Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Giant Iguanas, Record Setting Boots and Six Dancing Frogs - The Art of Bob 'Daddy-O' Wade

 

Bob "Daddy-O" Wade said it all started for him with one gigantic iguana.  If you go by the entrance of the Fort Worth Zoo, you'll see the current resting place of the Iguana. But it more infamously sat atop the Lone Star Cafe in New York City during the 70s and 80s. (aka  The Unofficial Texas Embassy)

The Lone Star Cafe, the Unofficial Texas Embassy - The Most Famous Iguana Perch

   Before it's New Your City days, the Iguana lived near Niagara Falls. The lizard was created for display one summer in the 70s for Art Park, a music and art venue near Niagara Falls. After the summer, Wade had to find a new home for the Iguana. Through friends, he contacted the Lone Star Cafe who purchased the Iguana for their roof.

   Some New York neighbors felt the Iguana was an eyesore, an oversized code busting advertisement. A court battle designated the Iguana as art, but nonetheless, the owners of the Lone Star Cafe lowers the sculpture below the roofs parapet, so it wouldn't be seen from the street, thus quelling neighborhood dissent.

   In 1983, Mayor Ed Koch lef an effort to have the Iguana redisplayed (after tiring of wrongly directed complaints that he banned the lizard)  The rededication of the Iguana was attended by Ed Koch and Texas Governor Mark White, (who just happened to be in New York City on state business that week).

The Iguana being lowered by helicopter at the Fort Worth Zoo

   When the Lone Star Cafe closed in 1989, the iguana went though series of hands, including an east coast horse ranch and a pier in Tribeca. It was finally purchased by patrons in Fort Worth, where it sat in a barn for 11 years. Eventually it found a home atop the Fort Worth Zoo, where it was delivered by helicopter.  (check out the trailer for an upcoming documentary on the Iguana)

   
                        


   The notoriety of the giant Iguana begat the World's Largest Cowboy Boots, perhaps San Antonio's most iconic site, following the Alamo and the Riverwalk.


The boots were created in 1979 for the Washington Project for the Arts. The large scale work of public art was constructed and displayed just a few blocks from the White House for over a year on 12th and Avenue G. After the exhibit was over, the Rouse Corporation offered to buy the boots to place outside North Star Mall.

The Boots being constructed for the first time in downtown Washington DC

Bob "Daddy-O" Wad across the street from his boots

   The transportation of the giant boots was an adventure in itself. The boots got stuck in an overpass before leaving the Washington DC. The trucks transporting the oversized footwear had to take back roads all the way to Texas to avoid police, using CB radios to alert the drivers to possible trouble.
   
The boots being reassembled in San Antonio
   In the early days at the mall, KTSA radio became the talk of the town when they built a broadcast booth atop the boot.  For a short time, a homeless man had made a home inside the boot. Today the World’s Largest Pair of Boots has become one of San Antonio’s most recognizable sites. 

   The Iguana begat the Boots, the Boots begat the Frogs.  The six frogs were originally located in Dallas on lower Greenville Ave atop a club called Tango were Bob Wade's next iconic commission. The club was opened by Shannon Wynne, the son of Angus Wynne, the developer of Six Flags.

   The club was originally to be named Six Frogs over Tango. Like the Iguana, Dallas neighbors complained about the frogs. Eventually, the frogs were removed and took a circular tour of Texas. For a while they rested above a gas station south of Dallas called Carl's Corner.

The Frogs atop the Chuy's in Nashville
   Today, 3 are in Nashville atop a Chuy's restaurant and 3 are back on Greenville Ave atop the Taco Cabana which sits at the same address as Tango. 

The Frogs at Taco Cabana





Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my book,



"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"


                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dallas Jail Starts Out As Luxury Hotel

   Every day from my studio, I can see the beautiful Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (aka The Big Bent Pole) but I also see the Bill Decker Detention Center.


   Most people probably don't know that this jail was once a luxury hotel where the Beatles stayed on the one trip to Dallas.  Back in the 60s this was a rather upscale join known as the Cabana Motor Hotel. Doris Day was a one time owner. Raquel Welch once worked their as a cocktail waitress

   Enjoy a blast from the bast, The Cabana Motor Hotel, in more glamorous days.









News Story from December 12, 1984




Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my book,



"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"


                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Who Was Harry Hines? - The Forgotten Harry Hines Memorial


   I took an informal poll yesterday and asked people what was the first thing that came to mind when I mention "Harry Hines"

   Seediness,  streetwalkers, industrial were a few of the otherwise unpleasant descriptions I received about the infamous Dallas boulevard. Fair?  Perhaps.

   Did you know that Harry Hines Boulevard ends in uptown just a block from the new deck park? Did you ever stop and wonder who was Harry Hines?  Obviously, someone thought he did something noteworthy enough to name a thoroughfare after him, albeit a notorious one.

   I have to admit, I never really thought much about it until I stumbled across this small park near downtown. I use the term stumble, because when I went back with my camera, I wandered around for 20 minutes trying to find it again.

  The park is at the corner of Harry Hines Boulevard and Ashland, is less than a half acres and has a small monument in the middle. Thousand of cars pass by everyday in this midtown maze of streets but few realize the answer to "Who Was Harry Hines?" sits under a large shade tree.










   The memorial gives us not only insight into who he was, but the high esteem he was given by city leaders. It is also a cautionary tale, be careful where you place your name. The plaque reads:

       "Harry Hines, in whose honor Harry Hines Boulevard was named, served six years as Chairman of the Texas Highway Commission 1935 -1945

      His foresight envisioned the need for a new route north and northwest out of Dallas and carried to culmination what can appropriately be considered Dallas' first step toward a divided expressway system, which will prove a lasting tribute to his vision for our city and state.

   This memorial placed by friends who held him in high esteem and affection

   1886 - 1956






Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my book,



"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"

                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers




Monday, August 4, 2014

Dallas' Bridge Park


   First there was the wildly successful Klyde Warren Deck Park between Uptown and Downtown. Now comes Dallas' newest attraction, the Bridge Park.

   Opened with relatively minor fanfare, the bridge park was built on the old Continental Avenue Bridge which was replaced by the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.  Today it connects pedestrians to the two areas which are predicted to have immense changes in the next 20 years, Riverside Boulevard (formerly Industrial Boulevard) and West Dallas.

    Below are a few photos of Dallas most unusual park.
The Continental Bridge in the shade of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Looking east, toward downtown


A climbing . . . blob


Chess Tables, Umbrellas and Vines that will eventually add shade


Misters and loungers give a place to cool off and get sun.


Underneath the bridges, running trails



One of many chairs, benches and tables on the bridge park

One of many chairs, benches and tables on the bridge park

Looking west toward Trinity Groves


A small playground with the climbing blob

Great views of the parallel Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge


A short distance away is the new Sylvan Avenue Bridge which has an offramp that will connect you to the new running trails and other park features in the Trinity River Project.





Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my book,



"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"

                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Update: The Katy Trail Extension


NOTE: The original post is followed by a further update



   Dallas has one of the most extensive bike and jogging trail systems in the U.S. One of the most exciting developments in recent years have been plans to extend the popular Katy Trail to White Rock Lake.


   The plan is to build a bridge over Mockingbird Lane and then have the trail mostly follow the Dart line from Mockingbird Station to White Rock Station on the north side of the lake.
Rendering of the Katy trail Bridge over Mockingbird Ave.

      There has only been a small bit of work done at Mockingbird Lane. It will be the last piece of the trails extention to be completed.  Most people, including myself, would probably be surprised how much work has already been done.

      I noticed a few days ago that a portion of the trail that follows Northwest Highway towards the White Rock Dart Station had already been finished and striped.

This final portion of the Katy Trail Extension runs parallel to Northwest Highway.  It follows the path of an old alley which some homes still use to access their garages.  I wonder how this is going to work.
   I decided to walk the new portion of the trail and follow to where it disappeared from view of Northwest Highway motorist. I discovered that a significant portion of the extension is already finished.

The Katy extension headed north toward Northwest Highway
Standing in the same spot, looking south


   What's interesting is that the trail will follow the Dart Green line from Mockingbird Station until it reaches the as of now undeveloped Union Pacific Trail. A tall ramp will be built to bring the trail down to the rail line. It appears that for now the trail will go north to Northwest Highway, then east to the Dart Station. From there, you take another trail south to the lake. 
   

Pylons being built for a ramp that will lower the trail to the Union Pacific Trail, which is owned by DART

Sadly,  I'm not the only person to discover this portion of the Katy Trail Extension. A tagger has already ruined a portion of the trial. 


   Unlike the original portion of the Katy Trail, this section of the Extension is very secluded. Even though the trail bisects two neighborhoods, it's set considerably lower and gives you a feeling of being out in the country.   
    We are still a few years away from the Extension being completed. The bridge over Mockingbird will be the final piece. In the meantime, joggers and cyclist will still have a considerable amount of trails to discover.


UPDATE:   July  2014

   More sections have been completed, but you'd really have to search to find them.  The bridge that connects the trail from the Dart Line to the Union Pacific Trail toward Northwest Highway has been completed, although it is not open yet.



FACING EAST AT RIDGEWOOD REC CENTER

An unfinished path of the Katy Trail Extension just north of Mockingbird at Fisher Ave and Ridgewood Park.  This is a view facing east.  The trail parallels the Dart line and will turn north toward Northwest Highway via the old Union Pacific Rail Line

A couple of views of the bridge that lowers the trail from street level to the old rail line



FACING WEST AT  RIDGEWOOD REC CENTER

Facing west at Fisher Avenue, the trail travels behind the Ridgewood Rec Center.  A trailhead parking lot is being used as a  construction site

The trail passes buy a new splash park


Headed west, the trail near the Dart Line headed toward Mockingbird Station

    





Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my book,



"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"

                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Update: Fort Worth's Forgotten Park to Reopen


Note: This Story was originally published in 2011. This past week, the city of Fort Worth announced that they are taking bids to restore and reopen the park, hopefully by 2016. 


   Can you have a city park designed by a prominent landscape architect and have nobody notice when it closes?  The answer is yes, which is easy to understand when you consider that few people have ever noticed that the park even existed. What makes this story so unbelievable is that the park is on a busy downtown corner across the street from the Tarrant County Courthouse.



   Heritage Park was opened on the corner of Belknap and Main in downtown Fort Worth to commemorate the founding of the original military post in 1849. The park, designed by noted architect Lawrence Halprin, opened in 1976. It featured numerous water features intermingled with shaded paths and a cantilevered walkway built over the bluff overlooking the Trinity River.

  But even though the park was located on a busy intersection, it was one with little foot traffic. Few people noticed Heritage Park. And even fewer noticed in 2007 when the park fell into disrepair and was closed.


   It's been three years since the park has closed. But there is little public uproar to reopen the grounds. I contacted the city of Fort Worth and received a reply from Fernando Costa, the Assistant City Manager.  He wrote that the city is working with Downtown Fort Worth Inc. to raise funds to repair and upgrade the park. But in the past three years, little has been done. Meanwhile, the park is slowly being taking over by nature.

The cantilevered walkway can still be seen on the bluff above the Trinity, even though the trees  have begun to block the view. 

The Water Wall behind chain link.

An ironic caption 'The Vision Endures" on the sign outside the park

A Water Wall that includes the map of the original settlement sits behind chain link.

An urban oasis on the other side of the fence.

A diminished view of the park from the Main Street Street Bridge.


Heritage Park on North Main Street at the top of the Trinity River Bridge



Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my book,


"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"

                                                       Reviews From Amazon.com Readers