Until 1890, East Dallas and Dallas were two separate cities. Although it’s been longer than a century since the latter annexed the former, the Old East Dallas community retains a distinct, independent feel. Old East Dallas, the western border of which is a 10-minute drive from AMLI on Maple and AMLI Quadrangle, consists of 16 adjacent neighborhoods. Several, including the Swiss Avenue Historic District, Munger Place, and Junius Heights, are populated by stunning historic homes Others, like Deep Ellum, are hubs of social activity. Here are some of Old East Dallas’ most winning charms.
Green space is abundant enough in East Dallas that the area Chamber of Commerce affectionally nicknamed the area the Lake & Garden District. This is largely due to the presence of White Rock Lake and its environs. The 1,015-acre White Rock Lake Park is one of Dallas’ most frequently visited parks, particularly for cyclists and runners. The 9.3-mile, multi-use path that loops around the lake connects to the Santa Fe Trail, which connects to other trails. This constitutes one of the best opportunities Dallas residents training for marathons and bike races have for traffic-free training. Another highlight is the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, with 66 acres of grounds in the southeastern part of the park. Other beloved green spaces in the area include Buckner Park, Fair Park, and Savage Park.
The modern history of East Dallas can be traced back to the mid-19th century, when the Beeman family settled on a 40-acre tract of land east of Dallas. In 1872, William Gaston started promoting development in the area. By 1873, two major railway lines ran through the area, spurring development. In 1882, “East Dallas” was incorporated as its own city. Less than a decade later, on January 1, 1890, Dallas annexed East Dallas, becoming the largest city in Texas.
Old East Dallas boasts a congenial mix of historic and modern buildings. Colonel Jefferson Peak’s estate, Dallas’ first brick house, was built in the neighborhood now called Peak’s Addition in 1855. Peak’s home is one of countless striking, beautifully-preserved mansions built around the turn of the 19th century in Old East Dallas. Many of these homes, particularly in the Swiss Avenue Historic District, are adorned with bronze house markers. Inscribed on these are the architectural style, construction year, designer or architect, and first owner of the home.
First-rate green space like White Rock Lake and the Dallas Botanical Garden make Old East Dallas a desirable place to live. The neighborhood is also the closest to the city’s commercial downtown center that’s zoned-for-single-family-housing. This makes commuting convenient and affords residents easy access to cultural offerings centered around downtown Dallas.
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