Anyone who lives in Dallas knows that it’s not only the norm but also highly encouraged to go big or go home. That’s why we’ve curated a list of baby names that not only make a statement but also pay homage to the history and culture of Big D. From famous TV characters to historical figures whose contributions have made the city the place it is today, scroll down to see our favorite monikers that swagger in a way that folks living in Dallas (and the surrounding metroplex) can replicate with ease.
As in John Ross Ewing, as in the patriarch of the iconic ‘80s show Dallas. Played by legendary actor Larry Hagman, J.R. is as synonymous with the city of Dallas as is its NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas is forever a major part of American history—for being the place where JFK was assassinated. The Sixth Floor Museum and the grassy knoll are one of the most visited landmarks in the city.
It might be the state capital, but it’s also the last name of Lloyd G. Austin, a pastor at St. John Missionary Baptist, in the all-black community of Mosier Valley, for over 40 years. He was also an early presence in North Texas race relations during the late ‘50s, as he and his family were one of the first African-American families to buy a home in an all-white neighborhood of Fort Worth. They withstood and ultimately prevailed over direct attempts to be ousted from the community.
If you’re going to honor Big D, why not just go with the city itself?
Emmett Smith is known as one of the best running backs of all time, and he spent a majority of his career playing for the Dallas Cowboys. During the team’s ‘90s heyday, he won three Super Bowls with the team. He is the only running back to win a Super Bowl, an MVP of the Year award (both for the Super Bowl and the entire NFL) and an NFL rushing crown all in the same season. He also was a very popular contestant (he won!) on the third season of Dancing with the Stars in 2006.
Ross Perot garnered national attention as the businessman who ran for President as an Independent in 1992, against Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. But, for those who live in Dallas, he’s also the billionaire philanthropist for whom the award-winning Perot Museum of Nature & Science is named.
For Erykah Badu, the Grammy-award winning neo-soul songstress of the big hats. Born and raised in Dallas, she attended high school at renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts—a magnet school for the arts. She went on to release several albums and win a multitude of awards.
George W. Bush served as the 43rd President of the United States. He was also the governor of Texas from 1995-2000. After eight years in the White House, he and wife Laura made Dallas their home base. Dallas is home to his presidential library, and he is a big supporter of local university Southern Methodist University.
Popular restaurant chain El Fenix started in Dallas in 1918 and is the country’s oldest Mexican restaurant chain. Some also claim El Fenix is the birthplace of Tex-Mex cuisine.
Bonnie and Clyde
Having fraternal twins? Name them after some of America’s most famous outlaws—Bonnie and Clyde—who called West Dallas home before they set off on the two-year spree of robberies that inspired the iconic Hollywood film.
In honor of George Edward Kessler, a pioneer architect, urban planner and landscape architect who was hired by the city of Dallas in 1908. He was responsible for solving the city’s flooding issues and beautifying the urban areas with greenbelts. Today, the Kessler Park neighborhood is one of the most beautiful in the city, a designated historic district that includes well-maintained examples of Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.
The Dallas Mavericks wouldn’t be the same without German phenom Dirk Nowitzki. The beloved basketball player hung up his jersey in 2019, but his legend will live on for decades.
John, Neely or Bryan
Put these names together, and you get John Neely Bryan. A farmer, tradesman and lawyer, he set up a settlement in the area that was to become the city of Dallas in 1841.
Pay homage to the main water source and the vast urban forest that runs through the city.
Honor one of America’s greatest musicians and Dallas native, Stevie Ray Vaughan. He began playing guitar at age seven, and he was performing around the city by age 12. He went on to record several smash-hit albums and tour with legendary performers and musicians such as Robert Plant, Eric Clapton and more. Tragically, the age of 35, after a concert in Wisconsin, his helicopter crashed, killing Vaughan and four others on board.
Feature image: Gabriel Tovar via Unsplash