Fort Worth: where the West begins

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Michael Unterberger, Contributing Writer

This is the sixth in a continuing series about Texas, wherein Texans from across the state introduce us to their city or region of the Lone Star State.

Screen shot 2013-04-23 at 1.04.24 AMFort Worth is my hometown, and I am proud to call it so. In recent years, this city in north central Texas has rightfully promoted itself as the “City of Cowboys and Culture”; it is indeed a town with rich history and traditions. As one might tell from its name, Fort Worth was established in 1849 as a military outpost overlooking the Trinity River. It served as a center of ranching along the Chisholm Trail, which conveyed millions of cattle from the ranches in Texas to the markets to the north. During the 164 years since its establishment, Fort Worth has grown from a sleepy little outpost to a city that is home to nearly 750,000 people.

Downtown Fort Worth is approximately 30 miles west of the University of Dallas. There you will find a city with lots of culture and fun things to do. If you are a first-time visitor who has already been to downtown Dallas, you will immediately realize you’re in a different kind of place; the buildings do not have much of the modern look that you see in Dallas. In fact, much of the architecture you will see is the same as it was in the early 1920s. I would describe downtown Fort Worth as a city with a vintage, small-town feeling.

That being said, it is not just an area full of saloons on every corner. Among a few of the downtown area’s biggest attractions for tourists are the Bass Performance Hall, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Museum of Science and History and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Downtown Fort Worth is also home to restaurants offering every type of cuisine, including Chinese, Mexican, Italian and, of course, Texas BBQ.

The recent developments on West 7th Street attract many young people on weekends. There you will find not only dining experiences, but also great music venues. Be sure to check out the world’s largest honky-tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas. Located in the historic Stockyards district just north of the downtown area, it is a famous dancehall and music venue known for hosting many great country musicians, as well as local artists. Be sure to do some two-stepping and see some live bull-riding as well! Every UD student should check out Billy Bob’s at least once before he or she graduates. There is simply no other place like it.

No doubt I will be accused of obvious bias for saying this, but I truly believe that Fort Worth is the better half of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Every time I enter the city of Dallas, I just don’t feel the same friendly, welcoming atmosphere that I am used to feeling in Fort Worth. Dallas comes off as a large industrious city where all the big businesses and rich people are; Fort Worth is a city with a small-town feel and people who will welcome you as true Texans do. It is a great town that attracts a wide variety of cultures, while at the same time retaining the traditional western heritage that it continues to celebrate to this day. You don’t want to pass up a visit if you are in the area.

UD students, take heed!

Next week, midwestern-born Matthew deGrood, who grew up in Amarillo but left his heart in Minnesota, will close our series with the acrid thoughts of a dissenting Texan.

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