Fort Worth - Historic Map

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Real Estate Agent with Premier Real Estate

I found this article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram and thought anyone interested in Fort Worth's history would enjoy it.

 

Your map to historic Fort Worth

By DIANE SMITH

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH -- Gamblers, gunfights and the Sundance Kid.

It's not a Hollywood movie. It's Fort Worth history.

The city's storied past is chronicled in Heritage Trails, a downtown walking tour. The tour starts with Fort Worth's early days and includes the arrival of cars and trains. Visitors to downtown Fort Worth can maneuver easily from one historical plaque to the next with the help of a new information kiosk at Main and Second streets.

"It is our pleasure to unveil and give you Heritage Trails," Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief announced as he displayed the kiosk to the public Monday afternoon.

A large Heritage Trails map allows visitors to find bronze sidewalk markers, which mostly line Main Street from Heritage Park to the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

Nineteen markers are in place, and plans are to extend the trail to Lancaster Avenue next year. Two more kiosks, which will also serve as downtown directories, are in the works. Each four-sided kiosk includes a way-finding map and information about downtown events.

Moncrief said the project has been 16 years in the making but was worth the wait.

"Sometimes you just have to be a little bit patient," he said.

The project helps promote the city while preserving the past, Moncrief said.

"It's a walking history lesson for young and old alike," he said.

Doug Harman, a member of the Heritage Trails Task Force, said the project was envisioned as a way of tying Fort Worth's history across downtown. He said the trails cover a number of topics, including commerce and the West.

Heritage Trails doesn't leave out the seedy history. One marker explains Hell's Half Acre, a district infamous for brothels and hard living. There was also a gunfight between "Longhair Jim" Courtright and casino operator Luke Short; Courtright was shot to death.

Another marker depicts famous outlaws, such as the Sundance Kid, who was photographed in Fort Worth.

The tour also appeals to visitors with an eye for art.

Each plaque has a signature cubistic longhorn originally designed by Fort Worth artist Evaline Sellors during the Great Depression. Sellors created the sculpture for a shelter house on the grounds of North Side Senior High School, part of a Works Progress Administration project.

"It has its own history, and it symbolizes Fort Worth," said Judith Cohen, historian on the Heritage Trails Task Force and author of Cowtown Moderne: Art Deco Architecture of Fort Worth, Texas.

Heritage Trails is a joint project of the Fort Worth Chamber Foundation, Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau and Downtown Fort Worth Inc.

HERITAGE TRAILS

Most historical makers are installed along Main Street. Each marker offers a brief narrative about a moment in Fort Worth history.

1. Fort Worth (1849-53)

Major Ripley Arnold of Company F of the Second Dragoons established a military post on June 6, 1849, at West Belknap and Commerce streets. The post was named Fort Worth in honor of Major General Williams Jenkins Worth, commander of the Department of Texas.

2. Sleeping Panther Sculpture

Fort Worth became known as Panther City in 1873 after Robert E. Cowart, writing in the Dallas Herald, described it as "so quiet he had seen a panther asleep on Main Street, undisturbed by the rush of men or the hum of trade." The sculpture is a tribute to the city's nickname.

3. Hispanic Heritage

Fort Worth's Hispanic community dates to 1849, when cavalryman Anthony Mendez arrived at the fort. Vaqueros, or Hispanic cowboys, rode in cattle drives in the late 1880s. Mexican immigrants, who fled political upheaval in their homeland, worked for city railroads, steel plants, stockyards, meat-packing houses, hotels and restaurants.

4. The Stage Leaves from Here

The first stagecoach arrived in Fort Worth on July 18, 1856, via the United States mail line en route to Fort Belknap. By the 1870s, daily service arrived and departed from Fort Worth's El Paso Hotel on Main Street. When the railroad arrived in 1876, Fort Worth boasted the largest stagecoach terminal in the southwest.

5. Gamblers & Gunfights

By the 1880s, Fort Worth was well-known for its hotels, restaurants, theaters and 60 saloons. Famous men of the West visited sites such as the White Elephant Saloon and Luke Short's casino. The casino drew Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, "Doc" Holliday, and "Longhair Jim" Courtright.

6. Cattle Drives

Between 1866 and 1887, more than 5 million head of cattle were rounded up to make a five-month, 800-mile trip through Texas to railheads in Kansas.

7. Streetcars and the Interurban

The first streetcars began operating on Main Street in December 1876. The Northern Texas Traction Co. began interurban service between Fort Worth and Dallas in July 1902.

8. Grand Hotels

The first-class El Paso Hotel opened in March 1878 and became a major meeting place for city leaders, businessmen and visitors. The hotel later became the Pickwick. In 1891, the name was changed to the Delaware. The Delaware was demolished and replaced with the seven-story Westbrook Hotel, which was torn down in 1978.

9. Opera Houses & Theaters

Fort Worth was home to performing arts. The Adelphi, the city's first vaudeville theater, opened in 1876. After it closed, Theatre Comique offered audiences Western-style variety at the site. Lily Langtry was among the stars to perform at Greenwall's Opera House. Later, the Majestic Theater would entertain thousands. Ginger Rogers won a national dance contest on the Majestic stage.

10. Cattleman, Oilman, Civic Leader Samuel Burk Burnett (1849-1922)

Burk Burnett built the famous Four Sixes Ranch in the 1870s. The ranch, still in operation, became one of the largest cattle empires in the world. In 1911, oil was discovered on Burnett ranchland. He was president of the Stock Show from 1908-22.

11. Amon G. Carter Sr. (1879-1955)

The owner and publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram coined the phrase: "Where the West Begins." He helped bring military bases and manufacturing plants to Fort Worth. In 1922, he established Fort Worth's first radio station. In 1948, he started Texas' first television station, WBAP Channel 5.

12. The Wild Bunch

A famous photograph depicting Harry Longabaugh (the Sundance Kid), Ben Kilpatrick, Robert LeRoy Parker (Butch Cassidy), Will Carver and Harvey Logan was taken by Fort Worth photographer John Swartz. The outlaws were recognized by a Pinkerton detective after Swartz placed the photo in his studio window.

13. Architectural Diversity

Fort Worth's downtown offers examples of the architectural styles that shaped the city's history, from the city's signature courthouse to Bass Hall.

14. Flying Machines

Fort Worth has a rich aviation history. The city's first airport, Meacham Field, opened in 1925. Texas Air Transport began regular mail and passenger service in 1928, becoming American Airlines in 1934. Thousands of B-24 Liberator bombers were built in Fort Worth during World War II.

15. Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

The chamber traces its roots to 1882, when the Fort Worth Board of Trade was formed. The city was promoted as "queen city of the plains." The board later helped lure the Armour and Swift companies to the Fort Worth Stockyards.

16. Cynthia Ann Parker and Native Americans of North Texas

In January 1861, Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter, Topsannah, were photographed in Fort Worth. Cynthia Ann had been taken from her family by Comanches when she was 9. She lived as a Comanche. Her son, Quanah, became a Comanche leader and often visited Fort Worth.

17. Women in Early Fort Worth (coming soon)

Women played a key role to the growth of Fort Worth. Female leaders advocated for paved streets, schools, clean water and orphanages.

18. JFK

President John F. Kennedy spent the night of Nov. 21, 1963, at Fort Worth's Hotel Texas. After his breakfast speech, the president traveled to Dallas, where he was assassinated.

19. African-American History

African-American residents of Fort Worth built a community on the city's east side. A blacksmith shop operated by John Pratt was the first known African-American business.

20. Hell's Half Acre

Fort Worth's well-known district of saloons, dance halls, gambling parlors and bordellos drew cowboys, trainmen and buffalo hunters.

21. Horseless Carriages (coming soon)

Auto manufacturing plants and dealerships opened during the 1920s. The state's first toll road opened in 1953 between Fort Worth and Dallas.

22. Trains (coming soon)

B.B. Paddock envisioned Fort Worth as a hub of nine railroads. The first Texas and Pacific train rolled into town on July 19, 1876. By 1900, Fort Worth had become a multiline transportation and shipping center.

Online: www.fortworthheritagetrails.com

Source: Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

DIANE SMITH, 817-390-7675
dianesmith@star-telegram.com

 

 

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