Fifty years after the packinghouses closed, 25 years after the last regular cattle auction, we are reluctant to change even one of the 40 blocks in the Fort Worth Stockyards.
But if you look up what a few of our past guests wrote on social media, some things need to change:
From Augusta, Ga.: “Went for the cattle drive, which was neat. Cheesy stores and sketchy bars. Not impressed.”
Winnipeg, Manitoba: “Too many cars, too many shops selling made-in-China items. … As a national historic district, it needs more work, more cowboys, less kitsch.”
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Detroit: “They need to bring in more quality stores.”
Michigan: “Stores were full of over-priced cheap-looking trinkets.”
Florida: “Touristy. … The place looked rather rundown. The storefronts looked extremely disheveled and in desperate need of being power-washed, repaired and painted. It was clearly an area dedicated to tourists and it was a bit sad.”
California: “Disappointed by the bikers’ crude gestures and loud profanity.”
Tennessee: “The only thing I found … was walking through the barn and seeing the animals.”
Maine: “We visited on the end of a week which began with the [Academy of Country Music Awards]. … WARNING: Smoking is allowed.”
Ohio: “We walked down to the main historic district. … Outside of a few unique and interesting Western-themed home furnishing stores, the rest of the shops were kitschy, touristy, and overpriced. … The shopping was disappointing but we really enjoyed the rodeo.”
Florida: “A commercialized-for-tourists historic area. … The whole area is old brick and is very uneven. Not a great place to visit if you aren’t steady on your feet.”
“USA”: “The national historic district is certainly historic. … [But] while everything is fairly wheelchair-accessible, there are railroad tracks, curbs and a lot of uneven brick areas that can make it a bit tricky. We were pushing a stroller.”
Dallas: “What would the city of San Antonio do with this place?”
California: “Here were the pluses: Cattle drive — authentic vintage architecture — truly old buildings that aren’t fake, mostly in rustic western style, which gives the North Side a distinctive character. … Here is what did not float my boat: ‘Tourist-chintzy’ cheap commercialism … If it weren’t for the cattle drive, I’d be bored.’
Colorado: “I like Sundance Square pretty well and I like the Cultural District a lot, but I really would have thought that the Stockyards would have been — well, more. More like Old Town San Diego … It’s touristy, too, but it’s so much better as a historic reflection of the city’s past.”
In short: Many more tourists love the Stockyards than complain. They love the genuine historic buildings and the Fort Worth Herd longhorns. Just not so much the shopping, parking, inconvenient access or smoking.
Keep what’s real. Add whatever makes it better. But don’t tell me nothing should change.