Only in Dallas do Horses Fly
When you drive through downtown Dallas, you see the Pegasus flying from atop the the Magnolia Building at 1401 Commerce St. Or when you walk in the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture, you see it shining in all its red neon glory. (Or in your dreams.) But, do you know the history behind the famous symbol that is synonymous with Dallas? We asked Preservation Dallas executive director David Preziosi for the backstory. It started in 1934, when the Magnolia Oil Co (AKA that little oil company known as Mobil) erected its trademark Pegasus on the Magnolia building's roof to celebrate the American Petroleum Institute's annual meeting.
The rotating winged horse came to represent the city and became one of its most recognizable landmarks, he tells us. If you look closely, the Pegasus is perched atop an oil derrick, too. David (pictured) tells us that in ’34, the Magnolia Building was one of the tallest buildings in downtown and could be seen 75 miles away on a clear night. (It was Dallas' version of a lighthouse.) Downtown Dallas Inc prez and CEO John Crawford tells us the Pegasus is now part of the City of Dallas Public Art collection. Central Dallas Association championed the fundraising campaign for construction of a replica in the late 1990s (to replace the original which was badly worn), which culminated with installation during the New Year’s Eve celebration in 2000.
John says the Pegasus history is a terrific story of how a corporate symbol became a defacto symbol of Dallas. Many designers gravitate to its symbolism when designing projects in Downtown, he says. The icon is installed on street poles, used as wayfinding signage, and has been used for many city-wide campaigns including the hundreds of Pegasus statues seen throughout Dallas as a fundraiser for Children’s Medical Center. The bottom line, John says, is that the Pegasus continues to play a special role in the history and tradition of our community. "I refer to the mighty Pegasus as I make presentations and speeches emphasizing the can-do attitude, the entrepreneurial spirit, the X Factor that continues to make us unique while helping us grow and thrive," he says. "Hail to the Pegasus: Only in Dallas where horses can fly!"