Dallas, TX

City Population: 1,197,816 | City Area: 385.8 sq mi (999.3 km2) | Population Density: 3,518/sq mi (1,358.2/km2) | Elevation: 430 ft (131 m)
Dates Visited: 1.10.13 – 1.12.13 | Total Inter-City Miles Traveled: 13,501 miles | Total Hours Traveled: 267 hours (11.1 days)

Inter-City Transportation: Amtrak #10, Amtrak #11 | Origin: Chicago, IL

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The third largest city in Texas, oil-rich Dallas is a major center of trade in the American South. I took Amtrak’s Texas Eagle train down here in search of milder winters and was caught by surprise by the cold weather—Dallas even had a White Christmas last month. During my short stay in Dallas, however, I realized that it wouldn’t be my only surprise.

The city was founded at the “white rock crossing” of the Trinity River, the point where wagons could most easily cross the river without the aid of ferries or bridges. The river, however, provides no navigable link to the sea.

Dallas has also had a long history of prosperous trade and a strong economic base. Starting with rail and technological developments in the late 1800s, Dallas began to expand. By the turn of the century, Dallas was the largest inland cotton market in the world. A few decades later, when petroleum was discovered east of Dallas and in other nearby locations, these discoveries cemented the city at the center of the nation’s petroleum market.

I’ve greatly underestimated Dallas. I’ve only spent two days in this Northern Texan city and have been fortunate enough to stay in a very central, downtown location, close to the Arts District, but have realized that I really should have spent more time here.

Dallas might be more popularly known for its food, oil, and shopping centers, but it also has an incredible arts scene. The city’s wealth has attracted work from famous artists, sculptors, architects and landscape architects. Dallas is also experiencing a boon in the development of urban parks and public spaces. A number of attractive parks have just been opened up to the downtown areas in as little as half a year ago. It’s a real disappointment that I decided to spend so little time in Northern Texas—there are a lot of parks and areas worth seeing in Dallas that I just missed out on!

And though Dallas is well known for urban sprawl, efforts are being made to rein in sprawl and increase walkability and access to mass transit. Downtown Dallas is a very pleasant place to walk around, the light rail system is convenient, transit fares are cheap, and there is even a free M-Line Trolley system running from the Arts District to Uptown.

I’ll definitely come back one day. This is my first time in Texas and Dallas has given me a (admittedly, surprising) great first impression. I started off with barbeque brisket and pulled pork as my first meal and enjoyed a lovely and abnormally warm day of 70-degree weather on the next made visiting parks and gardens and the Dallas arboretum even better—the biggest drawback is that it’s been too short of a stay.

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