Learning From Fort Worth, Texas

October 23, 2006 2 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A major part of Fort Worth's downtown revitalization was the festive lighting scheme. Building along with street / landcaping uplighting not only provide stimulating view corridors, it also enhances the image of safety within the same corridor. This has been mentioned by Tri Vu and Metro Jacksonville's Lighting Laura Street presentation. Here's a chance to view a downtown district incorporating these design elements.


Said to be "Where the West begins", Fort Worth is the fifth-largest city in Texas.  Its also one of the South's fastest growing, increasing in city population from 534,694 in 2000 to an estimated 624,067 in 2005.

Fort Worth was founded as a military camp in 1849 and named after General William Jenkins Worth.  It would become known as "Cowtown" because of it being a bustling stop along the legendary Chisholm Trail, where millions of cattle were driven North to market.  During this era, due to the actions of colorful characters such as Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and Luke Short, the rowdy city was earned the nickname "Hell's Hald Acre".  During the 1900s, it became a major railroad, meat packaging and oil production center.

Today, Fort Worth is national recognized for the successful revitalization of its downtown.  Like several cities displayed by Metro Jacksonville before, this community's work further validates why we should incorporate creative parking solutions, signage, lighting and more, in our own Central Business District.


Fort Worth Population 2005: 624,067 (City); 5,819,475 (Metro - Includes Dallas) - (incorporated in 1849)

Jacksonville Pop. 2005: 782,623 (City); 1,248,371 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1940: Jacksonville (173,000); Fort Worth (177,662)

Locally based Fortune 1000 companies:

Fort Worth (7): AMR/American Airlines (105), D.R.Horton (162), BNSF Railway (171), RadioShack (423), XTO Energy (541), Pier 1 Imports (836), AmeriCredit (988).

Jacksonville (8): Winn-Dixie (231), Fidelity National Financial (248), CSX (266), Landstar (686), MPS Group (902), Armor Holdings (919), Stein Mart (977), PSS World Medical (980)

Largest Private Employers:

Fort Worth: 1. American Airlines (28,492), 2. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. (15,000), 3. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. (6,000), 4. GameStop, Inc. (4,900), 5. Chase (4,000)

Jacksonville: 1. Blue Cross Blue Shield (8,082), 2. Publix (7,106), 3. Baptist Health (6,928), 4. Winn-Dixie Stores (6,539), 5. Wal-Mart Stores (6,000).



During the late 1800s, downtown area was filled with saloons, gambling parlors, shooting galleries and dance halls, which attracted a rough mix of gamblers, cattlemen and outlaws.  The area was named for the Sundance Kid, who with his partner, Butch Cassidy, was a fequent visitor to the area, then known as Hell's Half Acre.  Other famed visitors during that era included Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

Today, the square is a nationally recognized model for urban revitalization.  Launched 20 years ago, the downtown entertainment and shopping district offers a variety of entertainment options in an architecturally unique and compact pedestrian friendly setting.  Restored turn of the century buildings, brick streets and sidewalks, provide the perfect backdrop for a 504 unit luxury hotel, lofts, AMC cinemas, 16 restuarants, four live theaters, three museums, retail shops and office space.  Furthermore, a self-guided walking tour is provided by markets to commemorate historic locations and events.

A special entity called "Sundance Square" was created in 1982 to recruit business, lease office, retail and residential space, oversee parking facilities and work with the community to coordinate special downtown events.

For more information:  www.SundanceSquare.com or www.dfwi.org

Patrons wait for their turn at the downtown Fort Worth PF Changs Restaurant.



The Downtown TIF provides 2830 free evening and weekend public parking spaces for downtown visitors.  In addition, Sundance Square retailers provide validation at the Gateway and Chisholm lots.  Daytime patrons of Sundance Square restuarants and retailers receive 2.5 hours of free parking and AMC theatre patrons recieve up to 4 hours validation at these two lots.  All parking is Free on weekends and after 5:00pm on weekdays.

If free parking for downtown retailers works in other communites, because it evens the playing field between downtown and the suburbs, why won't it work here?


With free parking validations and easily accessible short term parking garages and lots, the Sundance Square retail environment is strong enough to support national chains, such as AMC theaters and Barnes & Noble.


Just because you have vacant lots, doesn't mean the only use for them is surface parking.  Here's an example of a vacant lot thats been converted into an outdoor stage for live music acts and courtyard, featuring a sidewalk cafe.


This old alley was converted into an outdoor seating area for a nearby dining establishment.  This is the type of scene that the alley between the Florida Theater, Jax Daily Record and the Holmes Block, on Bay Street could resemble, if the idea ever becomes reality.


Typical restuarant in Sundance Square


Walking west along Third Street.


Corner of Main and 3rd Streets.


Sundance Square is a mixture of old and new.  The building on the "two" buildings on the left are new construction.  The blocks in the middle are turn of the century and the glass tower in the background is the modern headquarters of D.R. Horton.


Walking south, along Houston Street, in the Sundance Square Entertainment District. 


Unique business signage is a norm, within the Sundance Square Entertainment District.


Take a look at this street festival along Main Street.  This picture gives us a clear vision of what Laura Street can become if the city makes it a priority to improve the connection between the Landing and Hemming Plaza. 


Another shot of Main Street.  Take note of the business signage.  Can you find the Chili's Restaurant? 


Constructed in 1895, the Tarrant County Courthouse was on of the first buildings in Fort Worth to be made of steel. 


Fort Worth's Flat Iron Building


The Commerce Oil & Gas Building (1930) on left.  The Fort Worth Club (1926), to the right.  Look closely and you'll discover that the Fort Worth Club resembles a giant chair.



Located a few miles north of downtown, the Stockyards National Historic District was originally an industrial area dominated by the Swift and Armour companies meat packaging plants.  Although the plants closed in the 1960s, the community took advantage of its famed history as a cattle town to transform the area into a multi-block district featuring local steakhouses, specialty shops, rodeos, saloons and livestock auctions. 

So what does this have to do with Jacksonville?  For so long, we've ignored our own unique storied past, instead attempting to develop or region into an "Anyplace USA" type of atmosphere.  Maybe its time to dig into our past and promote and share it with the world, instead of sweeping it under the rug. 

For more info: www.fortworthstockyards.org

Fore more about the storied history of Jacksonville:


The "Master Plan" for the Trinity River is a concept originally concieved in the 1980s.  Adopted by the city council in 2003, the plan encompasses 88 miles of the Trinity River, its greenbelts and tributaries throughout the Fort Worth region.  A major part of the plan is Trinity Uptown.  This urban infill project aims to revitalize an 800 acre area north of downtown with a combination of public improvments and private development, creating a vibrant waterfront environment in which families can live, work and play.  Once complete, this area will serve as the connection between the Stockyards District and downtown creating one large pedestrian friendly urban core.

Major Roadways:
 1. North Main Street
 2. Northside Drive
 3. Henderson Street
 4. White Settlement
 5. Samuel's Avenue
 6. Forest Park Boulevard
 7. Seventh Street


Existing Landmarks:
 8. RadioShack Headquarters
 9. Pier 1 Headquarters
 10. Tarrant County Courthouse
 11. Heritage Park
 12. TXU Power Plant
 13. Tarrant Regional Water District
 14. Ellis Pecan Building
 15. La Grave Field
 16. Fort Worth   Western Railroad
 17. Fort Worth Convention Center


Existing Waterways:
 18. Trinity River West Fork
 19. Trinity River Clear Fork

Proposed or in Progress:
 20. Trinity River Bypass Channel
 21. New Urban Lake
 22. Potential Canals

TCC Downtown Campus


Trinity Bluff Residential Development


For more information: - www.trinityrivervision.org

Part 1: Houston - http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/196/57/

Part 2: San Antonio - http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/205/57/

Part 3: Austin - http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/225/1/

Part 4: Fort Worth / Sundance Square -

Part 5: Dallas / Deep Ellum - COMING SOON