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Civilizing Dallas Streets

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In 1884, Commerce Street became the first paved street in Dallas when it was covered with bois d’arc [pronounced locally as beau dark] tree wood.   Dallas is thought to be the only city in the world where bois d’arc was used for this purpose.

Bois d’arc trees (aka horse apple trees/Osage orange) were commonly used in Dallas in the 1800s/early 1900s because the wood is both extremely hard and impervious to rot, weather, and bugs.
DeWitt Clinton Harry, known as “Dee” Harry, won the contract with the city to pave the streets with bois d’arc blocks.
Besides paving downtown, the most frequent use of bois d’arc was for piers under structures built with pier and beam foundations.
Some of the original bois d’arc blocks still lie buried under the pavement of Commerce Street.
​For all of its benefits, bois d'arc was not the best choice for road paving.  The natural sap inside proved troublesome during hot weather because the wood swelled and buckled under the
Asphalt, along with bois d'arc, paving in Dallas also began appearing in 1884.  Concrete covers most roads now because it is more durable in the Texas heat than asphalt.