Also known as Panther City and Cowtown, Fort Worth, Texas, is where cowboys mix with culture and “Progress Meets Preservation” (according to the Chamber of Commerce’s slick publication Livability Fort Worth). “Preservation” in Fort Worth, in my view, is best represented by the Sinclair Building on Main Street. Completed in the 1930s to provide offices for the Sinclair Oil Company, it’s an authentic art deco gem with Mayan accents.
One block north of it, Ruth and I found “Progress”. Sundance Square is a downtown-renewal project conceived 35 years ago and now a popular people magnet in the form of a bustling 55,000 feet plaza with old neon signs to appreciate, new and already busy restaurants to try out, etc. It’s named for the Sundance Kid, who helped this part of town live up to its historic name, Hell’s Half Acre, with his buddy Butch Cassidy.
Its fountain is especially fun. Like Las Vegas’ Bellagio, it might be burbling mere inches from the ground or sending bursts of water skyward from 216 jets.
Four Teflon membrane umbrellas over Sundance’s east side look like inverted, wind-damaged parasols. They can illuminate, shade, or provide shelter for Texans watching a movie, listening to live entertainment, etc.
Three news buildings are going up. One, appropriately named The Cassidy, will offer additional retail, yet more restaurants, and luxury apartments. It officially opens this year.
The preservation of veterans in Sundance Square is best represented by the 1902 Jett Building. Its Square side is adorned with the Chisolm Trail Cattle Drive mural painted in 1988 and seen above.
Then there are new structures like The Westbrook made to look old. A six-story granite, steel, limestone, vaguely art deco anchor building sporting a centered, illuminated clock, Westbrook opened in November, 2013. On the night we were admiring its quaint newness, students from Baylor U, who were soon to be singing at the Bass Performance Hall, were streaming in and out of Starbucks on Westbrook’s street level.
Within a block were yet more classic neon signs, the Sid Richardson Museum, the also art deco Bass with its trumpeting maidens, and our favorite Fort Worth restaurant, Ferré.
Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk, and Fort Worth’s Cultural District and stockyards are now only 3 of the 4 best reasons to head for this bronco-riding, Bach-playing Texas city.