A Time When Cowtown Copied New York City… With a Subway


Back in the day, from 1963 to 2002, Fort Worth had a subway – kind of like New York City – except much smaller and considerably slower.

Some of those cars are still around, one parked on display in the lobby of a busy downtown office building.

It sits atop the long-shuttered tunnel that was used to ferry subway passengers to and from a parking lot on the banks of the Trinity River, to the locally famous Leonard’s Department Store less than a mile away.

NBC 5 Investigates has learned the Tarrant Regional Water District has considered reviving the old Leonard line, in the form of a trolley service, using some of those old subway cars to connect downtown to the TRWD’s financially troubled “Panther Island” project.

Critics dismiss the plan, given the bigger problems facing Panther Island, most notably the federal government’s decision to stop funding the work, at least for now.

But if it does happen, it will bring back memories of a day when families boarded Leonard’s M&O Subway, many of whom had no real interest in store shopping…

They just wanted to hear the creak and crawl of their subway car, as it disappeared into the darkness of a tunnel, on a short journey to a place that promised “More Merchandise for Less Money.”

Leonard’s and its subway sold to the Tandy Corporation in 1967, but continued to do business under the Leonard’s name until 1974, when they were purchased by Dillards.

The subway rolled to a stop, for good, in the summer of 2002. The building housing the downtown store has long been demolished.

But the tunnel is still there, now home to bats and cockroaches, serving as the last vestige of a bygone era – unless Panther Island creators, somehow, find a way to bring it back to life.

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