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Historic Downtown Carrollton Celebrates History and Prosperity

By S. Mathur

Carrollton TX is a town that knows where it's coming from, and where it's going. That's not really surprising, given that it was formed at the crossing of three major rail lines late in the 19th century. The historic downtown area still goes by the name of the Switchyard, though now it is dominated by green spaces, a boardwalk and fountains. Member of the Old Downtown Carrollton Association Levi Sauerbrei says that "The Carrollton Depot served as the intersection of the Missouri/Kansas/Texas (MKT or "Katy"), the St. Louis/San Francisco ("Frisco"), and Cotton Belt rail lines.

By the early 1900s, downtown Carrollton had become a major hub for the transportation of passengers, bricks, cattle and cotton. This legacy is still evident today in the numerous freight rail lines that run nearby and in our annual all day music event Festival at the Switchyard, which is preparing for its eighth year."

Even as things change, the town holds on to its history. A good example is the Bank of Carrollton building. The bank opened in1908 on the Northeast corner of the square, and has been replaced over the years by many other banks and businesses in the same spot. But the original "Bank of Carrollton" engraving above the entrance can still seen. Many of the other buildings on the square date to the same period and many retain their old signage, says Sauerbrei "For instance, the original Gravley Hardware sign is still in evidence on the Northwest corner of the square although it now adorns a law practice."

Quite a few businesses on the square have been around for a long time: the Old Craft Store and Waggoner Carpets for four decades, and Sid's Rainbow Grill, Ten of Arts Gifts and Amici's Signature Italian are twenty-year veterans of the neighborhood. Shopping, restaurants, concerts and businesses like IT and investing make the Square an organic part of everyday life in the community. Sauerbrei adds that "Cuban Dulceria opened a second location on the Square and we are looking forward to wine bar 55 Degrees joining us in the next month."

The Square celebrated its centennial in 2013, and in 2015 the city decided to give it a facelift with major renovations. The area around the gazebo was converted from a parking lot to green spaces. Events at the Square celebrate its history and spirit. The annual Festival at the Switchyard brings music, games and food to the community in November.

The Festival honors the part played by rail in the City's history. There are still three train lines crossing paths nearby, and three DART Green Line stations carry commuters represent a new era of transportation. Free concerts and movies on the square attract visitors year-round, and the city makes an effort to invest in events for all age groups.

The Old Downtown Carrollton Association is a non-profit group which helps to promote, preserve and develop the downtown area while maintaining its historic character.

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