Southeast Denton: an analysis of Quakertown with an emphasis on the “Walker City”

The Voyeur City vs. The Walker City

The Voyeur city is the overall representation of the city; the planned, intended city. The Walker City is the reality of the city: organic spaces, shortcuts, the nitty-gritty…

For example: New York City 

th vs. 6828253-_New_York_City

Do you see the difference between the two? One shows the overall structure of the city (i.e. the city constructed, the beauty of the city lights, large buildings complementing one another) the other shows how the people make the city (i.e; getting from one area to another as quick as possible, using the available space “as desired” as opposed to “as intended,” marked and embedded symbols, etc).

Southeast Denton, TX: My Observations

Background information

Today, I spent some time exploring Southeast Denton’s historical neighborhood. I took special interest in Southeast Denton because it was the location of the former Quakertown neighborhood that was established in the late 1800’s (Within the 1880’s). A group of African-Americans (children of freed slaves) settled in an area they referred to as “Freedman Town” (LocalWiki). Over time, as the population grew “Quakertown” was established (LocalWiki). Quakertown was not simply a residential neighborhood; it was an area of blossoming Black-owned businesses as the Quakertown residents were practitioners of Booker T. Washington’s self-reliance dogma. There were commercial businesses, a medical center, two churches (“St. Emmanuel Missionary Baptist church” and “St. James African Methodist church”), a boarding house, etc. (LocalWiki). It was a flourishing area that continued to grow. Its growth, however, presented a problem to the neighboring women’s college, historically known as College of Industrial Arts or CIA and currently known as Texas Women’s University or TWU (LocalWiki). The students wanted the neighborhood removed and replaced with a park/fairgrounds that would beautify the area near the campus (LocalWiki). They saw the Quakertown settlement as a dangerous area and an eyesore (Glaze, 1991). Because of this, the city (along with KKK threats) forced all of the residents of Quakertown to uproot and leave the area and their once flourishing, thriving neighborhood was replaced with a park/ fairground for the women of CIA (LocalWiki). The Displaced African-Americans moved to Southeast Denton in an area called Solomon Hill (LocalWiki).

Red: Quakertown Settlement; Blue: Solomon Hill

Side note: the red is the old Quakertown settlement and the blue is Solomon Hills where they were forced to move.

My Journey

Denton TX voyeur city

“Walker City” Denton, TX

My journey in SE Denton

I took the bus to the corner to the bus station and walked to the corner of McKinney and Railroad Ave. To my right was an Mexican restaurant/gas station and to my left was the train tracks. I continued left down McKinney St. and across the train tracks and turned right down Bell Pl. It was weird trying to cross the street because the street was constructed weirdly. I attempted three times to run across the street but I was scared out of my mind that I was going to get hit by a car because they were coming from various angles (as I said before….weird streets). I continued down Bell Pl. to N. Bell St. where there sat an auto shop and an offset garden shop. From there I ran across the street to the sidewalk of the Civic Center. I felt like I traveled back through time. The area looked so 1970/1980’s. Following the background story, in the pictures below, the tall buildings in the distance is the Texas Women’s University or TWU (formally the College of Industrial Arts) campus. The Quakertown area was literally one block away from the campus.

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I continued down the sidewalk until I reached Withers St then I turned left down Withers to explore the park and recreational center. The park’s originally name was “Civil Center Park” but in 2006 it was renamed “Quakertown Park” because it was here that the African-American community existed (as I circumnavigated the park I listened to John Legend’s “Coming Home” on my phone to set the mood). The park is pretty big… the entire time I walked around the park I attempted to picture the houses that existed on the land before the park. I walked the periphery of the park then I walked the interior. Their were two groups of people: a group of White men playing Frisbee and a mixed (men and women) group playing soccer. On the far right there was an empty playground for children. A man walking his dog watched me from the interior sidewalk on the park. I attempted to ignore him observing me….

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After making my way around the park, I decided to cut through the park back to N. Bell St. make my way back to Bell Pl. and walk down E. McKinney St. where I was before. As I continued down E. McKinney, I saw a small Taco stand…. This place is a landmark because it was the first Taco stands in Denton, TX. It is called “Veronica’s Café”. This landmark is the informal marker of the Latin-American residential area. There are establishments that align the left side of the street of businesses owned by Latin-Americans from auto shops to hair salons.

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As I continued down McKinney, I stopped at Frames St. and stared down the street at the homes that had been there since the early 1900’s maybe even before. In 1920’s America, this was an all-White residential area that refused residency to African-Americans.

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I continued down E. McKinney until I got to Woods St. then I turned around and walked back towards the train station on Railroad Ave. I continued down Railroad Ave. past the DDTC station and onto E. Prairie St. This area gave me the most trouble which is why I do not have any pictures of this particular area. There were so many dogs… I was at my wits end and on guard… lol. I walked down through the residential area towards the Oakland Cemetery. I walked down Lakey St. then down Wilson St. I could smell barbecue and hear neighbors chattering away. By the time I got to the end of Wilson St.it was getting dark and the area was starting to look eerie…. plus, I ran into an alley and there were a bunch of cats… The area that I was exploring is known as “Solomon Hill” the area that the Quakertown residents were forced to move. At the time that the residents were moving into the area, it was heavily infested with mosquitoes. I would have to say from my own experience it was still infested with mosquitoes. I was bitten so many times. >.<

I ended my journey there. I would have liked to continue but it was getting too dark so I made my way back to the train station and hopped on a bus back to my apartment.

Throughout my walk, I observed how the Quakertown area differed from the Solomon Hill area. The Solomon Hill area is very close to the train tracks and there are a great amount of dips in the road. The roads are also very narrow. Although, Quakertown was close to the train tracks it was a bit more offset and it was close to the town square which made the area very efficient. Solomon Hill is a bit more segregated from the public possibly because it is on the opposite side of the train tracks away from the Square.

All in all, my journey was enlightening…  The pictures I’ve posted represent what I saw as I explored Southeast Denton. I posted maps to show where I went; however, maps are incapable of providing the whole story because they are instruments of the “Voyeur City,” or systematic representations of the intended city. The pictures show what I saw as I navigated through the city streets. I’ve even provided the shortcuts I took as opposed to the planned route of the map.

Work Cited

Glaze, Michele P.

“The Quakertown Story: The removal of an African-American community and the creation of Civic Center Park in Denton, Texas. Denton History. Retrieved October 11, 2014 at  http://dentonhistory.net/page32/Quaker.html

LocalWiki

“Denton: Quakertown.” LocalWiki. Retrieved October 11, 2014 at https://localwiki.org/denton/Quakertown

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