Sunday, February 13, 2011

The 100th Year Renaissance of White Rock Lake

   I ran into my friend Matt Nevitt last night. Matt is the realtor who sold us our house in east Dallas. Having grown up in this neighborhood, I often use him as a source about all things east of White Rock Lake.

   According to Matt and others I've interviewed, east Dallas was pretty hopping in the 1960s. Homes and businesses were relatively new, schools were highly rated. People were flocking to the area to raise their families. It was the Frisco of it's time.

   But according to Matt, back then, White Rock Lake was pretty much an afterthought in east Dallas. Its days of being the area's favorite swimming area had come and passed when the city closed the beach in 1958 and opened a number of segregated pools. Running and biking weren't as popular as they were today. Other than the famous "submarine races" White Rock Lake just wasn't a place to go.
The old pavilion and changing area sat vacant from 1958 to 1981. Today it's know as the Bath House Cultural Center

   Things started to change in the 1990s when the city spent 12 million dollars to dredge the lake. They also reconfigured Lawther Drive to make the area more park like and less of a cruising ground.  Last year, the city finished a 16 million dollar project to rebuild the century old spillway near the dam. A few weeks ago the city completed the bridges that connect the lake to the new Sante Fe Trail.  The investment in the area is paying off for the city in the form of higher property taxes they are collecting as real estate prices near the lake escalates. White Rock Lake is the jewel of east Dallas and has become a catalyst for economic growth. 

   This year, the lake is celebrating it's 100th year with a series of events. What a perfect time to reflect upon its 100 years past and its magnificent present. Did you know that besides running and cycling, the lake is home to a variety of other activities?

1. White Rock Lake host to two different sailing clubs, the 72 year old Corinthian Sailing Club and the 50 year old White Rock Boat Club.
   
2. The Lake has become a bird watchers paradise and recently a Bald Eagle has been spotted nesting near the spillway. 

3. White Rock Lake is home to an active rowing community. 19 area high schools have students who participate in Crew along with the a variety of rowers who are members at the White Rock Boathouse

4. White Rock Lake Park is now home to the Dallas Little League, with three new modern fields at Winfrey Point.

5. You can explore the lake via the water in a rented kayak, courtesy of White Rock Paddle Company.

   Perhaps this is the perfect time to revisit the city's jewel of the east side. Happy 100th birthday, White Rock Lake.