‘Ghost Mammoth’ Slides and Pickleball Skyline Views: Harwood Park Opens in Downtown Dallas This Weekend

Harwood Park is the fourth "urban neighborhood park" to open since 2019 in downtown Dallas, thanks to a $90 million public-private partnership between the Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy and the Dallas Park and Recreation Department. This weekend, its "Ghost Mammoth" slides will take center stage in a fun-filled, two-day grand opening event.

Dallas is getting its fourth and final downtown “urban neighborhood park” created by transforming parking lots into playful, green oases. And this one comes with something special—”Ghost Mammoth” slides whose long, curving trunks will snort out squealing kids for decades to come.

Harwood Park, located at 408 South Harwood Street, will get a blow-out grand opening this weekend, announced the Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy (formerly known as Parks for Downtown Dallas) and the Dallas Park and Recreation Department.

Designed by Austin-based Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Harwood Park spans 3.8 acres, providing “a much-needed place for respite and recreation in the burgeoning East Quarter and Dallas Farmers Market neighborhoods,” the conservancy said.

Seating area along a grove of trees at Harwood Park in downtown Dallas. [Photo: David Woo]

The park’s design tells a 100,000-year story about the site, starting from “grazing grounds of prehistoric Columbian Mammoths to a former tributary of the Trinity River; from an early settlers’ neighborhood to the automobile service industry; and from the film industry to its present role as a contemporary residential enclave for downtown living,” said the park’s designers, Ten Eyck.

Along with its “mammoth playground,” Harwood Park also offers an interactive water feature, your choice of swings, a sport court for pickleball and basketball with dramatic skyline views for all your dinks and dunks, and an array of other amenities.

The location was identified as a “Priority Park” site in the 2013 Downtown Parks Master Plan. Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy acquired 18 parcels of land from 2014 to 2018 to assure that it would one day become a public park. It was all part of a $90 million public- private partnership that drove the transformation of acres of parking lots into four new parks sprinkled around the downtown district. 

Sport Court with Ghost Mammoths and skyline in distance at Harwood Park in downtown Dallas. [Photo: David Woo]

Park is opening amid a downtown residential renaissance

That transformation came just in time, as downtown Dallas continues its residential evolution. In July, we told you that Dallas is among the Top 10 U.S. cities for future conversions of (mostly office) buildings into apartments. From the coming 16-story Modera St. Paul to office-to-apartment conversions at skyscrapers like Comerica Tower and Santander Tower and more, people are calling downtown Dallas home like never before.

And Harwood Park gives them one more oasis in which to work out, play, relax, or just let the kids go nuts.

Dogs will be happy, too: Harwood Park has two designated spaces where pups can play and socialize. 

Jackson entry to Harwood Park in downtown Dallas, with performance pavilion and great lawn in background. [Photo: David Woo]

Other amenities at Harwood Park

While 21,000 square feet of the park are dedicated to “play and active recreation,” other amenities are on tap, too.

A performance pavilion offers a space for various arts and live music gigs. “Rain-harvesting gardens” offer an eco-friendly natural escape. And lawns are available for relaxation, picnics, and other recreational activities.

Greening up downtown Dallas’ East Quarter: the half-acre great lawn at Harwood Park in downtown Dallas. [Photo: David Woo]

Weekend grand opening events

On Saturday, September 23 at 9 a.m., the Harwood Park will officially open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with the community invited to mark the occasion and explore the park. Local dignitaries, community leaders, and park enthusiasts will gather for the event.

The Harwood Park Grand Opening Festival will be held Sunday, September 24, from noon to 4 p.m. It will feature “fun activities” sponsored by East Quarter Dental and FPC Day School; live music and entertainment all day long at the Golden Ring Stage sponsored by First Presbyterian Church of Dallas; a “VIP on the Green” Lounge for sponsors and VIPs sponsored by Apres Hours and Topo Chico; food trucks and coffee; a cash bar by Henry’s Majestic; a roaming photo booth; pickleball demonstrations by Chicken N Pickle; giveaways, swag bags, hayrides, and a curated artisan market sponsored by the Dallas Farmers Market; and more.

Aerial view of Harwood Park in downtown Dallas. [Photo: David Woo]

$90 million program led to the new downtown parks

John Jenkins, Director of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department, said that the public-private investment in the four downtown parks is paying big dividends in a more livable downtown.

“Through the public- private partnership between the Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy and the Dallas Park and Recreation Department, this ambitious $90 million program has transformed parking lots into four vibrant neighborhood parks, fostering a sense of community and providing recreational opportunities for the growing resident population in downtown,” Jenkins said in a statement.

Amy M. Meadows, president and CEO of the conservancy, called out everyone who made the parks come to life.

“The Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy extends our deepest gratitude to the citizens of Dallas, city staff and officials, generous park donors, and dedicated design and construction teams who made the Priority Parks program possible,” Meadows said in a statement. “Our collective commitment to greening our city is creating a healthier, more sustainable Dallas for the next generation. In an urban heat island like downtown Dallas, parks and green space are essential.” 

Map of Harwood Park in downtown Dallas. [Graphic: Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy]

Four new downtown parks since 2019

Aiming to to serve downtown Dallas’ growing residential, worker, and visitor populations, the conservancy and the Dallas Park department opened Pacific Plaza—the first of the four “Priority Parks”—in October 2019. That was followed by West End Square in March 2021 and Carpenter Park in May 2022, and now, Harwood Park. 

The public and private sectors jointly funded park development, including $39.4 million in city of Dallas bonds, approved by the citizens of Dallas as part of the 2006 and 2017 Bond Programs; $2.6 million from the City Center TIF district; and $48.4 million from the conservancy and its donors. The total development cost of this four-park program is approximately $90.4 million, said the Downtown Dallas Parks Conservancy—a nonprofit that promotes “a livable, environmentally resilient city center through advocacy for parks and green space.”

Our vision is to nurture and protect downtown Dallas neighborhood parks, creating an urban environment that spurs moments of inspiration and restoration,” the conservancy said in a statement. “As park stewards, builders, and advocates, we strive to engage and serve the community through maintaining high quality public amenities and horticulture. We believe that everyone deserves access to the benefits of nature and play in downtown.”

More looks at Harwood Park

Rain Garden at Harwood Park in downtown Dallas. [Photo: David Woo]

Swinging is in at Harwood Park in downtown Dallas. [Photo: David Woo]

Kid-ready, and—soon no doubt—kid-approved as well: Harwood Park in downtown Dallas. [Photo: David Woo]

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