Friday, April 12, 2013

Fort Worth Friday

Today, I'm going to talk about Hell's Half Acre...

(The historical marker in downtown Fort Worth at 12th & Houston Streets, erected in 1993.) 

For marker text, click here.

At first I thought that this moniker for a portion of downtown during a certain historical time frame was more common--what I mean is that I thought more cities sported such a place with this same nickname. But that's not so. While there are, according to Wiki, several locations throughout the US that are referred to as Hell's Half Acre, only Fort Worth's represents a portion of town also commonly referred to as a Red Light District.

It's true location is in the southern end of downtown; Jones Street (east), Lancaster Street (south), Throckmorton Street (west), and Tenth Street (north) being the borders. Many people erroneously believe it to have been located in what is now the Stockyards area, in the more northern section of downtown.

As you can see on the map (if you click for the bigger version), there are bunches of train tracks just to east of the area, which could have been the location of the first sets of tracks through town.

Anyway, the area sported its fair share of saloons, bordellos, dance halls, and gambling parlors. It's heyday was probably the late 1880s as Fort Worth was a major stop along the Chisholm Trail.

Some of the most famous outlaws of the day, partied in Hell's Half Acre, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Sam Bass, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Despite the end of the cattle drives, this section of town continued to thrive until the end of World War I, and, sadly, the construction of the Fort Worth Convention Center in the 1950s and into the 60s demolished the last of the district's buildings.

I know most cities had their Red Light Districts (and many still do) but how cool is the name Hell's Half Acre??? It just evokes that feeling of wild west lawlessness and wickedness, doesn't it?


Lynne Kensington said...

That is SO cool. I love history & that name certainly does have a Wild West flavor.

Regina Richards said...

Thanks for sharing some Forth Worth history, Jen. :)

mtnchild said...

I'm thinking that you LOVE your city! It's nice to see these historic posts about a place I've never visited (yet).
Love you

Unknown said...

Very cool--I had no idea that area had such a colorful history!

Jen FitzGerald said...

Thanks for commenting, ladies.

Yes, Mom, I do really love Fort Worth. It took a while for me to accept my fate, but now the history lover in me (as well as the rest of me) has embraced my adopted home town.

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