Downtown Dallas has a lot to offer these days--living, working, shopping, and dining. This short walking tour of downtown Dallas will take about forty-five minutes if walked straight through, but stopping to check out the shops and restaurants is more fun. Although if you don't feel like spending money, walking is one of the many free things to do. Most of downtown is wheelchair-accessible, but with facelifts for buildings and minor street construction, moving around is sometimes a little tricky.
Built in 1916 to consolidate all the train traffic in Dallas, Union Station is once again the major hub for passenger train traffic. Arrive here on DART's red or blue lines from Plano, Garland, or stations inside Dallas or on the Trinity Railway Express from Fort Worth and cities in between.
After getting off the train, you are facing the back of Union Station. Behind you and up above is Reunion Tower, with a viewing platform and a revolving restaurant and cocktail lounge. The Hyatt Regency Dallas hotel is the large stair-stepped glass building next to it.
Walk through Union Station. Everyone else will be doing this, so just follow the crowd. The large lobby contains an Amtrak counter and numerous benches for departing passengers. Look up to see intricate chandeliers. Restrooms are to the right, near the vending machines.
Exit the front doors and turn left to cross the street at the intersection of Houston Street and Young Street. Houston Street runs in front of Union Station.
Across the street from Union Station is Ferris Plaza. It takes up the entire city block and was originally designed by George Dahl and built in 1925.
Belo Building and Lubben Plaza
Continue on Young Street. The eighteen-story building across Record Street from Ferris Plaza is the Belo building. The A. H. Belo Corporation owns the television station WFAA and the Dallas Morning News. Both their buildings are located across Young Street.
Cross the intersection at Young and Record and walk behind the Belo building. Cross Market Street. Lubben Plaza provides a place to rest in relative quiet. Three giant sculptures are the focal points of the park.
Journey to Sirius, created by George Smith in 1992, was inspired by the art of the Dogon people of Mali. The two large steel structures stand in a bed of black rock and represent the cliff faces where the Dogon produce their art.
Gateway Stele, created by Jesus Bautista Moroles in 1994, provides an interesting interpretation of ancient stele.
Harrow, created by Linnea Glatt in 1992, is actually moving, though very slowly.
When you're done taking in the sculpture, continue up Young Street.
As you leave Lubben Plaza, parking lots are on both your left and right. The building beyond the parking lot on the right is the Dallas Convention Center. It covers over two million square feet and stretches all the way back to the railroad tracks leaving Union Station.
Continue on Young Street and cross Lamar Street. The rather spiffy brown building with the white trim is known as Founders Square. Built in 1914 and expanded in 1917 and 1923, Founders Square was originally a warehouse. Today it is used as an office building.
Cross Griffin Street and Young Street to get to the right side of Young.
Pioneer Plaza covers slightly more than four acres. This landscaped park has an enormous bronze sculpture of forty larger-than-life longhorns on a cattle drive. Several cowboys chase strays along the Shawnee Trail. Robert Summers created the sculpture.
Pioneer Cemetery lies at the other end of the park. Several prominent men and women from the early history of Dallas are buried here.
Dallas City Hall
Stay on the same side of Young and cross Field and Akard Streets to get to City Hall Plaza.
The Dallas City Hall was designed by I. M. Pei and completed in 1978. The nine-story triangular building has been featured in several films, including Robocop.
An enormous three-piece sculpture called The Dallas Piece sits on the plaza in front of City Hall. Sixteen feet high and twenty-four feet wide, it was designed by Henry Moore to resemble vertebrae.
Across Young Street from Dallas City Hall is the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. Cross Young at Ervay Street.
The Central Library was built in 1982 and where City Hall seems to lean forward, the library seems to lean backward. Two sculptures rest at the front of the building: Textured Screen by Harry Bertoia and Square Forms with Circle by Barbara Hepworth.
Inside the Central Library are several special exhibits. An original copy of the Declaration of Independence and a First Folio of Shakespeare are part of their collection.
Continue past the library on Ervay Street.
Continue along Ervay Street and cross Wood Street. As you walk along Wood Street, look to your left and up to see the famous red Pegasus on top of Magnolia Hotel. This is a replica of the original 1934 Pegasus, which is on display at the Farmer's Market. At night the Pegasus lights up and can be seen from most locations in Dallas.
Cross Jackson Street and walk one more block to Commerce Street. The building across Commerce Street and to the left with the red canopies is the flagship store for Neiman Marcus, a great place to shop. Inside the department store is the Zodiac restaurant with its signature popovers. Walk down Commerce Street on the side of Neiman Marcus and window shop. At the end of the large store is the NM Cafe. Stop in for soup, salad, or a sandwich if you're hungry.
Look across Commerce Street to Jos A Banks Clothiers and right above the door is a beautiful piece of stained glass. Continue on Commerce Street and cross Akard Street. The Akard Street Mall on the left, a long greenbelt in the city, lies across from the Adolphus Hotel.
The Adolphus Hotel, built in 1912 by Adolphus Busch of beer fame, was once the tallest building in Dallas. The luxury hotel has had several additions to its original structure. At one time, it had 1200 guest rooms, but today it has only 435.
Inside the Adolphus Hotel, the French Room has served five-star cuisine for twenty-five years.
Continue on Commerce Street and cross Field Street, then Griffin Street. To your left, you will get a great view of the Dallas Convention Center, which you saw earlier on the tour.
The M K T Building
Cross Lamar Street and on the right side of Commerce Street is a large red brick building with "The Texas Club" in large letters at the top.
On the left side, the M-K-T Railway Office Building stands out with its ornate architecture. Built in 1912 for the Missouri Kansas Texas Railway, the building is still used as offices today.
Continue on Commerce Street and cross Austin and Market Streets. On the right is the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza, built in 1970.
Just beyond lies the Old Red Courthouse. This grand building, built in 1892 and designed by M. A. Orlopp, spent many years as Dallas's courthouse, but now houses a museum. Renovations are underway to restore the Old Red Courthouse to its former glory.
Hotel Lawrence, now La Quinta
Turn left at Houston Street. The Hotel Lawrence was built in 1925 to serve passengers from the trains stopping at Union Station. It is now a La Quinta.
Union Station is down the street on S. Houston Street.