While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Lisa C. Maxwell
George E. Kessler
Photograph, Portrait of George E. Kessler. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Plan for Overton Park in Memphis
Illustration, George Kessler's plan for Overton Park in Memphis, Tennessee. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Grave of George E. Kessler
Photograph, Grave of George E. Kessler in St. Louis. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

KESSLER, GEORGE E. (ca. 1862–1923). George E. Kessler, pioneer city planner and landscape architect, was born in Frankenhausen, Germany, in 1862 and in 1865 was taken to Dallas, Texas, by his widowed mother, who taught French and art to support them. Later he worked as a cashboy at Sanger Harris Dry Goods. He moved to Europe and studied civic design in Germany, France, and Russia. By 1882 he moved to Kansas City and designed a railroad-owned amusement park. In 1893 he drew up a plan for the development of the city's park-boulevard system. He designed and landscaped the St. Louis World's Fair grounds in 1904. The same year he redesigned the grounds of Fair Park in Dallas, but his biggest contribution in Dallas, the "famous" Kessler Plan, came five years later. In 1909 the Chamber of Commerce established the City Plan and Improvement League and hired Kessler to draft a design for a long-range plan of civic improvements. Kessler drew up his plan to solve many of the city's problems, including the uncontrollable flooding of the Trinity River, the dangerous railroad crossings, and narrow, crooked downtown streets. The plan was not implemented at the time because it was not believed to be practical, but it became increasingly clear that changes were needed. Kessler returned in 1918 to act as consulting engineer for the Dallas Property Owners' Association and in 1919 began working for the Metropolitan Development Association of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. He remained in Dallas until January 3, 1922, when he returned to St. Louis. The Trinity River was improved and the levee system was completed in the 1930s. In addition to a plan for Dallas, Kessler drafted city plans for Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Cleveland, El Paso, Denver, and Syracuse. He designed Camp Wilson, the national army cantonment near San Antonio. On March 20, 1923, he died in Indianapolis, Indiana, survived by his wife and son.


Dallas Morning News, March 20, 1923. Darwin Payne, Dallas: An Illustrated History (Woodland Hills, California: Windsor, 1982). William H. Wilson, "Adapting to Growth: Dallas, Texas, and the Kessler Plan, 1908–1933," Arizona and the West 25 (Autumn 1983).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Lisa C. Maxwell, "KESSLER, GEORGE E.," accessed July 06, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fke44.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 20, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...