By Ted Bauer

I might not be the best person to write about Oakhurst because I’ve only lived there since September 2020, and a good chunk of Oakhurstians have been there 40-plus years. While I defer to them on knowledge in every possible way, I think some of my own story and Fort Worth’s story over the past decade or so can make me a viable author here. 

I’m from nowhere near Fort Worth; I grew up in New York City – and, specifically, Manhattan. If you’ve never been, just suffice to say it’s a lot different from The Fort, both in terms of the number of tall buildings, the general pace and the tightness of development. Very few people there talk about their ranches. 

Tall trees line the street in the Oakhurst neighborhood where Ted Bauer and his wife reside. (Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto/Fort Worth Report)

I got down here in July 2014  – cue the old joke “I’m not from Texas, but got here as fast as I could!”  – with my ex, for a job I had gotten out of a grad program that I’m still confused I attended. I was working downtown and living by Woodshed; that job, which resided in offices that are currently a WeWork, lasted about 17-18 months, and then they laid off a chunk of us. So, now, here I was, in Texas, starting to really like it, but without a viable income source. 

Over time, a bunch of different things happened (i.e. life). I ended up doing mostly freelance writing, then I got divorced, sadly Woodshed’s bar side factored more into my life for a minute, then I entered a new relationship and eventually got remarried. That ceremony happened about three weeks after we did our COVID home purchase in Oakhurst. 

Ah, yes. Oakhurst. In 2017, when my general life radius was couch-bed-Woodshed-sometimes downtown, I had barely heard of Oakhurst. I think I went to one holiday party over there and vaguely knew it was north and east of downtown. 

At the same time in my life, though, I was looking rather significantly for community. I liked the Trails/TCU/Colonial area and knew people through those apartments and those restaurants, but I wanted to feel part of a bigger community, and understand Fort Worth better in the process. I understood it at almost a superficial young professional level, but as someone not from here who had only lived in one neighborhood. I yearned to be part of something more. 

Oakhurst census breakdown

Census tract 1001.02

Total population: 4,344

Male: 2,266 (52%)

Female: 2,078 (48%)

Race

White: 1,676 (38%)

Hispanic: 2,596 (60%)

Black: 8 (<1%)

Asian: 18 (<1%)

Two or more races: 53 (1.2%)

Age

1 to 19 years: 1,114  (26%)

20 to 44 years: 1,517 (35%)

45 to 64 years: 1,265 (29%)

65 and over: 448 (10%)

Education

Less than high school graduate: 317

High school graduate (includes equivalency): 508

Some college or associate’s degree: 601

Bachelor’s degree or higher: 621

Median earning (past 12 months): $59,618

On the night we started moving possessions into Oakhurst, I learned that one next-door neighbor was a 30-plus year resident, now a widow, who had originally moved there for quality home prices. My other neighbor worked at Tarrant County for decades, where my wife now works. They had numerous mutual friends and acquaintances. Across the street, a woman had a vegan burger truck and was getting a brick-and-mortar space. Someone else did inside sales; another was a pastor up north. The GM of Race Street Coffee was on the block. Around the corner was a guy who helped manage Pat Green, and someone studying to be a doula. 

Within relatively short order, these people became acquaintances and some became friends. There’s a robust welcoming committee with addictive tiny cupcakes. (Shout-out Phyllis Anglin, another longtime county employee.) Neighbors started bringing us plants, casseroles, and checking in during the February freeze, when most of Oakhurst lost power for 55-plus hours. NextDoor became a robust community for me; in many ways, it’s actually more informative and interesting than the current version of Facebook. 

I felt like I had finally found this community that helped me understand Fort Worth better: the people who are from here, and the people who navigate to here, and why they do it. There are still a lot of issues with the city, which Fort Worth Report valiantly is trying to cover for us. Fort Worth ISD still isn’t great. We lack affordable housing in many areas. The downtown business core is struggling, and our tax situation is essentially flipped (residential/business) as a result, frustrating many residential homeowners. Fort Worth is growing, and like anything that grows, there are challenges. 

But Oakhurst is this beautiful, tree-lined, shade-friendly (does make gardening a challenge) enclave minutes from downtown, and a mix of personalities from near and far – one of the first people I met in Oakhurst actually grew up in Syracuse, New York  – and it feels like a real community. Many Fort Worth neighborhoods can say this part, and that’s a great thing about Cowtown, but when someone walks a dog by you, or jogs by you, or their kids scoot by you, they say, ‘Hi.” 

Oakhurst is no different. Weeks ago, we had a church group (First United Methodist Church) over on Sunday, and two of the couples in the group had young kids. We put a bubble machine in the driveway for those kids, but over the course of 45 minutes, other Oakhurst kids came over and played with it, and bonded with our friends’ kids over these magical, mass-producing bubbles. 

I thought back to 2017 self and someone who almost desperately sought community, and I felt content in that moment.

“Neighbors started bringing us plants, casseroles, and checking in during the February freeze, when most of Oakhurst lost power for 55-plus hours. NextDoor became a robust community for me…,” Bauer said. Pictured with Bauer is his wife, Katie Owens, and dog Samson. (Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto/Fort Worth Report)

Now, some of these Fort Worth issues — especially jobs downtown — will have a huge bearing on Oakhurst, as will rising prices. The future of the neighborhood, with its larger lot sizes and friendly ethos, seems strong, much as the future of Fort Worth does. That’s why a New York City boy is about to hit his seventh anniversary here. But as we shift to a new mayor, a new City Council, and other changes around the city and county, the decisions we make in the next few years will shape us for a generation. 

I’m excited that my seat for those decisions will be Oakhurst (P.S.:  I’m the subdivision newsletter editor now!), and I’m excited to see the mix of FTW veterans, new families, and transplants come into our shady oasis over the next seven years and beyond. This is a big time for all of us in The Fort. Let’s all do our small part to help get things right. 

Ted Bauer is a freelance writer and editor who has lived in Fort Worth since 2014. Originally from New York City, he finds the big city-small town vibe of FunkyTown to be particularly enjoyable. You can check out his blog at Context of Things. To tell the story of where you live, please send your essay to hello@fortworthreport.org and Managing Editor Thomas Martinez at thomas.martinez@fortwortheport.org.

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