Cover image for Deep Ellum and Central Track : where the black and white worlds of Dallas converged
Deep Ellum and Central Track : where the black and white worlds of Dallas converged
Govenar, Alan B., 1952-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Denton, Tex. : University of North Texas Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xxi, 344 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3477.8.D35 G68 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A mile east of the School Book Depository in downtown Dallas lies a section of the city called Deep Ellum, a mottled array of old brick structures, where wild graffiti and gaudy murals decorate the walls of trendy shops, loft apartments, restaurants, nightclubs, an galleries, and tattoo studios. The area is also home to more conventional endeavors, including a century-old meat market, auto repair shops and a sheet-metal business owned by a Holocaust survivor. Because of the area's long association with blues and jazz musicians. Deep Ellum has been shrouded in myth and misconceptions which obscure its actual history. Alan Govenar and Jay Brakefield -- using oral histories, old newspapers and photographs, city directories and maps, as well as more traditional public records and secondary sources -- reveal another side of Deep Ellum which includes Central Track (formerly called Central Avenue), an area lined with black-owned businesses which served both black and white patrons during its heyday in the 1920s and 30s. In the Deep Ellum and Central Track areas. African Americans and whites, primarily Eastern European Jews, operated businesses from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries, creating a unique social climate where cultural interaction took place. Much of the information in the book is presented through the stories of remarkable individuals, including professionals, pawnbrokers and other merchants, police officers, criminals, and the blues and jazz musicians who had a lasting impact on American popular music.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Local histories are of far more than regional significance, particularly when the data relate to larger scenes, as is true in this study of Dallas's early-20th-century Jewish and black ghettos--Deep Ellum and Central Track. The two groups had migrated to Dallas, individually expecting the traditions of segregation, a situation that brought about some degree of alliance. Sociological concerns do play a part in Govenar's coverage (including politics, economics, and crime), but his real subject is blues--an idiom that began to come into focus late in the 19th century and blossomed with Texan Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929) and those who came under his influence. Although Govenar provides a very respectable bibliography, the majority of the footnoted sources are interviews, suggesting much of the information has not previously appeared in print. Included in the four appendixes are discographies of Dallas-related jazz, blues, gospel, and country and of the Light Crust Doughboys, a popular country music ensemble active in the late 1930s (in fact, these two appendixes occupy more than a third of the book). Numerous photographs are also included. This will be a welcome addition to collections supporting study of the blues and of the US Southwest. D.-R. de Lerma; Lawrence University