Thursday, January 24, 2019

America's City (Part 4)

Dallas is filled with many iconic images (think Book Depository, Dealy Plaza, Reunion Tower, Dallas Cowboys) but one of my favorites is the Pegasus, the mythical winged horse.  I think it brings out the 10-year old little girl in me who was obsessed with unicorns.   


For some strange reason, Dallas loves Pegasus. 

It's on Deep Ellum murals and downtown street signs. Its name is used for local shops and parks and even craft beers. From the top of the Magnolia Hotel, it shines as a symbol of the city. 

But what's the deal with this winged horse, an oil company's old logo, as Dallas' unofficial mascot? 
 In 1934, a brilliant neon Pegasus icon was placed on top of the headquarters of the Magnolia Oil Co. It was the tallest building in Dallas for years, and even pilots in Waco said they could see the red beacon in the north. 

Magnolia was folded into Mobil in 1959, and Mobil adopted the red Pegasus logo. Even today, the city of Dallas has an agreement with Exxon Mobil to continue to use the image as a symbol for the city.
 Others who try to adopt it have been confronted with legal action from the corporation.

The red Pegasus stayed lit atop the old Magnolia building until 1999, when the rusty symbol was removed and replaced with a shiny new version that was lit on Jan. 1, 2000.
The original Pegasus, however,  was hidden away in a storage shed until 2015, when it was renovated and placed in front of the Omni Dallas Hotel downtown. That street-level location makes it more visible up close than the high-flying horse on the roof of the Magnolia Hotel.                    
That's the myth of Dallas, anyway. It's an oft-repeated origin story: No one knows why Dallas is named Dallas, and although its position on the Trinity River made it an important crossing at one time, it was by no means created as an inland port. Dallas has defied odds since its inception, just like the mythic winged horse.
According to ancient mythology, a natural spring would bubble up on every spot of ground that Pegasus touched. That symbol makes sense for an exploratory oil company, and is easily applied to a city that prides itself on making something out of nothing.
Dallas, as a city, sees itself as exceeding expectations while building a shining city on the prairie where none should be.

Finding Pegasus in Dallas is like a massive game of "I spy." Just look around and you're bound to spot the winged horse nearby. It's on street signs downtown and murals in Deep Ellum. It's the mascot of the Dallas Wings WNBA team, as well as the mascot for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

The Pegasus iconography also can be found in the North Texas beer scene, like Pegasus City Brewery in the Design District. Deep Ellum Brewing Co. also has used an inverted Pegasus to symbolize rebellion from the Dallas way.

You can go to a play from the Pegasus Theatre company. You can fly an unofficial city flag featuring the red horse. You can grab lunch downtown at Pegasus Plaza, next to the Magnolia Hotel. 

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