Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) was honored with two awards by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) in ceremonies at the association’s annual institute in Frisco on March 2, 2023. Pan American Neighborhood Park was honored with designation as a Lone Star Legacy Park, and PARD’s Historic Preservation and Tourism Program won the Promotions & Marketing Excellence Award – Class I for the production of the documentary Parque Zaragoza: Communidad, Cultura, y Resiliencia
Pan American Neighborhood Park is 5.23-acre park located at 2100 East Third Street in East Austin. Although the park and recreation center moved to this location in 1956, the roots go back to 1940 when the former Comal School building was transformed into the Latin American Community Center by the National Youth Administration (NYA), one of the 1930s New Deal programs that brought federal investment to communities across the country. By 1946, Austin’s Recreation Department assumed management of the center.
In 1956, a new Pan American Recreation Center opened in the newly created Pan American Park adjacent to Zavala Elementary School. The new recreation center was the first in the city designed and built by the City of Austin for recreation purposes, and it was the first time a municipal park and recreation center were used to support a school in Austin. The famous and popular Hillside Theater was added at the base of the grassy hill beside the center in 1958. Today, Pan American Park is a physical reminder of the significance of this public space in the cultural history of Austin’s diverse community. A Lone Star Legacy Park is a park that holds special prominence in the local community and the state of Texas.