NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
President John F. Kennedy's assassination is an unforgettable part of Dallas' history.Nearly 54 years later, scholars and enthusiasts alike are still processing details from that fateful drive through Dealey Plaza now that the remaining investigation files have been unsealed. For the 50th anniversary in 2013, KERA produced special stories and reports from the commemoration:The 50th: Remembering John F. Kennedy was KERA's live, two-hour special covering the official commemoration event at Dealey Plaza in Dallas on Nov. 22, 2013. Hosted by Krys Boyd and Shelley Kofler, the special includes reports from KERA reporters before the ceremony begins. Listen to the special here.Bells tolled across the city, and the event featured historian David McCullough, who read from Kennedy’s presidential speeches; Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings; religious leaders; the U.S. Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club; and a moment of silence. Read highlights from the event from KERA's live blog from that day.Throughout the month, KERA posted an online series called 22 Days In November, which takes a closer look at that fateful day, what it meant to the country and how it affected Dallas.We shared stories and memories in a series called “JFK Voices.” Explore our archives below.

Thanks To Texas Bravado, Dallas Landed Federal Reserve 100 Years Ago

One hundred years ago, Dallas was selected to be one of 12 locations to host a Federal Reserve Bank. It not only beat out other Texas cities, but also New Orleans, which at the time had a population three times larger. So how did "Little D" get a Reserve Bank? Texas bravado, in part.

Together, the 12 banks form an agency that regulates the entire financial system and by extension the broader economy. That's why 100 years ago, businesspeople in cities across the country scrambled to make the case to be one of the chosen few.

Dallas didn’t seem like an obvious choice.

“It was actually the smallest city selected to be a Federal Reserve site,” says Princeton Williams, economic education program coordinator at the Dallas Fed.

Three cities in Texas were vying for a reserve bank: Houston, Fort Worth and Dallas.

It was a book and a train ride that helped Dallas stand out.

The Book Of Facts 

A leather-bound, gold-embossed book laid out an argument for a Federal Reserve bank in Dallas. It's called “Texas and the Southwest, a Book of Facts.”

It contained statistics on the city’s commercial prowess, such as factory output and new building permits. Williams explains that while Dallas might not have been the biggest, the city was growing at record-speed. Dallas had grown by more than 100 percent between 1900 and 1910, and by 41 percent in just the four years from 1904 to 1909.

“Texas had always been an agricultural economy, and at the turn of the 20th century, it was becoming a commercial center and economic center that was going to take a leading role in the Southwest,” Williams said.

The man behind the creation of the Book of Facts was George Dealey, publisher of The Dallas Morning News. Dealey organized a pro-Dallas rally in Washington and exploited the contacts he had in the capital.

Perhaps his most influential intervention was something he arranged on a train ride.

The Train Ride

When Dealey learned that Postmaster General Albert Burleson – an influential figure in the Woodrow Wilson administration – would be traveling through Texas by train, he dispatched a reporter and bank executive, Howard Ardrey, to “accidentally” run into him.

A reenactment of Dallas Banker J. Howard Ardrey and Dallas Morning News reporter Tom Finty meeting Postmaster General Albert Burleson on the train from St. Louis to Dallas.

It was on this journey, from St. Louis to Dallas, that Ardrey made the sales pitch for Dallas.

And it worked.

The Dallas Fed’s Growth

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas first opened its doors in November 1914. At the time, the U.S. was on a gold standard, and air conditioning had just been invented.

When the few dozen employees moved into the Fed on South Akard Street in the 1920s, it was one of the first buildings west of the Mississippi to have air conditioning.

A new U.S. bank system is announced in The New York Sun in April 1914.

Joan Perry, a Dallas Fed employee from 1958 to 1999, talks about what it was like to work at the bank in the late '50s.

Today, more than 1,000 people work at the Dallas Fed, which is now in the Arts District. While much has changed in the past century, there’s one tradition that remains: gingersnap pudding.

For more than 60 years, Dallas Fed employees have been eating a chilled icebox pudding, made with gingersnaps, fruit, and a rich custard. (For the recipe, click on the slideshow above and look for the recipe picture.)

The recipe for Gingersnap Ice Box pudding that Dallas Fed employees have used for 60 years.

Art Herrera, a Dallas Fed employee, talks about the first laptops the bank used in the late 1980s, one of which is in the exhibit. These were used by bank examiners when they went out in the field to examine banks.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.