The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, are traditionally talked about in the same breath due to the relatively-small 30 miles (49 kilometers) of Interstate 30 that separates them. The cities share the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and are linked by a commuter train. Then, however, the two cities diverge. Dallas is recognized for its downtown architecture and a history of money and big business. Fort Worth is known as a frontier cow town that grew into a city from the proceeds of oil while keeping its boots, chaps, and 10-gallon hat.
Dallas – History
The site for Dallas was chosen in the early 1840s by founder John Neely Bryan for to its proximity to a natural ford on the Trinity River. Bryan believed the location was a perfect base for a trading post. It would have been if a treaty were not signed with the local native population, effectively moving most of his customers away from the area. With entrepreneurial spirit, Bryan modified his trading post idea and directed his thoughts towards creating a township. In 1856, Dallas was incorporated as a town. Passenger trains came to town by 1872, encouraging a population explosion. At one point, the population grew from 3000 to 7000 in a nine-month span.
In the late 1800s, insurance and banking became major industries in Dallas, and, in 1914, Dallas was named as one of 12 Federal Reserve Bank locations, officially marking the city as a financial center. From 1948 on, major US corporations began to build their headquarters in Dallas, so by 1974 well over 600 corporations called the city home. In the 1970s and 1980s, these corporations were part of the building boom, providing Dallas with a distinctive skyline—including the Reunion Tower with its geodesic dome top and the prism-shaped Fountain Place.
During this rise as a city, Dallas also hit its lowest point. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated near the spot where the city was founded in Dealey Plaza. Two days later, Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, was shot and killed by Jack Ruby while in police custody, leaving many questions on why the President was assassinated and by whom. Even today, the city bares the scars of these events.
Fort Worth – History
Just over 30 miles from Dallas is Fort Worth. It was founded in 1849 as one of ten forts along the Texas frontier. By 1853, the frontier moved further west and the military abandoned the fort, where it was taken over by settlers and became a town. Within a few decades, and partly because of the town’s location as the last major center before the Chisholm Trail, Fort Worth became known as Cowtown. As well, because of its location along the great cattle trails from Texas, Fort Worth spawned Hell’s Half Acre, a region full of saloons, gambling joints, and dance halls that attracted cowboys and desperadoes alike.
With the eventual arrival of the railroad, the Fort Worth Stockyards became a premier livestock shipyard and remained so until the 1960s. But, cattle only helped start the city. Oil made it grow. When oil wells began to pop up throughout west Texas in the early 1900s, it was in Fort Worth where many of the deals were made and much of the money spent.
DALLAS FEATURED ATTRACTIONS
Fair Park is a 277-acre (112-hectare) fairground that is home to the State Fair of Texas. For three weeks each year, the State Fair hosts millions of guests as they come to see a range of events from musicals to museum exhibits. During the State Fair, free gate entry is included in event ticket prices.
Throughout the year, visitors can watch football games at Cotton Bowl Stadium, view an exhibit at any of the nine museums, or see a show at any of the six performance facilities. Other attractions within Fair Park include the Dallas Aquarium, the Dallas Museum of Natural History, and the Texas Vietnam Memorial.
Settled after the Civil War by freed slaves, Deep Ellum gained its name from the pronunciation of Elm Street by locals. The district grew into a commercial area with almost anything available for purchase. Jazz and blues musicians, such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, helped make the area a hub of activity from the 1920s through the 1950s, increasing the number of nightclubs from 12 to 20 in this time period. The area declined to dereliction until the early 1980s when a redevelopment plan brought new life to the neighborhood. Today, Deep Ellum offers a warehouse district complete with loft housing, trendy clothing stores, galleries, festivals, restaurants, nightclubs and bars.
Dallas Museum of Art
For over 100 years, the Dallas Museum of Art has participated in and encouraged the Dallas cultural scene. Collections at the museum include European Painting and Sculpture, Contemporary Art and Design, American Painting and Sculpture and more. Along with an impressive permanent collection, the museum features regular, traveling and special exhibits.
President John F. Kennedy
On November 22, 1963, the motorcade of President John F. Kennedy was driving through Dealey Plaza when he was assassinated. Remembrances of this dark day in Dallas and United States history are maintained throughout the city.
A block from Dealey Plaza, the Kennedy Memorial Plaza provides a quiet area for remembrance and reflection. In the Texas Schoolbook Depository building, where a sniper’s rifle was discovered after the assassination, the Sixth Floor Museum provides a look into the life, times and legacy of President Kennedy.
FORT WORTH FEATURED ATTRACTIONS
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX
Stockyards National Historic District. The original hub of Fort Worth’s cattle trade, the Stockyards National Historic District is a perfect place to see a little bit of Fort Worth. Visitors can ride the steam locomotive of the Tarantula Train between Fort Worth and Grapevine, TX, or watch the daily cattle drive of the Fort Worth Herd. Also, the annual Southwestern Exposition Livestock Show and Rodeo (also known as the Fort Worth Stock Show) is held here mid-January to early-February each year.
These and other attractions give visitors a chance to experience Fort Worth’s Cowtown past and present.
Fort Worth’s Cultural District is home to a number of local attractions and is a great location to spend a day or more. The district offers museums, galleries, and theatres. The Amon Carter Museum is a Fort Worth treasure, showcasing a large collection of noteworthy American artwork. Exhibited at the museum are works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Frederic Remington, and Charles M. Russell. For further exhibits on the west, visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame or the Cattle Raisers Museum. Other museums in the Cultural District are the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Kimbell Art Museum.
Sundance Square is a historic part of Fort Worth. Formerly known as Hell’s Half Acre, the square is named after the Sundance Kid, who frequented this area with his outlaw partner, Butch Cassidy. With its newly-restored, early-Twentieth Century buildings, this area has replaced the defunct bawdy houses and gambling joints with art galleries, museums, shops and restaurants. The old saloons may be long gone, but a wide variety of modern bars and nightclubs provide plenty of entertainment.
Dallas and Fort Worth offer visitors a humid, subtropical and continental climate, providing the area with hot summers that frequently exceed 100°F (37.8 °C). Long spells of hot weather are regularly broken with thunderstorms. Winters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are normally mild with the occasional sudden drop in temperature, nicknamed Blue Northers.
The area around Dallas and Fort Worth is a high risk area for tornadoes. On March 28, 2000, two tornadoes rolled through downtown Fort Worth, killing five people, injuring over 100 people and causing over $450 million in damage. While this is an extremely rare occurrence, visitors must be aware that tornadoes are a possibility in this part of the United States.
While proximity between Dallas and Fort Worth has historically meant a rivalry, the cities have successfully partnered in recent decades. Together, they constructed and now maintain the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Since the airport’s completion in 1974, it has remained one of the largest and busiest airports in the world. Annually, it serves over 50 million customers, directing them to 130 domestic and 30 international destinations.
Also at the airport, major international rental car agencies are represented, providing transportation for self-guided tours of both cities.
Trinity Railway Express provides a commuter rail link between Dallas and Fort Worth via the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Amtrak offers nation-wide rail service to both cities.
Public transit service is provided by both cities. When in Fort Worth, ride the trolleys, buses (including limited free downtown service), and shuttles of the T. While in Dallas, catch the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) bus, light rail, streetcar and trolly-bus services.
Taxis and airport shuttles are also available. Many accept reservations when booked more than 24 hours in advance.
Dallas and Fort Worth are located approximately 250 mi (400 km) north of the Gulf of Mexico in north central Texas.
Dallas is located a 188-miles (305-kilometers) drive due west of Shreveport, Louisiana. The city is crossed by Interstate highways 20, 30, 35, and 45. The Trinity River, the original western boundary of the city, flows through the center of town, adjacent to the downtown core. Fort Worth is 30 miles (49 kilometers) further west of Dallas along Interstate 30 and the Trinity River.
Located on the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, Fort Worth can be reached by Interstate highways 20, 30, and 35W.