Walking the Convention Center Neighborhood

Fort Worth Travel Blog

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Fort Worth skyline from the train

My TRE train made two stops in downtown Fort Worth. I detrained at the last, the former Texas & Pacific station. The large Art Deco structure, built in 1931, once housed the railroad's offices as well as its Fort Worth terminal. It's been adapted as condominium apartments, but also continues to be a station for TRE. As I entered the station's restored waiting room from the platform, I knew at once this had been the proper way to make an entrance to the city! The high ceiling was decorated with chandeliers and raised tile embellishments, bespeaking a time when travel by train was the way to go.

The station was within easy walking distance of the Fort Worth Omni Hotel where I was to stay.

T&P Station (1931)
After checking in and finding my room, I set out to check in for the conference. First, I inspected the Fort Worth Convention Center across the street. I was able to pick up city maps and visitor brochures at the information desk, but no sign of my conference. Ah, conference check-in was actually at the convention floor level of the Omni.  There, I picked up my conference badge and program schedule. A few hours remained until the opening banquet at 6:00 p.m., so there was time to explore, at least around the immediate neighborhood.

The area surrounding the Convention Center is a bit south of downtown Fort Worth. (I was to get there up later on in my stay.) The immediate vicinity was known in the 19th century as Hell's Half Acre, a location of saloons, gambling dens, and houses of ill repute when Fort Worth was a real Western frontier town.
Elegant T&P Station waiting room
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and other colorful Western outlaws really did hang out here. Today, it's long been tamed and only a historical marker tells of the wild days of yore. But, like anywhere, there is much to see when one looks for it. And so, I began my walking tour, much as I would do in any city.

Up Houston Street from the Omni was the interesting Flatiron Building. Where had I seen something like that before? Built in 1909, the wedge-shaped structure was inspired by the famous Flatiron Building in New York City. The opening of the building marked the beginning of Fort Worth's transition to a modern city of offices and businesses. It's in the process of restoration and is a center for the study of Fort Worth's architectural history. To one side is the recent Panther Fountain, celebrating Fort Worth as the "Panther City".
US Post Office (1928)
It has that moniker because, in its early days, it was described as such a sleepy place that a panther could walk down the street without arousing interest. (A type of puma, referred to as a panther, did live in the region in that era.) Insulted, Forth Worthians adopted the panther symbol as a matter of civic pride.

At Main and 9th in front of the Convention Center Arena is General Worth Square. The small park contains a historical marker telling the story of the city's namesake. William J. Worth was a soldier in the early national period and, as a Major General, military commandant in New Mexico and Texas. He died on the frontier in 1849 and a new fort established on the Trinity River was named for him. Interestingly, he is buried in New York City, another of several tie-ins Fort Worth has with New York.
Fort Worth Omni Hotel and Towers (2009)
As if to further set the Western scene, around the corner was a cowboy hat store. The store has been doing business in the same location for decades and such hats are still a common sight hereabouts. A customer came out with a new hat as a took a photo of the sign.

At the other side of the Convention Center is the Fort Worth Water Gardens. This good-sized urban park with fountains and pools is designed as a retreat from city bustle. It is a very pleasant place and was a nice area to walk through on the way to meetings. (The peaceful setting is also built overtop the old rowdy Hell's Half Acre.)

Time came for dinner. The opening all-conference buffet was conveniently held at the Omni. I met up with my colleagues, all of whom had smooth trips from Washington.
Flatiron Building (1909)
Dinner was quite a Texas feast, with salad, grilled chicken, beef brisket, fried okra, southwestern vegetables, and grilled potatoes.

Following dinner, I once again headed outside. I like night photography and wanted to investigate the opportunities here. Several scenes presented themselves. The Water Gardens was still an active place after dark, with lighted fountains and people to enjoy them. Nice to see people do not eschew the park after dark. The tall buildings uptown were illuminated, which made a nice scene. I'd have to find time to get up that way.
 



williamsworld says:
Texas only gets better from here.
Posted on: May 28, 2010
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Fort Worth skyline from the train
Fort Worth skyline from the train
T&P Station (1931)
T&P Station (1931)
Elegant T&P Station waiting room
Elegant T&P Station waiting room
US Post Office (1928)
US Post Office (1928)
Fort Worth Omni Hotel and Towers (…
Fort Worth Omni Hotel and Towers …
Flatiron Building (1909)
Flatiron Building (1909)
Flatiron Building head-on
Flatiron Building head-on
Panther frieze on the Flatiron  Bu…
Panther frieze on the Flatiron B…
Panther Fountain
Panther Fountain
Fort Worth, The Panther City
Fort Worth, The Panther City
Main Street
Main Street
General Worth Square
General Worth Square
General Worth historical marker
General Worth historical marker
Cowboy Hat store sign
Cowboy Hat store sign
St. Ignatius Academy (1889)
St. Ignatius Academy (1889)
St. Patricks Cathedral (1892)
St. Patrick's Cathedral (1892)
St. Patricks Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Moderne style Public Safety Buildi…
Moderne style Public Safety Build…
Street mural
Street mural
St. Andrews Episcopal Church (191…
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church (19…
Fort Worth skyline
Fort Worth skyline
Hells Half Acre historical marker
Hell's Half Acre historical marker
Fort Worth Water Gardens park
Fort Worth Water Gardens park
Quiet Pool at Fort Worth Water Gar…
Quiet Pool at Fort Worth Water Ga…
Texas band at the opening dinner
Texas band at the opening dinner
Dinner buffet
Dinner buffet
The Armadillo that came to dinner
The Armadillo that came to dinner
Armadillo wrangler
Armadillo wrangler
Me, tall in the saddle
Me, tall in the saddle
Downtown Fort Worth at night
Downtown Fort Worth at night
Santa Fe Railway freight depot sig…
Santa Fe Railway freight depot si…
Fort Worth Water Gardens at night
Fort Worth Water Gardens at night
Climbing the Mountain at Fort Wort…
Climbing the Mountain at Fort Wor…
St. Patricks Cathedral at night
St. Patrick's Cathedral at night
Fort Worth Sights & Attractions review
An oasis of fountains and pools
The Fort Worth Water Gardens is an urban park featuring large pools of water, each with a unique design, surrounded by a green space. The park opened … read entire review
Fort Worth
photo by: chiyeh