Last night at the Dallas Center for Architecture, I moderated a panel that discussed the relationship between Fair Park and South Dallas, and how Fair Park’s design and use impact the surrounding neighborhoods. The panel members included Rev. Gerald Britt, Robert Foster, Patrick Kennedy, Hank Lawson, and Vicki Meek, and the conversation brought a number of issues to light regarding the history and use of the park and the ongoing difficulties that face redevelopment there. I wanted to pull out a few takeaways, as well as put forth a few ideas to keep the conversation going. If you’re interested in your city, jump:
I hope you can join me tonight at the Dallas Center For Architecture for a panel discussion I will be moderating called: “The Elephant in South Dallas’ Living Room:Â What Do We Do With Fair Park?” The departure point of the discussion is, in part, this article that was written by Patrick Kennedy back in June. In it he argues that some of theÂ architecturalÂ features of the park — not the art deco buildings, but rather the copious parking lots — may contribute to the prolonged lack of investment in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Just a month later, after a police officer shot a young man in a neighborhoodÂ located just behind Fair Park, we were shown just how tense the neighborhood situation is as angry neighbors took to the streets. We now know that theÂ individuals involved in the specific incident that led to the shooting were engaged in criminalÂ activity, but the response of their neighbors nonetheless stood as a display of the prolonged feeling of anxiety and frustration in the communities around Fair Park, Â as well as a demonstrated lack of trust in the city and police.
We hope you can come and join our conversation which will explore how the design of the park impacts the surrounding neighborhoods and what can be done — and what has already been planned — to realize Fair Park’s best form and utilization.Â It all begins at 6:30 p.m., and it will take place at the Dallas Center For Architecture, 1909 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Ste. 100. Â We will begin with a short presentation by bcWorkshop with some background information on the park, followed by a conversation between our panelists. For information on our five panelists, jump.
True story: I’m working my way through the acclaimed HBO series The Wire, and I’m most of the way through the third season. If you’ve seen the show, you know that’s there absolutely no way not to come away from each episode with one overriding question in your mind: Why the hell does anybody live in Baltimore?
Yesterday I put this very question to a member of the People Newspapers staff who used to live in Baltimore, award-winning reporter Bradford Pearson. He mentioned something about being able to afford living cheap in some sort of haunted mansion, and that there aren’t drug dealers on every corner, just most corners. I remained unconvinced.
But lo and behold, Bloomberg Businessweek has come out with a list of the best American cities to live in, and Baltimore is No. 29 of the 50 that are ranked. This is not, in itself, remarkable, except that our own fair city, Dallas, comes in at just No. 41. Among the other municipalities outdoing us are Lincoln, Nebraska, and Tulsa, Oklahoma? Truly?
Businessweek’s write-up on Baltimore mentions that it’s got a high unemployment rate (11.1 percent) and the fourth-worst crime rate on the list. And yet they’d still rather live there than here? Â I won’t bore you with what they wrote about Dallas, since it’s nothing that you haven’t read many times before (big stuff, glitz, fried foods, bull riding). How can they get away with judging us based on some silly TV show that wasn’t even on HBO?
Perhaps contributing to our underwhelming placement is the photo they chose to run, which seems to have been takenÂ mid-winter in some nondescript corner of downtown.
If you were downtown on Friday, chances are you ran into the PARK(ing) Day festivities. More than 40 organizations took over 57 spots.Â There was yoga, a dog run, an ice cream stage, a parklet, and our mid-century modern lounge, among many other parks. We had a great time giving away books (yes, the books were free, a concept many people had a hard time believing), getting donations for DISD students to get a copy of Fahrenheit 451 for The Big Read Dallas, and signing people up for library cards. We had some repeat customers from last year, and some new people. If you stopped by our booth, thanks!
Of course, at the end of the day, winners were announced. And, as usual, the winners were the UTA students.
I was looking around to see what pictures/info was posted on PARK(ing) Day Dallas and came across the SkyscraperPage Forum, a site that has been around since 1999. The forum has apparently “been one of the most active skyscraper enthusiast communities on the web.” Not sure how I got to it, but I was intrigued by the entries. Someone posted a couple photos from PARK(ing) Day in Washington, D.C., there were a couple photos from Jacksonville, and then a whole slew of photos from Dallas. That’s where the comments get interesting. “Wow, Dallas went hardcore,” says one. “Of course, given its history of parking lots, it has a lot of demons to exorcise,” says another. And then, “As an insider/outsider, having been gone 20 years, I can say in a few unprofessional words, inner Dallas is *kinda* not f**king around anymore. Good. I’ve been here 180 days. It’s obvious good things are about. I’m pleasantly surprised.”
(Jump for photos and thoughts.)
The Praetorian Building, Dallas’ first skyscraper and a sad building that’s been through many years of neglect, is being slowly torn down piece by piece. This process affects Stone Street Gardens, so the construction crew built a sidewalk shed over the alley to protect people eating outside. It’s a simple structure, just wood, maybe some stain, that’s about it. But the other day, I walked by and saw someone had come along and painted these vibrant pinks and purples on the wall. I was intrigued, but there was no one around to ask about it.
Today, I finally met the man behind the work: Lee Baker. Baker is an artist who will be showing work at the Goss-Michael Foundation’s exhibition RE:DEFINE. The Joule is a sponsor of the exhibition, thus Baker is painting the wall constructed by the group that’s working on the Praetorian.
I asked him what he’s going for with this wall. He said the background colors replicate a sunset and when it’s finished, it will be a cityscape. He said I’d understand more if I went to his website. (You will, too.) He’ll be finished by the 21st, which just so happens to be PARK(ing) Day. So come out to Main Street next Friday, take a look at Baker’s finished work, and check out all the parks. D Magazine‘s spot will be at 1517 Main with a gorgeous mid-century modern book store (with free books, library cards, and a chance to help out DISD students) that will be made possible by the generosity of IKEA and the talented Joslyn Taylor.
New Dallas Police Unit Seeks To Curb Prostitution: The Dallas Police Department has devoted more resources than most city departments to combating child trafficking and prostitution, according to this Austin-American Statesman article, with a specialized unit trolling the internet trying to find prostitution ads with pictures of underage girls. It’s a time consuming process, but in June, a four-day sting led to more than 40 arrests.
Woman Killed For Having HIV: Cicely Bolden didn’t tell Larry Dunn that she was HIV positive before they had sex. When he found out, he stabbed her to death. “She killed me, so I killed,” Dunn reportedly told the police, demonstrating his obvious command of the science behind HIV transmission and treatment.
City’s First Non-shared Bike Lane Opens in Oak Cliff: It’s just a block long, sitting outside Rosemont Elementary school, but the new bike lane is being touted by bike advocates as a major step in implementing the city’s bike program. Unless you are one of those bike advocates who hates designated bike lanes.
Two folks who work at City Hall, Patrick McDonnell and Amanda Popken, are trying to create shade in the plaza in front of the building made famous by Robocop. They’ve got a Kickstarter going. With 12 days remaining, they’ve only raised $320 of their $5,000 goal. Give it a look.
I’m sure you remember last year’s PARK(ing) Day. It was the one day of the year that many metered spots downtown were transformed into park-type spaces. Well, it’s happening again this year, on September 21 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. We’ll be out there. The Park and Rec department will be there (they did a great “trail” last year), and so will bcWORKSHOP, Which Wich, El Centro, Downtown Paws, and the Nasher, among many others. And, of course, the UT Arlington School of Architecture will be there. I’m not even going to try to compete with them. I’m sure they’ve been working on their design since their win last year.
Though there’s a great lineup of people and organizations participating, there is room for more. The organizers want to make this bigger and better than last year’s inaugural Dallas PARK(ing) Day. So go register. You have until tomorrow. (And if you don’t think you can get something together in two weeks, let’s chat. I’m telling you it can be done.)
On my walk into work this morning, I noticed that all the parking meters along Ross in front of the DMA have been removed. In their place, I found this playful parking station, which accepts bills and credit cards. To me, the kiosk looks like it is wearing a winking face, where the “take receipt” slot is a nose, and the yellow coin slot is the closed eye. That “coin return” slot? Looks to me like a Cindy Crawford-style upper-lip mole.
One potential beef with this new system: you’re supposed to park, take note of your numbered spot, then punch that number in when you pay. But the numbers I found on the curb this morning, like the numeral 3, pictured, were stickers. I hope that’s not the final design, because those will quickly go missing, and folks will be confused about which spot they should pay for. This is the can-do city of Dallas. Surely a better solution is in the works, and those decals are just temporary.
UNT is battling the epic heat with a new Emery Thompson batch freezer capable of producing 44 quarts of delicious ice cream in just over ten minutes.
The university decided to invest in the largest batch freezer available commercially last year in an effort to provide quality, all-natural frozen treats to students and the UNT community as a whole. This fall will be the first full semester that dining services will exclusively offer the UNT-made ice cream during dinner and late-night services at Kerr Hall, the university’s largest dining hall. Prepackaged containers of the ice cream currently are being offered as “Scrappy’s Ice Cream” in the University Union. The old standbys of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are always offered, but dining also is offering a specialty flavor in the dining hall each night. So far, specialty flavors have included chocolate covered avocado, pineapple cilantro, candied ginger and apple pie ice cream.
Dining says that as far as they can tell, UNT is the first university in Texas to move to in-house ice cream.
Who said Denton ever lost its funk? Â And did UNT just take the lead in the race to become Dallas-Fort Worth’s first great university?
Why is it that, even when paying Dallas a compliment (as with Foreign Policy ranking the city as the 23rd most dynamic in the world, expected to be among the most important places on the globe in 2025), magazines can’t resist falling back on the old-standbys:
The capital of big hair and big oil, sports-crazed Dallas holds the distinction of being the only U.S. city to have hosted the World Series, the NBA finals, and the Super Bowl in the same year. Jerry Jones, the megalomaniacal owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has left an indelible mark on the city, constructing a $1.15 billion stadium for America’s Team that serves as a landmark to American bigness. The site of the first Neiman Marcus department store, Dallas has also proved itself to be an economic dynamo, cradling a booming energy industry and a slew of tech companies that led the city to be known during the 1980s as the “Silicon Prairie.” Still, to many people around the world, Dallas may be best known for the schmaltzy 1980s soap opera — in addition to the unimaginative 2012 remake — that unfathomably became a global hit at the height of the Cold War.
To add insult to injury, Dallas finished one spot behind Houston. Shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose, since Houston is the coolest city in the U.S. Otherwise, Dallas is the fourth American city on the list, trailing only Houston, New York, and Los Angeles.
Read the whole ranking , and you may find yourself feeling a need to learn to speak Chinese.
Orange Line Opens: While I know we’re all excited we can now take DART out to the beautiful canals at Las Colinas and take a tour of the city’s defunct monorail, WFAA asks the real question regarding the opening of the first leg of DART’s Orange Line: When will we be able to ride it to DFW Airport?
Burglars Steal Gear From Dino Dig: Yes, it is really terrible that some crooks nabbed about $1,000 worth of gear from the site of an Arlington fossil dig. But I can’t get over the fact that researchers may have found a new species of Protohdros and a new species of Theropod in north Arlington.
Sports Bits: Granbury Native Wins Gold, Sets World Record; Cowboys Start Training Camp: Eight years after medaling at the Olympics as a teenager and four years after almost quitting the sport, Granbury’s Dana Vollmer took home a gold medal in the 100 meter butterfly Sunday after setting a world record in the final and becoming the first woman to swim the race in under 56 seconds. Speaking of closing windows of opportunity, there’s a sense of urgency at Cowboys camp, which kicks off in Oxnard today.
It’s been a banner week for Dallas. Â First we learned that our city is the greatest in the world, by far. Now those cutting-edge hipsters at Forbes magazine have declared it the fourth-coolest city in the United States. They claim to have factored in entertainment, arts, and dining options. Plus diversity, unemployment rate, and the numbers of young adults and net migration in the last year.
But they also ranked Houston as the coolest city in America. So, yes, I just wasted your time with this post.
I read on Mashable today about some folks who look at the relationship between trees and money. They’ve found that Google Maps can reveal definitive lines of income inequality. Says Mashable:
Tim De Chant discovered this phenomenon last month. De Chant is a journalist and ecologist who writes about population density and urbanization on his blog, Per Square Mile. He came across a March 2008 study that showed a correlation between tree density and income in urban areas. According to the authors of the study, who surveyed 210 U.S. cities with populations greater than 100,000 people, when the population’s average income increases in a given area, the demand for trees also increases. Therefore, wealthier neighborhoods often have denser tree cover than poorer areas, making the tree a luxurious commodity.
The Mashable story shows screen grabs from Google wherein you can clearly see poor and wealthy neighborhoods in various cities, just by the tree canopy. So I figured I’d have a look at three Dallas neighborhoods from space. Have a look at the tree coverage of Highland Park, West Plano, and South Dallas:
Dallas is a great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit here. I don’t blame tourists for not flocking to our sights. I don’t blame those who do find themselves here with time to spare for trekking to Southfork Ranch or JerryWorld or spending more time in the Fort Worth Stockyards than in downtown Dallas. Because, besides Dealey Plaza’s infamous history, what have we got to boast of that they can’t see more impressive versions of in any number of other cities?
When a fellow gets only a couple weeks paid time off a year (and he’s not a JFK nut), are you honestly going to urge him to spend those days here? I mean, really? (Assuming your name’s not Phillip Jones)
And that lack of cachet with the tourists must have some effect on our ability to attract corporate leaders to want to live here, and thus to want to move their companies here, bringing jobs. That was a big reason local leaders cited for why hosting a great Super Bowl in 2011 could have had long-lasting impacts on our region. No corporation is going to move just because its CEO had a fun time at a football game, but one that’s considering a move may well give extra consideration to a place that feels as though it’s brimming with energy and is a great place to raise a family, with many cultural and entertainment offerings. (Best not to think of what impression visiting executives were left with following last year’s Super Bowl snow-and-ice storm.)
So, yes, I’m talking about Dallas’ quest to be a “world-class city,” or put another way, its attempts to re-imagine itself beyond its stereotypes. (more…)