Suburban Assault

Garland, The Town Texas Forgot

with 11 comments

Run Down Garland

Run Down Garland

Or maybe not.

Garland is a suburban city just northeast of Dallas and east of my town, Richardson. Being tucked away from most major highways, many of the newer corporations (and their wealth) that are settling in north Texas, seemed to stay away – bringing better economy to the rest of the metroplex. With the exception of the growth along the PGB Tollway and the Firewheel Town Center, Garland seemed to truly be a forgotten town in north Texas.

On my typical drives through Garland I’m always left wondering, what has happened to this town? What seemed like grand, old shopping centers are abandoned and left for dust. Empty lots are ignored and overgrown. Sidewalks and streets are cracked and sprinkled with debris and litter. Used car lots, fast food restaurants and thrift shops seem to outnumber grocery stores. Garland is old and showing it’s years – at least to those driving by.

I took a spin through the heart of the city this morning expecting nothing more than a few colorful and well textured photos. I figured that I would at least get a nice ride and satisfy any curiosity I might have for exploring my neighboring town.

My first impression of Garland is that the drivers are less than friendly to cyclists. You can tell this by the way they over-rev their engines as they pass you. Like most Texas drivers, I expect that they are just not used to seeing too many bicycle riders around town and don’t have the patience to go around them. I mostly stick with back streets, but since I’m not too familiar with those in Garland, I had to keep to the sidewalks of the main streets.

As I rode into town, my expectations were met as I came across several run-down businesses and shopping centers. The discoveries were sad but interesting which lead me explore more and drive myself towards downtown.

As I got closer to downtown Garland, I started to notice that the surrounding homes were getting nicer. Some of the older buildings and churches appeared to be better maintained and, in contrast to some of the previous shopping centers, occupied. This looked promising.

Unexpectedly, when I arrived to the downtown area, I discovered a nice little town center that seemed on the verge of being completely revitalized. Some of the older buildings have been restored, and there was the presence of some new urban-type development. Loft like apartments were springing up just south of the DART rail station which complimented the new Patty Granville Art Center very well.

I’ve seen this type of suburban-urban development in Plano, Addison and Richardson, but somehow, they didn’t seem as well executed as what I saw in Garland. I’m starting to see a really nice destination being developed here and I hope to see it thrive.

Garland has taken me by surprise. I would never have expected to see this small pocket of cool in an area with such unappreciated surroundings. To be honest, I was feeling a bit jealous. It just goes to show you that you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover. If you have a town like Garland in your neck of the woods, don’t just write it off. Take a chance and explore it on your bike. You never know what you might find.

At this point, my only true criticism is that it isn’t very bicycle safe. I hope bike friendly routes are in the plan for Garland.

Written by dickdavid

September 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm

11 Responses

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  1. It is my understanding (as an employee of another local municipality) that back when they were building 635, Garland made the conscious decision to minimize the number of exits from the freeway into Garland. They took the absolute minimum number of exits that was allowed. Why? They envisioned Garland as a “bedroom community”, and didn’t want the traffic and other stuff associated with more freeway exits.

    As time passed, the result was that economic development largely passed Garland by. No malls, as there was no good way to get to them. Industry? Well, trucks generally want easy access to a town via Freeways. And it doesn’t help that Garland is geographically very big, so having few exits is a real problem.

    I grew up in far east Richardson – about 2 blocks from Garland. Cross Jupiter Rd and you are in Garland. And as soon as you cross Jupiter, things turn to crap. It is a totally visible change in the environment. You go from well maintained homes in Richardson to run-down, crappy homes, a large percentage of which are rented out. Essentially scummy rental slums. And it has been that way for years. My folks live in a nice neighborhood in Garland, but it is surrounded by an increasing area of blight. Totally depressing — I wish they’d move back to Richardson.

    As soon as you go into Garland – yes – the drivers get crappier and more aggressive. It comes with the territory. I hate to sound like an elitist dick, but its just true.

    My biggest concern is the encroachment of crappy Garland into East Richardson. I feel like the city council is aware of the need to keep this from happening, but it is hard to stop. At least they are aware. I’m hoping that the rebuilding of Huffines Park and Rec center, and other redevelopment, will prevent the dirtbagization of East Richardson.

    Yes, Downtown Garland is surprisingly cool. Very weird.

    I’ll shut up now. I could talk about this all day.


    September 7, 2009 at 10:50 am

  2. Being a resident of East Richardson, I hope your right. I know exactly what you are saying about crossing Jupiter – it’s like night and day. I’m hoping that the volunteer HOAs around here will keep Richardson looking nice, and I hope the city does it’s part by maintaining the infrastructure and enforcing code.

    It does make it hard to belong to the rest of Richardson when you are isolated by a huge industrial area – some of which is abandoned – as well as US 75. At least there are nice areas like Sharrell Park (like or hate golf – courses always keep property values up) and some new development near the PGB Tollway.

    BTW, I love the term ‘dirtbagization’!! LOL!!!


    September 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm

  3. You may want to check this website every now and then to keep up with all the latest developments and redevelopments around the region:

    There has been quite a bit of discussion about downtown Garland on the site.


    September 7, 2009 at 3:55 pm

  4. Thanks man! Cool site.

    I really think that code enforcement is key. If I let the grass get too tall behind my fence, or my trees get too low over the street, I get a letter from the city of Richardson. They are on top of code enforcement, and will take care of business. But there also has to be some vision of what they want to do with economic development. There are a few neighborhoods in Richardson that are a bit downtrodden, but not too bad.


    September 7, 2009 at 4:07 pm

  5. Thanks for the link, palchik. I’ll need to check it out.

    Bob – you are right about the economic development. According to “Richardson Today” the Convention and Visitors Bureau are putting together a smarter marketing plan to help with awareness. Hopefully, that’ll lead into some economic growth.

    Also, I do like how the city is helping some neighborhoods with new retaining walls that will, at least, give the impression of a nicer looking city. I’m also glad that they are making efforts for cycling. Today, I finally discovered the bike only lanes on Grove Road. It was like Christmas to me.


    September 7, 2009 at 4:21 pm

  6. Those new walls, on the north side of Arapaho over by your neighborhood look nice. I’m not sure, but I think the walls they are replacing may be the original walls — which were built in the mid 70s!


    September 7, 2009 at 9:15 pm

  7. […] Garland, The Town Texas Forgot « Suburban Assault by dickdavid Like most Texas drivers, I expect that they are just not used to seeing too many bicycle riders around town and don’t have the patience to go around them. I mostly stick with back streets, but since I’m not too familiar with those in … Share and Enjoy: […]

  8. Really great post. I love the website. I’ll be adding it to my bookmarks! Keep it up!


    September 8, 2009 at 8:27 pm

  9. Thanks, Michael! That really means a lot.

    I hope to do more write-ups about my rides around town as well as post stories that other folks have while riding around their towns.


    September 8, 2009 at 9:01 pm

  10. […] Cities: – Richardson, Texas – Plano, Texas – Garland, Texas – Done – Dallas, […]

  11. […] Edit: It’s occurred to me that in my efforts to praise Richardson, this post may have come off a little negative towards our neighbor Garland. That was not the intent. Although these guard rails are not best display of aesthetics, they are functional at keeping the neighborhoods safe. Also, in contrast to Richardson, Garland has had great success in reviving their downtown infrastructure. You can read a little about it here. […]

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