Bob descending into Ft. Worth Water Gardens, Ft. Worth, TX, December 30, 2018

Bob descending into Ft. Worth Water Gardens, Ft. Worth, TX, December 30, 2018
Bob descending into Ft. Worth Water Gardens, Ft. Worth, TX, December 30, 2018

Monday, December 31, 2018

Panther City: Where the West Begins - Sunday, December 30, 2018

After our exploration of the Fort Worth Water Gardens (see yesterday's blog), we met up with the rest of the Volksmarchers at the Sheraton and signed in for the walk. At 1:00 p.m., with a temperature of 41 degrees, a group of 18 of us headed out. 

Our first stop was the Chisholm Trail marker, very important in this region formerly known for its cattle drives. 


The Chisholm Trail mural, downtown Ft. Worth.

Cattle drives (info is from a historical marker in downtown Fort Worth)
After the Civil War, people in Texas realized that an estimated 3.5 million free-roaming cattle scattered throughout the state were a valuable asset. Between 1886 and 1887, over five million were rounded up to make the five-month, 800-mile trip through Texas to railheads in Kansas.

Fort Worth, the last "civilized" stop before Indian territory, became an important supply center. Driven by 10 to 12 cowboys, or vaqueros, herds forded the Trinity River and bedded down for a few days north of the river. in 1871, a reported 360,000(!) "beeves" were driven through Fort Worth along the Chisholm Trail (today's Commerce, Calhoun, Jones, and Grove Streets). 

The invention of barbed wire and the advancing railroad brought an end to the cattle drives, but with the stockyards and the growing number of area ranches in need of supplies, Fort Worth remained a "Cowtown."

Today we had a guided walk led by Helen Hull. Since we had never been to Fort Worth before, we enjoyed having a knowledgeable local take us to the downtown points of interest where we learned factoids we probably wouldn't have found on our own.

First, we once again enjoyed the Water Gardens, heading down into the Quiet Pool.
Our group going to the Quiet Pool.
Quiet Pool. See how high the walls are?
That's to keep the city noise out.
In the distance, we saw an imposing building. I asked Helen what that building was and she told me we were going to walk to it.


This imposing building dominates the skyline here.
As we approached the above building, Helen pointed out the old United States Post Office a block down the street. We were going there as well.

The U.S. Post Office in downtown Fort Worth.
A memorial sculpture stood to the left and we headed to it. The Texas Spring Palace, constructed in 1889, used to be in this location. It was a wooden, two-story, Oriental and Moorish design building used for an annual exhibition of Texas agricultural products. During its second exhibition in 1890, the building erupted into flames. People poured out of the building, many having to leap from the second story to escape. Alfred Hayne, a native of England, returned to the burning palace to help others who were trapped inside. Alfred was the only fatality of the fire. He died the next day of burn wounds suffered in the rescue effort. This monument, in memory of his heroism and courage, was dedicated in 1893 by the Women's Humane Association.


Spring Palace Monument
to Alfred S. Hayne.
The detail on the base of the monument.
A side view of the building we had been looking at showed Art Deco detail. This is the T & P (Texas and Pacific) Railroad Passenger Terminal. The railroads were a major part of Fort Worth's economy during its infancy.


Art Deco designs over the street-side door.
The T&P Passenger Terminal closed its doors for good in 1967. The building has been repurposed into apartments. 

We walked next door to the U.S. Post Office building (which was open) so we walked through the lobby to see the historic interior. The detailing features marble, bronze, and gold leaf. 

Post office lobby.
I LOVE this table!
The intricate design above the clerk's windows.
Helen had let us know at the beginning of the walk that we would be going up and down the streets of downtown. There is so much to see! Here are a number of photos of murals, art, cool buildings, and other stuff.


Zipper mural.
St. Patrick Cathedral.
St. Patrick's Church
(1888)
A. D. Marshall Public Safety & Courts Building
(1938)
Close-up of the facade of the above building.
Across the street from the Public Safety & Courts building is a very intriguing group of things to look at. It bore further investigation, so we headed over. The first thing that caught our eye was the unique Flatiron Building. This was known, in the early 1900s, as the tallest building in North Texas. It was erected in 1907 for the renowned Dr. Bacon Saunders, Dean of City Medical College; Chief Surgeon, Nine Railroads; acclaimed as a pioneer of medicine in Texas. 

The Flatiron Building was designed by the distinguished firm of Fort Worth architects, Sanguinet and Staats, of reinforced concrete over a steel frame. This Renaissance Revival structure was inspired by the wedge-shaped Flatiron Building in New York. 

Flatiron Building in Fort Worth.
Now, here's a very cool part of this walk: Panther City. I never knew this before today. Wouldn't you know, it all got started with a newspaper article. Here's how this particular nickname came to be.

A newspaper story reported that Fort Worth was such a dull and drowsy place that a panther was seen sleeping in the city on the steps by the courthouse. In their initial endeavors at establishing this city's identity, the nickname of Panther City was adopted for Fort Worth. The name was catchy and the local newspaper, the Fort Worth Democrat, added a drawing of a panther to its masthead.

In addition, live cubs were housed at the City Fire Hall and at many of the local businesses. At one of the community parades in Dallas (at that time a small town east of Fort Worth), the representatives of Fort Worth carried panther cubs on their floats in representation of "The city where the West begins."


The Panther City Fountain (2002).
Another walker and another view of the panther.
Up-close view of panthers (?) on Flatiron Building.
Cool old hat store sign.
Interesting design.
I love these old clocks.
Concrete owl detail on a building.
People in our group told stories of the major damage sustained by the building below during a tornado a number of years ago. Windows were blown out around the building and people inside had to shelter in the interior. An accounting firm lost thousands of paper records, some of which were found up to 60 miles away. Now the building's windows are reinforced with bars. 


At the north end of downtown is the Tarrant County Courthouse. We could not look inside because it's closed on Sunday. It sits atop a hill overlooking the Trinity River.

Tarrant County Courthouse.
The courthouse pediment and clock tower.
We then made our way back into the heart of Sundance Square. According to Wikipedia, "Sundance Square is the name of a 35-block commercial, residential, entertainment, and retail district in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. Named after the Sundance Kid in Western folklore, it is a popular place for nightlife and entertainment..."

Suit of armor atop Haltom's jewelry store.
Haltom's clock.


The city's Christmas tree.
Haltom's jewelry store.
Topiary horse and rider.
Fort Worth Convention Center
John F. Kennedy Memorial.
At this point, those who were only walking 6k headed back to the Sheraton. The rest of us continued on to finish a 10k walk.

Bass Performance Hall with its
bas relief angels. Gorgeous.
Front view of an angel.
Fire Station No. 1.
Police cars carry the theme,
"Where the West Begins."
Our walk concluded at the Intermodal Transportation Center served by Amtrak, Greyhound, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and the TRE (Trinity Railway Express).



There's a panther on the building.

Intermodal Transportation Center.
A restored streetcar on display.

The Santa Fe Depot below was built in 1899 in the Beaux Arts style, featuring native stone banding. When intact, the north windows of painted glass depicted travel from Pony Express to steam locomotives. Visitors here included Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Depot was used by six railroad companies. As of 1970, Santa Fe served Texas with greater trackage than any other railroad, 5,102 miles. It is now a Texas Historic Landmark. The building now houses an events center. A wedding was taking place there today so we couldn't go inside.

Santa Fe Depot.
Santa Fe Depot (street side).
As you can probably tell by the length of this blog, we were quite enamored with Fort Worth. Thank you to Helen Hull for taking us around and showing us the fascinating pieces of history that make this town unique. Well done. Brava!



4 comments:

  1. My folks used to live in the DFW area, used to ride the trolley cars and I've traveled by train into Union Station.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice tour of downtown Fort Worth. Definitely be adding it to some of our future travel plans.
    Wishing you and Bob a Safe and Happy New Year.

    It's about time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Rich and Kathy. We were so surprised by all Fort Worth had to offer and plan to go back for more.

      Happy New Year to you two, too.

      Delete

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