Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 27, Number 2, Fall 2015 Page: 6 of 67
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Attempts To Annex
the Park Cities
BY DREW WHATLEY
house divided against itself cannot stand,"
but it can apparently grow into one of the largest
metropolitan areas in the United States. Dallas-
Fort Worth has myriad divisions: counties and cit-
ies, east and west, cowboys and cosmopolitan. One
of the most unusual is the two tiny incorporated
communities set in the middle of the hustle and
bustle of Dallas. These small oases are aptly called
the Park Cities, and these twin sisters grew up in
the shadow of Dallas. The argument about their
independence soured relations between them and
the city of Dallas for decades.
Highland Park and University Park were both
founded with an eye toward eventual integration
with the city of Dallas. Highland Park was first,
with its initial design and development beginning
in 1906 and incorporation as a town in 1913. Uni-
versity Park grew along with Southern Methodist
University, which was founded in 1911, and it was
incorporated in 1924. Designed by Wilbur David
Cook, who also planned Beverly Hills, California,
Highland Park was promoted as a suburban town
for the businessmen of Dallas, while University
Park provided homes for SMU faculty and staff
as well as other middle-class families. It was widely
assumed that the Park Cities would eventually be
integrated into Dallas. A common misconception,
however, is that Highland Park asked Dallas for an-
nexation before it incorporated in 1913.1 The sto-
ry goes that Dallas didn't want to pay the costs to
connect Highland Park utilities and so it declined.
But a careful search through Dallas City Council
minutes and newspapers has failed to document
this tale, which must be dismissed as apocryphal.2
Even so, the developers of Highland Park expect-
ed eventual annexation, and former Dallas mayor
W.M. Holland went on the record in 1917 claim-
ing that it wasn't "a question of whether Highland
Park wants to add itself to the city ... it is a ques-
tion as to what method."3 That arrogance would
later be shown to have been unwarranted.
The first feelers by the city of Dallas regarding
annexation came a scant four years after the incor-
poration of Highland Park. In early 1917, a Cham-
ber of Commerce employee was charged with
investigating steps toward annexation and meet-
ing with Highland Park representatives towards
that goal.4 Many of these early merger proposals
4 LEGACIES Fall 2015
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Hazel, Michael V. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 27, Number 2, Fall 2015, periodical, Autumn 2015; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth712400/m1/6/: accessed July 12, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.