A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 12, 2006
Panther City (Fort Worth nickname)

Why on earth would Fort Worth be called the “Panther City”?

It all began when Dallas (a rival city) made fun of Fort Worth, about 1875, and stated that a panther was roaming the Fort Worth streets. “Billy,” the panther, appeared in 1875, was adopted the the “Panther” fire companies, and died in 1877. The “panther” nickname stuck. Several Fort Worth sports teams are named the “panthers.”


Fort Worth History
Post-Civil War reconstruction brought many disillusioned Confederates to Texas in search of jobs and new beginnings. Commerce grew along with the population. Yankees wanted meat, and Texas had a ready supply. During this time rumors grew of a panther that stalked and slept on the city streets at night. A Dallas newspaper ran a story claiming that Fort Worth was so drowsy, a panther was found sleeping on Main Street. Fort Worth citizens good-naturedly dubbed their hometown “Panther City,” and many local merchants and sports teams adopted the animal in their logos.

27 March 1875, Dallas (TX) Weekly Herald, “Texas in Brief,” pg. 1:
Fort Worth Democrat: “We have an excellent communication dated Fort Worth, March 14th, A. D. 2000, giving a history of the growth of the city, up to that period, and the account of the capture of some animals among the ruins where Dallas once stood. As the writer failed to comply with an imperative and inflexible rule of all newspapers, and did not sign his name, the communication goes to the waste basket.” We presume that, as a matter of history, it also contained the proceedings of the chronic various indignation meetings, the extension, and its causes and effects, together with a graphic description of the appearance of the “panther” on the streets of the future great city.

7 April 1877, Dallas (TX) Weekly Herald, pg. 1:
Fort Worth firemen, under command of Chief R. West Star. Fort Worth was represented by three companies: Panther No. 2, Panther No. 3 and Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. The uniform of the Panthers was one exceptionally neat and tasty, and their display, altogether, can be summed up in the one word “splendid.” Following the Panthers came “Billy,” the panther. This unhappy animal was confined in a cage on trucks, and was drawn through the streets, to the infinite pleasure of the 13,000 visiting sightseers who were in the city. Billy strayed into Fort Worth two years ago, was made captive, and since then has been the efficient organizer of two fire companies, to whom he has given his name.

2 June 1877, Dallas (TX) Weekly Herald, pg. 3:
“Billy Panther,” kept by Fire Company No. 2 for about seven months, died and received christian burial by the company.

16 June 1877, Dallas (TX) Weekly Herald, pg. 2:
A VISIT TO PANTHERTOWN.
We were met by a delegation of citizens who, with onions to their eyes, conducted us to the spot “WHERE THE PANTHER LIES BURIED,” but they have the consolation of knowing that there was plenty of room for him to lie down.

15 June 1883, Galveston (TX) News, pg. 2:
Fort Worth, “where the panther lay down” in daylight only a few years ago, is now behind the rival city of Dallas as a place where “things that own not man’s dominion dwell.” The technical bulls and bears on change in the city are within speaking distance of the real beasts around it.

21 January 1886, San Antonio Daily Express, pg. 4:
FROM FORT WORTH.
Arrival of the Panther City’s Pet.

3 August 1886, Dallas (TX) Morning News, pg. 3:
The Panther City Fencibles Military Company will leave to-morrow morning for Galveston.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, August 12, 2006 • Permalink