DESCRIBED AS A BOROUGH OF DALLAS, Oak Cliff is actually a neighborhood of neighborhoods. Its name is derived from the oak trees and bluffs overlooking the Trinity River. The area is best known for rolling hills, mature trees, spectacular views of downtown and historic neighborhoods such as Hampton Hills.
Historians generally consider the arrival of William H. Hord and his wife Mary on the west bank of the Trinity River on Jan. 12, 1845, as the earliest permanent settlement of what would become the city of Oak Cliff. The Hords opened a boarding house and soon a farming community took root. Nearby, Aaron Overton’s gristmill on Five Mile Creek provided a place for farmers to process their grain. In 1879, the new Cleburne and Rio Grande Railway passed through Hord’s Ridge and a station was built in 1882.
The cozy farming community eventually caught the attention of developers Thomas L. Marsalis and John S. Armstrong. In 1887, with a plan to market the community as a prestigious residential area, they purchased several hundred acres in and around Hord’s Ridge and gave the area a more appealing name: Oak Cliff. Through their efforts, Oak Cliff was incorporated in 1890 with a population of 2,470. A financial downturn in 1893 brought development to a halt, and the financially strapped City of Oak Cliff voted to annex itself to the City of Dallas in 1903.
Oak Cliff’s most infamous moment occurred on Nov. 22, 1963, when resident Lee Harvey Oswald crossed the Trinity River into Oak Cliff on the Houston Street Viaduct immediately after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dealey Plaza. After returning to his rented room at 1026 N. Beckley, Oswald began walking to the Texas Theater. En route, he encountered Dallas Police officer J.D. Tippitt, who was gunned down at the corner of Tenth and Patton streets. Oswald was apprehended inside the Texas Theater a short time later.
Oak Cliff Today
Median age: 33 years
Median household size: 3.1
Median household income: $43,173
Visiting Oak Cliff
Oak Cliff is home to an array of attractions, such as the Dallas Zoo, the historic Texas Theater and even the grave of notorious gangster Clyde Barrow, who met Bonnie Parker here in the 1930s. Recently, Oak Cliff dedicated a memorial to Officer J.D. Tippit, at the new Adamson High School. Hampton Hills is a short distance from Stevens Park Golf Club, the Bishop Arts District and an abundance of diverse neighborhoods. If you’re planning a visit to Hampton Hills, be sure to take advantage of all that Oak Cliff has to offer.