Asked about big hair and the other stereotypes that define Dallas for the rest of the country, the Rachofskys shake their heads. “We always say that if we can just get people down here, we can prove them wrong,” says Cindy.
Howard points to an event that bruised the city’s ego and pushed it to start literally rebuilding its image. In 2001 Seattle aerospace giant Boeing had announced that it was searching for a new corporate headquarters and winnowed the options down to three: Dallas, Denver and Chicago. Despite offering generous tax deals to lure the company and its thousands of jobs, Dallas lost out to Chicago. In the aftermath one theory that emerged was that Chicago had won on the basis of its better quality of life, which included a much wider array of cultural offerings. “It raised awareness that if we want to be relevant, it’s going to take more than just having America’s football team or a special tax break for corporate relocations,” says Howard. “It’s going to take building a city where people want to live.”
In other words, all the big gifts—in the form of art, buildings, parks and bridges—are investments in the city’s civic pride and, so the argument goes, in its economic future. But will it work? Howard Rachofsky is certain of it. “In the next decade Dallas may be considered the China of the States,” he says, “an area whose better days are ahead.”