Pike Park

111511 0542
Pike Park Gazebo

Pike Park, originally called Summit Play Park, is located just north of Downtown Dallas. It was established in 1913 to create a recreation area for children in a neighborhood that was rapidly changing from residential to industrial use.

The area around the park was originally settled in the 1890s by Eastern European Jewish refugees who typically could not afford to live in areas already established by German Jewish immigrants, many of whom had arrived decades before. Instead, the newly arrived refugees settled on the outskirts of downtown close to the Trinity River. This area experienced frequent street flooding and also had a city-sanctioned red light district, but it also offered inexpensive rent and close proximity to railroad and industrial jobs. In its early days, the neighborhood was known by several names – Frog Town, Little Jerusalem, and Goose Valley – and was very ethnically diverse. Cumberland Hill High School was built in 1888 and is still standing today.

Little Mexico Cinco de Mayo 05-05-1925
Cinco de Mayo celebration in Little Mexico in 1915 (Dallas Public Library)

In 1911, thousands of Latin Americans fleeing the Mexican Revolution began moving into the cramped ten block boundary of Frog Town. Many Jewish residents had already begun the process of relocating to South Dallas, so by 1920 the neighborhood was predominately Hispanic. The neighborhood became known as Little Mexico, and many significant structures and businesses were built during this time. El Fenix was founded in 1918, St. Ann’s School was built in 1927, and Luna Tortilla Factory was built in 1938, to name just a few examples. Only a handful of structures original to Little Mexico and Frog Town remain today.

Pike Park and Little Mexico remained the cultural heart of the Mexican American community in Dallas for decades to come.