The Fort Worth Water Gardens are a modern take on ancient city fountains, with Mother Nature as the theme instead of cherubs and Roman gods.
Built in 1974 by a couple of fancy-pants architects from New York (Philip Johnson and John Burgee) this park covers 4.3 acres smack dab in the middle of downtown Fort Worth. Even though flanked by skyscrapers and Interstate 30, it successfully creates a contemplative oasis in the middle of a busy urban environment. If I worked within walking distance, I would eat my lunch there as often as possible.
Best of all, this peaceful space is free to the public and open every single day. The park is divided into four unique spaces.
The Active Pool
The Fort Worth Water Gardens “Active Pool” is a spiral labyrinth of stepping stones leading down to a small pool in the center. Water rushes down from a height of nearly four stories on all sides, creating roaring white noise and mist. On a hot Texas day (of which we have many) that mist is quite refreshing!
The cascading water of the Active Pool creates a confusing sensation of movement as you hop down the steps, and there are no handrails – so tread carefully! Sure, in the 1975 movie “Logan’s Run” the main character is seen racing through this area, but I suggest watching your step. If you have kids, or any problems with your balance, caution is key. In fact, even if you have no physical issues at all, be careful here!
The Aerating Pool
The Aerating Pool features an evenly spaced array of sprinklers. This can be a beautiful, rainbow-filled sight when the lighting is right. It can also be frustrating on a hot day, because wading is not allowed and all those sprinklers are just begging for someone to go galloping through them in a bathing suit. Oh well. Sometimes, we must suffer to enjoy art.
The Quiet Pool
The Fort Worth Water Gardens’ “Quiet Pool,” is exactly that, quiet, languid and serene. It’s the type of place that makes you start whispering even though it’s not required. Something about the smooth surface of this large rectangular pool takes the rowdiness right out of you. This meditative pool is a good spot to sit and sketch, read a book, or maybe even steal a kiss from your sweetheart.
This large rectangular pool is rimmed by cypress trees, which create beautiful shadows on the water-streaked walls of the perimeter. The knobby “cypress knees” crowding around the base of each tree remind me of vigilant little prairie dogs.
This is the only section of the Fort Worth Water Gardens which does not feature water. The narrow ledges, created well before the rock-climbing walls of today, are meant to simulate the feeling of climbing a mountain. I must admit that, since I have only visited the park on hot days, I rarely spend much time here. In cooler weather, I will give it a climb.
Movies Filmed at the Fort Worth Water Gardens
As I mentioned earlier, the Active Pool is featured in a chase scene in the 1975 sci-fi flick “Logan’s Run. ” It also appears in the ending of the 1979 TV version of another sci-fi movie, “The Lathe of Heaven.” I can see why directors choose this space for scenes. There is something about the Fort Worth Water Gardens that can make a person’s imagination run wild, even if they are not a sci-fi buff.
Hours, Admission, Parking & Address:
- Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. every single day.
- Admission: Free!
- Address: 1502 Commerce St, Fort Worth, TX 76102
- Parking: No official parking, alas. You will simply have to buck up and feed a parking meter, unless you show up when downtown Fort Worth parking is free, such as after 6:00 p.m.
- Please note: While all the above information is accurate as of this writing, hours, prices and so forth are subject to change.