Monday, January 23, 2012

Fort Worth Water Gardens

At the end of September, right before the insanity of October, November and December, we took a trip to Texas. D's family lives in suburban Dallas, and we were going there to visit. Needing a little down time before what we knew would be a crazy few months, we decided to go to Fort Worth for a few nights before heading back home.

D had lived in Fort Worth for a few years before moving to Providence, and had always raved about the art museums there. Also, it was about time I had some chicken fried steak (?) and a proper Texas barbecue experience. Art and food? Count me in. Today's post though, is about the biggest surprise for me there. D kept saying "our hotel is near the Water Gardens, you're going to like that." I hadn't given it much thought, or bothered to look up what these water gardens were, but I guess I pictured an urban park, with some ponds and maybe some water lilies. I was so wrong.

I was blown away when we walked across the street after checking in, and heard the rush of water. Built in 1974, the Water Gardens were designed by architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee to be "a playground for the senses." The term urban oasis can get old, but that's exactly what this is. We were there in late September and it was still in the upper 90s, and incredibly dry. Seeing all that water was almost as refreshing as feeling it. 

There are three parts to the gardens; the quiet pool, the aerated pool and the active pool. As you walk through the gardens, the sound is continuously changing as you move from pool to pool. At each pool, the sound of the city fades away. The quiet pool sinks below street level and in the middle of a hot, loud city, it's suddenly quiet, still and cool, with trees shading the area. The aerating pool sends a cooling mist over you if the wind is just right, and the active pool is so loud it blocks out all city noise.

Every chance I could, we planned our walk to include walking through the gardens. I wanted to be sure I saw it at night and we went out early in the morning to have it to ourselves. There was also a large, central area, which all paths would lead you to, with a huge structure that you could walk up for a view of the gardens. It was an unexpected highlight of the trip. 

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