Brilliant Idea: Let’s Install Fans and Misters Along All Downtown Dallas Sidewalks

And forgot walkable city streets. How about just a network of interconnected Slip'n Slides?

When I write that this idea is “brilliant,” I do so without any consideration for the financial cost it would entail. I do so as a person who routinely treks across wide-open swaths of concrete throughout downtown Dallas and am not entirely fond of roasting.

The proprietor of the Urbanophile blog was in town for the recent New Cities Summit, and I’ve just now had a chance to look at his after-action report on his visit. First he opined that Dallas is in the midst of a transition from juvenile mega-sprawl enthusiast to mature and sophisticated urban environment. We’re young (major city-wise), so it’s understandable that we’re not as well-designed as an aging city like Chicago, he says. My favorite bit from his initial post pinpoints exactly what’s always bugged me about Large Marge:

The single bridge tower is quite an imposing presence on the skyline. However, the size of the bridge creates an awkward contrast with the glorified creek that is the Trinity River. It looks to me like they significantly over-engineered what should have been a fairly straightforward flood plain to span just so they could create a major structure.

In his follow-up post, he focuses on how downtown Dallas had changed since he’d first visited in 2007. He likes Klyde Warren Park a lot, compliments the presence of a residential development like Museum Tower in the Arts District (he’ clearly ignorant of that building’s fight with the Nasher), and urges greater connectivity through the area. Nothing any of us haven’t heard before. But then:

I noticed that outdoor cafes at restaurants have misters, fans, trellises, etc. Maybe Dallas could figure out how to incorporate these sorts of designs into the streetcapes. Maybe the streets of Dallas should be colonnaded or covered with trellises full of greenery to provide shade. These structures could incorporate misters and fans or something. Implementing something unique like this at scale might be a way to channel that Texas ambition. Dallas shouldn’t be afraid to question the orthodoxy here. For example, Minneapolis has skywalks that render that downtown more pleasantly navigable during the brutal winters, even though skywalks are conventionally considered a negative. I’d look at what other cities have done. For example, study Singapore’s Orchard Road.

Once we all got used to walking the streets of downtown drenched from the constant onslaught of misting water pouring forth with the aid of a network of oscillating fans, this might not be too bad. Couldn’t be worse than walking the streets of downtown drenched in sweat as we often do now.

And, while we’re at it, why not transform Ross Avenue into a giant Slip’n Slide throughout the months of July and August? No, Ross carries too much traffic, I guess. Harwood, maybe?


  • sizzler

    how about street trees and sidewalk awning. would think this would be an obvious requirement

  • Jerome Weeks

    Rather than all those complicated (and water-wasting) “trellises with greenery and misters,” here’s a simpler observation-recommendation: If you watch people walking around downtown, you’ll notice that many will shift from one side of the street to the other, solely to get out of the sun and into the shade of a building. So plant trees along those streets. Shade can cut the heat by 10-15 degrees, making 100 degrees a more livable 85. We missed a chance when the city mandated that all those volcanically hot parking lots must decorate their edges with bushes. If they had planted trees then, they’d be doing a better job covering up the lots and providing some welcome shade as well.

    • Jason Heid

      OK, fine, Jerome, if you must ruin our fun and force us to be practical about it::

      Absolutely. Many, many more trees seems like the way to go.

  • WalkableDFW

    Shade does just fine. I carry hand held weather station around. The street my office is on is perfectly pleasant in the heat because of compact building form and healthy street trees providing shade. The big intersections and parking lots can be 20-30% plus greater than the air temperature due to heat island effect.

  • Jerome Weeks

    That’s always been my goal.

    More trees, I mean.

  • Pegaso

    Shade sails would be much more affordable. You see them all over Madrid and other cities in Spain.