Texas is full of clichés. From “Everything’s bigger in…” to the familiar cowboy caricature, Texas is synonymous with a culture that characteristically ostentatious and southern.
Maybe more than any of the state’s other major destinations, Dallas carries the consequence of an epic television show of the same name – glamorizing the state’s many eccentricities through exaggeration and drama. It’s hard to imagine the city without excessive proportions and unabashed exclusivity – its design is overwhelmed by it.
And yet, in characteristic business savviness, Dallas has bucked tradition to demonstrate its ability to execute a capital idea: Klyde Warren Park is a green space constructed over an active freeway, connecting Dallas’ downtown arts district to its uptown business and residential area.
Currently managed by a private non-profit (The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation) and funded through public and private donations, including a $16.7 million stimulus allocated for transportation enhancement, the concept originally remained untouched after Mayor J. Erik Jonsson recessed the freeway in the 1960s. The space remained a neglected barricade between the city center and nearby residents until it received the focused financial support necessary.
In 2002, the real estate community revived the plan and pushed it to completion, drawing support from a variety of Dallas stakeholders. At its debut, Klyde Warren Park attracted considerable attention as one of the first accessible open spaces in the city. Various activities immediately populated the park’s schedule, thriving off its flexibility — including food trucks, open-air workouts, and concerts on Saturday nights. The nearby arts district, which boasts the largest area in the country, also benefited and became a relevant complement to a low-key evening in the area.
As the park celebrates its one-year anniversary this season, one could argue its threshold has already been met — hardly a minute passes when people are not populating the space. If success of a public space is measured by prestige, then Klyde Warren Park has achieved it. If measured by foot traffic, then it’s also undoubtedly surpassed any of the many isolated parks in the city. However, success in terms of its implications for and ability to sustain urban life remains to be seen. Klyde Warren Park may be a great addition to the downtown landscape and a major win in terms of walkability, but the city’s next steps will determine whether the park is truly the beginning of a new future for the area.
What do you think of this project and the process which led to its implementation? Does this change your perception of Dallas, Texas and cities like it?
Credits: Images by Christine Cepelak. Data linked to sources.