Since 1990, Highland Park has maintained strict zoning ordinances. Known for its quality housing, the town still has many parks running along Turtle Creek and is home to the Dallas Country Club.
The land now known as Highland Park was purchased in 1889 by a group of investors from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known as the Philadelphia Place Land Association, for an average price of $377 an acre, with a total of $500,000. Henry Exall, an agent, intended to develop the land along Turtle Creek, as Philadelphia Place, exclusive housing based on parkland areas in Philadelphia. He laid gravel roads and damned Turtle Creek, forming Exall Lake, before the Panic of 1893 brought a blow to his fortunes, halting development. In the 1890s, Exall Lake was a common picnic destination for Dallas residents.
In 1906, John Armstrong (the former partner of Thomas Marsalis, the prominent developer of Oak Cliff), sold his meatpacking business, and invested his money in a portion of the former Philadelphia Place land, to develop it under the name of Highland Park. He chose this name as it was located on high land that overlooked downtown Dallas. Wilbur David Cook, the landscape designer who had planned Beverly Hills, California, and George E. Kessler, who had previously planned Fair Park and most of downtown Dallas, were hired to design its layout in 1907 “as a refuge from an increasingly diverse city.” Notably, twenty percent of the original land was set aside for parks. A second development in Highland Park was established in 1910.
In 1913, Highland Park petitioned Dallas for annexation, but was refused. The 500 residents voted to incorporate on November 29, 1913, and incorporation was granted in 1915 when the population was 1100. The first mayor of Highland Park was W. A. Fraser. A third and fourth development were added to the town in 1915 and 1917, respectively. In 1919, the city of Dallas sought to annex Highland Park, beginning a lengthy controversy that lasted until 1945. J W Bartholow led the fight to resist the annexation. The final major land development occurred in 1924. In 1931, Highland Park Village was constructed, the first shopping center of its kind in the United States.
Due to its location near Dallas, Highland Park had, by the early 1930s, developed a moderately large (8,400) population, with a few businesses. Eventually, the school districts and newspapers of Highland Park and University Park were combined. In the 1940s, after the failure to annex Highland Park, Dallas began annexing the land surrounding it. Reaching a population high of just under 13,000 in the late 1950s, Highland Park afterwards grew only by building houses on the remaining vacant lots, and by the destruction of old buildings.