EXCERPT from a New York Times Article that I was quoted in about the evolution of Dallas as a city. Link to the full article is at the bottom if you’re interested to read the rest!
Dallas: Klyde Warren Park
“Inhale. Now, Warrior One. Just … breathe.” A little after 10 on a Saturday morning, some 50 Lycra-clad individuals and their yoga mats lay stretched across a grassy knoll in downtown Dallas. Directly behind them loomed the silver-dark commercial skyline. A few yards away, dog adoption clinic volunteers spilled puppies out of their cages and onto the lawn, while, nearby, a dozen or so children scaled a molecularly shaped jungle gym. Competing with the Enya-esque soundtrack and the yoga instructor’s voice was the oceanic sound loop of Interstate traffic.
For much of the past half-century, the tourism gods have scowled upon Dallas, and the recent tragic cases of Ebola in the city have continued that trend. Even in good times, Dallas is a prisoner of its braying, big-haired caricature. And though frequent visitors know that the made-for-TV antics of J. R. Ewing hardly captured the city in full, it has certainly never pretended to be Austin. I pointed this out to the yoga instructor, Lauren Margolies, once her class was done. Nodding, she replied, “People in Dallas are looking for a way to connect to the outdoors, and that’s something that’s been lacking here. And so to have all these people on the grass doing this ancient ritual beneath the downtown skyscrapers is such an interesting juxtaposition. Dallas needed this.”
Apparently. Since Klyde Warren Park opened in October 2012 — the fruit of a $110 million public-private partnership constructed on top of a former epic eyesore, the overpass of the eight-lane Woodall Rodgers Freeway, as a green corridor linking the city’s uptown and arts districts — it has quickly become one of the biggest draws in Dallas and, in the process, an eco-friendly shredder of stereotypes. Here you see the professionally harried and the wayward stretched out on the grass or idled in folding chairs playing chess. You see food trucks. You see shelves of free books. You see a sign forbidding “commercial activity” — drive a stake through J. R.’s wizened heart, why don’tcha! And all of this splayed on a mere five acres, which in size-obsessed Texas surely sets a record for architectural restraint.
Of course, because it remains awfully hard to be humble in Dallas, the park’s blue-ribbon donors are honored with plaques designating the Moody and Hart Plazas, the Muse Family Performance Pavilion and the Ginsburg Family Great Lawn. (The park itself is named after the son of the local energy billionaire Kelcy Warren, a donor.) Still, even on busy weekends the park’s ethos is peaceable, a somnolent connective tissue between the city’s dignified cultural institutions (chief among them, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Meyerson Symphony Center) and the rollicking uptown restaurant scene (epitomized by Stampede 66 and Fearing’s). And, as Ms. Margolies, the yoga instructor, suggested, the tableau of an unself-consciously mixed citizenry languishing beneath the shadows of the Hunt Oil and Bain & Company buildings is not simply counterintuitive to Dallas stereotypes; it’s a reminder that beneath the bravado is a city that has shed more than a few demons and frankly deserves a break.
LINK TO FULL ARTICLE: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/16/travel/in-houston-dallas-and-el-paso-texas-three-ways.html