DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas skyline through the years — each decade more dazzling than the last. In 1978, that view stopped traffic with the opening of Reunion Tower.

“There’s no way they could have guessed that in almost every postcard or picture of Dallas, Reunion Tower and the Hyatt would be in that picture,” said Chris Kleinert, president of Hunt Realty Investments. His father-in-law, Ray Hunt, bought the first 20 acres of land on the edge of downtown Dallas for $2.92 a square foot.

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“Ray had the idea of ‘Let’s create something new down here,'” Kleinert explained.

Hunt turned an overgrown, grassy lawn into the Reunion Project: the Hyatt hotel, Reunion Arena and Reunion Tower, known locally as ‘The Ball.’ “One of the things that I always find fascinating is that there really hadn’t been a structure like this built before,” Kleinert said.

(credit: Reunion Tower)

Never seen before. The silo-like design was meant to be a surprise. A 16-foot scale model was built on a farm to protect the secret. “The process of building the tower was basically one inch, one foot at a time; and once we started, we couldn’t stop construction,” Kleinert said.

Upon completion: an observation deck, twinkling with lights, rising 560 feet into the air. Inside: two revolving restaurants to soak in the view.

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When the “Dallas” soap opera premiered that same year — and featured Reunion Tower in the opening credits — the world got a look. Every day, people stop in for a tour. The tower is also a popular place for marriage proposals.

Reunion Tower is a modern attraction today. Colorful LED lights were added about five years ago. A renovation of the observation deck added touch screens and interactive displays, fit for sharing on social media.

(credit: Vince Bosquez/CBSDFW.COM)

“You just begin to say, ‘Wow, look at uptown and how it’s changed. Look at downtown and how it’s changed. You can see Fort Worth and look at how the Fort Worth skyline has changed, and AT&T Stadium,” Kleinert said of the view. As the tower approaches its 40th birthday next year, KIeinert can look back on the changing landscape, and the things that remain the same.

“There’s a certain amount of pride that comes with Reunion Tower. People feel like it’s theirs, so that’s something that hasn’t changed,” Kleinert said.

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Reunion Tower and Hunt Realty are collaborating with AT&T to bring a Texas-sized New Year’s Eve event to Dallas again this year. For the second year, the only 360-degree, panoramic fireworks spectacular in the Central time zone will light up the Dallas sky, starting at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 31, 2017.