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The Park Cities

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The town of Highland Park, founded in 1907, and the city of University Park, begun in 1915, are independent municipalities several miles north of downtown and now surrounded by Dallas. Connected to the business center by trolleys, Preston Road, and the parkway of Turtle Creek Boulevard, the Park Cities were developed as affluent neighborhoods and have remained prized addresses. The cities were each developed over a period of years.

Highland Park, developed by John Armstrong and sons-in-law Hugh Prather and Edgar Flippen on his 1,400-acre tract, is unusual for its control by a single family for over forty years. Armstrong acquired the land from the Philadelphia Place Land Association, which in 1889 began an exclusive housing estate along Turtle Creek. The creek was dammed, forming Exall Lake, a popular excursion destination. The curved streets, flowing east and west from the greenway of Turtle and Hackberry creeks, were laid out by planner Wilbur D. Cook of Beverly Hills. Deed restrictions, parklands, and a country club (the first in Texas) placed Highland Park at the forefront of residential development practices in America at the time. A promotional brochure proclaimed: “Highland Park: ‘The Suburb Beautiful,’ Where Suburban Life and City Luxuries are Delightfully Combined.”

By contrast, University Park was planned by dozens of developers with one hundred separate subdivisions. Smaller houses and multifamily units were included, but similar deed restrictions sought to attract a quality market.

The almost immediate effect of these enclaves was to pull development, both residential and commercial, to the north and northwest. The Park Cities have resisted Dallas’s annexation attempts over the years, the last in 1945, but increased pressure to replace older and, usually, smaller houses with new overscaled ones also threatens the character that makes the place desirable. Generations of Dallas’s leading architects have designed houses and public buildings in the Park Cities, of which only a few are represented here.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.

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