Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rittenhouse Square and Fort Worth's Main Street

F&FW is in Philadelphia, specifically in the Rittenhouse Square area of the city. Rittenhouse Square is a city-block park and one of William Penn's original five in Philadelphia that date back to the 17th century. Today's park is surrounded by condominiums, shops, hotels, small colleges (Curtis Institute of Music, Art Institute), and some offices. It is a vibrant part of the city day and night. Last night my wife and I explored the streets that spoke out from the Square. In a two block area we passed three small bookstores (one named Whodunnit), dozens of niche restaurants with every imaginable cuisine and price, a bakery or two, a hardware store about the size of the paint brush department at Home Depot, a tea shop, a paper and stationary store, coffee shops -- I could go on but you get the idea. Most of them are small and independent. The restaurants have some table seating inside and some on the sidewalk. When one walks past a restaurant, one is walking past the dining tables as diners are enjoying their food and beverage. My favorite store was Di Bruno Bros. which is a fairly large fine-foods market with cheese, meats, fish, breads, pastries, gelati, pastas, etc., all beautifully displayed. Think Central Market but more authentic, much smaller, and packed floor to ceiling.
What we are trying to accomplish in downtown Fort Worth is, in smaller scale, what has developed here over a couple hundred years. Our Main Street and Art Festivals, condominium and hotel development, shops, pubs and restaurant additions are a part of the movement towards a downtown that people live in, work in and relax in. I hope it continues. I think it will. And we do have one advantage: plenty of wide open Texas land and sky a couple miles from the city.

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