Document Type

Honors Thesis


How a city is planned and developed impacts how people can connect with that place. Dallas is a city that has struggled with identity since its founding; it does not fit the typical “rules” that a successful city plan follows. In this study I argue that the roots of this problem lie in Dallas’ first city plan, designed by George Kessler. Kessler, a Kansas City based landscape architect and planner, developed his own standards of city planning based on ideas popular from 1890 to 1920 and worked from a standard idealized city prototype. Through a close reading of the Kessler plan for Dallas, site visits, and visual analysis of maps, plans, and photographs, I analyze Dallas’ urban form relative to Kessler's ideal plan and his vision for Kansas City. Rather than arguing that it is a successful or unsuccessful city because it does not fit accepted ideas about good city form, these comparisons allow us to understand the origins of Dallas' identity struggle in context. The alterations he made to this prototype--including subtraction, shifts in scale, and insufficient mediation--allowed Dallas to fall victim to urban sprawl and lack a clear identity.

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