemed like a mirage to my young eyes. I wasn’t entirely sure it was actually a waterfall until I saw it up close. A mine-themed restaurant called Baby Doe’s opened next to the billboard in the mid-Seventies. Baby Doe’s was a popular brunch spot for many years, but it eventually closed down and the building became a homeless refuge.

When I was about 13, I drew some crude elevations of a mixed-use residential/retail development built into the side of Goat Hill beneath the waterfall billboard. It was completely out of scale with the site’s actual dimensions, but the basic idea was clearly ahead of its time because Trammell Crow is now seeking approval to build a five-story, 300-unit high-end apartment complex on Goat Hill.

Potential future residents will be able to walk to Reverchon Park and the Katy Trail. The units facing southeast will have some of the best downtown views in the city. Best of all, the Pearl Beer waterfall billboard will not be harmed by the redevelopment. Now that’s something I’d pay extra to live next to.

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