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Downtown Dallas' 5 Best Kept Secrets

Suzanne Pope

Every successful office has that one person who is the glue that keeps everyone together and on their toes at the same time...

Every successful office has that one person who is the glue that keeps everyone together and on their toes at the same time...

Aug 22 5 minutes read

1. Secret Tunnels Under Downtown Dallas

Are there really secret tunnels under downtown Dallas? Well, yes and no. Yes, there are hidden tunnels under downtown Dallas, and no they aren't necessarily a secret. Just because you aren't aware of something doesn't make it a secret.

These tunnels have been around since the 1960s, but if you drive downtown looking for signs pointing to the underground tunnels, you won't find them.

So where are the entrances and why are there no signs pointing to them?

These tunnels were originally planned to be expanded and connected to accommodate auto traffic and pedestrian traffic to make it easier to enter and exit the downtown area. And to make it a place where people could shop and eat away from the heat and congestion of the streets above.

Sounds good...right?  

Nope! Many people at the time thought the tunnels took away from the street life above so the plans were never built-out or completed. But the tunnels are still there and many of them are full of restaurants and shops of all kinds, and, some of them are abandoned and closed off.

So exactly how do you get to the underground tunnels in downtown Dallas?

Well, since they are all now privately owned, they have to be accessed through office buildings such as the Bank of America building or the Renaissance Tower on Elm Street.

These tunnels are still as mysterious as they ever were and most people think they are a myth, but they're not. The downtown Dallas underground tunnels are real.

Mystery solved!

2. The Buried Underground Railroad Tunnels in Downtown Dallas

The hidden tunnels we mentioned above are not the only mysterious tunnels in downtown Dallas. There are also the now-closed Santa Fé Railroad tunnels. These were a network of tunnels built by the railroad in 1924 that were used to transport merchandise to the Fashion District and probably bootlegged alcohol as well considering they were in service during the prohibition. These tunnels were abandoned in the 1950s and the entrances have since been bricked over for safety reasons. All that remains now is the former Santa Fé Building #2 which is now the SoCo Urban Loft Condominiums (SoCo stands for south of Commerce).

3. SODA Bar at the NYLO Hotel

This secret gem is a retro-industrial hotel rooftop bar with breathtaking infinity poolside views of downtown Dallas, a wooden deck with a fire pit, foosball, and a comfortable lounge where you can sit and enjoy your evening while sipping on cocktails with your friends. A great hidden gem that should be enjoyed.

Where is this hidden gem? The SODA Bar at the NYLO Hotel is located at 1325 S. Lamar St., Dallas.

4. Dallas' Famous and Infamous Names

According to D Magazine, Dallas is where then dentist Doc Holliday (his office was located on Elm Street) became a professional gambler, and where Ray Charles who moved to Dallas in 1955 and lived in a small bungalow on Eugene St., went from a road warrior musician to superstar. And where dirt-poor teenagers from the Depression-era Bonnie and Clyde made their name as roaming bandits and became cult heroes. And, Dallas is also the final resting place of Clyde Barrow of Bonnie and Clyde. He is buried in Western Heights Cemetery in Dallas.

5. Frogtown

In 1910, Dallas had a city-sanctioned, yes, you read that right, "city-sanctioned," red-light district that was called the Reservation where more than 400 prostitutes worked. They used to stand in open doorways to attract customers. These women worked out of small two-room cribs. And interestingly enough, the buildings where they worked were owned by prominent Dallas citizens, including Dr. W.W. Samuell. The name Frogtown probably came from the frogs that were always croaking in a nearby stream that was fed by the Trinity River. Frogtown ran just east of the West End area to Victory Park.

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