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The Meaning Behind ‘Panther Island’

Fort Worth
Fort Worth | Image by joe daniel price/Getty Images

Fort Worth has been known as Panther City for generations, leading to its bestowing upon the city’s entertainment, residential, and commercial district.

Panther City is a nickname coined in the late 1800s based on a rivalry with Dallas. In 1875, Rev. A. Fitzgerald told a tired congregation that he saw the outline in the dust where he believed a panther had been sleeping. The Dallas Daily Herald caught the story and quipped “wild panther wandering at will,” reported the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Fort Worth embraced the Panther City nickname, weaving it into the fabric of the community. The panther symbol, a unifying thread, can be found on city police badges, baseball teams, and even schools like Paschal High School, per the Star-Telegram.

This widespread adoption of the panther symbol became a testament to the residents’ shared identity and pride.

The entertainment, residential, and commercial district project was first named “Trinity River Vision” and included a study created to revitalize the city’s riverfront into a master plan.

The project was later changed to “Trinity Uptown,” but the name did not resonate with residents. By 2013, the Trinity River Vision Authority came up with the idea to rebrand the district using a play on the city’s historical nickname, calling it “Panther Island,” according to the Star-Telegram.

The Star-Telegram polled its readers in 2014, and 63% of respondents said they approved of the district’s name change.

“Located north of downtown Fort Worth, Panther Island is thriving with entertainment, activities, and outdoor recreation,” the Visit Fort Worth website states.

Currently, Panther Island hosts several entertainment activities such as Panther Island Pavilion public beach and Trinity River accessible year-round, Rockin’ the River, a summer tubing & music series, Fort Worth’s Fourth, and a day-long Independence Day festival, per the Fort Worth Visit site.

Panther Island also hosts the annual German festival called “Oktoberfest.”

Another nickname for Fort Worth that developed around the same time is “Cowtown.”

“Between 1866 and 1890, drovers trailed more than four million head of cattle through Fort Worth. The city soon became known as ‘Cowtown.’ When the railroad arrived in 1876, Fort Worth became a major shipping point for livestock, so the city built the Union Stockyards, two and a half miles north of the Tarrant County Courthouse, in 1887,” the Fort Worth Stockyards website states.

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