In celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976, the city of Fort Worth brought a gift to the party in the form of a park. Heritage Park, which sits northwest of the Tarrant County Court House, is 112-acres of greenery that overlooks and meets the Trinity River on the very site where the original Fort Worth was established. Heritage Plaza, the doorway into the park from downtown, was completed in 1981 by famed landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. This urban plaza welcomed locals and visitors for over two decades until infrastructure and safety concerns led to its closing in 2007. And while many of us may have forgotten about its existence, the team at Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. (DFWI) has been working diligently on the Plaza’s renaissance for years, with a renovation plan that is almost complete.
“It’s really exciting to get the traction that we’ve got because it’s moved in waves. Now, we seem to have a conceptual direction that people are excited about and that funders have embraced,” said Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. President Andy Taft.
The vision for the new and improved Heritage Park includes conceptual designs that will first address the Plaza’s connectivity issues.
“It’s challenging for a pedestrian to get from downtown to here [the Plaza] and from here into the core of downtown because of the one-way streets around the courthouse,” said Taft.
Narrowing pedestrian crossings using bump outs, or curb extensions, at specific intersections like Weatherford and Belknap will reduce crossing distance by two lanes on each street and increase pedestrian visibility to oncoming traffic.
In addition to easing access into the Plaza from downtown, the reimagined Heritage Park will feature a grand set of stairs, Fort Worth’s take on the Spanish Steps, that will link the bluff and the Trinity River so one does not have to make the 100-foot jump to get to the trails. And for those wanting an alternative to stairs, a Canopy Walk, which, according to the DFWI’s website, “will zig-zag down the bluff at a modest slope, descending through the tree canopy, providing a new visual experience at every turn.”
DFWI continues to work with the city, stakeholders, and the public to push this renovation project along. With a fundraising goal of $20 million, the organization is hopeful that their contribution will be matched in the city’s 2022 bond election. And, if all goes according to plan, Heritage Park Plaza will re-open in 2024- just in time for Fort Worth’s 175th birthday. How fort-uitous.
Although she prefers burnt orange to purple, Hannah Bush is happy to call Fort Worth her new home. She began freelance writing a few years ago to break up the monotony of her 9 to 5 and to prove to her parents that she’s making good use of her journalism degree. When she’s not hanging out with her cat, Hannah can likely be found on a patio with her fiancé, talking about her cat.