How Lindbergh Drive became Skillman Street

Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. In light of that, I wanted to share this story about our neighborhood.

In 1927, the nation was enamored of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, who in May of that year flew nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. The flight made Lindbergh an international celebrity. New York City threw him a ticker-tape parade. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp bearing the image of his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis. As a result, airmail and aviation generally got a boost.

The same year as Lindbergh’s flight to Paris, Dallas City Council voted to rename a stretch of Skillman Street to Lindbergh Drive. Back then, Lindbergh Drive was an unpaved road from Swiss Avenue to Mockingbird Lane.

Lindbergh visited Germany and toured the Luftwaffe during the ’30s, and he passed along what he learned to the U.S. government before World War II began.

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But in 1940, he became the spokesman for the America First Committee, an antiwar group. He argued that the United States should not be involved in the war with Germany. Lindbergh was suspected of being a Nazi sympathizer because of his racist views and his visits to Germany.

Lindbergh, center, with Edsel and Henry Ford. Dallasites disliked Lindbergh, not because he was racist, but because of his anti-war stance and suspected Nazi sympathy.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, Lindbergh changed his antiwar stance. Although he was unable to serve in active duty, he served as an aviation adviser to the U.S. military. That came too late for the general sentiments of Dallasites.

The Dallas City Council voted to change the name of Lindbergh Drive to Skillman Street on Dec. 3, 1941, after the street was paved and had become a thoroughfare with a bus route.

“Disapproval of (Lindberg’s) recent position on international affairs led to the latest action,” the Dallas Morning News reported at the time.

By Dec. 5, 1941, all the street signs had been changed to Skillman.

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  • Tomatodallas

    DOT still has “The Lakewood StarWalk As Seen Through the Eyes of D.O.T. for sale for $10.00 a copy. Has some really good history of the Lakewood shopping center, the theatre, the businesses, and much East Dallas/Lakewood history. I loved co-authoring it and all proceeds go to benefit DOT’s terminally ill children, women & men clients.

  • Tomatodallas

    There are many wonderful books containing Dallas history (including my 3, plug, plug) but two of my favorites are “Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas”, edited by Gerald D. Saxon and  “Dallas Rediscovered, A Photographic Chronicle of Urban Expansion 1870-1925” by William L. McDonald. Both are out of print but copies often appear on amazon or eBay and the Dallas Public Library may still have copies of the Reminiscences book for sale. I was priviledged to know many of the people who were interviewed for that book and I talked with them often. but who have since passed away. I treasure having known and talked with many of them myself. Also there was a small airfield at the end of Columbia Ave. and a flying school was operated there from 1914 to 1917 by Lestere Miller. His wife tells about it in the Reminiscences book. The planes would sometimes take off from the Lakewood Country Club grounds! The school was located behind where the present Juliette Fowler property is. Fascinating.

  • Schase

    Homer St. in east Dallas was also re-named because of anti-German sentiment.  If you look carefully at the addresses on Homer, they are not consecutive after Homer crosses Henderson.

  • Ellenlindseykey

    Don’t know about a Lindbergh Field in Dallas. The airport in San Diego is named after Lindbergh. Ryan Aviation, which built the Spirit of St. Louis, was based there.

  • JimS

    I was told that somewhere fairly close in, closer to Swiss than you would think, there was an airfield called Lindbergh Field. But I can’t remember who told me. Could have been a crazy person.

  • Anne

    Also, after the furor (Fuhrer?) died down over Lindbergh’s patriotism and loyalty, Dallas apparently saw fit to approve another Lindbergh street in Dallas. I believe it’s in North Dallas at the northwest corner of Forest Lane and Hillcrest.

  • Anne

    Tomato Lady, thank you for your contributions. Your memories and hard-won knowledge are so valuable. And thank you also for Dot’s! I love that place.

  • Kyle Rains

    Make that map 61 – right side.

  • Kyle Rains

    You can see the creek before Skillman if  you click on map 62 (and enlarge) here:

    You might also note the Colette Circle on Live Oak

  • Tomatodallas

    And here’s info about Raitman whose family was quite prominent here in Dallas
    Such fun looking up all of this info.

  • Tomatodallas

    And Germania Street became Liberty Street during WWI because of the prejudice against many things “German”.  Another good source for street name changes are the Murphy & Bolanz maps available on the Internet. Fascinating although they are hard to read. I’ve tracked down much history using those and so enjoy doing that.

  • Tomatodallas

    Actually the history of what is now Skillman goes much further back. It was originally a creek, part of the Mill Creek system that runs under most of East Dallas. They tried blocking it & grading it and eventually using gravel & tar to make it a street. Failed several times and it still floods.  There is one lone Cottonwood tree at the corner of Richmond & Skillman that is more than 120 years old remaining on what was the creek bank.
    However the street was first named Raitman and even before that Withers Rd. Then it finally was paved and became Lindbergh in honor of Lindbergh in 1927 when he flew solo to Europe. Later when he fell into disfavor for seeming to be an admirer of Hitler, it was named Skillman. There is evidence on Jim Wheat’s Dallas History Archives pages of the many street name changes including those in  1910-11 & 1933 with George Kessler’s renumbering of the Dallas streets, etc. I included much of this information in my two books on Lakewood/East Dallas. Guess what Butcher Pen Road is today? 

  • I see it was renamed in 1918 because of anti-German sentiment during World War I. I might post something about it later.

  • Wow! We could do a book on street names, I reckon.

  • W.F. Skillman was a tax man, an assistant collector for the IRS, and before that, a banker. He lived on Gaston at Fitzhugh, and he died in 1936. His obit says he was involved in civic activities. It mentions twice that he was a member of the Knights of Pythias for 50 years.

  • Bob J

    Now how about the story of how Germania Street from Ross to Gaston became Liberty Street.

  • Where did the name Skillman come from?

  • jd

    I heard somewhere that the naming of Abrams after a prominent local Jewish banker was also intended to be a nose thumbing at Lindbergh. If that is true would love to know more of the story.