a field of flowers with a city in the background

To the city and people of Dallas,

Dallas, at its core, has always been a city of opportunity.  When John Neely Bryan first surveyed the area in the late 1830s, he saw an opportunity to create a trading post where the Trinity River floodplain met the planned Preston Trail (from which Preston Road in Dallas takes its name today).  What Bryan surveyed in 1839 became a town in 1856 (the namesake of Dallas is still a subject of controversy).  Cross-country railroad intersections continued bringing prosperity through the trading centers of north central Texas.  By 1871, Dallas became a city.

Dallas became my city in May 2005, when I was fresh out of Texas A&M University and ready to begin my career.  I was full of ambition and vigor, ready to make the most of my opportunities in my new city.  I followed in the footsteps of my late father and became a salesman.  Sales is a career about people, and, from the beginning of my career, I always cherished the chance to learn about the people of Dallas, the myriad backgrounds from which they came, and the innumerable permutations of success they achieved.

a bridge with a large arch and a city skyline

Dallas, historically, was a classic boom-and-bust city, like many west of the Mississippi.  In the late 1800s, commodities were the main export.  Dallas’s status as a railroad hub made it seemingly invincible since the success or failure of a farmer depended on the advantageous shipping costs they could achieve from Dallas.  Fueled by this growth, Dallas grew to be the most populous city in Texas by 1890.  In 1893, Dallas went bust.  The national financial panic sent commodity prices plummeting, causing people to leave the once-thriving city in search of better fortunes.

So too it went with me.  I enjoyed my job as a salesman, but it didn’t work out, and I went bust.  The company I worked for was not to blame, as I still do business with them and count my early managers back then as some of my closest mentors today.  I considered leaving Dallas to continue my career, unsure of the industry where I would land.

Science World skyline at night with lights reflecting on water

Dallas bounced back.  The turn of the century brought public investment in healthcare, the annexation of nearby towns, and the people came back (and then some).  Dallas evolved from an agricultural center into a banking and insurance hub, while brands like Neiman Marcus and Sanger Brothers brought the attention of the retail fashion industry to the emerging city.  The Praetorian Building, built in 1909 at Main Street and Stone Street, became the first skyscraper in Texas (and the southwestern United States, for that matter), laying a foundation for what today is one of the most recognizable skylines in the world.

Editor’s note: it’s important to acknowledge that not all persons had the opportunity to share in the economic success of this time.  Jim Crow laws, poll taxes, and the lynching of Allen Brooks are one of many racist marks on the history of Dallas, like many other similar events which took place in the American South.  Dallas must continue to explore its role in reconciliation and ensuring all people have access to the great opportunities of this city.

Over the years, Dallas continued to boom and bust.  The East Texas oil boom was largely managed out of Dallas before the Great Depression hit.  During World War II Dallas became a manufacturing center and inventions like the integrated circuit by Texas Instruments brought Dallas into prominence as a technology center in the 1950s.  The 1960s brought shame as John F. Kennedy was assassinated while his motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.  The real estate boom of the 1970s and 1980s survived the departure of most of the oil industry to Houston, but the Savings and Loan crisis nearly destroyed the city’s economy.  But Dallas bounced back, its telecom industry leading the way and powering the city through the financial turmoil after the September 11 terrorist attacks and towards the global financial crisis of 2008, where Dallas’s fortunes and mine began to intertwine.

an aerial view of a city at night

After my sales career concluded in 2008, I searched for a few months before beginning a new career in the financial services industry.  A company gave me a chance and I began my new career on the day (literally minutes before) Lehman Brothers collapsed and the Global Financial Crisis commenced.  I did not fully comprehend what was happening at the time, but I began to learn about my new industry and my new customers, eventually traveling from Dallas to places like New York City, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, and Sydney to do business.  I grew in my career as I watched Dallas emerge and thrive after the financial crisis.  I watched my interests in travel, photography, and philanthropy grow while Dallas achieved public and private investment in the arts, hospitality, and unique public spaces.  As Dallas transformed from a boom-and-bust city into one of the world’s premier cities, I felt like I was beginning to leave my mark.

And it is now time to say goodbye to Dallas.  I am relocating to Sydney, Australia, to continue my career at my company’s offices there.  I look back at the last 18 years of living in this great city and I see countless victories to celebrate alongside a few losses endured.  I have made friendships with people who will someday be at my wedding and my funeral.  I have walked the streets, parks, and lakes of this amazing city and seen firsthand the diverse beauty we have here in north Texas.

a statue of a man in a city

a sunset over a lake

a street with cars and buildings in the background

a large christmas tree in a city

a bald eagle perched on a tree branch with the moon in the background

So, to the city of Dallas, never stop being ambitious.  Never stop pursuing every opportunity.  There is so much success to be had in this great city, whether it be personal, recreational, or professional.  Believe in the people of this city and their capacity to achieve great things together, like my friends at BvB Dallas.  Let us all celebrate what unites us instead of being distracted by how we are different.  There is beauty in all of it.

I leave you with one last picture, from the iconic Chapel of Thanksgiving in Thanks-Giving Square in the heart of downtown Dallas.  I hope this letter helped you reflect on how you came here and how you play a part in both the history and the future of this great city.

a spiral staircase with stained glass windows with Thanks-Giving Square in the background

I am thankful for my 18 years in Dallas and will bring the lessons I learned with me to Australia and beyond.  Thanks for taking an idealistic 22-year-old and refining him into who he is today.  Thanks for those who have cared about me, celebrated my wins alongside me, and have been there to care for me in tender moments.  I am not a perfect man, nor Dallas a perfect city, but we will forever share the same ambition and always be searching for that next great opportunity.


Yours forever,
Andy Luten

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