“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Fort Worth in Tarrant County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Hell's Half Acre

Hell's Half Acre Marker image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, May 20, 2010
1. Hell's Half Acre Marker
Inscription.  A notorious red light district known as Hell's Half Acre developed in this section of Fort Worth after the arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1876 launched a local economic boom. Fort Worth was soon the favorite destination for hundreds of cowboys, buffalo hunters, railroad workers, and freighters eager to wash off the trail dust and enjoy themselves. To meet the demand, a large number of saloons, dance halls, gambling houses, and bordellos opened between the Courthouse Square and the railroad depot.

Illegal activities in Hell's Half Acre were tolerated by city officials because of their importance to the town's economy. The district prospered in the 1880s and added to Fort Worth's growing reputation as a rowdy frontier town. Famous gamblers Luke Short, Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp and outlaws Sam Bass, Eugene Bunch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are known to have spent time in Hell's Half Acre.

A 1906 newspaper headline calling the district Fort Worth's den of sin and refuge of criminals was representative of periodic efforts to clean up the district. These efforts proved unsuccessful until Army officials
Hell's Half Acre Marker image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, May 20, 2010
2. Hell's Half Acre Marker
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at Camp Bowie, established here during World War I, helped local officials shut the district down.
Erected 1993 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 2431.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Railroads & StreetcarsSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1876.
Location. 32° 44.896′ N, 97° 19.665′ W. Marker is in Fort Worth, Texas, in Tarrant County. Marker is on Houston Street (Business U.S. 287) south of 12th Street, on the left when traveling south. Located near the Fort Worth Water Gardens. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1440 Houston St, Fort Worth TX 76102, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); St. Ignatius Academy Building (about 600 feet away); St. Patrick's Cathedral (about 700 feet away); Fort Worth Main Post Office Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); John Peter Smith (approx. 0.2 miles away); Flatiron Building (approx. ¼ mile away); Fort Worth Library (approx. ¼ mile away); JFK (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Worth.
Also see . . .  Hell's Half Acre, Fort Worth. The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association (Submitted on February 12, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
Hell's Half Photograph image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, May 22, 2010
3. Hell's Half Photograph
Located in Fire Station No.1 at Second and Commerce streets, downtown Fort Worth.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on February 11, 2012, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. This page has been viewed 1,084 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 11, 2012, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A clear photo of the marker and surrounding area in context. • Can you help?

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Apr. 19, 2021