Park Cities is a term commonly used in reference to two communities in Dallas County, Texas – the Town of Highland Park and the City of University Park. In the Dallas area, Park Cities has earned a reputation for having some of the most expensive property prices.
Highland Park is a town in central Dallas County, Texas. The population was 8,564 at the last published census in 2010. It is located between the North Dallas Tollway and US 75. It is four miles north of downtown Dallas. It is considered a town within a city, being surrounded by Dallas and University Park. It is known throughout the country as being one of the wealthiest communities in the country. It has a park like feel, tree lined streets, parks and creeks. The original plan development of Highland Park was by renowned landscape architect Wilbur David Cook, also famous for designing Beverly Hills.
Highland Park is most sought after because of its public schools and access to the best shopping and dining.
The housing in Highland Park is considered to be the best the community has to offer, whether it is new construction, or the older homes famous for quality and charm. This small town within a city has one of the best country clubs around, the Dallas Country Club. It is truly like a small town that is focused on family, activities, school support, the small town police and fire departments that take a personal interest in the community.
The town celebrated its centennial in 2012.
City Landmarks are Highland Park Village – a site to see during the holidays with thousands of lights on all the trees. It has great restaurants and many exclusive designer stores. Also the large fountain found at Preston and Oaklawn and of course the Dallas Country Club on Mockingbird Lane.
Area is 2.2 square miles (5,698K) Population 8,862 (2013)
University Park is a city in Dallas County, an inner suburb of Dallas. The population was 23,068 at the 2010 census. The city is home to Southern Methodist University.
University Park is bordered on the north, east and west by Dallas and on the south by the town of Highland Park. University Park and Highland Park together comprise the PARK CITIES, an enclave of Dallas.
Addresses in University Park may use either “Dallas, Texas” or “University Park, Texas” as the city designation, although the United States Postal Service prefers the use of the “Dallas, Texas” designation for the sake of simplicity. The same is true for mail sent to Highland Park.
University Park is served by Highland Park Schools.
University Park began as a cluster of homes surrounding the fledgling Southern Methodist University (which is now thriving and one of the most prestigious colleges in the country) which was founded in the then-rural Dallas County in 1915. The university supplied these homes with utility service until 1924, when the growing population could no longer be supported by the school’s utilities. In response, the area’s homeowners first sought annexation into the town of Highland Park, but were refused due to the high cost that would have been required to provide the necessary utility and safety services. Shortly thereafter, Dallas also refused a request for annexation on similar grounds.
Determined to confront the challenges before them, community leaders organized to incorporate as a separate individual city. According to state law, incorporation required that area residents hold an election on the issue before the new city could be officially formed and recognized. On April 24, 1924, voters approved the measure by a 5:1 margin. Operating under the commission form of government, the work of shaping the new government and addressing the pressing need to establish basic municipal services. To provide for the financial needs of the city, another election was held soon thereafter to authorize the issuance of Municipal bonds. Passing by a near unanimous margin, the $150,000 bond issue funded the installation of a new water supply system, street paving, and the construction of a new city hall and fire station. When first incorporated, the city encompassed 515 acres (2.08 km2), 380 homes, and 1200 residents.
As a result of efforts to build and improve the city, University Park grew to a population of over 20,000 residents by 1945 and had become one of the most prestigious locations in the area. In fact, the community’s attractiveness and tax value had risen to such an extent that the city of Dallas now wanted to annex University Park into its boundaries. At the time of the election, even the Board of Commissioners favored the election. In the largest voter turnout to that date and still one of the largest in city history, the annexation was denied by a 53% to 47% margin.
In 1946 an election to adopt a Home Rule Charter was held, but the measure failed and the city continued to operate as a General Law city. In 1989 voters approved a Home Rule Charter which officially adopted a council-manager form of government and expanded the three member board of Commissioners into a five member city council.
Since the 1940s, the population and area of University Park have remained relatively stable at 22,000 residents and 2,350 acres (4.7 square miles). The city is now surrounded by Dallas on three sides and the town of Highland Park to the south.
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