The 1906 tourism pamphlet for Lake Cliff Park

"The greatest amusement device of the century," the Circle Swing at Lake Cliff Park, 1906. Photo courtesy of texashistory.org via the Dallas Public Library
“The greatest amusement device of the century,” the Circle Swing at Lake Cliff Park, 1906. Photo courtesy of texashistory.unt.edu, via the Dallas Public Library

The Lake Cliff Park Centennial Celebration, commemorating its 100 years as a city park, is Saturday, Sept. 20.

Neighbor Hal Prestige found this 40-page booklet about Lake Cliff Park, which was built as a private amusement park in 1906. The booklet aimed at drawing tourists to Lake Cliff, and it details all of the park’s attractions. Flip through the pages, or keep reading for the highlights.

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Charles Mangold made his fortune as a liquor wholesaler.

Charles A. Mangold, who moved to Dallas from Cincinnati in 1885, is one of the founders of Oak Cliff and was the managing director of the Lake Cliff Co. “Mr. Mangold is undoubtedly one of the best known and most popular personalities in Dallas business circles,” the pamphlet sates. Lake Cliff Park and the Houston Street Viaduct were part of Mangold’s vision for Oak Cliff. Mangold also built the Jefferson Hotel, which opened in 1917 near where Reunion Tower is now. It was demolished in the ’70s.

Sponsored Message

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Sponsored Message

S&M Whiskey or Gleason’s grape juice, pick your poison.

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Sponsored Message

In writing previous stories about the park’s history, I presumed the park’s Casino wasn’t for gambling but could never confirm that. The pamphlet mentions no gambling (although Mangold did have horse racing interests). The Casino was just the name of the park’s grand theater. The theater’s main floor seated 1,400, and a mezzanine level with cafe seated another 600. There were several shows and orchestra performances daily that cost between 10 cents and 30 cents.

The theater itself was on the second floor, and on the first floor was “a modern soft drink emporium.”

The Casino and park were especially dramatic and enchanting for 1906 Dallas, population nearing 150,000, because they had electric lights.

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This was the only Oak Cliff business, unless you count Gleason’s juice, that advertised in the pamphlet.

Development had just begun in 1906 Oak Cliff. The Houston Street Viaduct was six years in the future. Here are directions to the park, via the pamphlet: “The large red cars [of the Consolidated Traction Co.] heading West on Commerce Street and marked ‘Lake Cliff Park’ or ‘Oak Cliff, N. Loop’ go directly to the park’s entrance. The route to the park runs through the Western edge of the business section of the city and crosses the Trinity bottoms, then up the hill through the beautiful residence suburbs of Oak Cliff to the park.”

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The floor of the park’s 18,000-square-foot skating rink was constructed with white maple. Look closely and you can see that the wood was laid in a circle. Two thousand people could fit on the skating floor, and the building could hold a total of 4,500 people. There was no DJ or strobe lights. But there were electric lamps hung from the ceiling and a military band. I’ve never been able to find a clear picture of the exterior of this building, which burned to the ground in 1917.

Go here to see more vintage images of Lake Cliff Park, and read our September feature story on how neighbors are working to both preserve and update the park as it turns 100 years old.

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