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Tower of Power: Fair Park Crawls Closer to Becoming Year-Round Destination

The Observation Tower Ride will fill this 30-foot hole behind the Cotton Bowl. Don't worry, they're covering it up for the State Fair.
The Observation Tower Ride will fill this 30-foot hole behind the Cotton Bowl. Don't worry, they're covering it up for the State Fair.
Photos by Leslie Minora

There is a big hole in Fair Park. Finally. Eventually the crater will be filled with a 500-foot pole surrounded by a doughnut-shaped slowly spinning glass chamber. This new rotating ride will give visitors a 360-degree view of Dallas and, so they say, rival the Texas Star. But you knew that: We've written about the plans before at least once or twice.

At yesterday's meeting of the Landmark Commission's Fair Park Task Force, the tower ride, previously approved in general terms, was presented by architect Jon Rollins in greater visual detail with landscaping and design features. With little questioning, the task force recommended the project particulars for Landmark's approval.

The design for the ride, financed by the State Fair of Texas, involves salmon-and-gray-colored concentric cement circles intended to compliment the color scheme of the rest of the park. A semi-circle fountain with "playful" spurts of water will cradle one side, and a minimalist contemporary gray fabric shade structure will cover the waiting area, which can accommodate 130 people in line for the ride.

Programmable LED lights could also figure into the design to illuminate the structure, like the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building ... not to blow this out of proportion. But like these two iconic structures, the tower ride, which seats about 100 people, will be used to view the surrounding sights. As Rollins said, "It's an observation ride as opposed to a thrill ride."

An illustration of what will someday fill the crater in Fair Park

If all goes according to plan, you can expect to sit yourself in the giant glass doughnut by no later than October 2012 -- in time for next year's state fair. Several months after that, in the summer of 2013, The Midway -- essentially a carnival on steroids or a mini theme park -- is set to finally open as a major part of Errol McKoy's plan to utilize Fair Park year-round-ish, first mentioned more than two years ago .

But that's not all: Friends of Fair Park is implementing a cell phone tour of the park, similar to the one available around Dealey Plaza.

The project will include four different tours: general, family, art/architecture and "quirky." As it stands, there are 67 points at which you can stand, dial a number and hear a little history and context about what's in front of you. At yesterday's meeting, the task force debated signage and what would be the most practical, clear and streamlined way to present the cell phone tour information.

Friends of Fair Park President Craig Holcomb tells Unfair Park that temporary signs are planned for soon after this year's fair. He says he'll send us a sampling from the audio tour as soon as the recordings are ready for prime time.

In the mean time, if you're looking for an excuse to visit the park, check out the Fourth of July offerings -- fireworks, as usual, in addition to free museum admissions and a concert by the Dallas Wind Symphony.


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