Municipal Archives

New Deal Dallas Projects

This gallery ​of images is a sampling of the many different projects funded by Federal work relief programs.​​

Above: Kansas City, MO, firm Hare and Hare's landscaping plan
for Dealey Plaza, 1940.  Park and Recreation Department Plans
and Drawings Collection​​

​Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza is a 3.07 acre park in downtown Dallas, Texas, known both as the site of the founding of Dallas in 1841 and also the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

In 1841, frontiersman John Neeley Bryan built a log cabin on the site, on a bluff overlooking the Trinity River. The bluff was later altered in 1928 through subsequent landscaping and flood control improvements of the Trinity River by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and other entities. The area was further developed as "The Front Door of Dallas" between 1935-1942 as a vehicular park and a triple underpass constructed in part by workers from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the National Youth Administration. Until the development of Dallas' highway system, Dealey Plaza served as the major gateway to the city from the west. In 1993, the United States Department of the Interior designated Dealey Plaza a National Historic Landmark District.​

Lake Cliff Park

Acquired by the City of Dallas in 1914, this Oak Cliff park encompasses 44 acres and a large lake overlooking the skyline of downtown Dallas.  WPA-sponsored work included construction of a roque court (a form of croquet), retaining wall, paving along Colorado Boulevard, picnic units, a bridge, and extensive landscaping. Perhaps the most visible WPA features are the shelters and the Rose Garden, constructed 1940-1943.

Above: Plan for Rose Garden Shelter, 1940. Park and Recreation Department Plans and Drawings Collection
Above: Construction of the Rose Garden, Lake Cliff Park, 1940. Park Department Works Progress Administration Records
Above: Restored Lake Cliff Rose Garden Shelter, 2008. Image courtesy Park and Recreation Department and Sally Rodriguez
Above: Photograph of original mural, titled "1929-1931 - Viaducts Bridge the Trinity".   City Photographer Collection

WPA Mural - Municipal Building

Jerry Bywaters (1906-1989) and other Dallas artists benefitted from the art programs of the New Deal. During the 1930s and early 1940s, Bywaters successfully competed in federally sponsored mural competitions and completed six projects in Texas, including a series of panels in collaboration with Alexandre Hogue. In 1934, Bywaters and Hogue were granted the first commission in Texas. They created a series of ten murals depicting events in Dallas history for the walls of the second-floor lobby of the old City Hall Building, located on Harwood street between Main and Commerce streets. The murals were destroyed in 1954 when the City Hall relocated but were recreated by Phillip Lamb, who recreated portions now on display in the City of Dallas' Union Station.

Juanita Craft Park

Juanita Jewel Craft Park  was originally called Wahoo Park  and was purchased by the City of Dallas in 1924. A WPA community building, retaining wall, landscaping, planting, walks and other improvements were executed 1936-38. The park was renamed for civil rights activist, civic leader, and Dallas City Council member Craft in 1974.

Other facilities bearing her name include the recreation center at the park and a U.S. Post Office in southeast Dallas. Her home, the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House, is a City of Dallas-owned museum and part of Dallas' Wheatley Place Historic District.

Above: Plan for Wahoo Park Community House, 1937. Park and Recreation Department Plans and Drawings Collection
Above: White Rock Lake CCC gateway {Garland Road], 1938. Dallas Park and Recreation Department Photograph Collection

White Rock Lake and the CCC

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp 2896 resided at White Rock Lake from 1935 to 1942. During that period, the CCC created, landscaped, or improved Doran's Point Overlook and Doran's Circle, Flag Pole Hill shelter house and comfort station, Winfrey Point Building, the Big Thicket Inn, Sunset Inn, a retaining wall inside the lake, the Lily Pond, and the Doran Combination Bldg.

A CCC Camp in Dallas

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided wages and trained young men in building trades and other skills through public improvement projects. It was administered jointly by the Army and select Federal agencies, such as the National Park Service.  On July 10, 1935, Army Captain Tom B. Martin began supervising construction of facilities near this site for a local camp. Designated SP-55-TX, it began with several frame buildings, including barracks, a mess hall, a blacksmith shop, and a combination woodworking, repair and storage facility.  About 200 recruits from Collin and Dallas counties soon arrived to begin their work, which included improvements to the lake, planting more than 1,500 trees, and the construction of trails, picnic grounds, shelters, latrines and a lily pond at the park. Over a seven-year period, approximately 3,000 youths were assigned to the camp.

In February 1942, after the U.S. entered World War II, the site transferred to the Army, which used it for induction and training.  In 1944-45, the U.S. held approximately 300 German prisoners of war here (most from Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps).  Later, Southern Methodist University used the site for student housing, but the buildings were eventually sold or demolished.

Above: View of CCC Camp 2896, Dallas, Texas. Dallas Park and Recreation Department Photograph Collection
Above: National Youth Administration illustrated report of Texas projects, 1939.  The Stevens Park bridge is on the top right.  Park and Recreation Department Central Administrative Files

Stevens Park

Stevens Park and golf course (purchased 1924) was revitalized in the 1930s through a WPA-built stone shelter and a comfort station, as well as a caddy house, tee shelters, bridges, picnic areas, paving, retaining walls, stone steps, and a drinking fountain. Some of the work was done by young adults through the National Youth Administration, headed by rising political star Lyndon Johnson.​​

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