Marc Fein, NBC 5 News
The Pike Park Recreation Center turns 100 this weekend and there's a renewed effort to restore the Dallas landmark.
The heart of what was once Dallas' Little Mexico neighborhood turns 100 this weekend.
The Pike Park Recreation Center is a historical landmark in the city, although the building is now empty and decaying. The city closed it three years ago because of budget cuts.
The rec center was built in 1913 by members of the Polish Jewish community that lived in the area. In the 1920s, Mexican immigrants created a community along what's now Harry Hines Boulevard.
Today, the area is known as Uptown Dallas and is filled with high rises and businesses.
"Where the Crescent [hotel] is, that was Little Mexico," said Anita N. Martinez, who became Dallas' first Hispanic city council member in 1969. "Where the Rolex Building is, that was Little Mexico."
Martinez grew up in the neighborhood, on Caroline Street.
"It was like everybody was your grandmother, everybody was your aunt," she said.
Albert Gonzalez, another Little Mexico native, said it was a great neighborhood."
"Everyone looked after each other, especially in the housing projects," he said. "If I misbehaved, the lady two, three doors down would get after me and tell my mom."
And the Pike Park Rec Center was the heart of the community.
"We would have dances, food, parties and gatherings," Gonzalez said.
Members of the Dallas Mexican American Historical League are conducting a campaign to restore and reopen the rec center.
The 100-year celebration of Pike Park is Saturday at 10 a.m. at 2807 Harry Hines Blvd.