When Substance and Style Had the Same Address (Exhibit B)

In 1931 the city and two railroads teamed up to build four underpasses. Eighty-plus years later the two railroads—Texas & Pacific and Missouri-Kansas-Texas—are gone. But the four underpasses remain. And they remain handsome structures.

I give you exhibit B: The Jennings Avenue underpass runs beneath the wide swath of tracks just south of downtown. Inset shows the Texas & Pacific “brand” in the upper-left corner of each side of the underpass.

jennings underpass 1-15-31 dmnThe construction contract for the Jennings underpass was awarded on January 14, 1931 to Butcher & Sweeney. Clip is from the January 15 Dallas Morning News.

The Jennings Avenue underpass is perhaps Fort Worth’s most interesting because one approach to it is another underpass: As you turn north from eastbound Vickery onto Jennings you can take a surface lane or take the gopher lane under Vickery and into the Jennings underpass.

Like the roof of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas underpass on Morningside Drive (see Exhibit A), the roof of the Jennings Avenue underpass is supported by arcaded piers.

Not far from the underpass, T&P also built its art deco passenger terminal in 1931. In the 1930s arcades such as these were a common feature of bridges and underpasses. The Jennings Avenue underpass has arcades . . .

at three levels. Arcades . . .

running east to west, north to south, and diagonally. Arcades . . .

totaling a half-mile in length.

The 1931 Jennings Avenue underpass replaced a bridge over the rail yard. The 1952 aerial shows that the underpass actually has two parts. The new I-30 was plopped down neatly in the space between them. I think the narrow part was a crossover for automobiles. Automobiles parked on the roof of the big Service Life Company building (south half still standing; north half replaced by I-30).

Tomorrow: Follow the Red Brick Roads (Part 1)

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