While several cities across the country adopted the nickname Hell’s Half Acre, Fort Worth made it infamous — and it all started on the last stop of the Chisholm Trail.
Hop into our western time machine + travel with us back to the 1870s where crime and violence ruled our city center.
In the beginning
It’s not clear where the nickname Hell’s Half Acre came from, but it first appeared in a Fort Worth newspaper in 1874, after the red light district was already established.
If you dared to venture into this lawless territory you could encounter gunmen, robbers, card sharks + a variety of other criminal activities. As the city’s notoriety grew, so did The Acre.
Location, location, location
Hell’s Half Acre was originally at the lower end of Rusk Street (now Commerce Street) and began to spread in all directions covering four main thoroughfares — Main, Rusk, Calhoun + Jones. It sprawled across the city from Seventh to Fifteenth Streets.
Change is in the air
By 1889, there were several factors fueling major change + reform in the acre, including the shooting death of City Marshal Timothy Courtright, the gruesome murder of a prostitute, the first prohibition campaign in Texas, urban growth + the decline in popularity and profitability with out of town guests.
The end of an era
In the early 1900s community leaders like pastors, religious groups + city officials combined forces to reduce crime and violence in The Acre.
Once the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, many young men left the area to fight. Eventually a new more refined Fort Worth appeared and Hell’s Half Acre became a distant memory.
Today, that same land is now home to the Fort Worth Convention Center, two Trinity Metro stations, Deco 969 + the new Texas A&M University campus.