There’s a photograph we have tacked to our studio at 99% Invisible HQ. The photo, taken 1899, shows three men, all looking very fashionable, suspended mid-air on the lifted arm of a giant dredging machine. There are plenty of images … Continue reading →
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent invisible I'm roman Mars there's. This photographed tacked on the wall here in the studio it was taken in eighteen, ninety nine, the photos, was three men all wearing bowler hats, two them both eyes. They look dead on into the camera. With this casual look of conquest please raised hands on hips suspended in mid air on the lifted arm of a giant dredging machine and a machine used to force the natural environment to bend to the will of humans. Even if you don't know this image in particular, you seen images like it scenes of peace, standing around proudly looking good as they should the earth with fast
it's me about the pictures from this time is that they speak to this moment when there is a real sense of honour in reverence for the marvels of civil engineering. Now I don't mean to over mad decides the stuff a lot of things we did for the sake of progress at the green dubious, if not out, right. Portable There were mountains, tunnels, hills, flattened swamp straight. But the environmental impact. Notwithstanding these feats of engineering work just amazing for their time their amazing. For our time, The photo I'm talking about the three guys and bowler hats on dredging regime is a sea, the reversal of the Chicago River and the reason that photo is famous for famous enough for me working it is as the reversal of the Chicago River was an enormous engineering project that was successful, see episode, ACE, extremely verse gotta figure there were countless other photographs depicting similarly awe inspiring beats and engineering prowess that we have never seen because, though,
speeds. Never I finished they were, you could say, failures, today with the story of one such failure which, before people finally gave up on it, probably also once included a moment of men posing machinery, select I do have a photo. We can start from dated two eighteen. Ninety two Reporter Julia Barton grew up in Dallas Texas, where our story takes place. These men, two of them in bowler hats, standing on a wide flatboat with a winch on top of it a chain and a hook dangled down from the wench and their hauling up a tree stump votes in a narrow, muddy river and its surrounded by huge piles of broken up trees and other debris floating in the water. The boats name snag boat, Dallas of Alice, and I love that new growing up in Dallas. I never saw pictures of things like the snag, both Dallas
Dallas, I never heard of the failed project. The generations of Dallas people spent their lives pursuing no concerns an engineering project, so massive that it was once compared to both Panama Canal and the great pyramids of visa, This is the story of the port of Dallas. If you know anything about Texas Geography, you probably, least know that Dallas is not close to the ocean at all, it's more than three hundred miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Like trying to build a port to the Pacific Ocean in Reno Nevada or a port in the Atlantic and Eastern Tennessee, but like Reno or Eastern to the sea. Dallas is at least located on a river that flows to the ocean. The trinity in Dallas, though the trinity is really low very narrow, so narrow. But there are stories of Dallas as first ferryboat on the trinity turning itself sideways to act as a bridge from the time
Trinity was not a great way to move people or farm crops to the sea. But neither was the alternative in the early days of Dallas in eighteen forty meeting fifties. If you're goods weren't getting moved on a boat, they were in the back of a wagon, getting pulled by a team of oxen, railroads came to Dallas in eighteen, seventy two, but railroad companies could and did raise their rates whenever they felt like it Dallas leaders wanted river navigation to keep access to the outside world affordable. But in mission to being low and narrow. The trinity It is incredibly long and winding, so even no Dallas is about three hundred miles to the ocean as the crow flies with all the time. These meandering its closer to seven hundred miles river. The few boats that It had to Dallas from a gulf, took nearly you're doing it. One of them was the for mention, snag boat Dallas Dallas, which clear debris called snap out of the water to make the river navigable to steamships, one of the first of those
was the steamboat h, a Harvey Junior when h, H, Harvey Junior finally made it to Dallas in eighteen. Ninety, three: the city: he went nuts. There was a massive parade. The local paper printed its front page in red it was a huge day and they declared Dallas had become, a port city measures Even the city directories like the netting city directory scat describes Dallas as a port city. That's Dallas history, I am Darwin pain in the dynamic he's scrubbing here in the city directory is very important when it comes to Dallas, there's the to a version of events and then there's this grossly optimistic version. And as I was researching this story, this kind of boost, Ray salesman voice kept coming at me. Indifferent forms telling me that something that was absolutely untrue, absolutely
as true. We had Dallas more actor, William Jackson, Harper Boys, various clippings from the written record of the one hundred and thirty year old history of the trinity project here is, as the doll Times Herald in eighteen. Ninety three insisting the navigation of the trinity, is not a possibility. It is an accomplished fact. He had Hiv Harvey made it, but that's just one boat for more boats to follow the river would have to become dear to navigate and remember. This is the era of gains done. We gotta move the river fine. Let's move the river down, convince Congress to survey the river and figure out where locks in dams could help make it navigable record engineers finish. The first law condemn in the early nineties, hundreds at a site, thirteen miles below Dallas, but eventually Congress, shell of the project.
Oxen dams. It had already been built. Mouldered locks, dams along the river stood, deserted, MOSS covered and just as it had done before, the white man came to Texas rested in empire from wilderness. The Trinity River, muddy, unclean and turtle infesting wants luxury between its banks and sullen victory, but then the port of Dallas caught a second went. The trinity may have been turtle infested, but it wasn't always sluggish in nineteen o eight, the river flooded and it made a mess so Dallas. It turned downtown Dallas into a peninsula, surrounded by raging floodwaters, devil the city as a result of the Dallas higher George kissed, her to create what is known as the cast your plan Kessler was a famous urban planners european trained, but it spent part of his youth in Dallas. He cried
a vision for the city that included boulevards and parks, but the part that really- excited Dallas leaders was how Kessler imagined the meandering trinity. He envisioned it because a straight channel about a half mile west of its existing course through Dallas levies would contain the new channel and open up miles of flood plain for development. Next to downtown? Basically, they move the river out of downtown You do know the geography of Dallas it's hard to picture exactly what this means. The project was even bigger than you would think: does it involve changes in the road roadways going over the sewerage systems and utility. Can actions a huge areas, moving project course. Suffice it to say this was the kind of enormous project where there be pictures of giant machines, topped by men in bowler hats. Well, I now we're talking. Nineteen twenty eight, so fedora would have been more in style and so
starting a nineteen twenty eight. The river moving product was ago, the city of Dallas dug the trinity, a twenty six miles straight, shot channel with tall levies on either side of a half mile apart perfect for the coming show barges that now replace steamboats in May mistake historical record shows that, even though this massive project was on its face about flood control, down, leaders at the time saw this as the resurrection of the port of Dallas, so in nineteen thirty another ceremony for the port of Dallas a bottle containing the sweet sweet waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Final destination of the Trinity River was smashed over a dredging machine, as people cheered on a local pastor, gave the benediction raise engineers. Invasion see coming millions who went off. Origin, acres, upturn to the smiles of God and a fabulous resources developed, show people this
They really like delay an unfair in those days and from there the plan to build of port of Dallas was really under way. There was a general will for it. There was political clout behind it, and there was eventually money to fund it. The army core of engineers came up with a really big plan to change the whole course of the trinity to allow, but up to Dallas and even further upstream, to Fort worth President John F Kennedy just a month before he was assassinated in Dallas, signed off. Huge nine hundred million dollars spending package for the trinity and, despite the p nightmare that befell Dallas after J of case death. The river plan kept on moving forward. After all, the new President Lyndon be Johnson was a Texan and he was in favour project areas. Talking on the phone in nineteen sixty eight with Fort worth congressmen, Jim right, I got off ok
Well, wait but a good one. I think I may say they would get. We got your dreaded to things like we're. We're working on a bank that, yes, I will be. The major groaning isabel again with the rest of us Alice was ready. Separation of the soon to be navigable trinity, River new Freeway bridges constructed over the river were built extra time to our seagoing vessels clearance underneath regular, constructed fifty into What is it about existing to re, while is too high rise, viaducts rise to wear over sixty three? One reason is so let me handle the hoped for and sought after barge traffic Trinity proponents claim, under the Dallas Fort area. It's been a hundred
Thirty years, that's about one hundred and fifteen years longer than it took to build. The great pyramid of Giza Dallas is finally becoming a port city. Think of what this means sailors loose on shore leave river gambling cruises heavy industry loading docks, long german stevedores romantic picnics on the levies, but then the port of Dallas its neck. So to speak, It went out not with a bang but with the wine of a jet turbine engine great irony is that, while all this is taking place in the early nineties, seventies thousand for worth were building in international airport. Rob tranche is a film producer who made a documentary about the trinity for Dallas his public
tv station K e array. He says the massive d of W Airport invigorated, the new economy growing here Dallas was d industrialize in the city had moved from its reliance on agriculture and trade to technology, light manufacturing, banking and insurance companies liked excess instruments are on the rise. They didn't need barges to reach the outside world. They had an airport, a more considered judgment, Conversation the river would probably make that where are the other port cities with a polluted channel, but use them as increased crime increase during a deterioration of the inner city. That's Alan Steel men ran for Congress in Dallas in nineteen. Seventy two: he ran against the Trinity Canal. What it would mean, the location of rusty or meals and petrochemical plants and other forms of heavy industry. Here
none of which I will locating and bows, and he one soon after that voters rejected a referendum to spend their tax dollars on the canal. It's all right when the dream of those men aboard the snag? Boat Dallas of Dallas was finally on the cusp of reality: the dream was dead. Dallas would not become a port city. Which is really a shame, because does need to be a port but because, it totally messed up. The natural landscape of the city remember that the port of Dallas Project eventually included the Kessler Plan, which literally move the river and channeled it into a man make now outside of town. The Trinity River used to me, under through the Centre of Dallas it's hard to second guess the civil engineering needs of the time I mean the river did flood. A pretty regularly but one cannot help but think could have been an ice river front for people to stroll along a beloved piece of nature in the middle of the city, the port of Dallas not only failed but had stolen.
Actual river front from the people of Dallas. Like a lot of people I generation growing up in the seventies and eighties I didn't really know, there was a river in Dallas at all you kind of sea. The Trinity River, in the title sequence of the tv show Dallas, which launched in nineteen. Seventy eight camera mostly lingers on the in real life. You might catch a glimpse of the river for a split second, if he looked down for one of those high freeway bridges. More often you'd smell the river, a lot of Dallas his untreated sewage got dumped there in the seventies. There were after a hard rain, and in Dallas this thing they called the black rise. Would boil down stream and and kill everything in its path. But toxic sludge wasn't the worst thing it turn up in the river I'm talkin about dead bodies. The Trinity River bottom was the place where you'd hide the evidence was sketchy and unless it was so dark that if you flew into
us at night, you could pick up the flood way, because it was completely invisible. This dark artery flowed through the heart of the city. You would never think of going there, never but of course, Juliet now had to go there she got in a canoe. It's called the snag. New dollars of Dallas snag at twelve o clock. Are you gonna go to the right or the left truly river resumes its natural whining course out of downtown Dallas? It flows to a dense Good forest sport of the river bottom was left alone for decades, because the plan was to some day bulldoze all this into a big turning basin and loading area for barges, Now the Audubon society is built a centre at the edge of the forest in ITALY, Its canoe and kayak rides for urban River explores not the suburbs. This is not the country. This is a city.
So you got twenty six, a mile of river diverted into a walled off artificial channel plus another long stretch, shielded by dense forest, making easily accessible for public use, is the huge urban planning challenge that Dallas now has to contend with the Good NEWS. So that the people now realise that this man made and man neglected landscape is the river they have it's better than pretending that they have no river at all. It's a strange place sought exactly comfortable, but not the nightmare of my childhood imagination. Either. It's a landscape stuck in anticipation of something that never have in the course of history. There are plenty of undertakings, just as unlikely as the board of dollars. We just Think of the reversal of the Chicago River, or the Panama Canal as Bali's, Or forget about them entirely because against all odds they succeeded,
It was crowned with much hat wearing an machine posing. But when an engineering endeavour fails sometimes. All. We get our scars and the landscape, and, if we're lucky we need to try again make something good out of it like a park, hopefully with a plaque, but like it. If they put up a black, no nine percent invisible was produced this week by Julia Barton, the same Greenspan, Katy, mingle, Avery, truffle men and me roman Mars. We are
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-15.