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When The Country Thinks Of Dallas, Big Steaks, Ranchers, Cowboys And Hair Come To Mind

Ron Doke/Flickr
Kennedy. Traffic. Rich. Hair. Business. Big. Cowboys. Sprawl. Just a few of the words that come to mind when NPR’s Facebook fans think of Dallas.";

What does the country think of Dallas?

(And, this being Dallas, we really do care what the rest of the country thinks of us. We might say we don’t care. But, deep down, we do.)

NPR journalists went to a Metro subway stop in Washington, D.C.,where they saw a pair of posters “tempting passengers with images of a cosmopolitan city, an upscale arts district, a modern sports stadium.”

The poster's slogan is "Dallas: Big Things Happen Here." The reaction?

“I wouldn't think of Dallas as particularly glamorous when it comes to big Texas cities,” one woman told NPR.

“Sort of a big city with not much going on in it,” a man said.

Another woman said: “A lot doesn't come to mind when I think of Dallas. I guess cowboys, football and highways and Whataburgers.”

“Big steaks and ranchers. Honestly, that's it. And sports.”

You Say "Dallas." I Say …

NPR continued its Dallas adventure online, asking Facebook users what they think of when they hear “Dallas.” The responses were all over the map. NPR created this word cloud showing the most popular responses.

Credit NPR
What comes to mind when you think of Dallas? Here's a sampling from NPR Facebook fans.

Here's a sampling:

  • I live in Dallas, and, to me, it's a collection of suburbs surrounding ... something. We don't quite no what yet, but, something.
  • Born and raised in Dallas, don't think it's heaven, but I can earn a decent living here and have a reasonable standard of living. It's diverse, friendly, tolerant, and one can do or get just about anything one would want like in any other big American city. Say what one will, but Dallas has positive growth both in population and jobs.
  • Snobs who think that they live in the best city in Texas. Who are sorely mistaken because that title belongs to Austin, closely followed by Houston.
  • "Life's too short to live in Dallas."
  • So much hate for Dallas. At least we're not Houston.
  • Dallas as a whole is insane, but delve a little deeper, and you'll find great pockets! Oak Cliff is hilly with trees, old homes, fun people, and is reminiscent of East Austin. Lakewood has a great outdoor scene- cycling and walking around White Rock Lake, and the Dallas Arboretum has to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Downtown is going through a rebirth.
  • Fort Worth is better.
  • The football team? Debbie Does?
  • Big hair, a lack of soul, and Deep Ellum extinction. Concrete, and people who are arrogant for no reason.
  • JFK, Big Oil. Big hair, big bling, sexy cheerleaders, Christian Schools.
  • "Home." And "working" to rebrand isn't the right term anymore, as it's been thriving with arts, food and culture for at least a decade now.

So what do Dallasites think about Dallas?

KERA’s Stella M. Chavez walked around downtown to talk with everyday folks:

Armani King of Dallas: People are kind, she said. Regarding the out-of-town skeptics: “If they haven’t been here, they shouldn’t have too much to say about it. I don’t like it. I don’t want them to disrespect my city.” And, yes, she’s a Dallas Cowboys fan. “Go Cowboys.”

Deanna Smith, born in Dallas: “It’s changed so much. It’s gotten a lot better. A lot nicer,” she said. “[There’s] more modern art, more modern sculptures, more stuff that attracts all ages, especially teens. It’s better for younger people.”

Ed Lucas, White Rock Lake area: "Dallas is beautiful in all areas. Dallas always looks like it was built yesterday. We don’t know what recession is here. And people are very friendly. And I have lots of girlfriends here.”

Sidney Johnson, Dallas: “It’s a beautiful place to live. Lots of friendly people.”

Jon Dunlay, Dallas: “People do think of Texans maybe being braggarts and I’ve come to learn that people from here really love being from here and are proud to be from here and I actually think it’s a good thing. I will be here ‘til the bitter end.” Dallas, he says, is “energetic, very pro-business. It’s a good place to live and raise kids.” Klyde Warren Park, the new deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway, is a big change, he said. He likes the redevelopment in Uptown and the growth in downtown.

Jorge Romero, Richardson: “Dallas is beautiful. It’s the best I’ve come to know.”

Mike Nagel, Plano: “It feels very southern, very conservative, but nice and friendly,” he said. “It’s boring and dirty compared to Chicago where stuff is going on. You walk around here and people are in their offices. There are no grocery stores downtown. It doesn’t feel as alive.”

What does the Dallas mayor think?

NPR’s Melissa Block asked Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings about the country’s perceptions of his city.

BLOCK: “We reached out to our Facebook followers with the show and the most popular word that they associate with Dallas is - I'm going to let you guess.” RAWLINGS: “J.R. or the Cowboys.” BLOCK: “The Cowboys.” RAWLINGS: “The Cowboys. They're younger. They don't even remember J.R. anymore.” BLOCK: “So it's not a surprise to you that that would be at the top of people's minds.” RAWLINGS: “We've changed a lot in 15 years. It's an amazing thing. People tell me that haven't been here for a couple of decades, they can't believe that we have the largest arts district in the country, a green space, the Trinity flood plain that is nine times larger than Central Park. People are surprised by a lot and what we've done here in the last couple of decades.”

"ATC" does Dallas

If you haven’t figured out by now, NPR’s “All Things Considered” is broadcasting from Dallas all weekand focusing on Texas, from demographic changes to televangelists. “All Things Considered,” the afternoon news magazine, airs from 4-6:30 p.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

Follow NPR's Dallas adventures:

(Photo Credit: Ron Doke/Flickr)

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.