Saturday, May 28, 2016

Wichita Falls World's Littlest Skyscraper Con Job vs. Fort Worth's Con Jobs

The middle arrow on the sign you see here points the direction to what is known as the World's Littlest Skyscraper.

To find this skyscraper I did not need directional signage because I had already found it a week or so ago. But, at that point in time I did not stop for a close up look because I did not have my camera with me, other than my phone camera.

That and I knew I was going to be visiting the Wichita Falls Farmers Market today, with that market being next door to the World's Littlest Skyscraper.

Before we look at the skyscraper, regarding that blue directional sign. This type signage is installed all over Wichita Falls. The signage is very useful. More on that in a subsequent blogging.

Above is another example of the blue signage one finds all over Wichita Falls. This particular signage seemed a bit unnecessary. What else could this structure be but the World's Littlest Skyscraper?

The tale of how this little skyscraper came to be in an amusing story. Wikipedia does a good job of telling the tale in its World's Littlest Skyscraper entry.

Short version: Wichita Falls was in the midst of an oil boom, needing office space. A con man, some think was a Yankee, conned several local businessmen into putting up the money to build an office tower. The investors approved of the building's blueprints. Construction began, apparently with none of the investors, or any other Wichita Fallers, noticing the foundation was very small.

Not noticing the foundation was small goes along with also not noticing that the blueprints showed the skyscraper's dimensions in inches, not feet, showing 480 inches in height, not 480 feet. When the investors realized they'd been swindled they sued, but a judge ruled the deal was not a swindle due to the fact that the approved blueprints showed a building the small size of the building which was actually built.

The swindle and the little skyscraper was a big embarrassment to the Wichita Falls locals, at the time. But, eventually enough time passed that that lemon was turned into the lemonade it is today.

I think it speaks well of the people of Wichita Falls that they fessed up to something that's a bit embarrassing and eventually embrace it as part of their shared history.

I used to live in another Texas town which was prone to swindles and con man cons. The people of that town never seemed to fess up to the fact that something turned out to be a bit embarrassing. Then again, the embarrassments weren't really the fault of the people. Rather the embarrassments were brought to the locals by the Good Ol' Boy and Girl Network which runs the town in what is known as The Fort Worth Way.

During my time of being stuck in that town I saw the town swindled by a con job from a sporting goods store, convincing the local rubes in charge that this sporting goods store would be the #1 Tourist Attraction in Texas, drawing incredible numbers of tourists. All sorts of tax breaks and concessions were given to this store to land Fort Worth this imaginary prize.

Soon it was obvious that that sporting goods store was not going to be the #1 Tourist Attraction in Texas, it was not even the only iteration of that store in Texas, with another one opening by Austin a short time later. And then another opened in the D/FW Metro zone. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram never fessed up to their part in foisting this con on the town. Nor did the city government and the Good Ol' Boy and Girl Network which controls the city government.

And then there was the Santa Fe Rail Market, touted by that Good Ol' Boy and Girl Network and its mouthpiece, the Star-Telegram, as being modeled after Seattle's Pike Place and Public Markets in Europe. And that it was to be the first Public Market in Texas. This con job and its accompanying propaganda was so embarrassing to witness and so obviously grounded in pure ignorant idiocy that I made several webpages documenting the nonsense. You can find all that documentation by clicking on Santa Fe Rail Market.

And then there is Fort Worth's biggest con job littlest skyscraper type foolishness, an ongoing embarrassment known as the Trinity River Central City Uptown Panther Island Vision, or, more commonly, as America's Biggest Boondoggle.

My awareness of this embarrassment was brought to me like so many Fort Worth embarrassments, by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. On a Sunday morning early this century I recollect being startled by a big banner front page headline proclaiming something like "Trinity Uptown To Make Fort Worth the Vancouver of the South".

I recollect thinking how could anything possibly make Fort Worth be anything like Vancouver.

Mountains, big bodies of saltwater, a world's fair, a big Chinatown? What? I recollect wondering if any of these fools had actually been to Vancouver and thus realize how ludicrous it was to make such a claim.

This was followed not too long later by the equally bizarre assertion that a little lame food court type thing was modeled after Seattle's Pike Place, with me again wondering if any of these fools had actually been to Pike Place.

I wonder if America's Biggest Boondoggle will one day be like the World's Littlest Skyscraper in Wichita Falls, with unfinished bridges being some sort of tourist attraction and a historical marker explaining that the bridges were part of an ill-fated plan to connect Fort Worth's mainland to an imaginary island....

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