First, let us define our term: a landmark is a structure or natural feature that helps foster an unmistakable sense of place. You view the familiar sight and there’s no doubt of where you are and of what this place means to you. (Since Dallas is devoid of distinctive natural features,** here we’re talking about structures.)
Earlier this year, as part of our Best of Big D Readers’ Choice voting, we asked you to determine the best landmark in Dallas. Overwhelmingly, Reunion Tower came out on top. Our D Magazine print-productÂ editorial staff declined to weigh in with its own pick in our August issue, so I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.
Presenting the Best Dallas Landmarks:
1) Reunion Tower – Can’t disagree with our readers. Or I could, but I don’t want to. There’s still no building more widely associated with the city and its skyline. I give a lot of the credit to the opening title sequence of the original Dallas TV series, which featured this golf-ball-on-a-stick prominently and first took to the airwaves just as it was brand spanking new. Â No, it’s not the loveliest or most remarkable edifice in town, but its strong identification with the city makes it perhaps the most important. Â It’s a shame that almost five years after it was closed for renovation, the observation deck still hasn’t reopened to the public. (But yes, you can dine at Five Sixty.)
2) The Pegasus – I love that downtown Dallas has embraced the Pegasus (originally a symbol of an oil company) as the symbol of the CBD, displayed on signs throughout the neighborhood. I love the rebuilt sign atop the Magnolia Hotel building. It brings a mythic quality to a city that is, by the standards of history, still relatively young.
3) The Texas Star – When D Magazine hosted a little online contest in 2008 to determine the best thing in Dallas, the State of Fair of Texas came out on top. And this Ferris wheel is the greatest symbol of the fair that can be seen from afar. I only wish there really were a gruff-but-loveable boozehound police detective living in a trailer in its shadow.
4) The Mercantile – You know those dog breeds – like pugs – that are so ugly that they’re cute? That’s how I feel about the top of the Mercantile. It seems all out of proportion to the rest of the building, like those tiny hands on that Kristen Wiig Saturday Night Live character. Yet I cannot look away. Especially when it’s lit up colorfully at night.
5) The Giraffe at the Dallas Zoo – Should I have finished this list with a more historically significant site, like the Sixth Floor Museum building at Dealey Plaza? Â No, because it’s my list, and I’m calling the shots. I’m choosing the giraffe statue that stands at the road leading into the zoo, which is visible from nearby Interstate 35E because to me – even though I know this is not geographically true – it’s always felt like I was entering or exiting Dallas whenever I saw that figure on the side of the road while trekking down I-35. That makes it a true landmark. And I like the statue a lot, even though I’m not much a fan of zoos. Depressing places.
**I look forward to some of you disputing these assertions in the comments.