Welcome

The Thanks-Giving Foundation welcomes you to Thanks-Giving Square. This space is designed to inspire gratitude and to honor the great American and world traditions of thanksgiving. Explore the historical exhibits and artwork on display; pause for reflection in our spiritual spaces. Enjoy your visit!

[1] Overview

Thanks-Giving Square affirms the reality of gratitude as a common root of religions, cultures and traditions worldwide.

In 1964, four businessmen 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.

Researchers and spiritual leaders discovered a long history of giving and living thanks in Dallas. Thanksgiving, which is gratitude in action, was recognized as a human universal present in cultures and faith traditions around the world. The Thanks-Giving Foundation was started to create a public space in the center of Dallas dedicated in gratitude to God and to this most ancient and enduring tradition.

Partnering with the City of Dallas, construction began in 1973 and the Square was dedicated in 1976. President Gerald Ford recognized Thanks-Giving Square as a major national shrine. 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.

The Thanks-Giving Foundation

The Thanks-Giving Foundation has organized international convocations and seminars to promote understanding, harmony, and friendship in a community of diverse faith traditions and cultures. Guests of Thanks-Giving Square include President Gerald Ford, the Dalai Lama, Rosa Parks, Arun Gandhi, President George H.W. Bush, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Martin Luther King III, W. Deen Mohammed, and Archbishop of Canterbury, and George Carey. The Interfaith Council consists of representatives from 26 faith denominations, covering almost every major continent of the world.

In 1981, the Thanks-Giving Foundation collaborated with President Ronald Reagan and Ambassador Anne Armstrong to name the first Thursday in May the National Day of Prayer in the United States. As a longtime United Nations Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), the Thanks-Giving Foundation inspired the U.N. to adopt the year 2000 as the “Year of World Thanksgiving.” In 2012, Thanks-Giving Square received the Spirit of the United Nations Award for Youth Outreach.

The Foundation provides information and resources so that citizens from diverse backgrounds can use thanksgiving and gratitude as ways to heal divisions and enhance mutual understanding.

Landscape, Art and Architecture

Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Philip Johnson was commissioned to bring the vision of Thanks-Giving Square to life. The Square is set fifteen feet below ground level with a four-foot wall blocking the sight of automobiles to create a serene, green island. At the western end of Thanks-Giving Square rises the bell tower where the processional experience begins. Walkways provide areas to sit and meditate.

Water plays a prominent role in the landscape, with active fountains masking city noise and leading visitors to the Center Court of Praise with its calm pools and Hall of Thanksgiving.

At the east end of Thanks-Giving Square stands the interfaith Chapel of Thanksgiving, a curving white structure symbolizing the ancient spiral of life and suggesting the infinite upward reach of the human spirit. A 100-foot-long bridge crosses the Great Fountain to arrive at the Chapel, which serves as a gathering place and a spiritual center for the daily life of the city.

Overt Religious symbolism is intentionally absent from the decoration of Thanks-Giving Square. Granite markers include references from Scripture, and the 100th Psalm is featured prominently in quotes and messages as delineated by Hindu, Jewish, Christian and Muslim authorities. Expressions of thanksgiving can be seen in mosaic, stained glass, engraving, and graphic art adorning the walls and windows throughout Thanks-Giving Square.

Begin your tour at the [2] Court of All Nations and look for the   icon on the sign.

[2] Court of All Nations

The Court of All Nations is the ceremonial entry to Thanks-Giving Square, celebrating gratitude and thanksgiving as a human value present in cultures around the world. Above, three great bronze bells call the world daily to celebrate in thanksgiving. Each bears an inscription from Psalms. The high bell states “God Loves Us” (Psalm 136), the middle bell “We Love God” (Psalm 150), and the deepest bell “Serve God Singing” (Psalm 98). Walk up the ramp to the Golden Rule mosaic and Ring of Thanks.

[3] Golden Rule mosaic by Norman Rockwell (1894–1978). Installed 1996.

Painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell is known for his entertaining covers created for The Saturday Evening Post that depict American culture, but occasionally he had an urge to say something serious. For the April 1, 1961, magazine cover, he painted Golden Rule, an enduring image showing people of the world gathered in unity and prayer. During his research Rockwell noticed that all major religions have the Golden Rule in common: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ People of different religions, races, and ethnicities are represented, some referenced from Rockwell’s travels and others from his hometown of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Public response to this image was overwhelmingly positive.

In 1985, the Thanks-Giving Foundation commissioned a large mosaic reproduction of Golden Rule in honor of the 40th anniversary of the United Nations. Skilled artists at the Cooperativa Scuola Mosaico Veneziano in Venice spent nearly one year creating the larger-than-life image, matching color and tone to stay true to each figure’s emotion. Presented as a gift from the United States by First Lady Nancy Reagan, the mosaic remains a beloved piece of artwork at the United Nations headquarters in New York. A second, slightly-larger mosaic created by the same Venetian studio was dedicated at Thanks-Giving Square in 1996.

Please do not touch the mosaic.

[4] Ring of Thanks

The 14-foot-high gold and aluminum Ring of Thanks rests on the granite Circle of Giving. Standing in the ring’s center, say aloud something or someone that you are grateful for. What do you hear?

[5] Center Court of Praise

The central crossroads of Thanks-Giving Square take inspiration from public gathering spaces around the world. It is here that special events have celebrated “gratitude on the move” through speech, song, and dance. The aluminum and gold ring and nearby text reference this message found in Psalm 100.

[6] Grove and Wall of Presidents

The Grove is a garden area designed for meditation and contemplation. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush dedicated the Wall of Presidents, a special display area celebrating the prayer and thanksgiving words of American presidents. Thanks-Giving Square assembled the first complete collection of official American presidential prayer and Thanksgiving proclamations. To see an archive of these, visit thanksgiving.org/proclamations.

[7] Hall of Thanksgiving

The Hall of Thanksgiving is the exhibition, meeting, and resource center for Thanks-Giving Square. The pillared hall receives dignitaries and provides a forum for lectures, interfaith meetings, and educational programing. Exhibits showcase material on three topics: local thanksgiving, national thanksgiving, and international thanksgiving — and artifacts on display include the Book of Prayers and Presidential Proclamations.

[8] Chapel of Thanksgiving

The Chapel of Thanksgiving is the spiritual center of Thanks-Giving Square. The spiraling shape rises 90 feet above street level, suggesting the infinite upward reach of the human spirit. The Chapel’s design takes its inspiration from the Great Mosque in Samarra, Iraq and the ancient spiral of life. The Chapel is a place to explore unity and diversity among faiths and traditions, moving tolerance to understanding and acceptance to appreciation. Visitors of all faiths are welcome to enter.

[9] The Spirit of Thanksgiving by John Hutton (1906–1978). Installed 1976.

Above the entryway to the Chapel of Thanksgiving is The Spirit of Thanksgiving, an engraved window by artist John Hutton. Representing the divine in some religions, the dove is a symbol used throughout history to depict beauty, peace, hope and thanksgiving. Clear glass was engraved using a rotating bur in the handpiece of an electric drill. Circular surface effects surround a deeply-cut, three-dimensional dove.

Thanks-Giving Square, in the Heart of Dallas by Bjørn Wiinblad (1918–2006). Designed in 1969.

Danish artist Bjørn Wiinblad was inspired by Oriental themes with wavy lines and romantic worlds. His recognizable style often includes strong, bold color and whimsical round-faced people surrounded by natural elements such as vines, wreaths, and trees. Throughout his lifetime, Wiinblad produced paintings, ceramics, stage design, and tapestries, but as a trained typographer he enjoyed creating posters because it was an art form that brought happiness to so many.

For the opening of Thanks-Giving Square in 1976, Bjørn Wiinblad was commissioned to illustrate the tranquil garden of Thanks-Giving Square set amidst the urban city — referencing the Foundation’s charter to create a public space in the heart of the city dedicated in gratitude to God.

Surrounding the poster are statements of gratitude gathered from members of the community and supporters of Thanks-Giving Square. Take a card and write your personal statement of gratitude.

Glory Window by Gabriel Loire (1904–1996). Installed 1976.

The spiral ceiling contains one of the largest horizontally-mounted stained glass windows in the world, designed by French artist Gabriel Loire in 1976. From his workshop in Chartres, France, Loire became a leader in the modern use of dale de verre, which uses 22 mm thick slabs of glass that are much stronger and thicker than the traditional colored glass of the Middle Ages. The glass is cut with special tools and then set in a mortar of epoxy resin.

The Glory Window takes its name from Psalm 19 and contains 73 panels of faceted glass following the spiral shape of the ceiling. Lower panels feature varying shades of blue, which to Loire represented the color of peace. As the spiral continues inwards and upwards, the colors become warmer and brighter until reaching the center where 60 feet above the floor the panels give way to a circle of beaming yellow light. Loire meant this progression to express life with its difficulties, its forces, its joys, its torments, and its frightening aspects. Bit by bit, all of that gives way to an explosion of gold where the summit is reached.

An image of the Glory Window was chosen for the official United Nations stamp in 2000 during the International Year of Thanksgiving. It was also featured in the 2011 Oscar-nominated film The Tree of Life.

Visitors may lie on the chapel floor and look up at the Glory Window, but please be considerate of others.


Thank you for visiting Thanks-Giving Square. We hope you leave inspired. Visit thanksgiving.org to learn more about our mission, or share your personal experience on social media with #thanksgivingsquare. Donations may be placed in the [$] slot inside the chapel or at the Ervay Street door.