Opinion > Star Staff
Remembering the past in downtown Plano
I love my job as a reporter.
One week I may be covering city elections, while the next I am soaring over Plano in a hot air balloon. The unpredictability makes each day exciting and leads me to looking forward to driving up to our nondescript office building in southeast Plano.
On Thursday, I attended the dedication of a plaque for the first Plano peace officer killed in the line of duty: Green W. Rye. While I enjoyed the ceremony and was fascinated by the fact that four generations of Rye's family attended, I couldn't help but think how cool downtown Plano truly is.
I don't mean to say that I love the bars and restaurants, although I have spent plenty of money at Fillmore Pub and Vickery Park. Instead, I was struck by the amount of history contained in the brick buildings lining 15th Street.
While I was hearing the story of Mr. Rye discovering a group of men robbing the Plano National Bank, a building that now houses the A.R. Schell and Son Agency, I was struck by how much things have changed since Feb. 28, 1920.
When Rye looked at 15th Street, which was then known as Mechanic Street, he didn't see wine stores and trendy pizza restaurants with rooftop bars. Instead, Rye saw a completely different world.
Urban Crust, one of my favorite locations in downtown, is housed in the historic W.R. George building. When the building opened in 1896, you couldn't get a Quattro Formaggi pizza with four kinds of cheese and truffle oil. However, if you needed a new saddle or harness for work on the farm, the George building was the place to go.
The same goes for Vickery Park, where you could purchase drugs and tonics from the Allen brothers who ran a drugstore on Mechanic Street for more than three decades. The rest of the street was filled with barber shops, dry goods stores and stables. Just like today, you could find a little bit of everything.
That is not to say the downtown Plano we have today is worse than when Rye patrolled the streets and kept the bad guys in check.
I am not sure how much use a saddle manufacturer would be to most Plano residents, and I can think of better places for a CVS or Walgreens to operate. Instead, we should be happy with the downtown scene we have now and enjoy the cold beers, fine wines and great food that can be found just a stones throw from U.S. 75.
However, the next time you are downtown for a night out, remember the history and the sacrifices of men like Green W. Rye. They made Plano what it is today.