Thanks-Giving Square

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Thanks-Giving Square
Thank-Giving Square Mosaic
Thank-Giving Square Mosaic
Type Private Park and Public Facility
Location Dallas, Texas
Coordinates 32°46′58″N 96°47′54″W / 32.78269°N 96.79846°W / 32.78269; -96.79846Coordinates: 32°46′58″N 96°47′54″W / 32.78269°N 96.79846°W / 32.78269; -96.79846
Created 1976 (1976)
Operated by The Thanks-Giving Foundation
Status Open Year-Round
Website Thanks-Giving Square

Thanks-Giving Square is a private park and public facility anchoring the Thanksgiving Commercial Center district of downtown Dallas, Texas (USA). Dedicated in 1976, the complex consists of three components: a landscaped garden and non-denominational chapel building, a major section of the underground pedestrian network, and the Bullington Truck Terminal. It was the first public-private partnership of its kind in Dallas.

Concept[edit]

In 1964, four businessmen wanted the City of Dallas to be known not only for its worldly aspirations and economic accomplishments, but also for the enduring heart of its citizens.

Researchers and spiritual leaders discovered a long history of giving and living thanks in Dallas.[citation needed] Thanksgiving, which is gratitude in action, was recognized as a human universal present in cultures and faith traditions around the world. The Thanks-Giving Foundation was started to create a public space in the center of Dallas dedicated in gratitude to God and to this most ancient and enduring tradition. Partnering with the City of Dallas, construction began in 1973 and the Square was dedicated in November 1976 as one of the city's three United States Bicentennial projects. President Gerald Ford later recognized Thanks-Giving Square as a major national shrine. It welcomes people of all cultures and religions are welcome to celebrate values, thoughts, and spirituality in a contemplative setting. [1]

Concurrent to private development, the City of Dallas constructed transportation infrastructure below the landscaped garden. The City of Dallas leases the land and subsurface from the Thanks-Giving Foundation, but owns the underground structures.

The garden, chapel, and grounds[edit]

Thanks-Giving Square generally refers to the garden and facilities visible at street level, which are owned and operated by the non-profit Thanks-Giving Foundation. Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Philip Johnson was commissioned to bring the vision of Thanks-Giving Square to life. The Square is set fifteen feet below ground level with a four-foot wall blocking the sight of automobiles to create a serene, green island. Water plays a prominent role in the landscape, with active fountains masking city noise.

Overt Religious symbolism is intentionally absent from the decoration of Thanks-Giving Square. Granite markers include references from Scripture, and the 100th Psalm is featured prominently in quotes and messages as delineated by Hindu, Jewish, Christian and Muslim authorities. Mosaic, stained glass, engraving, and graphic art adorn the walls and windows throughout Thanks-Giving Square.[2]

Court of All Nations[edit]

At the western end of the park is the Court of All Nations, the ceremonial entryway that contains the Wall of Praise (featuring a portion of the text from Psalms 100) and Norman Rockwell's "Golden Rule" mosaic. The Ring of Thanks is a 14-foot (4 m) diameter aluminum ring is covered in 23 carat (96%) gold leaf. Visitors can walk through the ring before passing under a 50-foot (15 m) Bell Tower featuring three bronze bells designed in the form of the Liberty Bell.

Center Court of Praise[edit]

In the middle of the garden is the Center Court of Praise, which takes inspiration from public gathering spaces around the world. It is here that special events have celebrated “gratitude on the move” through speech, song, and dance. The aluminum and gold ring and nearby text reference this message found in Psalm 100. This area regularly holds special events, memorial services, and citywide prayer vigils (such as the one held after the 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers).

Grove[edit]

The Grove is a garden area designed for meditation and contemplation. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush dedicated the Wall of Presidents, a special display area celebrating the prayer and thanksgiving words of American presidents.

Hall of Thanksgiving[edit]

Below the chapel is the Hall of Thanksgiving, which tells the story of the American Thanksgiving tradition. The Hall of Thanksgiving is the exhibition, meeting, and resource center for Thanks-Giving Square. The pillared hall receives dignitaries and provides a forum for lectures, interfaith meetings, and educational programming. Artifacts on display include the Book of Prayers and Presidential Proclamations.

Chapel of Thanksgiving[edit]

The Chapel of Thanksgiving is the spiritual center of Thanks-Giving Square open to visitors of all faiths. The spiraling shape rises 90 feet (27.5 m) above street level, suggesting the infinite upward reach of the human spirit. The Chapel’s design takes its inspiration from the Great Mosque in Samarra, Iraq (itself derived from the square, spiral Pillar of Gor in Persia[3]) and the ancient spiral of life. The entrance to the chapel is at the end of a 125-foot (38 m) bridge that runs over a cascading waterfall. The chapel ceiling contains the stained glass "Glory Window", one of largest horizontally mounted stained-glass pieces in the world.[4] The 73 panels of faceted glass were designed by Gabriel Loire of Chartres, France featuring warmer and brighter colors as the spiral reaches its apex in the center. The window appears in a shot in director Terrence Malick's 2011 film The Tree of Life. Above the entry door is the etched glass window "The Spirit of Thanksgiving," designed by glass engraver John Hutton. Artwork by artist Bjørn Wiinblad is also on display. Visitors are encouraged to leave a personal statement of gratitude upon entering.[5]

Gallery of Thanks-Giving Square art and architecture[edit]

Pedway Network[edit]

A major node of the Dallas Pedestrian Network is situated one level below the garden, connecting several adjacent buildings with corridors lined in restaurant and retail space. Consecutive construction with the garden above allowed for skylights, wide walkways and several colorful atriums to disguise the fact that pedestrians are several feet underground. Unlike other portions of the pedway network that were privately constructed, the section beneath Thanks-Giving Square is operated by the City of Dallas. The network is accessed from the Center Court of Praise during business hours. Escalators bring the network to ground level at Bullington Street, which serves as a pedestrian mall and connects to the Bullington-Akard Skywalk. As of 2016, many of the access points have been closed.

Bullington Truck Terminal[edit]

Thanks-Giving Square was originally planned as the first of several traffic-relieving complexes in downtown Dallas. The Bullington Truck Terminal, one of the key features in the Ponte-Travers-designed plan[clarification needed] for downtown circulation, was constructed to consolidate street-level delivery trucks following Dallas' rapid growth in the 1960s. By placing truck traffic below-grade, it was estimated that 350 trucks per day would be removed from ground-level streets. The city issued $6.5 million for the project as part of the 1972 city bond program; construction was finished in 1977.[6]

The city-owned truck terminal lies 50 feet below ground and contains 43 spaces for trucks, which enter from a portal located at Patterson Street. Adjacent buildings such as the Republic Center, Energy Plaza, Thanksgiving Tower and Fidelity Union Tower built connections to the truck terminal at their own expense and use it as their primary loading dock. Despite plans for several similar facilities in the Dallas Central Business District; the Bullington Truck Terminal was the only one funded and completed.

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