The Fort Worth Stockyards: an Icon of the Texas Livestock Industry Will Be Redeveloped
The Fort Worth Stockyards is a window in time where you can experience the history of the livestock industry and learn about its significance to the city and state. Located near the heart of town, the Fort Worth Stockyards is an icon of North Texas that has been in full operation since 1889. Just days ago, a $175 million redevelopment master plan was unveiled, which will give the grounds a dramatic makeover.
Fort Worth was once the last stop for rest and supplies for drovers heading from Chisholm Trail to the railheads. Beyond Fort Worth, drovers had to deal with crossing the Red River into Indian Territory. Once the railroad arrived in 1876, Fort Worth became a major shipping point for livestock. Between 1866 and 1890 more than 4 million head of cattle were trailed through Fort Worth, which became known as Cowtown. Construction of the stockyards eventually transformed Fort Worth from a shipping point of cattle to a national headquarters of sorts for processing and packaging meat. The Livestock Exchange Building was built at the stockyards in 1902 as a center for cattle traders and became known as “The Wall Street of the West.” The Coliseum, which today is called the Cowtown Coliseum, was built in 1907, and became home of the first indoor rodeo. The stockyards prospered through the first half of the 20th Century and had its peak year in 1944, when more than 5 million head of livestock were processed there. However, following World War II, newly paved interstate highways and major roads allowed the trucking industry to take off. The Fort Worth Stockyards, which depended on bulk shipping by rail, lost its competitive advantage over lower-cost trucking.
Following years of continual decline and disrepair, the Fort Worth Stockyards was standing on its last leg and all but abandoned. The North Fort Worth Historical Society, which was founded by Charlie and Sue McCafferty, was chartered in 1976 to preserve Fort Worth’s livestock heritage. Today, the Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District is one of Texas’ most popular tourist destinations. It is home to several attractions, including Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honkey-tonk. The stockyards also has a rodeo, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and a museum. There are numerous bars, restaurants, and shops. Concerts and other special events are regularly hosted at entertainment venues.
The master plan for a $175 million redevelopment of the Fort Worth Stockyards was recently unveiled and will affect 70 acres, including vacant land and rehabilitation of existing historical buildings. The project would create 800,000 square feet of new space. The redevelopment plan is not without controversy, as the National Trust for Historic Preservation put the stockyards on the annual Most Endangered Historic Places list. The plan, which is still conceptual at this point, calls for the construction of residential units, office space, shopping, hotels, and entertainment venues. The developers have promised to make every effort to preserve the historic nature of the grounds. During your stay in Fort Worth, be sure to check out the stockyards. Soon enough, there will be a new look and feel to the grounds.
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