After a good night's sleep in my own bed, I headed to Cowtonia 30 miles to the west to see what I could see.
Before I headed downtown, I took a drive through a neighborhood just east of the CBD — Northeast Fort Worth. Somehow, the area has figured prominently in my life of late (my sister lives there and I've been looking at places that might be suitable for live/work in the area nearby). So, a turn off I-30 heading north put me on Sylvania.
The sun began its descent toward the horizon and I drifted toward downtown, where I found an old house at the corner of E. Belknap and N. Grove being used as a business. I knocked on the door, unsure if it was a residence or business but not wanting to be presumptuous. A young lady opened the door and seemed a bit perturbed that I would wait for an invitation inside so she could close the door. Not much of a conversationalist, she had no idea how old the building was, and a colleague confirmed the same, because they were leasing and had no clue how old the building was. I thanked them and was on my way. It wasn't until just now as I write this that I found out that it was a bail bondsman and a law firm I had barged into. That explains a lot.
From there, I drove further down E. Belknap and parked across from the beautiful Tarrant County Courthouse where I started my walk.
Onward around the CBD and I found this little gem, tucked away, in the shadow of glass and steel. Fire Station No. 1, with its tiny, narrow door, presumably for its tiny, narrow firetruck.
As usual, I met someone who was interesting and encouraging - and interested in my road trip. His name was - and, presumably, still is - Anthony Chavers. As we crossed the street, I asked Anthony what he did. Seemingly by rote, he told me that he answered the phones all day with the Tarrant County Family Law Center, helping people with the process of name changes, family needs, and a variety of other tasks which he seemed to have no energy in describing.
For whatever reason, I blurted out a question that changed his entire demeanor. Suddenly, Anthony became animated, more alive that he'd been just a moment or two ago. I asked him, "But what do you really want to do?" He smiled broadly and proclaimed, "What I really want to do is sing!
Now he had me. He told how he sang in churches, not just his own, but many others, and that he always sang his own songs, never covering the works of others. People loved it, he said. I told him he should always do his own songs, stay true to himself and not perform other songwriters' work.
Skywalks have always held some fascination for me. For whatever reason, they seem straight out of the Jetson's future. Instead of looking below for traffic, I find myself looking above. . . for flying cars, the one's that were supposed to have been in common use by now. Mine's on order. Yours?
Since it first opened, the Bass Performance Hall has enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest acoustic environments in the world. I've wanted to visit Bass Hall for years but have never had the opportunity. The days of attending concerts on a regular basis have long since passed for me. Nevertheless, as a former audio producer and engineer, I'd find it interesting to experience its sonic excellence. Not having seen the structure before, I was somewhat startled when I came upon it. And I walked around the corner at the perfect moment, with the sun casting a shadow right at the juncture of sidewalk and building. I'm glad I was there to record it.
When I turned around, I saw that the building behind me, across from Bass Hall, was under construction. I am something of a photographic opportunist. When the moment comes, I would rather strike (or click) while the camera's hot. So much for asking permission. Give me the one from the forgiveness column, thankyouveddymuch. I prefocused, guessed at the exposure, stepped in, squared up my camera on my tripod, fired off a shot, adjusted the exposure and focus, fired two more shots, turned on my heels and was gone in less than 30 seconds. I'm not sure if anyone even noticed me.
A couple blocks over, I saw the Convention Center in the distance. Walking toward it, I came upon a Tribute to John F. Kennedy and his final speeches on November 22, 1963. It was considerably more moving than the assassination-focused 6th Floor Museum in Dallas. Simple. Dignified. A man approached the memorial, quietly, almost reverently, as I finished my photograph. We share a few words and parted. Fort Worth. Dallas. Very different cities.
Sometimes it's necessary as a photographer to take small risks, knowing that most people take care of fools and children. It became quickly obvious to my sense of place, perspective, and point of view, that the best place to shoot the Fort Worth Convention Center was from directly in front of the building, in the middle of the street. Watching for traffic with the eyes in the back of my head, I walked to the center of Main Street just on the edge of East 9th Street. Fortunately, I had the passionately vocal assistance of a gentleman who had apparently gotten a head start on the evening's celebrations. But he was adamantly insisting that I was completely crazy for being in the middle of the street paying no heed to his warnings of imminent danger from the two or three cars that passed slowly by me turning onto E. 9th St. Finished with my job, I thanked him in no uncertain terms, and moved on.
Stopping in front of Grace Restaurant in the Frost Bank Building, I saw two gentlemen who were sitting by the window having a conversation over a wee dram. It must have been a private chat. I say this because by the time I had my camera set to capture a square-on image of the building...with the men sitting relaxed by the window...they had decided not to include me in their discussion. Here, I submit to you the image taken the moment after they departed. Note the emptiness. How very sad.
Flat Iron buildings exist in cities the world over. Fort Worth is no exception. Tiny triangles of real estate that mustn't go to waste, I've always seen them as placeholders. Yet they seem to have reached a special status in architecture. No one knows why.
What you see here, the W. T. Waggoner Building -- or, rather, its rear aspect -- is what is available to view when the street in front narrows to the point that it is virtually impossible to photograph from the front. And, yet, it is worth considering how breathtaking (literally) it would be to be forced to use the fire escape to abandon such a structure. If you have access to the parking garage across the street from the façade of this magnificent building and would like to share that access with me so that I might do it justice, please contact me. Operators are standing by.
Another tower that oil built, this one, currently occupied by Oncor.
Samuel H. Kress had buildings in most major cities across the U.S.A. But they're now seeing second, third, or even fourth lives, as the never-wed bachelor had no heirs and his properties were liquidated in 1980. Art Deco and Zigzag Moderne styles were the predominant architectural styles employed in most of these buildings. They were well-built, using some of the finest materials, and stand with post offices and railroad depots for their endurance. The Kress buildings are being repurposed rather than razed and what were, for a time, empty shells, are being turned into lofts or a mix of residences and commercial spaces.
I was unable to find out on short notice how this interesting wall in the Kress Building came to be. I assume that the red brick profile is the only remnant of the building next door long ago razed to make room for the present-day parking lot. I'm not sure why I find this so fascinating. It probably says more about my simple mind than it does about the Kress Building's former neighbor. Nonetheless.
I like reflections way too much.
The bell tower of the First Christian Church rang the hour and I came a-'runnin' because I knew there was a photograph to be made in the advancing twilight. The bell tower, itself, refused to yield up an interesting angle from ground level. But stepping 50 feet to the south gave me this stunning view of the façade. Our friends in the photo unwittingly cooperated with me while I set up my camera, becoming an entry point and, if you will, a launching pad for how one views the image. Squint a bit and you'll see them as the vertex of a triangle that reflects the gable over the six columns.
As the golden hour gave way to the blue hour, I headed back toward Fort Worth's renowned Sundance Square, when the lovely Westbrook appeared. Named for the Westbrook Hotel, previously on the same spot, it is built of granite and limestone, with brick and aluminum on the façades. The east side of the building along the edge of Sundance Square has a permanent stage for performances. It is a marvelous building and I hope to come back to photograph it in different light and from several more angles.
My first visit to Sundance Square had me nodding and thinking to myself, So that's what they've been talking about. The Jett Building, canvas to the beautiful Chisholm Trail mural has been restored and is a perfect, human-scaled backdrop to the water feature in the middle of the plaza. The towers looming in the background as giant guardians over the Square completes the scenario of people milling about and through (sometimes) the water jets dancing animatedly for the crowd that surrounds it. Beautiful!
My last image came after dark as I headed back to the car, tired and hungry, and wanting some rest for the final two days of the Tour in Dallas. I'd passed by the AMC Palace earlier and was a bit non-plussed by its pink resplendence. I shot it but. . . meh. Passing by again, the neon brought it to life and I instantly saw the complete image below in my mind's eye. The final photograph is a composite of 45 different exposures, each contributing or enhancing some element in the image. For me, this is what the building color, the lighting, the location, and the traffic were supposed to accomplish. And with that, I bid you goodnight. See you at the movies!