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Ask John Neely Bryan: Is Fort Worth a Suburb of Dallas?

Short answer: No

John Neely Bryan, Our Founder
John Neely Bryan, Our Founder

Question: Is Fort Worth a suburb of Dallas? — Bud K.

First, my friend, we must define our terms. In the very first collection of words I scribbled into this virtual space, I was asked — and answered with my customary acumen — as to what separated “sub-urbs” from cities.

If you trust that scoundrel Noah Webster, a suburb is “a town or other area where people live in houses near a larger city.” It’s been quite some time since I trekked to Tarrant County, but it’s my understanding that a not-inconsiderable number of people there live in houses. There’s also no denying that the town which has sprung forth from General Worth’s federal occupation is nearby (if only in 21st-century terms) a larger city, that being the greatest city ever conceived in the history of forever.

If you prefer, as all right-thinking persons should, a better-reasoned definition that takes into account the component roots of the word, then I shall reiterate my earlier findings:

The English word “suburb” is ultimately derived from the roots urbs, meaning “city,” and sub, meaning “no-way no-how not-nearly-as-good-as.” A “sub-urb” therefore is a territory far inferior to a city but with all the pretensions of civilization besides.

Fort Worth is inferior to Dallas, of course, but so too is every other place on the face of the earth. That’s hardly a fault that should be held against it. I’m afraid its relative proximity to our own shining city on the Trinity makes the drawing of contrasts quite inevitable, but was it just of the D Magazine staff to have joked about the distinctions in the newest issue of their monthly pamphlet?

I think not. D owes the good people of the Tarrant County seat, whom they have grossly wronged, an apology. It was awful of the editors involved in the production of this periodical to tease them so.

What was editor Tim Rogers thinking when he wrote something as provocative as “Treat Yourself to a Visit to Forth Worth” atop his editor’s note? What manner of advanced trolling was this? Not to mention that condescending overstatement on the cover: “85 Places to Eat, Drink, Shop, and Play Where the West Begins”? What cruelty Rogers displayed in exiling a team of writers to spend long, lazy, luxurious days perusing fashionable shops, imbibing at welcoming bars, and filling their bellies at top-notch restaurants far beyond the Dallas city limits! And then forcing each of them to compose the loveliest of word-pictures about what must have been a painful separation from their homeland!

How could D’s staff not have recognized that to center an issue around an exploration of Fort Worth was to invite unfair comparisons between our burgs? It was truly the cruelest of acts. Wholly uncalled for and leaving me with no recourse other than to make amends by cutting Cowtown loose.

Therefore, I, John Neely Bryan, being of sound mind and non-corporeal body, do hereby declare and determine that, no, Fort Worth is not a suburb of Dallas. Its relationship to its big brother to the east is hereafter severed. They shall stay on their end of the Trinity, and we shall stay on ours.

D will no longer recommend that Dallasites make the long journey down Interstate 30 — no matter how delicious the dining at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, how astonishing the art at the Kimbell, or how lovely the walks at its Botanic Garden.

Fort Worthians have made it plain that they deserve better than our praise and admiration — and so should we honor that request.

Like a good neighbor,

John Neely Bryan is founder of the city of Dallas and an expert on all matters. For advice, to have a dispute adjudicated, or seeking wisdom on any of a myriad of topics, [email protected].


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  • Math Geek

    Thank you for the apology, as snarky as it is. But really, it’s not necessary. Fort Worth has never needed praise from Dallas. We know our City Council can actually work together and accomplish things. We know how to build a bridge from downtown going into an already vibrant area in mere weeks rather than years at an astronomical cost. We know our Cultural District with its world-class museums is second-to-none. We know our citizens who naturally come by a sweet disposition and are likely to call you “hon” or “sweetheart” are not the same as Dallas’ notorious residents of Harry Hines who ascribe to that affectation as a pretense to hustle insincere, albeit brief, “business.” We know our branch of the Trinity River is vibrant and teeming with activity and charming retail commerce and a place where one can actually swim and not come down with dysentery.

    So thank you Dallas and bless your heart hon, but you can keep it.

  • Eric Foster

    Did any White Flights ever leave Dallas for Ft. Worth? We’re Dallas County minorities ever Red-Lined into Ft. Worth?

  • Peter

    I’m a 60+ year old who grew up in Dallas in the 50s and 60s and who has lived in Fort Worth for the past 12 years and I often tell people how the Fort Worth of today reminds me of the Dallas of the 1960s…lots of chest thumping civic “pride,” while very much under the thumb of the white, male, Christian, conservative business community. Considering its size, it’s a very bland, deeply uninteresting city where you’re still told not to plan anything on a Wednesday night because it’s “church night.” I plan to retire in about a year and I cannot wait to move back to Dallas which, in spite of its many problems, is a far more diverse, cosmopolitan, and open-minded city than Fort Worth will probably ever be. To answer your question, Fort Worth is less a suburb of Dallas than it is a nearby city along the lines of, say, Waco or Abilene or Wichita Falls.

    • Ronnie B

      Couldn’t agree more! I grew up in a Tarrant County suburb and couldn’t wait to move to Dallas! As soon as I graduated college I got a job in Dallas and have loved every day of my 7+ years in Central Dallas. It’s so nice to live in a real city!

  • John Adams

    First of all your Bias is suppressing your reason. While I realize the possibility that your arguments may be tongue-in-cheek, I strongly disagree. First of all, Fort Worth can easily compete with Dallas on its own. Try going downtown in both places around 1:30 a.m. and see which is livelier, safer, and more entertaining. Fort Worth’s art district and museums are equally impressive. The food and music choices in Fort Worth are often better. Both qualify as major cities. While Dallas is the 9th largest city in the US, Fort Worth is the 16th largest. Both cities have several suburbs of their own, and they are far enough apart to be stand alone. Tarrant is also a much better county, and will soon have more residents that Dallas County. I will take Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and all that goes with it, over Dallas any time! The people in Fort Worth are far less snooty and rude than those in Dallas. This would explain both your bias and your arrogance regarding Dallas.

    • MattL1

      Keep telling yourself that. It might come true someday, but only if you put it under your pillow. Suburbanite.

  • Bill Maddox

    Oh, Dallas is severing ties with us? Huh. I didn’t know we had ties to sever. Seeing as I only go there about once a year, hate it while I’m there, and don’t miss it when I’m gone, I doubt I’ll notice these severed ties very much. Unless it means companies will quit putting “Dallas” on billboards in Fort Worth – that sounds like a fantastic change. Y’all enjoy the rest of your life on the other side of Arlington and we’ll enjoy the peace and quiet.