Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring, 2003 Page: 12
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While Kessler's plan for the elimination of
grade crossings proved too grand and expensive
an exercise for the city, the Park Board quickly
approved his suggestion for the terminal building.
The Union Terminal Company was chartered in
1912, and by 1916 the terminal and the required
track re-alignments to serve it were complete.7
In addition to the Union Terminal, Kessler's
plan called for the establishment of a park or plaza
across from the main entrance to the terminal
building. The park would serve multiple purposes,
but it was primarily intended as an attractive and
pleasing gateway to those arriving in Dallas.
Kessler felt it essential that travelers arriving in the
city be given a positive first impression. He also
suggested that, if the city established a park on the
site, it would prevent the "usual unsightly conditions
surrounding railroad stations in American
cities."1' A 1917 bond initiative established funding
for the Union Terminal Plaza, to be constructed
one block east of the Union Terminal.''
The development of Ferris Plaza was also a
practical exercise. The harsh summer climate in
Texas encouraged the development of public
spaces designed to provide relief from the heat.
Essentially, the plaza was designed to serve as an
outdoor extension of the terminal itself.
The coming of World War I brought park
development in the city to a standstill.The Union
Terminal Plaza project was the sole exception,
having been approved years before and with
funding already firmly established.3" Kessler prepared
the plans for the park, which included elaborate
brick paving, beautiful landscaping, and a
large central fountain, all still evident today. The
plan also called for the construction of decorative
pergolas along the north and south sides of the
park, but these elements were apparently never
built. Royal A. Ferris donated funding for the
construction of the park fountain and the plaza
was renamed in his honor."
Ferris Plaza indeed succeeded as a gateway to
rail passengers and as a beautiful park for the district
surrounding it. During the summer months
it served as a pleasant escape to waiting travelers.
During times of war, the plaza served as a gathering
place for transient solders.'
Ferris Plaza remains one of the city's more
attractive downtown parks. The integrity of the
original design is largely intact, making this one of
Dallas's more important historic landscapes. The
park was constructed as an oasis in the dense
urban landscape of the central business district. It
was intended not as a recreational area but as a
gateway to Dallas and an icon of the sophistication
of the city and its citizens.
Ferris Plaza isn't the city's only example of
this type of urban gateway. As rail travel gradually
gave way to the automobile, the city sought to
reinforce the gateway concept to those arriving
by car. Dealey Plaza, constructed as part of the
New Deal programs of the 193()s and 194( s, was
built as an extension of Kessler's original vision.
Garrett Park - Neighborhood social center
The establishment of CGarrett Park subtly
reflects many of the same broad influences evident
in other parks. However, the parks creation can
more simply be attributed to simple and practical
In 1914 the land that would become Garrett
Park was a large open space adjoining Saint Marys
College on the city's northeast side. It was already
informally established as a neighborhood park and,
as with Ferris Plaza, the property was utilized as an
outdoor extension of the college and Saint
Matthew's Episcopal Cathedral. The college was
established by Bishop Alexander Garrett in 1889
and, due primarily to his great influence, grew
to become a well-respected institution.
Unfortunately, by 1914 Garrett was declining in
health and support for the college began to wane."
The college was located on the northern edge
of the Munger Place neighborhood, and residents
in the area had been pressuring the Park Board for
the establishment of a park. tRecopgizing the
opportunity, and in an effort to bolster the diminishing
finances of the college, Bishop Garrett proposed
to sell the open space to the Park Board.The
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring, 2003, periodical, 2003; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35094/m1/14/: accessed November 30, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.