I recently had an opportunity to spend some time walking through the Sundance Square area of Fort Worth. This is a unique area and well worth a visit. Whether your interests are cultural, architectural, historical, gastronomical or shopping and entertainment, you can’t go wrong in Downtown Fort Worth! It is one of the best downtown walking areas in the country; it even has its own website, www.sundancesquare.com.
The cultural attractions are many. The one that most impressed me was the Bass Performance Hall. Completed in 1998, the hall features just over 2,000 seats. It also is an architectural wonder with its European Opera House style looks. The amazing trumpeting angel sculptures that adorn its facade are truly breathtaking!
The architectural style is mixed and runs from 19th Century cattle-town chic to Art Deco to modern. Some of the buildings I found most interesting include the Sinclair Building (Art Deco, with its Mayan influences) to the restored brick buildings including the Knights of Pythius Hall and the Jett Building (supposedly haunted) with its Chisholm Trail mural. The Ashton Hotel, a beautifully restored, Italianate style building with wrought iron balconies, decorative brick and stone is the only building of this style in the Fort Worth area. Not only perfectly preserved on the outside, the interior speaks volumes about the elegance of earlier times.
Many famous Western figures spent time in Fort Worth including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as well as the rest of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. This is where the famous picture was taken that led to their having to flee the country. The spot is marked on Main Street where the photo was taken. Others known to have frequented the area include Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and gambler, Luke Short (there is an historical marker on the building that housed Luke Short’s casino).
Many excellent restaurants and bars dot the area including Mi Cocina (great Mexican cuisine) and the Flying Saucer with its elevated outside seating area. You will find something to excite any appetite from pastry to pasta to el pollo. There are also many unique boutiques, shops and art galleries in the Sundance Square area where you can find anything from Western wear (the Retro Cowboy) to reproductions of famous Western art by such luminaries as C. M. Russell and Frederick Remington (Sid Richardson Museum). Original Russell and Remington art is currently on display through May 13, 2012.
One final, and I think, bittersweet memory of Fort Worth’s historical and cultural importance is the Hilton Hotel. Located at the southern edge of the Sundance Square area, it was the site of JFK’s stay the night before he was assassinated. The hotel was then called the Hotel Texas. The morning of the assassination, Kennedy delivered a speech in the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom. Currently, a memorial to JFK is being erected across from the hotel’s main entrance.
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