Written by: Meagen Turner
Here at The Urban Interface, we pride ourselves on bringing nature to urban, well-developed areas. Some of the largest cities in Texas have done the same by introducing parks right in the middle of the cities biggest infrastructures. Cities all over America are starting to follow this trend, making parks much more accessible for people living in more urban areas to interact with nature. These parks consist of jungle gyms for kids, restaurants, concert stages, sporting courts, and incredible views. Even more than just being a place for people to reconnect with each other, the parks have introduced new homes for local plants and wildlife. This list will explain the importance of the parks to not only the people living in these cities, but the overall impact of steering our cities away from concrete jungles.
KLYDE WARREN PARK – DALLAS, TX.
Being a Dallas native, I hold a special place in my heart for Klyde Warren Park, which I visited several times throughout my youth. Klyde Warren Park is located right at the heart of Downtown Dallas. City life and nature have never been more intertwined, as the park is located on top of a tunnel with one of the cities main freeways traveling fast below. The park is 5.2 acres and sits on top of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway. The park opened in 2012 and is home to several food trucks and restaurants, attracting tourist from all around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The park is right at the edge of the Arts District, sharing tourists with the Dallas Museum of Art and the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Some of the best tourists run on four-legs and sniff each other, as there is a large dog park located at the edge of the park. “The sustainable landscaping includes 37 native plant species and 322 trees, transforming a former freeway to a “beautiful urban oasis.” To this day, I will grab my pup and head to the dog park for a few hours, eat some local food and just bask in the beauty of the city and nature meeting so effortlessly.
DISCOVERY GREENS – HOUSTON, TX.
Similar to Dallas, Houston introduced a breathtaking urban park to their city. The park was created in 2008 and is 11.3 acres in the center of La Branch street and McKinney street. This park features a performance stage, Kinder Lake, jogging trails, but most importantly, natural gardens. “Wetland and upland gardens extend the length of the park”. This park is home to many different exercise classes and is highly focused on getting the people of Houston active outside with their families. Kinder Lake takes up over an acre of the park and contains several water gardens and water features. Trees shade the walkways and add an illustrative beauty to the scenery. This park is very influential to the city because there are not many of its kind and Houston is surrounded by several urbanized cities.
ZILKER PARK – AUSTIN, TX.
Much like Klyde Warren Park, Zilker Park is located right in the midst of Downtown living. Unlike the small 5 acre park that rests upon a freeway, Zilker Metropolitan Park is a massive 350 acres. The park is located in south Austin at the juncture of Barton Creek and the Colorado River. Zilker Park plays host to one of the largest musical festivals in America, ACL, and the Park Kite Festival. While it is known for these festivals, it is better known for the beautiful botanical garden, biking and hiking trails, Barton Springs pool and the Austin Science Center. The Austin Science Center is an amazing feature to the park as it“offers ecological exhibits, nature hike trails, and children’s educational programing.” The Zilker Botanical Garden is a non-profit organization that was established in 1955 that sits right at the center of Zilker Park. “Its projects support beautification of the gardens visited yearly by half a million people from around the world.” The garden is home to different habitats and a variety of “native, hybrid and exotic plants.” The Botanical Garden also attracts many different types of butterflies. This park is very important to the city of Austin not just because of its educational programs or amazing tourist locations, but because it gives the fast moving people of Austin a place to slow down and simply enjoy their surroundings. It also revives the city from just being a concrete jungle, and ensures that the original land will be preserved. In 1997, Zilker Metropolitan Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places list, solidifying the Parks mark on Texas for the rest of time.
These parks are very important to the preservation of nature in Texas. Though the state seems so vast and full of beautiful land and contains an overflow of native wildlife, the cities are growing larger and becoming more populated. It is important that people do not forget the importance of nature and that we continue to introduce urban parks to cities, so the citizens of these large cities will not lose touch with the outdoors. Texas is a beautiful state with a lot of native plants and animals that should not be forgotten by the hustle and bustle of the fast-paced city lifestyle.
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