Saturday, April 5, 2014

1903: Charles Swartz.. Views of Fort Worth

Last year (2013), a great show featuring the photographic work of the three Fort Worth Swartz brothers was put together by Fort Worth historians Donna Donnell and Dr. Rick Selcer.  It was first seen at the the Fort Worth Public Library. Titled "The Swartz Brothers, the First Family of Fort Worth Photographers", it got rave reviews and was also shown in a number of other venues.

While working on another project, I recently came across this little 20+ page album published in 1903 by the Albertype Co. that features the work of Charles (C.L.) Swartz, one of the famous brothers. Offering a different look at early Fort Worth, I thought a close look at a few of the pages might be interesting.

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Printed on fine paper and bound by a colorful ribbon, using the Albertype method which is a gravure print and not a lithograph or half-tone process, the resulting quality is outstanding. A number of other fine photographers in other cities also used this format to present their work.  I have another from Dallas. Instead of individual pictures, each page is a montage of several, often with a single theme. Many of these images are little known and seldom seen.

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Railroads made Fort Worth.  From 1876 when the Texas & Pacific limped into town at the last crucial moment, the the momentum of the city has been mostly fast forward. Built around 1898 in the center of the 300+ acre "reservation" donated to the railroad by a number of Fort Worth's founding fathers, the center image is of the classic T&P station.

Located just to the east across Main Street from the present T&P terminal building, it would burn and be rebuilt in 1909. Then, having become hopelessly obsolete as Fort Worth boomed, it was replaced in 1931 by the present tall building.  At the upper right, Swartz captured the grand waiting room of the station. This image is one that is seldom seen.

At the upper left is the original freight house which was located about where the present T&P building sits.  It was the backdrop for President Teddy Roosevelt's visit in 1905 which C.L Swartz also photographed. This building also was replaced in 1931 with the enormous deserted structure further west on Lancaster street which now waits for preservation and reuse.

The enormous locomotive roundhouse shown at the bottom center was located just west of South Main and south of the T&P railroad tracks. It was demolished after a new roundhouse, yard and shops were built further west of downtown starting at about where University Drive passes under the Union Pacific railroad today. This is also a rarely seen image.

Complementary images of a cowboy and an iron horse fill out the montage page.

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In 1903 Fort Worth was a sizable, busy, growing city.  The old cattle trail days had passed and new sturdy masonry buildings were rising.  Charles Swartz took pictures of many of these buildings and many of his images are the only ones that we have of that period.

At the center is the monumental City Hall building. Located where the current nondescript city building now squats, it was a city landmark second only to the 1894 Courthouse on the bluff.  It was demolished in 1938.

Surrounding the City Hall are 8 historic Swartz pictures of turn-of-the-century Fort Worth businesses.  A few may have familiar names, but others are long gone and are remembered only in these images.

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The hotels and resorts of Fort Worth dominate this album page.  At the center, a familiar picture of the Arlington Heights Country Club built around 1902. This building replaced "Ye Arlington Inn" that was the centerpiece of the 1890 Arlington Heights development and which burned in 1894.

Above it, the Fort Worth Record building which housed a major competitor for the readership of Fort Worth until the Fort Worth Star-Telegram bought it from the Hearst syndicate in 1925.

Both the Worth and Delaware Hotels are fairly well known, however the Metropolitan has pretty well faded from memory. But who remembers the Hotel Rosen in downtown Fort Worth?  A very scarce image.

Detail from back cover <click image to enlarge> 
Let us know if you enjoyed these select pages.  As time permits we may publish a few more images from the camera of Charles L. Swartz.


  1. A century-plus later we still turn to Swartz photos when we want to see what our past looked like.

  2. Love the photos by Charlie, glad he got out of the studio and pounded the pavement.

  3. Nice presentation of early Ft. Worth history. Thanks for the effort.

  4. Stockyards Museum (TB)April 7, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    I am sharing this on our Facebook page! Thank you!

  5. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it Smile I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

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