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Before the Convention Center


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#1 mikey

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 03:57 PM

Anyone familiar with buildings tore down to make room for Convention Center and Water Gardens? Mainly interrested in area south of 12th Street., Cozy Hotel, Larry's Shoe, Stepps Cafe, Ideal Theater etc

#2 mbdalton1

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 06:19 PM

I believe the Fort Worth Star Telegram has some photos of this area in their 'vault'. I have seen a few of them. I do not know specifics however of these buildings. It was neat to see how dense this area was before the Convention Center was built.

mary bess

#3 bailey

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 06:27 PM

I was downtown when they demolished the buildings where the convention center now stands. There was block after block of two and three story buildings, most of them badly rundown. It was pretty much a slum area where the homeless wondered the streets. It was interesting how they tore the buildings down. They tied a steel cable around the buildings and literally pulled them down with large bulldozers. It was far different from an implosion but the result was similiar.

#4 John T Roberts

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 08:36 PM

There are a few pictures from the area located in the Jack White Collection of Historic Fort Worth Photos, University of Texas at Arlington section of this web site. Pictures from this area are generally under the "Street Scenes" section.

#5 austlar

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 12:13 AM

The blocks that were demolished to build the convention center were not unlike some of the blocks left standing in the Sundance Square area. Lower Main (I don't know why people referred to it as Lower Main since the street numbers were climbing, maybe because it was the south part of downtown), anyway, Lower Main was lined with 2 and 3 story buildings. Lots of taverns, pool halls, pawn shops, and empty store fronts at street level. The upper floors contained walk-up hotels and flop houses. There were also a couple of cat houses operating. The Jackson Hotel was especially well known to upperclassmen at Paschal High, and I must confess that it is where I lost my innocence, such as it was. Hey, it was a very different era just prior to the sexual revolution.

The area was a huge skid row, but it is a mistake to assume that there was a large homeless population. This was a place with lots of single room (SRO) housing. A flop could be had for as llittle as 50 cents, and a private room for only a couple of bucks. Drugs were not a big part of the picture in the mid to late 1950's, so the level of desperation was not as high as you might imagine, although it was common to see drunks passed out in doorways. The cops ran paddy wagons through the area regularly and took the publically intoxicated away to the drunk farm. I doubt the city or county operates a drunk farm today.

I guess the area was beyond saving, at least with the resources available at the time. The local plutocracy had not yet involved themselves in urban renewal efforts, certainly not on their own dime. It is too bad because there was a lot of wonderful late Victorian and early 20th Century architecture. As a child, I used to ride the TCU bus through the area at least once a week and was always fascinated. Maybe I was a precocious young fellow, but I remember feeling sad to see it all disappear. I felt that FW lost a very colorful and strangely soulful part of itself when those buildings came down and all those people were displaced.

#6 monty ray

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 09:12 AM

I lived in this area,in one of the walk up hotels, until I was almost 13 years old.

#7 johnlp

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 10:44 AM

Here is a birds-eye view of the area. smile.gif
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#8 austlar

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 03:36 PM

QUOTE(monty ray @ Mar 28 2006, 09:12 AM) View Post

I lived in this area,in one of the walk up hotels, until I was almost 13 years old.



It would be very interesting to learn of your impression of growing up in the area. I always felt that people dismissed too easily the fact that there were actually people living down there, interesting people. The media always caricatured the place in a very one dimensional way.

#9 monty ray

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 04:06 PM

QUOTE(austlar @ Mar 28 2006, 03:36 PM) View Post

QUOTE(monty ray @ Mar 28 2006, 09:12 AM) View Post

I lived in this area,in one of the walk up hotels, until I was almost 13 years old.



It would be very interesting to learn of your impression of growing up in the area. I always felt that people dismissed too easily the fact that there were actually people living down there, interesting people. The media always caricatured the place in a very one dimensional way.

It was probably as close to a Damon Runyon group of people as you could meet in real life. It was also very diverse culturally and ethnically. We Anglo-Saxon types owned the hotels and bars, the Greeks owned most of the restaurants and the Jews owned the clothing stores, pawn shops and liquor stores. It was fun and exciting as a kid to get to be exposed to such a colorful group of people. By the way, we rented rooms by the hour in our hotel.

#10 johnlp

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 04:16 PM

QUOTE(austlar @ Mar 28 2006, 03:36 PM) View Post

It would be very interesting to learn of your impression of growing up in the area. I always felt that people dismissed too easily the fact that there were actually people living down there, interesting people. The media always caricatured the place in a very one dimensional way.


Such as calling it "Hells Half Acre"?
smilewinkgrin.gif



#11 austlar

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 02:28 AM

QUOTE(johnlp @ Mar 28 2006, 04:16 PM) View Post

QUOTE(austlar @ Mar 28 2006, 03:36 PM) View Post

It would be very interesting to learn of your impression of growing up in the area. I always felt that people dismissed too easily the fact that there were actually people living down there, interesting people. The media always caricatured the place in a very one dimensional way.


Such as calling it "Hells Half Acre"?
smilewinkgrin.gif


I never remember those blocks being referred to as Hell's Half Acre. I always thought Hell's Half Acre was the area just to the east of the present convention center area, closer to the railroad tracks. Correct me, if I am wrong on that. I think that Hell's Half Acre has grown by a few acres in the public's imagination since downtown got turned into a theme park, but I could have my facts all mixed up.

#12 austlar

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 02:49 AM

QUOTE(monty ray @ Mar 28 2006, 04:06 PM) View Post

QUOTE(austlar @ Mar 28 2006, 03:36 PM) View Post

QUOTE(monty ray @ Mar 28 2006, 09:12 AM) View Post

I lived in this area,in one of the walk up hotels, until I was almost 13 years old.



It would be very interesting to learn of your impression of growing up in the area. I always felt that people dismissed too easily the fact that there were actually people living down there, interesting people. The media always caricatured the place in a very one dimensional way.

It was probably as close to a Damon Runyon group of people as you could meet in real life. It was also very diverse culturally and ethnically. We Anglo-Saxon types owned the hotels and bars, the Greeks owned most of the restaurants and the Jews owned the clothing stores, pawn shops and liquor stores. It was fun and exciting as a kid to get to be exposed to such a colorful group of people. By the way, we rented rooms by the hour in our hotel.



Your childhood sounds like it was pretty exotic. When was this, the 40's or the 50's? My memories are from the 50's, but I have family roots in the area going back to the late 1800's From the 1920's on until the demolition for the convention center, some of my relatives operated Wolf and Klar Jewelery and Sporting Goods at 15th and Main. You might remember the place. It was a glorified pawn shop operation that spawned a bunch of other retail businesses around town as the 2nd and 3rd generation of Wolfs, Klars, Millers, Langs, and Ellmans went their seperate ways.

#13 monty ray

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 10:20 AM

QUOTE(austlar @ Mar 29 2006, 02:49 AM) View Post

QUOTE(monty ray @ Mar 28 2006, 04:06 PM) View Post

QUOTE(austlar @ Mar 28 2006, 03:36 PM) View Post

QUOTE(monty ray @ Mar 28 2006, 09:12 AM) View Post

I lived in this area,in one of the walk up hotels, until I was almost 13 years old.



It would be very interesting to learn of your impression of growing up in the area. I always felt that people dismissed too easily the fact that there were actually people living down there, interesting people. The media always caricatured the place in a very one dimensional way.

It was probably as close to a Damon Runyon group of people as you could meet in real life. It was also very diverse culturally and ethnically. We Anglo-Saxon types owned the hotels and bars, the Greeks owned most of the restaurants and the Jews owned the clothing stores, pawn shops and liquor stores. It was fun and exciting as a kid to get to be exposed to such a colorful group of people. By the way, we rented rooms by the hour in our hotel.

I do remember Wolf and Klar. It was considered upscale for the area. My childhhod was interesting to say the least. I also grew up in the 50's with my grandparents They owned the Cozy Hotel at 1403 1/2 Houston St. One of the more interesting people I remember was Eunice Gray who owned the Salter Hotel. Some people believe she might have been Etta Place, but who knows? To me she was just a nice old lady that was friends with my grandmother.

Your childhood sounds like it was pretty exotic. When was this, the 40's or the 50's? My memories are from the 50's, but I have family roots in the area going back to the late 1800's From the 1920's on until the demolition for the convention center, some of my relatives operated Wolf and Klar Jewelery and Sporting Goods at 15th and Main. You might remember the place. It was a glorified pawn shop operation that spawned a bunch of other retail businesses around town as the 2nd and 3rd generation of Wolfs, Klars, Millers, Langs, and Ellmans went their seperate ways.



#14 safly

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 10:59 AM

QUOTE(austlar @ Mar 29 2006, 02:28 AM) View Post

QUOTE(johnlp @ Mar 28 2006, 04:16 PM) View Post

QUOTE(austlar @ Mar 28 2006, 03:36 PM) View Post

It would be very interesting to learn of your impression of growing up in the area. I always felt that people dismissed too easily the fact that there were actually people living down there, interesting people. The media always caricatured the place in a very one dimensional way.


Such as calling it "Hells Half Acre"?
smilewinkgrin.gif


I never remember those blocks being referred to as Hell's Half Acre. I always thought Hell's Half Acre was the area just to the east of the present convention center area, closer to the railroad tracks. Correct me, if I am wrong on that. I think that Hell's Half Acre has grown by a few acres in the public's imagination since downtown got turned into a theme park, but I could have my facts all mixed up.



That's interesting that you say that about your version of "Hell's Half Acres". It does seem that it was a bit OVERglorified throughout the years, to say the least. What stories do you have to share with us non FW natives and fellow FORUMERS. Any pic's? Gunfightin stories, poker games turned shootouts, or how about them crazy bootleggin days of old. How did that help shape FW?

Love the aerial photo. Look at how densified DTFW looks!
Where is Gen. Worth Square! biggrin.gif

Again, I must say that seeing all of DTFW dense with smaller scale 5-20 story buildings is a much more impressive sight than the few scattered vantage suffocating "skyscrapers" we now have. Especially when driving on I-35 or I-30.

Can you imagine all of those buildings lit up at night. Perhaps somebody on this FORUM could arrange such an enhanced pic. wink.gif

The white building in what looks to be on the block of Commerce and E 13th or 12th St. What was that?
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#15 cberen1

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 12:00 PM

I just like the part of the picture where the SBC building doesn't exist yet in its present form.

#16 John T Roberts

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 10:10 PM

Safly, I think you mean the building on the northwest corner of 14th and Main. It was an old hotel.

#17 safly

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 09:58 AM

QUOTE(John T Roberts @ Mar 29 2006, 10:10 PM) View Post

Safly, I think you mean the building on the northwest corner of 14th and Main. It was an old hotel.



No, no, no.

There is an off-set arrangement just east of Main on Commerce. It is near the SE or NE block of 13th or 14th street. One level is about 3 stories tall, the other is about 5 or 6. Could be attached. It looks to presently be where the Maloney's Bar is or the parking lots between there and the United Way.

Actually it may be closer to 12th street. It seems to be a about 2 blocks east of my former residence, and 2 blocks south. So that would be 11th or 12th, can't really tell for sure. IT'S HUGE! I can't believe you're missing it. The photo border cuts into about half of it. That's ONE BIG HOTEL, if it ever was back in the day.

And what is that making all of that shadow play along the walls of the Medical building?
Bed sheets hangin out to dry? biggrin.gif
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#18 johnlp

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 11:04 AM

QUOTE(safly @ Mar 30 2006, 09:58 AM) View Post

And what is that making all of that shadow play along the walls of the Medical building?
Bed sheets hangin out to dry?



The windows are open on certain floors. I think they angled out from the bottom at a 45 degree angle. Either that or some windows had awnings on them. No real sure my self.
I may be wrong but I believe that the MA never had AC.

#19 John T Roberts

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 11:59 AM

Safly, the building in which you are referring is the Majestic Theater. It was at Commerce and 10th Streets and it was demolished to make way for the Physical Plant of the Convention Center. There is a whole section in the Jack White Collection on the Majestic.

#20 bailey

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 03:48 PM

QUOTE(johnlp @ Mar 30 2006, 11:04 AM) View Post

QUOTE(safly @ Mar 30 2006, 09:58 AM) View Post

And what is that making all of that shadow play along the walls of the Medical building?
Bed sheets hangin out to dry?



The windows are open on certain floors. I think they angled out from the bottom at a 45 degree angle. Either that or some windows had awnings on them. No real sure my self.
I may be wrong but I believe that the MA never had AC.


In many of the pictures of the MA building you will see the windows open. There were also some window shades on some of the windows. You are correct that it was never air conditioned and that was one of the reason it was imploded. At that time, the cost to add air conditioning and to update all the other mechanical systems was not feasible.

#21 austlar

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 05:35 PM


I beleieve those are canvas window awnings on many of the MA Building windows. I seem to have some recollection of them there and also on the Electric Bldg as late as the early 1950's. I also remember seeing them on the Forest Park Apartments. I know that in some cities they were considered a fire hazard and outlawed, but probably they disappeared from use in FW as air conditioning, either central or window units, became more common.

#22 Fort Worthology

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 09:48 PM

QUOTE(austlar @ Mar 30 2006, 05:35 PM) View Post

I beleieve those are canvas window awnings on many of the MA Building windows. I seem to have some recollection of them there and also on the Electric Bldg as late as the early 1950's. I also remember seeing them on the Forest Park Apartments. I know that in some cities they were considered a fire hazard and outlawed, but probably they disappeared from use in FW as air conditioning, either central or window units, became more common.


On the outside of my windows in the Electric Building, there are some metal tie-downs that were probably used for those awnings.

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#23 safly

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 10:19 PM

QUOTE(John T Roberts @ Mar 30 2006, 11:59 AM) View Post

Safly, the building in which you are referring is the Majestic Theater. It was at Commerce and 10th Streets and it was demolished to make way for the Physical Plant of the Convention Center. There is a whole section in the Jack White Collection on the Majestic.



Oh yeah! I should have remembered. I read about it the other weekend (implosion) on the historical plaque near the FWCC. Was not sure if it was where the modern day FWCC is or near there. Interesting info. on the Jack White collection. Amazing stuff. Would LOVE to have one in FW just like it.

One of the reasons why it intrigued me was the fact that SA too has a Majestic Theatre, in the DT area. Same owner?
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#24 John T Roberts

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 07:22 PM

Dallas has one, too. Safly, before I tell you the answer, I 'm going to ask you, what do you think? If you do a quick little online research, the answer can be found.

#25 safly

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 10:32 PM

Well that's why asked on the FORUM. I figured you were the Architectural Google Guru. biggrin.gif

Did some searching, not of the SOUL type. And I think I got me an answer. Thanks for the lil push.

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#26 John T Roberts

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 10:51 PM

Now, I will answer your questions for those who didn't want to do the quick research. The Majestic Theaters of Fort Worth, Dallas, and San Antonio, and others were built and developed by Karl Hoblitzelle. He had other partners in the ventures, but those theaters were his creations. He later started the Interstate Theater chain.




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