Oak Lawn is getting a bit more colorful. On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council signed off on a series of street improvements in the neighborhood that includes 10 rainbow crosswalks meant to celebrate Oak Lawn's history as a safe space for Dallas' LGBTQ community. The crosswalks will be installed and maintained by the city, but paid for with private funds.
Former council member Chris Luna, one of Dallas' first openly gay council members, told the City Council that donors have already contributed $70,000 toward the crosswalks' estimated $128,000 total cost. Luna said there's been support for the crosswalks for years, but similar projects in other cities as well as a desire to celebrate the history of LGBTQ activism gave the idea a needed push.
"This month we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that began the modern LGBT activism period," Luna said. "This will be a great anniversary present."
The ceremonial stripes will mark the intersections of Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue, Throckmorton Street, Reagan Street, Knight Street and Douglas Avenue.
While other cities, including Atlanta and Seattle, have had at least one rainbow crosswalk for years, Dallas will have the most of any city in the United States, according to West Dallas City Council member Omar Narvaez.
"We gotta do it big and we gotta do it better and badder in Dallas. We're gonna have 10," Narvaez said. "By having these rainbow crosswalks, we will be showing ... the whole world that we are a welcoming city."
In addition to the crosswalks, Oak Lawn will also be getting a rainbow-lit celebratory arch to mark the entrance to the neighborhood, pedestrian plazas at Oak Lawn and Douglas avenues and better sidewalks throughout the neighborhood. The non-crosswalk improvements are set to be paid for with almost $1.4 million from the city's 2012 bond package.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.