Last month I described the man behind the development of Highland Park West: Edgar H. Perry. This month I wanted to start highlighting some interesting facts about the development of Highland Park West.
One of my favorite discoveries throughout all my research is a little-known fact, documented in a single article from March of 1945, that the original name proposed for our neighborhood was not Highland Park West… it was “Sky Park”! And the original plans submitted to the Travis County Commissioners Court and Austin City Council by Edgar Perry and Barnes Hoff (engineer) in 1945 included “a private airport with administration building and two directional runways”.
I think this ties in well with an observation in the book “Power, Money & The People: The Making of Modern Austin” that Perry was a man of “long vision”. Clearly, Mr. Perry had an ambitious vision not only to build a subdivision and provide more housing for a growing city, but also to create a revolutionary and futuristic community. The airport clearly never happened, but there are other examples of his intent to make something extraordinary.
At that time Charles Granger was the Austin City Planner and he and Arthur Fehr were also serving as consultants to Perry and Hoff on aspects of the development. Highland Park West was intended from the beginning as a “nucleated development”, with large lots planned around a neighborhood center. Fehr and Granger envisioned the neighborhood center as an elementary school, park and community shopping center, all “uncut by roads” so that “children can go from school to park to shopping center without crossing a single street.”
The first ads for Highland Park West began appearing in late 1946, in the Austin American Real Estate Classifieds, instructing readers to “Drive out Bull Creek Road to the Highland Park West sign at 45th. Turn left and drive down Highland Terrace until you reach Perry Lane, the entrance to Highland Park West.” Other ads touted that “Parks… Schools… Community Center have all been PAINSTAKINGLY and SCIENTIFICALLY planned” as well as a “Special GI Section” reserved for “America’s fighting men”.