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Just where was Fort Worth's old "Gold Coast"?


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#1 Wildcard

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 03:45 AM

I ran across this article on the T&P website and thought it was rather interesting. The site itself has lots of info and history if anybody would like to have a look: http://www.texaspacificrailway.org/ ;)


Just where was Fort Worth's old "Gold Coast"?

Special to the Star-Telegram

Listen in on police radio transmissions today, and you'll hear official chatter about numbered "sectors" around Fort Worth.

But in early 20th-century Fort Worth, police used more colorful language to pinpoint locations. Areas such as "Gold Coast," "Cabbage Patch," "Hogan's Alley" and "Battercake Flats" identified the neighborhoods where cops covered their beats.

Fort Worth Police Sgt. Kevin Foster, who spends a lot of his spare time digging up the department's history, found the police designations for neighborhoods in a Feb. 18, 1923, Star-Telegram. With help from the local history staff at the Fort Worth Central Library, Foster matched some old beat nicknames to neighborhoods.

"Bohunk Alley" -- a word created with parts of the words Bohemian and Hungarian -- was what police called a settlement of Stockyards packinghouse workers.

"Bums' Bowery" was an area that extended along the northern part of Texas and Pacific Railroad property. Numerous transients lived in makeshift houses and sneaked rides "on the rods" from city to city.

The "League of Nations" referred to a section in northeastern downtown where recent immigrants from various countries often settled when they first came to Fort Worth. When officers were summoned to the area, they often had enormous difficulty understanding witnesses because of the myriad languages spoken.

The affluent residential area along Summit and Pennsylvania avenues was called the "Gold Coast" by police on the beat. The ritzy area along Main and Houston streets was called "Silk Stocking Lane."

"Little Africa" referred to Ninth Street, where black businesses and entertainment venues lined the thoroughfare. The diverse businesses included black millionaire Bill "Gooseneck" McDonald's Fraternal Bank and Trust Co., hotels, theaters, cafes, barbershops and stores owned and operated by African-American entrepreneurs.

A massive immigration of Irish looking for railroad construction jobs began in 1876, and many of them settled in "Irish Town," east of Jones Street and just below East Lancaster Avenue. Irish Town was also the area of mysterious murders of "bulls" -- a nickname for policemen that was imported by the Irish.

"Little Mexico" was called the "romantic beat" by officers because of the women in dark dresses and bright shawls who passed cantinas around lower Calhoun and Jones streets.

"Brown's Mule Square" covered the parklike grounds then encircling Courthouse Square on the far north end of downtown. It was named after a popular brand of chewing tobacco because chewers frequented the cool, shady lawns around the Tarrant County Courthouse to spin tales while they "constantly chawed and expectorated."

Police calls were infrequent in "Quality Grove," a north side residential area where many working-class blacks lived.

It had whitewashed frame homes surrounded by matching picket fences.

Another working-class neighborhood -- this one mostly of Anglos -- was "Hogan's Alley," which followed West 13th Street in downtown Fort Worth. Families lived above their businesses, including printing and typesetting shops, engraving setups and photography studios.

The notorious "Hell's Half Acre" -- roughly occupying the area of today's Fort Worth Convention Center -- contained saloons, gambling parlors, hotels, bordellos and other businesses that catered to the weaknesses of men and women.

Policemen dreaded going into the Acre, where they were called "bull's-eyes" because they were likely targets of gun-toting bad guys.

The Acre was about eight blocks long and five blocks wide -- covering Ninth to 16th streets north and south and from Houston to Jones streets east and west.

The police beat nicknames served their purpose until the late 1930s, when the city, particularly the downtown area, began changing radically.

The cop beat names are among tidbits we can expect when Foster and a local author-historian-professor, Richard F. Selcer, finish a book that they hope to release in the fall -- Cowboys and Cops.

Source: Star-Telegram, Sgt. Kevin Foster, Local History and Genealogical Section of the Central Fort Worth Library.

#2 JBB

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 10:53 AM

Wow. Great find. Thanks for posting.

#3 mosteijn

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 10:51 PM

Cool. I love the way the article talks about all the international communities in Fort Worth back in the day. It reminds me of a MUCH smaller scaled Boston or Chicago.

#4 ghughes

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 05:57 PM

Great article!
Interestingly (well, to me) I first heard the term "Bohunk" used by Pittsburghers as recently as 20 years ago. But I think ethnic slang is more prevalent in those old northern cities anyway.

#5 McHand

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 07:37 PM

Families lived above their businesses, including printing and typesetting shops, engraving setups and photography studios.

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Man! That would be great. Wake up in the morning, amble downstairs to your own shop, then close it up for the evening and walk back upstairs.

Call me crazy but I love the idea. Isn't that where all this "urbanisim" originated?

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#6 djold1

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:40 AM

Wake up in the morning, amble downstairs to your own shop, then close it up for the evening and walk back upstairs.


Other than running an open storefront, what's different about this than running your own Internet based home business, developing software or being an artist with a home studio or any number of other endeavors including working remotely for your employer? Home offices have exploded in numbers since the Internet made communication easy and possible.

There's a lot of good things about this kind of business, but a lot of negatives as well. It happens to suit me and I've been doing it off and on since about 1968, but many people aren't comfortable with it.

You also have to remember that while America offered the opportunity to open your own little business in a storefront in your home, the dream was often to succeed well enough that you could move into your own business building in the future. Having your own shop away from your residence was a step up.

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#7 McHand

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 06:55 AM

Good point. Actually as I was typing that the home-based business example came to mind.

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#8 courtnie

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 03:10 PM

Wonderful history....its what we are all about...interestingly enought the demographics have changed several times over the years....interesting...

#9 safly

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 10:38 PM

Great article!
Interestingly (well, to me) I first heard the term "Bohunk" used by Pittsburghers as recently as 20 years ago. But I think ethnic slang is more prevalent in those old northern cities anyway.

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I first heard that word used in the movie "Sixteen Candles". "some oily "Bohunk"....." Film was based in affluent Chicago suburbs.
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#10 safly

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 10:41 PM

Wonderful history....its what we are all about...interestingly enought the demographics have changed several times over the years....interesting...

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It seems like any major city in the US went through startups and changes much like FW's past. Demographs follow the jobs, and FW was the happenin place at one time for some good money and great fun.
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#11 courtnie

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Posted 22 July 2005 - 05:28 PM

I think its wonderful that our city has such a colorful past...it seems to bring us closer to it...you think of most little towns as being this way..but never thing of a big city such as Ft Worth to have it too..I guess i never expected so close to home...its great!!




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