Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Downtown Fort Worth's Forgotten Gem


   (Note: This Friday I will be participating in Over the Edge, a fundraiser for Downtown Fort Worth Inc. The rehabilitation on this forgotten downtown park is one of the project DFWI is working on. This story was originally published in January 2011)


   Can you have a city park designed by a prominent landscape architect and have nobody notice when it closes?  The answer is yes, which is easy to understand when you consider that few people have ever noticed that the park even existed. What makes this story so unbelievable is that the park is on a busy downtown corner across the street from the Tarrant County Courthouse.



   Heritage Park was opened on the corner of Belknap and Main in downtown Fort Worth to commemorate the founding of the original military post in 1849. The park, designed by noted architect Lawrence Halprin, opened in 1976. It featured numerous water features intermingled with shaded paths and a cantilevered walkway built over the bluff overlooking the Trinity River.

  But even though the park was located on a busy intersection, it was one with little foot traffic. Few people noticed Heritage Park. And even fewer noticed in 2007 when the park fell into disrepair and was closed.


   It's been three years since the park has closed. But there is little public uproar to reopen the grounds. I contacted the city of Fort Worth and received a reply from Fernando Costa, the Assistant City Manager.  He wrote that the city is working with Downtown Fort Worth Inc. to raise funds to repair and upgrade the park. But in the past three years, little has been done. Meanwhile, the park is slowly being taking over by nature.

The cantilevered walkway can still be seen on the bluff above the Trinity, even though the trees  have begun to block the view. 

The Water Wall behind chain link.

An ironic caption 'The Vision Endures" on the sign outside the park

A Water Wall that includes the map of the original settlement sits behind chain link.

An urban oasis on the other side of the fence.

A diminished view of the park from the Main Street Street Bridge.