The “Other” Main Streets: From Pep Boys to Doughboys (Part 1)

For the next four days Main Street downtown will host the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival. The street will be packed with folks moseying and milling about elbow to easel. So, now is a good time to sneak off and explore Fort Worth’s “other” Main streets: Cowtown’s main drag north of the courthouse and south of the Water Gardens.

Downtown Main Street is only one mile long—one-twelfth of the total length of Main Street. Main Street begins at the Fort Worth-Saginaw city limit and stretches southward (with some gaps in commercial zones between Morningside Drive and Seminary Drive) to just past La Gran Plaza (formerly Seminary South). And North and South Main provide plenty of contrast to downtown Main. If downtown Main Street is MasterCards and manicures, North and South Main are payday loans and calluses. If downtown Main is wingtip shoes, North and South Main are steel-toed boots: metal-recycling plants, rail yards, grain elevators. North Main also has century-old brick architecture, the Stockyards Historic District, and general aviation. South Main also has hospitals, light industry, even a few blocks of middle-class homes.

Let’s start our tour of the “other” Main Streets at the southern end and work our way twelve miles north.

Main Street dead-ends in its 4300 block at Thornhill Drive at the home of Manny, Moe, and Jack. As long as we’re here, anyone need spark plugs?

Two miles north at Morningside Drive, South Main has one of Fort Worth’s oldest traffic circles.

train mkt badgeAt the circle is the 1931 underpass of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) railroad.

South Main has even a few residential blocks. This stone house at 3400 South Main, with checkered-brick arches and window frames, beaded mortar joints, and a star over the center arch, was built in 1948.

Fort Worth once called itself “the grain center of the Southwest.” Easy to see why. Five rows of grain elevators in the 1900 and 2000 blocks form the skyline of South Main Street. The tallest elevator is 180 feet. The South Main Street railroad overpass bisects the three rows of Kimbell Milling Company elevators (left of the overpass) and the two rows of elevators of Producers Grain Corporation, built in the 1920s-1950s.

This grain silo, built in 1962, looms at Maalt Transportation at 2000 South Main. The silo once was part of the Producers Grain Corporation mill.

Across the street the office building of the Kimbell mill was built in 1935.

In 1946 the Star-Telegram wrote that Fort Worth was one of the largest grain storage centers in the nation.

bricks south main with truckThe brick paving of South Main Street survives on the approaches to the railroad overpass between the Kimbell Milling and Producers Grain Corporation elevators.

bricks south main overpass plaqueThe 1937 overpass was built to carry South Main over the tracks of the Texas & New Orleans railroad and the Santa Fe railroad.

jpr surviving wingAt 1500 South Main John Peter Smith Hospital opened in 1939 as “City-County Hospital” on land donated by Smith. This photo shows part of the original building at the corner of Main and Feliks Gwozdz Place. The 1939 building is now almost totally engulfed by additions.

Lastly, just to the north Hebrew Rest Cemetery was established on 1879 on land donated by John Peter Smith.

The “Other” Main Streets: From Pep Boys to Doughboys (Part 2)

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7 Responses to The “Other” Main Streets: From Pep Boys to Doughboys (Part 1)

  1. Mellinda Timblin says:

    Years ago I had a dream that I was flying over the Kimbell Museum and the building stood up and became a grain elevator. I didn’t get the connection then…it was the grain elevator that came first. The real point of the story was that I would be leaving the land of jazz clubs,evening wear and museums to resettle in an area that gave me a daily view of the grain elevators of Saginaw.

    • hometown says:

      I was on the old Glen Garden Country Club golf course in Poly only once. And all I can remember is that I could see the grain elevator at Saginaw–twelve miles away.

  2. Doug Sutherland says:

    Point of interest:
    Abraham Lincoln Neiman, co-founder of Neiman-Marcus was buried in Hebrew Rest Cemetery in 1970.

  3. earl belcher says:

    On South Main. This time of year will be lined with grain trucks from custom harvester outfits. Bringing in winter wheat. I wonder how much the tax value is on some of these places? The fascist tax overlords probably really hit the owners hard.

  4. Stuart Monroe says:

    Mike when the railroad overpass was built 1937 by the Texas Highway Dept. What highway was S Main? 81?

    • hometown says:

      Stuart, I think that is right–U.S. 81/Texas 2 was South Main, but a 1943 map labels South Hemphill as Texas 2. South Main is not continuous, but Hemphill is, so U.S. 81 may have jogged. It’s hard to find maps that apply both the local street name and the highway designation to the same stretch of pavement.

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