On February 17, 2023 Visit Fort Worth debuted a new marketing campaign at their 10th annual meeting called The Unexpected City. The campaign is designed to promote tourism to Fort Worth and highlights dozens of locations around the city.
The campaign captures Fort Worth’s bold, warm and welcoming atmosphere and highlights the unexpected sights, sounds and flavors of the city.
The new commercial features three tourists seeing the Modern West for the first time. As they explore some of Fort Worth’s attractions and neighborhoods, they are captivated by each destination. We watch as they immerse themselves in a city adorned with history, and feel their sense of wonder as they discover the unexpected.
Mule Alley, as its name suggests, was built in the heyday of the Stockyards as a barn for all sorts of livestock. At the time, the Fort Worth Stockyards was the biggest livestock trading center in the Southwest. In 2018, plans were announced to transform the vacant, dilapidated barns into a center for commerce and tourism. Today, Mule Alley is a vibrant street in the Stockyards and part of a $175 million project to revitalize the district. The “Alley” contains numerous retailers, entertainment venues and the rustic-luxe Hotel Drover.
The building now known as Billy Bob’s Texas was built in 1910 and was once an open-air barn used to house prize cattle for the Fort Worth Stock Show. In 1936, as a Texas Centennial Project, the building was enclosed by the City of Fort Worth at a cost of $183,500, and the tower over the main entrance was added. The “new” structure contained livestock stalls and an auction ring that is now Billy Bob’s Bull Riding arena. Livestock events were held there until the stock show moved to the Will Rogers Memorial Complex in 1943. During World War II, the building was used as an airplane factory, and in the 1950’s the building became a department store so large that the stockboys wore roller skates to make their jobs easier. On April 1, 1981, Billy Bob's Texas, an Urban Cowboy-themed night club, came to life.
For the last 40 years, Billy Bob's Texas has hosted the biggest names in live music and entertainment. Legendary performers from all genres began their rise to stardom in the hallowed halls of the beloved honky tonk. Honored as ‘Club of the Year’ over a dozen times by the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association, stories from the stage are told and re-told to every new generation of music fans. Billy Bob’s Texas is more than a historic entertainment destination. It is a testament to the sights and sounds of the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards and a nod to the traditions of cowboys, cowgirls and country music. It is known around the world, blending the heritage of a very quirky history with modern day entertainment.
Fort Worth Zoo
The Fort Worth Zoo is the oldest zoo in Texas operating in the same location it was founded. The Zoo opened in 1909 with just a handful of animals; one lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote, a peacock and a few rabbits. Today, the Zoo is home to over 500 species of all varieties of animals, including 68 endangered and threatened species. In 2021, the Fort Worth Zoo was voted among the world's greatest for its visitors as well as its residents. The Zoo is among the world's top breeding and conservation programs, and pride themselves on providing exceptional care for its animals.
The voice of Visit Fort Worth's new commercial, late actor Jimmy Stewart, was a great friend of the Fort Worth zoo.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
How's this for unexpected: the Modern is the oldest museum in Texas. The museum was founded by a group of 25 women who sought to enhance the culture of the city through art. Chartered in 1892 as the Fort Worth Public Library and Art Gallery, it now specializes in post-war art. The Modern’s current facility, built in 2002, was designed by famed Japanese-American architect Tadao Ando and was named the “Best Building in Texas” by Architectural Digest.
Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell has a world-renowned collection of art, but humble beginnings. The museum traces its roots back to the 1930s, when Kay and Velma Kimbell began to collect art in 1936. The Kimbell's had an especially strong interest in British and French portraits of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Kay died in 1964 and left his estate to the Art Foundation with one stipulation: a museum be created with the collection he had amassed across his lifetime.
The Kimbell Foundation hired famed architect Louis I. Kahn to design the museum, which opened in 1972. The architecture has garnered significant attention and awards, including the AIA's Twenty-five Year Award. A major expansion of the museum, designed by Renzo Piano, opened in 2012. The Kimbell describes the collection as "Antiquities, European Art, Asian Art, Art of the Ancient Americas, and African and Oceanic Art ranging from the third millennium B.C. to the mid-20th century. One of its most famous works, Michelangelo's "The Torment of Saint Anthony," is the oldest surviving painting and only work by Michelangelo on permanent display in the United States.
Wind the clock back to the 1880s. The south end of Downtown Fort Worth is known by its ominous nickname: Hell’s Half Acre. This part of town was infamous for rambunctious and illicit activity including gambling, prostitution, shootouts and robberies. Even as Fort Worth grew and became a safer city, the half-acre never lost its reputation.
In the 1960s, the neighborhood was razed, making way for the Phillip Johnson-designed Water Gardens and the new Fort Worth Convention Center. Featuring three main pools and enticing exploration, the Water Gardens offer a calming respite from busy downtown Fort Worth. The Water Gardens have been chosen as a locale for several films and music videos, including the 1976 science fiction movie Logan's Run and videos for Kendrick Lamar and Solange Knowles.
Downtown Fort Worth is defined by revitalization. Much like other American cities, downtown Fort Worth experienced a period of growth from the 1910s to the Great Depression. As suburbs came into vogue in the mid-century, however, the growth of downtown slowed. In 1988, plans were set in motion to reinvest in the area, which resulted in new landmarks like Bass Hall and Sundance Square Plaza. The plaza, built on the site of a former parking lot, is surrounded by restaurants, bars and shops, and hosts live music on the weekends. It’s no wonder it has become a popular gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. It is the perfect place to listen to live music under the stars, enjoying modern amenities while being immersed in the history of downtown.
Unlike everything else in this list, Cowtown Coliseum hasn’t seen much change over the years, even though it is the oldest building listed. The Coliseum was constructed in 1908 for use by the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, now the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. The Coliseum is perhaps most notable for being the site of the first-ever indoor rodeo, held in 1917. Today, Cowtown Coliseum hosts the Stockyards Championship Rodeo and the PBR Stockyards Showcase every week. In addition to livestock and rodeo events, the venue has hosted a number of other sporting events, including Arena Football and wrestling matches, as well as musical artists like Elvis Presley and Enrico Caruso.
All of these locations can be seen in "The Unexpected City"
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