Last night we hosted Kings Highway’s First Friday at our house. I think Winnetka Heights and East Kessler have their own versions of this. Perhaps your neighborhood does too…it’s our monthly happy hour that rotates between various neighbor’s homes. It got me to thinking "what makes a neighborhood feel like home?" When Val and I relocated here 10 years ago (zoiks!) from New York City, we moved into the Kings Highway neighborhood. It’s a 40 block area from Davis to Stewart and Tyler to Mary Cliff that was the original Conservation District in Dallas (CD1).

We lived in a duplex, but in time needed our own house. At that moment, the buying conversation went something like this:

me: We can live anywhere in Oak Cliff or Lakewood
Val: (looks at me, as I thinking out loud)
me: No, really just Oak Cliff
Val: (nothing)
me: Well, North Oak Cliff
Val; (blinks)
me: Um, actually Kings Highway is it. Yes we can move anywhere in Kings Highway.
Val: Glad you worked that out for us.

But it brings up questions: What is it that makes a neighborhood special? Likable? Connected? Is it the houses or the people? Is the sidewalks or the events? Is it quarterly meetings or just a unique moment in time?

When we moved here, the neighborhood association was fully formed, but only active about once a year. Rick Garza and other neighbors had brought it together from it’s low point just a decade prior…conserving architecture as well as building neighborhood pride with sign toppers. I started by helping with the events and Val with crime watch and code issues. We saw the potential to get neighbors together more often, as a way to connect, but also as a way to improve safety by knowing who lived nearby. It wasn’t long before we were having a monthly happy hour (First Friday) and adding a park on Edgefield Ave.

Part of what makes Kings Highway special is the blend of people and the variety of architecture. But for me, more than anything, what make me love it, is the willingness of the neighbors to participate. Great folks like Paul Zubiate (who’s leading iBike Rosemont this spring…more on that later) and Amy Cowan (ever heard of Oak Cliff Mardi Gras? Bastille on Bishop? Brew Riot?). And bike-aficionado Jonathan Braddick, as well as Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Not to mention the countless doctors, artists, business owners and other professionals who call Kings Highway home. We are active in Kings Highway and also in the area/city at large. And, as evidenced by last night, we love a party.

So if you live in Kings Highway, good on you! Or if you live elsewhere, I’d love to hear what makes you love your neighborhood . And lastly, if you are reading this and are wishing that you had a better neighborhood, get busy. You are the gateway to a special place.