Lunch downtown today with Nancy O’Shea (we go back more years than either of us want to talk about). It was a real treat. Nancy has lived downtown and now lives on the outer edges, so she is familiar and comfortable in what to me is often strange territory. First neat thing—Del Frisco’s has a “lift” for people like me. Like an elevator in a waist-high cage, it takes you from the foyer to the ground floor, where you can walk out to the outdoor tables.
I love eating outside there, looking at Sundance Square and all the people who daily take advantage of the benches, umbrellas, and wonderful views. It’s almost time for kids to be frolicking in the fountains, but still a bit cold. The square is surrounded by fascinating architecture, a blend of new, old, and faux old. There’s the building that houses Jamba (I’m sure it has a name), a tiny building dwarfed by its neighbors but made large by the cattle drive mural on its exterior. I can’t name all the others, but you need do no more than sit there and look up and around to realize that ours is a wonderful city.
For years, Fort Worth’s slogan has been, “Cowboys and Culture.” Nancy said she read there’s a move afoot to take the cowboys out of it because they no longer reflect Fort Worth as it is. I really hope that doesn’t happen. Cowboy culture—trail drives, particularly—shaped our city and gave it is distinct heritage. Today, Fort Worth is made special by that surprisingly comfortable blend of contemporary sophistication with western history. You can go downtown for upscale dining and music, and you can go to the North Side for stockyards history and chicken-fried steak. No other city like that.
Scattered throughout our city are pockets and bits of history—homes and buildings that have been saved from demolition, neighborhoods that have been lovingly preserved, a sense of treasuring the past that made us what we are today. Yes, we have lost some important buildings to demotion and new construction, and yes, we are building new, so many apartments I wonder who can possibly fill them, but I understand 40 families a day move here. But overall I think we’ve done a better job than many cities of maintaining the balance.
Shhh. Do you think I could discourage some of those 40 families? I don’t want our city to reach 10 million y 2020, which is apparently where it’s headed. I want folks to live in bungalows set back from the street, with carefully tended gardens and neighborhood stores. For years in my neighborhood, I was greeted by name at the cleaners, the vet, the liquor store, the grocery, even several restaurants. It’s still true a bit, but it’s fast slipping away.
I don’t think I’m a luddite. I don’t want to cling to the past and ignore progress, but I do like a happy blend of the two.
Go downtown soon. Eat in one of the restaurants that offer patio space on Sundance Square, or bring your own picnic and feed the pigeons while you eat. Gaze around you. We do indeed live in a wonderful city.