Today was supposed to mark the grand opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge -- today, October 14, 2011. Alas, wind, rain, ice and other long-ago weather issues pushed back the date till March 2, when, as we noted but two days ago, those with $200 in hand will be able to party on Santiago Calatrava's eye candy before a street fair that will give way to oncoming traffic.
And, as we mentioned Wednesday, to those opening-weekend festivities, add another batch of to-do's known collectively as Bridge-o-rama, the details of which were announced today at a converted warehouse gallery at 301 Singleton Boulevard, not far from the foot of the bridge.
"The river shall no longer be the dividing line in this city," said Randall White, vice chairman of the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce, before introducing a series of events that will include music, food from Smoke and Bolsa's owners ... and giant puppets. The bridge's opening is a huge deal for West Dallas, which is poised for a thorough round of revitalization. (If you need a primer, check out the cover story we published a few months ago.)
White told Unfair Park he views the bridge as a "long overdue civic tip of the hat to a part of the city that has been neglected for over a century."
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The neighborhood has received an additional artistic hat-tip from gallery Haley-Henman, which curated a series of rooms in 301 Singleton. The exhibit, Connections, walks viewers through the history of West Dallas, from its Native-American settlers through its development as a largely Mexican neighborhood to the future -- with a nod to Bonnie and Clyde. It's an honest but hopeful look at what has been and what will continue to be an evolving neighborhood. The exhibit was timed to the bridge's original opening date, but the artists kept to schedule while the bridge did not.
"What that bridge did," White said, "is it suddenly turned people's attention to a part of the city they had never looked at." Yes, people worry about change, he said, but the area is developing in a "thoughtful way" with community input and guidance from the CityDesign Studio, which created in-depth land use guidelines for the area. Bridge-o-Rama is a party for the bridge as much as a coming-of-age festival for West Dallas. Or, as White said at the end of his press conference, "The West is yet to come."
Here's a teaser, condensed from the press conference and release, of the eight "signature experiences" of Bridge-o-Rama, which is not to be confused with the Trinity Trust's bold-faced shindig. The event's website with more information went live this afternoon.
1. World Music Stage: A late-night concert co-sponsored by the Kessler Theater and event planning orginization, Eventbrite. The venue and artists are still under consideration. 2. Spread: Several pop-up restaurants will debut across West Dallas, some of which will serve as incubators for restaurant concepts that are planned for upcoming mixed used development, Sylvan Thirty. Plans for the upcoming development include a "custom cut butcher, artisan baker, boutique wine shop ... and a handful of chef-driven restaurants," White said. 3. Parade of Giants: Local students will work with members of the La Reunion artist colony to create giant puppets of famous West Dallasites (expect Bonnie and Clyde). They'll march down Singleton Boulevard, across the bridge, and back. 4. Urban Emergence: This 90-minute seminar will explore long-overlooked neighborhoods from around the world. 5. Come Home: Every church in West Dallas will host a homecoming service with a sermon based around "reconciliation." 6. El Cemento: This exhibit of photos and artifacts will pay tribute to the Mexican-Americans who worked in the Southern Star Concrete Plant plant at the foot of the bridge, and will take place in that very location. 7. Tejas Village: This will be a replica of an Native-American village with tepees, performances and crafts to pay tribute to the American Indians who originally settled the area. 8. March West: Businesses will offer discounts to people who attend Bridge-o-rama throughout the month of March.