by Ken Molestina | CBS 11
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – As the saying goes, all things must come to an end, and by the start of World War I, Fort Worth’s Hell’s Half Acre would be dismantled.
The arrival of Camp Bowie to the city meant the Department of Defense would enact a policy that prohibited vice districts from existing within a certain short distance of any military encampment.
As a result, U.S. military officials along with local law enforcement officials took it upon themselves to forcefully clean up Hell’s Half Acre and shut down all of the vice activity.
Historians say authorities used raids, mass arrests, and even tore down of some of the buildings as a way to rid Fort Worth of its infamous and dangerous red-light district.
Fort Worth Historian Brendan Smart said, “There’s always been the question of where do you draw the line and how do you draw the line.”
By 1920, officials were done turning the other cheek and ignoring the illegal activity down on the Acre.
Around the same time, Fort Worth would declare its downtown area as being “morally clean.”
“The things that made the acre exciting had come to a natural close or moved elsewhere,” said Smart.
By 1960, the last remaining and dilapidated structures of the era were finally bulldozed, making way for a modern downtown Fort Worth.
By 1968, the convention center would be built right in the heart of where it all once sat, and a few years after that, the famed Water Gardens were added there, too.
“We see water washing things away everywhere you look so definitely there was a conscious effort to erase some of that history,” said Smart.
When asked about why people are still interested in these stories more than 100 years later, Smart said, “There is a real hunger for people to connect with the deeper history of a place. At the end of the day it’s how we know ourselves.”