Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Livestock Exchange Building ~ Christmas '05

I was sorting some old pictures this morning and came across some pictures of the Fort Worth Livestock Exchange building in the Stockyards Historic District on Exchange Avenue. They were taken in late November with an afternoon sun, I think. This is a gorgeous old building, inside and out.  It is the home of the Stockyards Museum which is operated by the North Fort Worth Historical Society.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The FW Streetcar Project ~ Afterview

The Jack White History Group has been having some conversations about the use of streetcars in Fort Worth and the outcome of the streetcar project which has foundered, at least for the moment. The slightly edited text below was originally posted by me to that group.

I’m kind of in the middle ground on this.  I've attended several of streetcar public meetings and I’ve been reading all the posts on the Jack White pages as well as those on the FW Forum and Kevin Buchanan’s Fort Worth Streetcar FB and his Fortworthology blog. As I have said in many of these forums in the past, I think that there is a place for streetcars in Fort Worth.  But right now I’m not gonna get into the pro & con.

As briefly as possible, I want to bring out some mistaken ideas, misconceptions and in some cases deliberate attempts to mislead that have popped up on both sides.
  • Old vs. new: Modern streetcars, unlike the heritage McKinney Street or the St. Charles St. New Orleans line, streetcars do tend to run at curbside instead of in the middle. This creates some new problems as well as solves others.
  • Streetcars will clog traffic: A streetcar will take up no more room in downtown city streets than a bus of comparable size. There are lots of buses in downtown FW, some of which might be displaced if streetcars ever were added.
  • Ugly overhead wires? The overhead wire on a tangent or straight section of track downtown can be simple and unobtrusive.  However, when you start bending wires around the corners you have to use what are called pull-off’s or wires attached at intervals and run out to poles or attachments on buildings that would hold the trolley wire in a curve.  They are not simple and could be called unattractive by some.
  • They are both boxes on wheels: Streetcars are not more efficient or “modern” than buses. In Europe, both are made by the same manufacturer. Both can have articulation, low direct loading and for a given length will hold the same number of passengers. Both can be furnished with the same seats and fittings from simple to plush.
  • Don't garble it: It is important not to confuse streetcars with light rail(Dart), interurbans (Historic), or commuter rail (TRE or the Cotton Belt commuter plan).  They aren’t the same at all.  When someone says they take the TRE it is not the same as taking a local bus or streetcar.
  • Sleaze: The consultants and planners say: “Streetcars are better because the rails let the prospective rider see where they are going.”  This is sheer voodoo and is one of the stupid things that has turned me off when used by the supposed “experts” & consultants during the streetcar presentations.  I suppose that if you had a single loop of track going round and round in one direction that this might just barely be valid. But if the track further down the way branches off into three or four different lines going different places, then the whole premise is idiotic.  And If there is a feeling that somehow the tracks give a warm and cozy feeling to those that won’t read the route signs that exist for both buses and streetcars at a downtown stop, then why not take some cheap silver paint and inexpensively stripe two lines four feet apart along the curb to represent tracks?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Page 2...

The search for more of the Lost Maps of Fort Worth goes on. The current Lost Maps of Fort Worth CDROM in the stores has over 270 (278) pages filled with maps, views and the history of the first 100 years of the city, but that isn't nearly all.

For the past several years we have been working to create an Index of Fort Worth & Tarrant County maps.  The work has gone pretty well.  Several of the museums and libraries have provided their catalogs.  And a number of private owners have given us their listings.

The result has been revealing.   The original of what we believe to be the first real map of Fort Worth has been rediscovered after being more or less hidden in storage for many years.

This is a lo-res copy of the 1876 Zane-Cetti map of Fort Worth as seen in the Lost Maps of Fort Worth CDROM.

The original has been recovered from an obscure storage bin, and was sent off to for restoration, framing and eventual display, hopefully in the near future.

We think there are other old original maps of Fort Worth & Tarrant County that may still be in existence but are not currently visible.  

Any Original Fort Worth or Tarrant County map earlier than about 1940 has value as an historic document of the earlier days of Fort Worth and should be preserved. If you have a map like this or know the location or owner of one, please let me or someone involved in Fort Worth history know so that it can become part of the Lost Maps of Fort Worth Index. 

First Edition..

It's taken us a while.  We wanted to think carefully about how be might fit this new publication into the already rich stream of Fort Worth's digital world.  We won't post on a schedule and hopefully we will write something of interest when we do.

We plan a small diary of our travels and inquiries into the historical record as well as comments on the issues and interests of the present day.

After a good deal of time spent with the old Fort Worth Gazette doing historical research I have come to enjoy the style of that little paper which relentlessly pushed the development of Fort Worth, but apparently never made much money, if any. Their special editions were something to behold.  The 1887 special page was especially good.