Spring 2022 marks the 10th anniversary of Civic Garden’s presence as a Downtown Dallas respite, and is a reminder of the progress that has been made in growing green spaces throughout the urban core over the last decade.
Created to honor Dallas journalists, Civic Garden was one of the first downtown parks, marking the push for Parks for Downtown Dallas, and the many parks that followed. Prior to its creation, the site was a drab and dreary parking lot, identified as a potential park site in the Dallas Park & Recreation Department’s 2004 Downtown Parks Master Plan. This plan was developed to recognize and prioritize a network of green spaces in the downtown area to create a more beautiful, pedestrian friendly environment. Ground was officially broken on April 14, 2011, with the dedication ceremony following on May 10, 2012.
Civic Garden draws inspiration from the Texas prairie, featuring waves of native and ornamental grasses and flowers. More than 100 trees and 10,000 botanical plantings adorn the 1.7-acre park, in the heart of which lies a visitor-favorite water feature. The interactive fountain captivates and delights park goers and provides relief from the Texas heat.
A Deep Dallas History
The park has changed with the times, but has remained tied to Dallas’ journalistic community. PfDD’s President and CEO Amy Meadows explained in a statement, “The donors’ purpose in paying for this park’s construction was two- fold: (1) to create a beautiful public space and encourage the implementation of the entire Downtown Parks Master Plan unanimously approved by the Park Board and City Council, and (2) to honor the women and men of The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV who have practiced distinguished journalism in Dallas beginning in 1885 when The News was established by G. B. Dealey on behalf of A. H. Belo.”
Originally named Belo Garden in accordance with this legacy, the park was renamed to Civic Garden following A. H. Belo Corporation’s decision in 2021 to change the Company’s name to DallasNews Corporation. Alfred Horatio Belo was a confederate officer, and current company chairman, president and CEO, Robert W. Decherd is keenly aware of the insensitivity therein. “While this new name aligns with the company’s specific purposes and adds another dimension to our brand strategy,” he explained, “the impetus is my conviction and my recommendation to the board that we must collectively support our readers, our employees and our fellow citizens by embracing the social justice movement underway in America.” The board voted unanimously in favor of the change.
Amy Meadows further detailed the park rename, explaining that “Since the park opened in May 2012, it has been a key location in holiday parade routes and gatherings to support a wide range of social causes.”
Looking Toward the Future
In the summer of 2020, the gardens were rejuvenated with the addition of 4,000 perennials and grasses, improved garden fencing, fountain enhancements, and pump room updates.
There is certainly a proud legacy to celebrate when considering Civic Garden’s 10-year anniversary. A true urban oasis which honors and reflects its community, Civic Garden was integral to the vision to build and expand neighborhood parks in Dallas’ Central Business District. A vision that continues to unfold with the realization of the four Priority Parks that Parks for Downtown Dallas is building with the City of Dallas
As one of the first parks implemented from the Downtown Parks Master Plan, Civic Garden opened eyes to the many benefits of urban green spaces. Dallas residents have continued to show strong support for these parks through municipal bond programs, making it possible for more to take root including Pacific Plaza, West End Square, Carpenter Park and the forthcoming Harwood Park.
Over the course of 10 years, Civic Garden has become central to its neighborhood, providing a reprieve and honoring the community it serves. Learn more about Civic Garden, the public spaces Parks for Downtown Dallas is creating, and how you can support your Downtown parks.