Monday, January 9, 2012

Pondering Fort Worth's Rail-Free Rise To World Class City Status With Litter, Eyesores & Dirt Paths

Northside Drive I-35 Exit To The Fort Worth Stockyards
In the picture you are looking at the northbound exit to Northside Drive from Interstate 35W. This is the  freeway exit that leads to the Fort Worth Stockyards.

Please make note of the fact that this freeway exit is not landscaped and is littered. We will come back to this later.

The cover story in the most recent edition of Fort Worth Weekly is titled "A Tale of Two Rail Systems." With the subtitle being "Tarrant and Dallas took different public transit routes. Guess who is ahead?"

A Dallas attorney, Walt Humann, is extensively quoted in this story, because the story is about public transit in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and attorney Humann is credited with the founding of DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit).

In the article Walt Humann is quoted as saying...

“But if you are going to be a world-class city, you have to have a great mass- transit system, I think Fort Worth is at a point right now where that issue is gaining more importance. One way that big cities solve the transportation problem is to add different mass-transit options. That’s what world-class cities do. Fort Worth needs to start thinking of itself as a world-class city, because in many ways it already is.”

Can you guess the part of the above quote that had me perplexed? If you guessed it was the part that indicated that in many ways Fort Worth is already a world-class city, you guessed right.

I was baffled. I could not think of a single way in which Fort Worth is a world-class city. Is one of the ways the fact of having that extremely tacky looking Cowtown Wakeboard Park, that is part of the ongoing Trinity River Vision Boondoggle, which Boondoggle Leader, J.D. Granger, says is the World's Premiere Urban Wakeboard Park?

I thought to myself that I don't actually know what makes for a world-class city, so I turned to Google.

The Wikipedia article on this important subject says in part, "A world-class city is a city generally considered to be an important node in the global economic system. The concept comes from geography and urban studies and rests on the idea that globalization can be understood as largely created, facilitated and enacted in strategic geographic locales according to a hierarchy of importance to the operation of the global system of finance and trade."

The Urban Dictionary article on this important subject says in part, "A world-class city is a major international destination. Most often it's a major, international political, cultural or commercial center. Includes cities of all sizes and not just the world's largest."

In the Wikipedia list of world-class cities the only town in Texas on the list is Austin. The list is broken down from Alpha towns at the top, like #1 New York City, to Beta towns, and then Gamma towns, of which Austin is one.

Apparently a world-class city comes to be one by being an important political, cultural or commercial center.

Well, Fort Worth does have a Cultural District. I don't know if any other world-class cities name the location of their town's museums as the town's "Cultural District."

Commercial center? Let's see. American Airlines is based in Fort Worth. And bankrupt.

Radio Shack is based in Fort Worth. But had to sell its new corporate headquarters in downtown Fort Worth, a corporate headquarters that was built by abusing eminent domain, taking acres of free parking and closing the world's shortest free subway, which was Fort Worth's only light rail.

Tarrant County College is now located in the defunct former Radio Shack headquarters, because of TCC's own building boondoggle in downtown Fort Worth that ran amok, cost-wise.

Pier One Imports is based in Fort Worth. Pier One Imports built a very nice new corporate headquarters, that Pier One Imports could not afford. So, Chesapeake Energy bought the Pier One Imports corporate headquarters for building space from which to run their shadow government of Fort Worth.

I know the locals take great pride in their collection of museums in the Cultural District. I had never heard of these museums until I moved to Texas. I recently bought the Lonely Planet travel guide to Texas. In the Lonely Planet Texas travel guide one section lists the Top 10 museums to see in Texas. The only one in Fort Worth, on the list, is the National Cowgirl Museum.

I don't think Fort Worth has any particular political influence on the nation or world that is of the world-class city sort. The town is run by an oligarchy, good ol' boy network type system of local government, that does not even allow its citizens to vote on public works projects, like the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle.

Fort Worth is the only city in America with a population over 500,000 without a department store in its downtown. There is also no grocery store in downtown Fort Worth. On the busiest shopping day of the year, that being the day after Thanksgiving, downtown Fort Worth is a ghost town.

I really don't think a town can be a world-class city with no downtown department stores or grocery stores.

I have never seen a big city with so many streets without sidewalks, as Fort Worth, with so many of its residents walking on dirt paths worn into the ground beside the streets. I really think world-class cities are likely big on having sidewalks.

Would a world-class city allow a park in its downtown, like Heritage Park, to become a closed, chain-link fence surrounded eyesore?

Fort Worth has more holes poked into its ground, by Natural Gas Drillers, than any other city in the world. Maybe this is what Mr. Humann means to be one of the ways Fort Worth is a world-class city.

Maybe someone could ask Dallas attorney, Walt Humann, in what ways he believes Fort Worth is a world-class city and help alleviate me of my bafflement.

Regarding being a world-class city, let's go back to that picture at the top of the freeway exit which leads to Fort Worth's top tourist attraction, the Fort Worth Stockyards.

A world-class city would landscape and keep litter free the exits to its top tourist attraction.

The two little towns in the valley I lived in in Washington, through which the I-5 freeway passes, landscape their freeway exits, those towns being Mount Vernon and Burlington, combined population around 40,000.

Fort Worth does not need to go all the way to Washington to see how grown up cities beautify their towns. Just go visit Grapevine. Or North Richland Hills. Both towns have done real good jobs of landscaping their main roads. And using native plants to do so.

Fort Worth's shabby freeway exits are a shameful thing.

For another example, for Fort Worth, look at what Arlington's done with the new bridges and freeway exits to the Six Flags-Ballpark in Arlington-Cowboys Stadium Entertainment District. It is quite impressive, the landscaping, the pedestrian crossings over the new bridges, the murals.

Maybe the City of Fort Worth should stop ticketing and fining Don Young for growing a native plant Xeriscaped yard, and instead enlist Mr. Young's help in designing some sensible, water-free landscaping for Fort Worth's eyesore freeway exits.

It just occurred to me. There is something called a Citizen's Arrest, where a citizen can arrest someone they see doing a bad thing. Is there such a thing as a Citizen's Citation? If the city can ticket and fine Don Young for growing native prairie grass, could Don Young serve Betsy Price with a citation for allowing the freeway exits to the Fort Worth Stockyards to be a weedy, littered mess?

I think a $500 fine would be apropos for Betsy, along with, maybe, 50 hours of community service. Picking up litter, perhaps.

I'm done now. For now.


Anonymous said...

There is also no grocery store in downtown Fort Worth.

That changed in November when Oliver's Fine Foods opened in Sundance Square.

Durango said...

Anonymous, I thought someone might bring up Oliver's Fine Foods. Do you really consider that to be a full functioning grocery store such as one might find in a World Class City? There is also a 7-11 in the downtown Fort Worth zone. It also functions, sort of, as a grocery store, with, sort of, deli food, only less elevated than Oliver's Fine Foods. To say Oliver's Fine Foods is a grocery store is like saying the Santa Fe Rail Market was a public market modeled after public markets in Europe and Seattle's Pike Place Market.

GG said...

Durango, that low-carb butternut squash spaghetti has made you quite feisty and energetic :)

A couple of comments:

I read that FW Weekly rail article yesterday and generally agree. I took issue with the first paragraph though, slamming the TRE train. That is the BEST thing about the T, and it gets us from downtown FW to the airport terminal in an hour or less, even with the two bus transfers mentioned. I wonder if the author has ever taken the train, because it NEVER takes an hour and a half. And if you have a lot of luggage, you probably shouldn't be taking public transit to the airport anyway.

DART, even with it's billions per year from the 1 cent sales tax, STILL doesn't have a train to the airport EXCEPT for FW's TRE train. After 20-30 years of existence! Yes, they are working on a direct line to the airport, which is good, and they are light years ahead of FW and other TX cities on public transit.

Re: the Lonely Planet Texas book -- they made a huge mistake leaving out the FW museums. They ARE world-class. Apparently, the author doesn't know anything about art.

Durango said...

GG, I agree, the butternut squash is having all sorts of unexpected effects. I also agree that the Lonely Planet museum list was goofy. I've never been in the National Cowgirl Museum and have no desire to do so. But, even picky me can see saying that the Modern, the Amon Carter and the Kimbell are world-class. Particularly the building the Modern is in. I really like that one.

Mr GG said...

You're on a roll, Durango. I agree with most everything you say here, but my better half GG is correct: the museums in the "Cultural District" really are world class.

I am not sure what edition of the Lonely Planet guide you have, but here's what they say online about the Kimbell:

And about the Modern:

Both museums, and the Amon Carter, are ranked above the Cowgirl Museum on the list of things to do in Fort Worth.

Anonymous said...

Fort Worth does host a few world-class museums. The mapped 'Cultural District' makes me wince as well - it doesn't exactly shriek of bohemian spontaneity, does it? But without it, we locals might not know where to go to soak up the culturalness.

Oliver's is 6,600 square feet, the average convenience store is 4,700 square feet, and the average grocery store is 46,000 square feet. I leave conclusions to the reader.

But grocery selection aside, I think what defines a city as 'world class' is a lot like what defines something as porn - you know it when you see it. And I sure don't see it in Fort Worth. Anyone who does must be bonging on a frack pipe.

Durango said...

Mr. GG, of course I defer to the much more worldly world view of world class of Mr. and Mrs. GG, due to the fact that you've seen much more of the world than have I.

The version of the Lonely Planet book that I have is the latest. But to be more accurate about that list of top 10 museums. It may have been something like the top 10 most unusual museums in Texas. A Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock was also on the list. And the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco. Been there. It ain't no Fort Worth Modern.

Durango said...

Latest Anonymous, that was the funniest anonymous comment in a long time.

GG said...

I like that latest anonymous comment too. The only reason Oliver's is downtown is because they got a huge tax break. The economics don't work otherwise. Retail naturally follows people, and there just aren't enough people living in downtown to justify a big grocery store.

Mr GG said...

I like Anon.'s comment, too. I bet a little bohemian spontaneity would make the oligarchs very nervous.

Now that we have the museum angle all cleared up, we can all agree on the rest of it. Myself, I've wondered why Fort Worth has such a chip on its shoulder; it's like an obnoxious 8-year-old constantly demanding your attention by yelling "Look what I can do! Look what I can do!" before falling flat on its pudgy little face.

Durango said...

Mr. GG topped Anonymous with the funniest comment of the day, so far, with the obnoxious brat falling flat on its pudgy little face metaphor for Fort Worth's shoulder chip.