On a Barren Stretch of Arts District Street, the Sudden Creation of the Public Square
Jason Roberts has a few thoughts about how well yesterday's Arts District Better Block-ing went; there's a highlight below. But long story short: It wasn't just about the food trucks (ate from three, only one of which I'd visit again -- and then, just for the salted-melon snow cone) and the crêpe tent and the lemonade stand (almost worth it at $3 a cup), but about the complete reconfiguring of Flora Street between Pearl and Olive, which was rendered all but unrecognizable.
Normally a barren, uninviting slab, the strip was bustling -- due, in large part, to the myriad events taking place in that part of downtown on a lovely Sunday. The Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe had its own fest in full swing on a jam-packed Crockett, between Flora and Ross; and Art in October was wrapping with a full sked of events stretching from One Arts to the Dallas Museum of Arts. In between sat the Better Block, better not just because of the food trucks -- several of which had to delay opening because of blown breakers -- but the tables and couches set up along the shade-tree sidewalks and perched up and down Flora.
Wee ones played over-sized chess and the painted piano while their parents ate and chatted nearby; grown-ups celebrating early Adult Halloween paraded around in their Arts District-appropriate attire; while Arts District honcho Veletta Lill walked around whispering, in excited conspiratorial tones, "We're breaking the law. We're breaking the law!" To which Roberts adds this morning:
Final deductions our team made from undertaking this project was that Dallas stands to gain more than just enabling a culture that loves gourmet street food, but it shows the potential for a major boost to economic activity, increased street life, immediate re-use of large parking lot edges which creates historic-like sightlines, heightened perception of safety due to more "eyes on the street," and finally as a by-product, a competitive advantage over the tunnel food courts that have been the bane of city planning initiatives over the past decade. This simple solution could naturally spell the end of the tunnels that city planners have tried to close for years now. These, tied to smartly planned public squares could redefine Downtown Dallas into something that would truly be "World Class."
A few more photos follow.