FORT WORTH: THE CITY of COWBOYS AND CULTURE
Related Document: City-of-Cowboys-and-Culture-Overview-FINAL.doc
Originally settled in 1849 as an army outpost on the banks of the Trinity River, Fort Worth was one of eight forts assigned to protect settlers from Indian attacks on the advancing frontier. Progress helped the growing settlement survive long after other such towns blew away with the dust of departing pioneers. The cattle industry was king for a generation of people working the Fort Worth leg of the historic Chisholm Trail, in play from the 1860s to the 1870s. Cowboys played in Hell's Half Acre, located where downtown's Sundance Square stands today, before driving their cattle on to Kansas.
Stockyards National Historic District
A visit to Fort Worth is not complete without seeing the famed Stockyards National Historic District. It looks much the same today as it did 100 years ago. In fact, the entire 15-block area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Catch the Fort Worth Herd, the world's only daily cattle drive, on its twice-daily trip down Exchange Avenue. The authentically restored Grapevine Vintage Railroad carries visitors into Stockyards Station, the former hog-and-sheep pens turned shopping-entertainment-and-dining marketplace. Rodeo action and Wild West shows take place year-round in the Cowtown Coliseum, built in 1918 and home of the world's original indoor rodeo. The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, located in the Stockyards' original mule barns, features the Sterquell Wagon Collection with more than 60 authentic lifestyle wagons and honors the top cowboys and cowgirls in Texas.
"Texas-sized" takes on a whole new meaning at Billy Bob's Texas, the "World's Largest Honky-Tonk." Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2011, this must-see, named "Club of the Year" an amazing 12 times, can hold up to 6,000 people and plays host to country music's top performers. Live bull riding at Billy Bob's indoor arena thrills visitors each weekend with an up-close perspective on rodeo's wildest event. Nearby, the White Elephant Saloon is an authentic Western watering hole offering country-and-western music nightly. The entire historic district is recognized as much for family entertainment and shopping as for saloons and boot-scootin'.
Downtown Fort Worth is a success story few cities can boast. Glittering skyscrapers form a ring around Sundance Square, Fort Worth's heralded shopping and entertainment district that is now restored to its original Victorian beauty, filled with restaurants, theaters, shops, museums and galleries, and hotels and residences. This 35-block area also is the site of the $67-million Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, which opened in May 1998. Called the "last great performance hall built in the 20th century," it is the permanent home for the city's professional symphony, opera and ballet companies, as well as the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and productions of Casa Mañana Theatre. It is noted as one of the world's top 10 opera houses by Travel + Leisure magazine, one of only three named in the United States. Also located in Sundance Square is the Sid Richardson Museum, which showcases a large collection of paintings and bronzes by American West artists Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.
Sundance Square has emerged as a national model of urban revitalization. By day, it is a dynamic business district and by night, a broad array of entertainment options abound. With film and live theaters, music clubs, a host of restaurants and cafes, hotels and retail development in a state of continual growth, the streets bustle with activity.
The Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Fort Worth Convention Center, which recently underwent a $75-million expansion, occupy what was once Hell's Half Acre, a brothel- and saloon-packed district where cowhands had their last bit of fun before heading out on the Chisholm Trail. Fort Worth and its renewed convention center now attract professional meetings and tradeshows from around the world and host thousands of convention-related visitors annually. Fort Worth's new convention center headquarter hotel, the Omni Fort Worth Hotel features 614 rooms and 68,000 square feet of meeting space and adjacent to the Fort Worth Convention Center. The Omni Fort Worth Hotel joins more than 2,000 beautiful hotel rooms in downtown and more than 12,000 rooms citywide.
On the horizon in downtown is an ambitious $400 million-plus Trinity River Vision project that will bring a complete transformation to 88 miles of the Trinity River, which runs through downtown Fort Worth. The plan calls for a lively waterfront area to include a town lake and a host of recreational activities, as well as business, retail and residential development.
Fort Worth Cultural District
One of the defining aspects of Fort Worth is its wealth of cultural institutions, some noted internationally as the finest in America. Located just 2.5 miles west of downtown is the Fort Worth Cultural District. The Louis Kahn-designed Kimbell Art Museum - recognized as "America's best small museum" - is home to Michelangelo's first painting. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is renowned for its collection of Western and American masterpieces and celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011. The Carter tripled its gallery space after a renovation in 2001 by original architect Philip Johnson, while the Kimbell is undergoing a $12-million expansion by Italian architect Renzo Piano. Both museums are recognized worldwide for their collections and spectacular building designs.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas' oldest museum (founded in 1892) is housed in a stunning building designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The Modern maintains one of the foremost collections of post-war art in the central United States and features the nation's second-largest gallery space for modern art. In 2011, it was named one of the World's Most Beautiful Museums by Travel + Leisure magazine.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, in a $21-million facility designed by David Schwarz, honors women who embody the spirit of the American West, such as painter Georgia O'Keeffe, Western sharpshooter Annie Oakley, author Laura Ingalls Wilder and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. It is the only museum of its kind in the world.
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History's new $80-million facility, designed by internationally renowned architectural firm Legorreta + Legorreta, features experiences such as the Cattle Raisers Museum; the Fort Worth Children's Museum; state-of-the-art Noble Planetarium; Dinolabs; Paluxysaurus jonesi, the official dinosaur of Texas; Energy Blast; Omni IMAX Theater; Innovation Studios and more.
Within walking distance of Fort Worth's museums are Casa Mañana Theatre and the Will Rogers Memorial Center, which hosts equestrian and cattle events, more than 200 days each year. The Will Rogers Memorial Center is home to the oldest stock show and rodeo in the country, the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, held annually in January and February. The beautiful 114-acre Botanic Garden and Japanese Garden as well as the international research and conservation organization Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) are located nearby.
The Fort Worth Zoo, ranked as a top five zoo in the nation, is known worldwide for its collection and natural habitat exhibits that replicate animals' homes in the wild. The popular Texas Wild! exhibit, a major addition to the Zoo that showcases the diversity of Texas wildlife and terrain, is set on eight acres and features 200 native animals and a replica of an 1890s Texas town. In 2010 the Fort Worth Zoo opened the most elite herpetarium in the nation, where the "art" slithers, hisses and chirps, known as the Museum of Living Art (MOLA).
Major-league auto racing has captivated Fort Worth with Texas Motor Speedway, one of the largest sports and entertainment facilities in the country. Throughout the year, the superspeedway plays host to NASCAR and IRL IndyCar races, plus other major forms of American auto racing. The 1.5-mile oval track is set within a stadium that accommodates more than 200,000 fans. Year-round tours and championship driving schools also are offered at the speedway.
The Texas Civil War Museum in northwest Fort Worth rich in artifacts with more than 3,000 pieces and 70 flags. It is the largest Civil War museum west of the Mississippi River. If you want to see how Texans make billions, visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing's Western Currency Facility, one of only two U.S. locations that print paper currency.
One of the finest aspects of cultural life in Fort Worth is the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Every four years, the world's greatest young pianists gather in the city to vie for the coveted medals and engagements that launch classical music careers. Music aficionados around the globe recognize the Cliburn as one of the world's foremost piano competitions. The competition is named for Van Cliburn, who lives in Fort Worth, and became one of the most celebrated pianists in the world after debuting at Carnegie Hall at age 20 and winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition during the height of the Cold War.
Each year, Fort Worth welcomes an array of events including the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo; the Cowtown Marathon; Race Weeks at Texas Motor Speedway; MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival; Frontier Forts Days, Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial; Concerts in the Garden; National Day of the American Cowboy; Fort Worth Music Festival; Musicarte de Fort Worth; the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering & Western Swing Festival; Lone Star International Film Festival; Chesapeake Energy Parade of Lights presented by CHASE; and the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. And of course, with the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers located just minutes away, thousands of professional football and baseball fans choose to stay and play in Fort Worth during games.
Jobs and Growth
With a population exceeding 736,200 people, Fort Worth is home to some of the country's major corporations and manufacturers, such as American Airlines, RadioShack Corp., Pier 1 Imports, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems. Fort Worth is consistently ranked as one of the top places in the nation to work, live and do business. The city garnered a major honor as one of "America's Most Livable Communities" for the 10-year period of 2004-2014, one of only 10 large cities so named.
A chief asset of the region is the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), located just 17.5 miles from downtown Fort Worth. It is the world's third busiest airport, with more than 1,900 daily passenger arrivals and departures and service to more than 170 destinations around the world. As part of a $2.7-billion capital development program, DFW Airport opened Terminal D, a 2-million-square-foot international terminal and the world's largest high-speed train, Skylink, which connects all of the airport terminals.
For more information about all that Fort Worth has to offer its residents and visitors visit www.FortWorth.com.
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