Get Adobe Flash player

Fort Worth Downtown #1, Rates 6 Pings On Writer Scale

March 20th, 2014 · Tags:Cities · Wi-Fi

As a travel writer – gone months at a time — it’s probably no surprise that my home town changes while I am on the road … a lot.


After a couple of recent back-to-back two- and three-month excursions I returned to find that Fort Worth now has this awesome plaza in the downtown area. Like most of the other cool things in Fort Worth, it is branded Sundance (Sundance Square Plaza) and you can bet the Bass gang is behind it.


I was blown away. It is so wide open, yet surrounded by our trademark sky scrapers and a few new mixed usage structures. There are monstrous “umbrella” sculptures for lots of shade. Most of the place is smoke free … And fear not, the plaza preserved the wonder cattle drive mural on its northern border … or more accurately, makes it the centerpiece.


The new layout also has one of those modern fountains, where water shoots up from the floor sporadically … the type you can find in a a dozen locations around the country … and yet there isn’t a one that kids don’t love. Hmmm …. I might run through the thing myself if the temp hits the mid 80s again this week.


It made my heart dream of youth as I watched two kids throwing a Frisbee in and around the fountains. This is how city life is supposed to be.


All of this is to say congratulation to Fort Worth for being named #1 on the list of The 10 Best Downtowns 2014 by


Billionaire Brother @ Bux


Foat Wuth #1




The acclaim doesn’t surprise me, but the plaza did. So, as soon as I stumbled upon it, I of course tested for Wi-Fi. WHAT!?! On the first visit, there was no Wi-Fi to be found, except some home-brew wireless over on the corner of the square complements of Starbucks. As is the tendency, I of course fired off a tweet or two and ranted a little on Facebook. That’s when the social media pros at Sundance gave an update that Wi-Fi was on the way, and they invited us back.



Invitation accepted. Game on.



Well played Sundance. Twice this week I have rumbled around town, camera and laptop tucked away in the saddle bags and got on line in the plaza. The Sundance network appears to be quite secure, easy to get on and works throughout the plaza. I just wish there were a couple of more artistically sculptured, elaborate fountains like some of the other great cities – 6 pings.




After testing the Wi-Fi, I continued to stroll around the plaza … full of memories or ghosts of Sundance past.


There is a new permanent stage on the West end of the plaza, close to where my son and I enjoyed ska artists The Specials so many years ago. That temporary stage, one that over the years featured spaced-out polka, outlaw country, reggae, red dirt americana, the blues … you name it.


A block away is what was once the first AMC downtown theater. The Bass group and AMC Theatres opened that — bucking the national trend for new theater openings in suburbia only. I remember we had a PR coup in landing the story of a local movie theater in The Wall Street Journal, and then Governor Ann Richards attended the grand opening. Good times.


Ha … for one of their later promotions of the theater, AMC scheduled an actual wedding for the premiere of Steve Martin’s “Father of the Bride” and asked yours truly to help in the promotion … It was quite a fancy affair, complete with an angelic girls choir singing as they rode up the shiny escalators.


The wedding was pretty perfect, but in promoting it, I tried to get even more on the menu. By coincidence, love balladeer Neil Diamond was playing a gig in Fort Worth that week at the convention center, so I walked down the street and just went on in during one of Mr. Diamond’s rehearsals. I popped the question to his management, but he turned down the chance to sing to the couple at the wedding. Can you believe that? What a memory that would have been, and what a gesture. I digress …


Then there was the year of a failed Blues Christmas concert … an event that had more Christmas trees for decoration than people in attendance …


And all of the Main Street Festivals and concert after concert …


Perhaps my favorite concert moment in Sundance: One night cold weather hit a downtown event, so there were only a few hundred people remaining downtown as the headliners played. A Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex favorite — a bluegrass/punked outfit called Killbilly was onstage in the cold, playing for me and only a few others it seemed. They played their traditional show — lots of breakneck speed banjo, nasally but animated bluegrass singing … a heartfelt Motown classic “My Girl” mixed in … more bluegrass … when it seemed the band just said “It’s cold and the heck with it. We’ll play whatever.” They went into a raw. hard rock laced, yet poignant version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” I had seen this band a dozen times and that was the only time I ever heard them cover Hendrix. It was just so surprising to see them shift gears from Bluegrass to a heavy, heavy blues rock vibe without flinching. It was kinda special to me. Ah the memories …


Know what I sayin?