Even in the midst of a big city, you can find wonderful places that remind you that concrete, glass, and steel aren’t all there is to the human condition. In my own experience, possibly the best example is Central Park in New York, which is a surprisingly organic place to find in the heart of such a metropolis. I just wish I’d had a chance to see more of that city and park personally while I was stuck up there in the Northeast back in the last decade.
Now, the Metroplex has its fair share of greenspaces. In fact, the number of parks is surprisingly high, especially out in the smaller cities along the edges, like Garland and Plano, Benbrook and Haltom City, where the urban starts giving way to the rural. Not really knowing Fort Worth all that well, I can’t speak for that particular big city; but even down in the center of Dallas, you get surprises like Old City Park and Heritage Village, and of course the Dallas Farmer’s Market is a pure delight (at least those parts of it that really are dedicated to farm products). But I think that the closest we can manage to Central Park, at least for right now, is the existing Trinity Greenbelt. This strip of undeveloped land on the banks of the main channel of the Trinity River basically runs along the western edge of downtown Dallas. While it’s a bit of a stretch to call it “the lungs of Dallas,” it does provide the city with some much-needed fresh air, wild space, and relief from the unrelieved cityscape that plagues the area.
The Greenbelt is a little unkempt, of course; I don’t think it’s really meant as a park, though there are parks in it, and in many ways it functions as such. And it goes without saying that it’s messy as hell, because there are always people willing to take advantage of places like this and trash them. But it’s something interesting to find in the middle of a city like Dallas, and it even supports wildlife. With the exception of the occasionally mowing, apparently, the city has left the place alone to develop as it will since the last time they did flood control work on the levees that keep Dallas from being regularly inundated by the river.
Looking at these photos, I find myself wishing we were experiencing the obviously gray, cool weather we were experiencing when I took them. This was back in April, as I was chasing down the graves of Bonny and Clyde. I passed over the Greenbelt a couple of times on that quest, and was reminded of it, and thought that it might make a good entry some day; and so it has, even as we fry under the heat of this August sun. I remember this day, just four months ago, as bracingly cold and windy. What a difference between that and the 107 degree weather we’ve had this week.
These shots were taken from Trammel Crow Park, just off Sylvan Avenue, one of the numerous roads that crosses the Greenbelt. At this particular location, you get a pretty nice view of the downtown skyline.
The river itself was in flood stage during this photo shoot, as it had been raining quite a bit right about then; so much so that it was interfering with my photographic efforts here and elsewhere. Again, the rain is very much missed! It seems this hot, dry summer has undone some of the healing last year’s heavier rains did, and is causing worries that the years-long drought is, in fact, not over yet. I know for certain the lakes around here are down; Lavon is down so far, in fact, that fish are dying in droves behind the dam — as I found yesterday when I visited the place. I suspect the dissolved oxygen levels are just too low, which really sucks.
But back to the Greenbelt. There’s a nice boat ramp there, where you can slip out onto the river for a quick ride to your favorite fishing spot. Not that anyone was doing do on this particular day; that would have been tantamount to suicide, really. Here’s what the river was looking like, as it flowed under the Sylvan Avenue bridge.
Not a lot of clearance there, as you might notice. Be that as it may, there was a gentleman willing to face the elements and the river in order to get in a little fishing. He took advantage of the unused boat dock to do so.
Until they get the Trinity River Corridor Project off the ground (and that’s a whole other long story), the Greenbelt is about the closest we’re going to get to a Central Park-style greenspace in Dallas. I’m not complaining; it’s better than nothing when you want to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors. If you’re in Dallas and visit the Farmer’s Market, in fact, it’s a great place to go and picnic on what you’ve bought. So come on down, folks!