The City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department provides leisure, recreational, and cultural activities for the citizens of Dallas and the general public. The Department maintains more than 21,000 park acres including 4,400 surface acres of water at 17 park sites, 17,196 acres of greenbelt/park land and 61.6 miles of jogging and bike trails at 24 locations. There are over 400 individual parks, including recreational facilities such as community centers, swimming pools, athletic fields, and a metropolitan zoo. The City's first two parks, City Park (purchased in 1876) and Fair Park (purchased in 1904), predate the organization of the Park and Recreation Department.
Parks are the cornerstones of community and much is revealed about the history of neighborhoods through departmental correspondence, memoranda, financial records, reports and studies, plans and drawings, photographs and printed materials. In general, collections document the acquisition, planning and design, maintenance, and history of City of Dallas parks and park facilities.
Manuscript and Paper-based Materials
Collection 1995-023—Department of Park and Recreation General Subject Files, 1930-1970
Subject files consist of records on individual parks and Park Department activities. These files often include correspondence with neighborhood groups, petitions for park amenities and activities and information about park design, construction and maintenance over time. They frequently include maps showing not only the park, but sometimes the entire neighborhood. Occasionally these maps show property ownership.
Collection 1991-011—White Rock Lake, 1909-1910
Collection 1991-079—Fair Park, 1888-1930, 1972-1992
Collection 1991-101—Parks and Recreation - brochures and publications, 1977-1999
Collection 1991-112—City of Dallas Parks, 1889-1995
Collection 1991-128—Department of Park and Recreation - Management Study, 1991
Collection 1995-021—White Rock Lake Dredging, 1930-1942
Collection 1995-022—White Rock Lake - Park and Recreation Department Files, 1921-1950
Collection 1995-024—Park System (Publication), 1915
Collection 1995-025—Park Board Annual Reports, 1911-1995, 2002-2003
Collection 1995-026—Bids on Park Concessions, 1930s
Collection 1995-030—Everette Lee DeGolyer Estate, 1972-1990
Collection 1995-031—W. W. Samuell Estate, 1886-1977
Collection 1995-032—Park and Recreation Department Subject Files: Dealey Plaza, 1940-1942
Collection 1995-033—Recreation Manuals, 1943-1983
Collection 1995-035—Dallas Zoo, 1952-1955, 1969-1980, 1991
Collection 1995-036—Dallas Police Department Park Patrol, 1957-1985
Collection 1995-037—Park and Playground System (publication), 1921-1923
Collection 1995-038—Park Improvement Projects, 1960+
Collection 1995-039—Memorials and Monuments, 1936, 1959 -1982
Collection 1995-040—Park Department - Management Studies, 1977-1981
Collection 1995-041—Audit Reports - Park Funds, 1931 and 1940
Collection 1995-042—Park Department Time Logbooks, c. 1912-1920
Collection 1995-043—Park Department Works Progress Administration Records, 1939-1940
Collection 1995-043—Parks-Works Progress Administration, 1939-1940
Collection 1995-044—White Rock Lake Improvements, 1956-1982
Collection 1995-045—State Fair of Texas Reports and Studies, 1908-1986
Collection 1995-046—Dallas Museum of Art, 1926+
Collection 1995-047—Grauwyler Park, 1901-1923
Collection 1996-003—Dallas Park and Recreation Department Centennial History Working Papers and Research Materials, 1972-1976
Collection 1996-015—Dallas Aquarium, 1994
Collection 1996-022—Wildflower Research Center, 1983
Collection 1996-023—Dallas Health and Science Museum, 1960-1979
Collection 1996-032—Dallas Museum of Natural History, 1967-1981, and undated
Collection 1997-023—Fair Park Improvements, 1941-1980, undated
Collection 1997-030—City Park - Preliminary Research Brochure by James A. Newett, June 1965
Collection 1997-032—Park Board Secretary Correspondence, 1970
Collection 1997-033—Juanita Jewel Craft Recreation Center Dedication, 1974
Collection 1997-035—Natural Open Space Plan, 1979
Collection 1997-037—Park Board and Lady Bird Johnson, 1975
Collection 2002-007—Fair Park Mural Conservation, 2001-2003
Collection 2006-003—Dallas Park Department Recreation Centers and Facilities, 1957-2000
Maps, Plans, and Drawings
Collection 1999-001—Map Collection, 1868
Maps created mostly by City departments for various city government functions, such as planning and public works. Maps often include information about parks, city limits, extent of neighborhood development and transportation details such as interurban lines, bus lines and train tracks. Early maps reveal land use prior to park development.
Collection 2002-001—Park and Recreation Department Plans and Drawings, 1911-1960
One-thousand six-hundred sixty-six plans and drawings depicting the design, planning, construction, planting plans, and renovations of City of Dallas parks.
Collection 2003-002—Dallas Park and Recreation Department Photographs [Addition], 1942-2003
Five thousand black and white and color photographic negatives and prints documenting people, places and events concerning City of Dallas parks. Of special interest are a subseries of oblique aerial photographs of individual parks, many showing neighborhoods and surrounding lands.
Collection 1999-003—City Photographer, 1950-1997
Five thousand black and white and color photographic negatives and prints documenting people, places and events concerning Dallas city government. Although city government is the focus of this collection, photographs include parks, recreation centers and events held at specific parks around Dallas.
Photographs prior to 1950 by the City Photographer are located in the Texas/Dallas History & Archives division of the Dallas Public Library.
Collection 2003-001—Aerial Map Photographs of Dallas, Texas 1930, 1949, 1974, 1979
Five hundred black and white photographic negatives and prints. Aerial photographs of the entire City of Dallas for use by the city’s Public Works and Planning Departments. Maps can be used to examine existing structures.
Collection 1992-018—Portraits of Park Board Members, 1905-1939
City Secretary’s Files/Council Action Files (Minutes, Ordinances, and Resolutions)
Dallas City Council’s official records, including minutes of the Dallas City Council [and earlier forms of government], from 1868 to the present, are available for research in paper, electronic, and micrographic forms.
Complete earlier records (1868-1950) and later records (1979-1997) are on microfiche and indexed by subject matter and by ordinance and resolution numbers, and may be viewed at the City Secretary’s Office.
Mid-century minutes, ordinances and resolutions (1950-1970s) are indexed and microfilmed, excluding original contracts and memoranda. Other council records from the same period are in process of microfilming; contact Archivist for status.
Council minutes, agendas, and ordinances and resolutions from 1995 to the present are available in
electronic form at the City Secretary’s Office website.
Council records contain primary documents associated with annexation, early neighborhoods and neighborhood groups, evidence of construction of streets, bridges, parks, libraries, and other city properties and services in specific neighborhoods.