Rare Sight in Downtown: Pedestrians (Underserved Pedestrians)

photo by Dillon Diers

On Saturday and Sunday, there were traffic jams in the Arts District, and for once they weren’t caused by cars. They were the result of hundreds of people flowing from Klyde Warren Park and wandering across streets with the leisurely attitude park-goers have. These hundreds of people had no place to sit and settle, to imbibe an adult beverage, enjoy brunch, or just people-watch over a cup of coffee.

That’s because the Arts District seems doctrinally opposed to restaurants, even though every venue was losing money by not providing space outside to serve alcohol, cappuccinos, and food. Contrast that to Buenos Aires, a city that understands human beings. Across from almost every park in that robust, people-friendly city, space has been reserved for restaurants — as many as seven or eight lined up together with large umbrellas sheltering diners from heat and rain. In Dallas, if there is any restaurant at all, it is commissioned to one provider, just as Klyde Warren has done with its soon-to-be-finished place. In Buenos Aires, the attitude is to let a hundred umbrellas bloom — Italian, French, Argentine, pizzerias, sushi, anything your heart desires. Why do we insist on one brand, one style, one menu? Let the park’s restaurant be only one of many scattered around the Arts District so that wanderers have a place to wander to.

Oh, beloved Arts District people, how many times do I have to say it: alcohol and coffee are your friends. Embrace them. Use food and drink as welcoming arms to invite people to your mini-fortresses of Art. Klyde Warren Park has given you the gift of people. Open up your gates to them!


  • Daniel

    In terms of the built environment, too — and urban design in general — Dallas tends to the monolithic. Vibrant cities have innumerable 25- or 30-foot wide, four- or five-story buildings in their urban cores. These were built with the scale of humans in mind. In Dallas, they’re busy as we speak tearing down what structures of this ilk remain, in favor of gargantuan, impressive structures that alienate pedestrians. (e.g., One Arts Plaza, the entire ill-fated Victory development.)

    This town’s gotten much better at urban design in the past 15 years, but we still have a long way to go.

  • Jason Boso

    I had a meeting with the Klyde Warren council and proposed 4 restaurant kiosks like the Original Shake Shack in New York. I had 4 of the best chefs in town on board. The consultant the council hired liked the idea, the rest of the old money fancy shoes council just wanted a upscale restaurant to sip champagne and meet there other rich friends for tea. They are simply out of touch with the public.

  • Jay Pritchard

    Went to the Park Saturday at 4pm. Every food truck was completely sold out of water and soft drinks. It was really amazing to see the park jam packed full of people and people going from one truck to the next and next and hear the vendors say “Sorry we don’t have any drinks left.”

  • MilkmanDan

    I’m a little confused about your point, Wick, and this piece doesn’t really tell much of the whole story. I was there on Saturday in the crowd and had a great time. The 6-7 food trucks parked on the S side had steady business from 11 AM on. I waited in one line for 15-20 minutes. Another 5 trucks would have been busy also. We immediately found a place to sit for lunch, a table on the lawn. Walking across the service road, we saw construction underway for the Lark on the Park. Seems like this is an example of what you are pining for, albeit on the N side of the park.

    If you are crowing about demand for restaurants IN the arts district, go check out One Arts. I bet you could even rent a couple of spaces and open your own joint! You can ALWAYS find a seat at those places.

  • Kk.

    Saturday at Klyde Warren was nuts. They told us that by nightfall 18,000 had been in the park. No special event, just the first nice weather weekend in a long time. I predict the numbers will go down when the hot weather hits due to a complete lack of shade. They should be working on the shade problem now, before summer hits.

    • downtownworker

      The pavilion provides plenty of shade and the restaurant, while only for paying customers, will provide shade as well.

      I really wish they had been able to fund the fountain on Pearl St. If done right, like Crown Fountain at Millennium Park, this would be full of people cooling off in the summer.

      The Klyde Warren Park foundation needs to start a fundraising campaign to add this fountain.

  • mynameisbill

    I’ve heard that they have some Calatrava designed shade trees in mind. They should be some real “game changers” and they’ll also add some new “iconic” structures to our already iconically, world class, game changing city!

  • downtownworker

    Why doesn’t this story mention the food trucks that are always found at the park or the Lark restaurant under construction? Or Meso Maya, which just opened a block away. I am left scratching my head.

    Should there be more restaurants facing the park? Of course. Should there be more restaurants inside the park? It’s only 5 acres, so the answer is probably no.

  • dfwcre8tive

    Close some of the (unneeded) lanes on Harwood and stretch the park down to Flora. More room for food kiosks, seating, shade and less of a blank walk past museum walls.

  • Chuck

    Um…what about One Arts Plaza a few blocks down? Huge patio with alcohol service & shade. AT&T Performing Arts Center is opening a coffee shop/box office soon too.

    Also take into consideration that “almost every park” is NOT sandwiched in between 2 frontage roads that are lined with pre-existing structures.

  • Neal K

    I’m not sure that a country beset by runaway inflation, capital controls, rampant crime, crumbling infrastructure, a filthy capital city and a hysterical wannabe-tyrant president disguised as a Sicilian widow should serve as a good example.

    Yes, the streets of Buenos Aires are lively and filled with people. But those people are pale, miserable looking and slightly emaciated. At least that’s what I noticed when I visited this time last year.

    • downtownworker

      Well, Buenos Aires pretends it’s the most European city in Latin America and Dallas pretends its the Iberian Peninsula of Texas, so there’s something of a comparison to be made.