On my recent trip to Fort Worth, I had the opportunity to re-visit a place I saw first when my older son, the one who lives in Fort Worth, graduated from college. Located downtown, near the Convention Center, it is right across the street from the Omni Hotel, (a wonderful place to stay by the way!).
You won’t find much written about them, and everything you do find will evoke a resounding “duh!” but nevertheless a trip to the Fort Worth Water Gardens is a worthwhile use of your time. Like any public park, a quick-paced stroll through will suffice for some people while others will find inspiration and beauty to fill hours just sitting gazing or listening.
The Water Gardens is billed as “an oasis in the concrete jungle” –as trite as it sounds, this is not a good description. The Water Gardens is a walk of discovery. It is a walk for the senses: visual and auditory in particular. Like any public garden it is divided into sections – three based on specific water features or pools.
The middling experience is the “fountain pool.” Perfectly spaced jets spray out water, all of the same height and breadth, creating an experience that is both active and passive. The water is noisy, in a spraying sort of way, and visually the sight of the streams is both vigorous (as the water comes out) and soft (as the individual drops merge into a dome-like haze). On a hot day, it is refreshingly cool just to be nearby.
The passive, tranquil experience is the “quiet pool.” Here, sunken below the level of the street, visually and physically removed from the noise and bustle, is a still pool surrounded by cedar trees. The trees are tall enough to be seen up at street level standing high above the waist-high walkway walls. Those same walls have water at the top that spills over the side (away from the walkway) and courses down copper-colored walls to the base of the cedars. The effect is a bit zen-like. There are very few visual or auditory elements – and both of those – water and trees – are calming, tranquil, and still.
The dramatic experience is, of course, the “active pool.” Rather a blasé name for exciting, loud, rushingly fast, heart-pounding and sadly tragic element of the garden. Here, the ground falls away at your feet in a series of large steps down into a canyon of water and deafening sound. Unlike the quiet coursing of the water on the copper walls of the quiet pool, here the water rushes, crashes, merges and gushes through ever smaller and steeper areas.
Your heart will pound and you will approach it with some trepidation – eager to embrace the experience but wary, nonetheless! Perched above the abyss or enticed into its churning bowels – it is an experience you won’t easily forget.
Did I say tragic? Yes. Four people (3 children) died, drowned in this very pool. It was closed for about 3 years after the accident and now is said to be safer – the water is not so deep. It is hard not to have a healthy respect for the noise and violence of this “active pool” even in its “safer” reincarnation.
Should you visit? Definitely, yes! Just don’t think of it as a perfect thing to do with small children. That it is not. As an adult, you will enjoy it, if you approach it and experience it section by section for yourself. Taking small people along with you simply means you will worry about their safety and be unable to fully appreciate the park. So, definitely stake out at least an hour of your time in Fort Worth to visit the “Water Gardens.” Then be sure to come back and tell me what YOU think!