Celebrating Oak Cliff's French ties on Bastille Day

Celebrating Oak Cliff's French ties on Bastille Day

Oak Cliff was once part of a short-lived French colony whose influence remains in Dallas.

Driving the news: Today is Bastille Day, which celebrates the 1789 storming of a military fortress in an uprising that helped fuel the French Revolution.

Bishop Arts District will host its annual Bastille on Bishop festival tonight, featuring live music, local vendors and performances.

Flashback: In the 1850s, a prominent democratic socialist from France decided to create a utopian-style colony in central Dallas County, which includes present-day Oak Cliff.

He named it La Réunion.

Run as a direct democracy, residents were expected to share the colony's profits based on the money and labor they contributed toward it.

The intrigue: By 1856, the colony grew to nearly 350 people, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Settlers included the French, Swiss and Belgians.

Yes, but: The colony was formally dissolved in 1857 because of financial issues, undesirable weather and colonists' inability to properly farm the land.

The big picture: La Réunion has continued to influence Dallas despite its demise.

Our beloved Reunion Tower was named after the colony.

Several Bishop Arts businesses – including Boulevardier, Âme and La Reunion Coffee – are a nod to the area's history.

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