Photo courtesy of Kristina Bowman Photography
The Turtle Creek Corridor has been home to area residents for over 3,000 years. Discover the colorful history of our neighborhood and learn of the many organizations the Turtle Creek Association works with to guarantee a high quality of life for all who call Turtle Creek home.
|Relics discovered in archaeological surveys confirm that Turtle Creek has been called home for thousands of years. Dart points and chips of flint from the making of stone tools date back 3,000 years to 1,000 B.C. Much later we know Native Americans camped here and enjoyed the outcropping of trees and spring water source. It is believed the creek came to be known as Turtle Creek when Texas Rangers camped here when they were fleeing attacking Indians in 1837. They referred to the water as the "creek with all the turtles.”
Earliest records of land ownership date from 1845 when Texas was a Republic. A land grant consisting of a half-section of land (320 acres) was awarded to William Grigsby. A year later Grigsby sold the land at one dollar an acre to Calvin Cole. Dallas founder John Neely Bryan witnessed this transaction. Cole's son built a log home near the creek, but it was soon removed for fear of flooding.
A significant development in the history of the neighborhood was the purchase of twenty acres in 1903 by The Dallas Consolidated Electric Street Railway Company. With further backing of land developers Oliver P. Bowser and Captain William H. Lemmon, Oak Lawn Park was founded, now known as Lee Park. Just a five-cent streetcar ride from downtown, the developers hoped the park would attract weekend picnickers and prospective land buyers to Dallas' first northern suburbs.
In 1907 the Vincentian Fathers built Holy Trinity College on the west bank of Turtle Creek. Later named University of Dallas, the college was relocated and the building became home to Jesuit High School in 1942. Seventeen years later the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas sold the 21-acre tract to developers who built a 21-story apartment complex, office buildings and a shopping center. The face of Turtle Creek was changing, and the direction was up.
In 1915, the Dallas Park Board bought thirty-six acres from the estate of John Cole for $4,000 to establish Reverchon Park. A year later three bridges were built across Turtle Creek extending Maple, Fairmont and Bowen Streets west of the creek. In 1920 the baseball diamond was built in Reverchon Park, and in 1953 Willie Mays and the New York Giants faced pitching greats Bob Feller and Bob Lemon and the Cleveland Indians in exhibition play.
Two fine parks were in place along the creek, but it was the vision of Landscape Architect, George Kessler who defined the Turtle Creek corridor and set into motion what has become one of the nation's premier urban greenspaces and residential neighborhoods. Kessler's A City Plan for Dallas commission of the Park Board in 1911 defined the corridor as a proposed development which will enhance the present scenic value of Turtle Creek, and will become one of the most important links in the boulevard system...it will be the direct means of conserving the high class character of an important residential section and of furnishing it with a direct and convenient thoroughfare to the heart of the city.
Click here to view Kessler's A City Plan for Dallas from 1911.In 1957, noted architect Howard Meyer designed the first high-rise apartment building at 3525 Turtle Creek Blvd. A jet age of modern luxury apartment living came to Turtle Creek attracting such notables as Greer Garson, Jimmy Dean, Clint Murchison, Sr. and Minnie Marcus. One by one the grand old homes on the banks of the creek made way for more luxury high-rises. In 1959 the Kalita Humphreys Theater was built on the east bank of Turtle Creek. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the innovative theater remained home to the Dallas Theater Center for over 50 years and stands as the only purpose-built theater by Wright.
Today the Turtle Creek corridor is nicknamed Dallas' Front Yard and remains a showplace for the City. Neighborhood organizations monitor new development for aesthetic design, density, height restrictions and setbacks as construction cranes dot the skyline. The Katy Trail is a model for the rails-to-trails concept of urban recreation. The Perot Family is building their corporate campus on the banks of Turtle Creek with an initiative to preserve its natural beauty. We feel that William Grigsby, George Kessler and the City fathers would be proud of their beloved Turtle Creek today.
Lee Park & Arlington Hall Conservancy
Friends of Reverchon Park
Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
Rails to Trails Conservancy
Courtesy of the Friends of the Katy Trail
We are very honored that the The Turtle Creek Parkway is a featured landscape on The Cultural Landscape Foundation's (TCLF) website.
TCLF is the only not-for-profit (501c3) foundation in America dedicated to increasing the public's awareness and understanding of the importance and irreplaceable legacy of its cultural landscapes. Click here to read the entry.
On Tuesday, November 12, 2013, Isaac Cohen spoke as part of bcWORKSHOP’s Winter Shopfront Series. Isaac’s lecture was on the Turtle Creek Corridor, and how the layering of use, management, and development has created an urban landscape that provides highly variable and often unexpected experiences.