Introduction to Fort Worth, Texas


A city of economic, historical and cultural significance

Fort Worth is one of the largest cities in Texas and holds most of the cultural heritage of the traditional American West with its numerous museums as well as its architecture. Also encompassing the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, it is the second biggest city in the metropolitan area, in terms of population.

Early history

In the old, wild days, what is now Fort Worth used to be a land with rich, fertile soil. Native American Indians inhabited the land, engaging in hunting for a large part of the year because the area was also teeming with game and wildlife. However, before long the area proved to be tempting for the Anglo settlers as well. This led to settlements in the vast plains.

The earliest history of Fort Worth can be closely linked with the early history of north Texas. In January 1849, US Army General William Jenkins Worth proposed ten outposts to mark the territory of Texas on the west frontier. These outposts began from the city of Eagle to the west and Clear Forks intersection of the Trinity River. When Worth died four months later, General William S. Harney took over the position and commanded Major Ripley Arnold to find a new site for the new forts.

Major Arnold then found a location on the bank of the Trinity River. He established a post there and named it Camp Worth, in honor of the deceased general. Later on, he moved the post to a new location, a bluff (a hill with a steep face) that overlooked the river. The origin of Fort Worth was born.

Anglo people began to make settlements in Fort Worth despite considerable attacks and threats by the Native Americans. When the opposition by the natives came to an end, the settlers stayed for good.

Fort Worth endured much suffering and extreme adversity during the Civil War and the Reconstruction period that followed. Population drastically dropped, and shortages of food, water, other supplies and money plagued its citizens. When this period ended, so did the burdens of Fort Worth residents.

From a sleepy town to a big cattle center

Fort Worth once had a reputation as a sleepy town, so sleepy in fact that rumors spread about a panther wandering around the area, and then sleeping in the city streets at night. The residents took this statement good-naturedly and even labeled their town as a “Panther City.”

What helped Fort Worth rise from its reputed state of drowsiness were cattle. Fort Worth’s location on the Chisholm Trail (a now non-existent trail where cattle were being driven to another transportation mode, from Texas ranches to Kansas) proved to a perfect stopover for cowboys who wanted to take a rest after driving their cattle. More cattle buyers, especially coming from the north, gathered in Fort Worth and so they established their own cattle headquarters there. Fort Worth then earned the moniker “Cowtown.” The meat packing industry was introduced to the area and it became the center of such industry in all of the Southwest.

More forms of business and public establishments were built such as a liquor shop, a dry-goods store, barrooms, schools and residential homes were built. Fort Worth became an incorporated city in 1873.

The Texas oil boom

If Fort Worth was reaping the tremendous benefits from cattle, the discovery of oil in the west of Texas became a major economic turnaround for the city. Oil refineries were built and those who benefited from the oil fortune began to build expensive and lavish homes. The oil boon also helped the city to provide the fuel which was in demand during the World War I.

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport boom

Things continued to improve for Fort Worth over the decades. Another economic boom arrived when the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport opened in 1974. This brought in more businesses and more employment opportunities for people in the city and in the outskirts, as well.

Between the years of 2000 to 2006, Fort Worth was declared as the fastest-growing city in Texas. It was voted as one of “America’s Most Livable Large Cities” by the Partners for Livable Communities in 2004.

Over the history of Fort Worth, it has transformed from a sleepy town into a bustling cattle center. Now, it is one of the most modern cities with an advanced economy and vibrant culture.

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