Thanks-Giving Square

Honoring Our Founders

In 1964, four businessmen — Joe O. Neuhoff, Julius Schepps, John M. Stemmons, and Peter P. Stewart — 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.

As President of the Foundation Directors, Peter P. Stewart was the driving force behind this effort, involved in every step as the ambitious vision was transformed into reality. His guidance ensured that the oasis created in downtown Dallas was not merely a park, but a “shrine for the future.” Fifty years later, Stewart and The Thanks-Giving Foundation were honored with the Spirit of the United Nations Award for Youth Outreach.

Leadership by the founders and the sacrifices of countless citizens and donors contributed to make Thanks-Giving Square a reality, not just for the current generation but for generations to come.

Thanks-Giving Square

Celebrating Our History

Researchers and spiritual leaders discovered a long history of “giving and living thanks” in Dallas. Thanksgiving — gratitude in action — was recognized as a human universal, present in cultures and faith traditions around the world. The Thanks-Giving Foundation was chartered to create a public space in the heart of the city dedicated in gratitude to God and to the “most ancient and enduring of American traditions.”

Forming the first public-private venture in the city’s history, the Thanks-Giving Foundation worked with the City of Dallas to acquire land in 1968. Construction began in 1973. Designated as one of the region’s American Revolution Bicentennial Projects, the Chapel of Thanksgiving and the Bell Tower were dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1976. President Gerald Ford recognized Thanks-Giving Square as a “major national shrine.” The remainder of the grounds opened in 1977, two hundred years after General George Washington proclaimed the first national Day of Thanksgiving on request of the Continental Congress.

Today, Thanks-Giving Square continues to serve as common ground 
where people of all cultures and religions are welcome. What began as a simple park has become a refuge and space to celebrate values, thoughts, and spirituality.

 Facts and Figures

  • As much as 6,000 gallons of water continuously cascade down the Great Fountain and recirculate throughout the system.
  • Thanks-Giving Square sits atop the city-operated Bullington Truck Terminal, which provides loading docks for 43 trucks servicing surrounding high-rise buildings via cartways and conveyor systems. It was estimated that this facility could remove up to 350 trucks daily from city streets.
  • A time capsule dedicated in 1996 contains statements of thanksgiving to be opened by the citizens of Dallas in the years 2064 and 2164. It is located in the Court of All Nations.
  • Three monoliths set in surrounding street corners celebrate the traditions of thanksgiving in Texas, America, and across the world. Each is made from Sierra Granite and weighs 7.5 tons.

"This vertical dimension in man's life penetrates into a horizontal city, and this little piece of land will acknowledge man's dependence on the Divine. As Liberty is symbolized in New York Harbor, Thanksgiving will come to life in Dallas."

For 50 years, people around the world saw our city through the lens of the Kennedy assassination. Through that tragedy, modern-day Dallas was born. A great city. Those of us who love this city always knew there was so much more to Dallas than what happened on that day in 1963. Now, the year following that, this oasis, Thanks-Giving Square, began to come to life. This place is not really a park. It is a piece of the soul of our city. The idea was that we needed a gathering place. A place for unity of people of all backgrounds, of all religions, of all races. A place to say thank-you. A place of thankfulness.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings2016

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