Even when the past is covered up, it has a way of being remembered. Although a popular name in other places of the world, Fort Worth’s version of Hell’s Half Acre was a popular area for about 30 years. Much like San Antonio’s Sporting District, this North Texas spot was known for easy access to prostitutes, liquor, cockfights, and gambling, as well as bloody violence and general lawlessness.
Hell’s Half Acre was originally designated from Tenth Street to Fifteenth Street, growing in the 1870s as it became a rest stop on the cattle drive trails between Texas through Kansas. Dens of sin sprung up as travelers for the Chisholm Trail and the Texas and Pacific Railway increased. The Acre quickly became an important source of income for Fort Worth, which caused reluctance when crackdowns were demanded by citizens. Old West personalities like Wyatt Earp, Butch Cassidy, Etta Place, and Doc Holliday all spent time there. In fact, thanks to the ego of a local photographer, the outlaws known as “The Wild Bunch” were caught by a detective after the group had their picture made and the photo was displayed in the storefront’s window.
Photo: envato elements
Community concerns regarding the immorality and violence of The Acre came to a peak in 1889, and officials shut down many businesses. Popularity for visitors had begun to falter and by 1919, the team of law enforcement efforts and pulpit damnation shut down Hell’s Half Acre. Today, all that remains of this rowdy space is a historical marker located at the south end of the Fort Worth Convention Center. Some of the buildings still exist; check out the still-operating White Elephant Saloon, which ran in The Acre during its heyday and was moved to the Historic Stockyards in the 1970s. Hell’s Half Acre Bar is a nod to the past in the area as well.