The Bishop Arts District was originally developed as a collection of warehouses and shops in the 1920’s. A decade later the trolley stop along Davis became the busiest in Dallas. The rise of the shopping mall in the 1960’s and ’70’s, though, brought about a decline in local business, presaging the exodus of people from the community. City buses replaced the streetcars, neighborhood crime rose and the district fell into decline.
In the 1980’s an urban visionary named Jim Lake started buying up the run down storefronts and property with an eye to reclaiming and salvaging an important part of Dallas history. More recent renovations to store fronts and homes have revitalized the area, but it’s often the murals, brick pavers and rustic street signs that have allowed the area to keep its charm. The restaurants are good and plentiful, and the shops–many of them filled with clothes, jewelry and art made by local artisans—stay open past dark.
In mid-July, Bishop Arts residents hosted their 6th annual Bastille on Bishop street festival, a celebration of its early ties to the French “La Reunion” settlement. In 1855, when Dallas was only 14 years old, a group of 200 mostly French settlers led by Victor Considerant made their way from Houston by ox cart to setup a “Utopian Community” based on the socialist ideas of Charles Fourier in what is now North Oak Cliff. These French citizens brought to Dallas its first piano and beer brewery making Big D an infinitely more fun place to live.
Detective Betty says about BAD: My go-to french food in the past was usually a french fry, but I’ve been schooled by my more cultured friends to appreciate true Gallic cuisine and my favorite restaurant lately is Boulevardier on N. Bishop Avenue. Their Hangar Steak Frites will make you swoon. If you’re not a carnivore like me they have seafood galore. And did I mention their wine list? C’est formidable.