In 1906, Charles Mangold and his partners purchased 50 acres of land at Zang and Colorado, creating a park they dubbed "the Southwest's Greatest Playground". The park opened on July 4th and featured an amusement park, a giant pool and waterslides, a skating rink billed as the world's largest, and three theaters. Â The largest theater was the 2,500 seat Casino, which was the location of Dallas's first summer musical series.
A flood in May of 1908 collapsed all the bridges linking Oak Cliff and Dallas and submerged the streetcar tracks that brought Dallasites to the park. A new bridge was open by 1914, but money troubles forced Mangold to sell 44 acres of the park to the city of Dallas for $55,000, with the stipulation that he could relocate buildings. The casino theater was moved to 5th and Crawford and burned to the ground in 1929. Â
One feature that remained on the site was the swimming pool, which was Dallas's first municipal swimming pool. Â A bath house opened in 1921.
It was demolished after the pool closed in 1959, when a polio scare resulted in the closing of public pools.
In 1919, George Kessler created a master plan for Lake Cliff that included a baseball diamond, football field, adult and children's swimming pools as well as a boathouse. The plan also called for formal gardens. According to Images of America: Historic Dallas Parks, it is unclear how much of Kessler's formal garden was developed.
The first plan for the rose gardens that the park became known for was one of many Dallas city park designs created by landscape architect Wynne Woodruff in 1934. The Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts planted the initial 2,000 rose bushes.
WPA workers built a rogue court, picnic units, walkways and a bridge, a fountain, and a retaining wall. The formal rose garden was reinvented in 1940-41 and extensive additional landscaping was completed by WPA workers.
A 1934 design by Hare and Hare created a plan with a pergola wrapping around the rose gardens. Â The WPA completed this construction work.
Between 2007 and 2008, FOCP restored the rose gardens and the Parks and Recreation Department restored the pergola during 2009-2010.
1200 N. Zang Blvd., Dallas, TX, 75203