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Five-minute History: Fort Worth’s interwar construction boom

In the next installment of our five-minute history, we’re diving into the major construction and growth that took place between World War I and World War II.

FTW-downtown-aerial-1920s

This 1927 postcard shows what downtown used to look like with the Tarrant County Courthouse in the top of the frame.

Image courtesy of UTA Libraries

Table of Contents

Welcome back to our five-minute Fort Worth history series. This month, we’re diving into the major construction and growth that took place between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II.

Catch up quickly with an overview of the major businesses and industries that brought Panther City into the 20th century.

FTW-lake-worth-aerial-1940s

Lake Worth was constructed to help control flooding from the Trinity River + in January 1940 it iced over.

Image courtesy of UTA Libraries

Infrastructural innovations

Like many US cities, Fort Worth’s interwar period was a time of growth + the expanding city needed resources to sustain it and infrastructure to protect it.

In 1916, a dam was completed on the Trinity River’s West Fork, creating Lake Worth. The $1 million reservoir served as both a water supply and recreation area for residents. The project included Casino Park, complete with a boardwalk, bathhouse, rides, and ballroom.

The success of Lake Worth and the need for further flood control prompted a $6.5 million bond program in 1927 to build Bridgeport and Eagle Mountain Lakes + the eventual construction of Benbrook, Grapevine, and Arlington Lakes.

FTW-city-hall-1950s

Fort Worth City Hall and Public Library were constructed on Throckmorton Street in 1938 after the original city hall was demolished.

Crane watch

Despite the economic downturn of the Great Depression, some of the city’s most notable landmarks were constructed in the 1930s.

Construction ranged from civic projects — like the US Courthouse (1934) and City Hall (1938) — to transportation headquarters like the T&P Station and Warehouse (1931).

There was also a rise in cultural icons meant to be enjoyed by the public like the Fort Worth Botanic Garden (1934) and Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum and Auditorium (1937).

FTW-casa-manana-1936

The world-famous Casa Mañana theater only lasted four years but was rebuilt in 1958 with the dome we know today.

100 years in the making

Texas’ 100th birthday was celebrated in oversize Lone Star fashion with both the Central Centennial Exposition at Dallas’ Fair Park and the Texas Frontier Centennial in the Cultural District in 1936.

For the festival, Amon G. Carter commissioned the original Casa Mañana, which was the world’s largest rotating stage surrounded by a moat for water displays. The “House of Tomorrow” produced Broadway and Wild West shows before it was deconstructed so scraps could be used for the impending war.

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