By Garret Martin

Little gives me more joy than the sound of our dogs’ paws joyfully bouncing across the 1930s era wood floor laid atop the pier and beam foundation of my house. My partner Emily and I live here with our two dogs, Flynn and Fern. 

We moved here to live in an old house in an up-and-coming neighborhood: Downtown Arlington. Our main source of entertainment is just a five-minute walk up the street, with new businesses opening in downtown all the time. 

Petrified wood lines steps leading to a walkway to the house. The wood was placed there by a former tenant. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Our landlord told us the building was built by an eccentric woman with a love of petrified wood, which is why the retaining wall and original entryway are all covered in it, appearing as miniature massive cliffs on the coast of Iceland. 

Across the street to the north is the home of the first-ever doctor who lived in Arlington, now a city with a population of just over 400,000. But back when that doctor served Arlington, it was just a main street in the ’30s with a population of only about 3,700 folks

Just up the road north on Center Street, a house built for William H. Rose, the mayor of Arlington in 1919, presides over the corner of the same block. Rose wrote the city’s first charter in 1920, and even now it is still listed as the Rose Charter on the tax roll. 

In between the two historic houses, you’ll find the homes of a member of the Arlington historical society (makes sense) and loads of college kids. 

Petrified wood lines a section of their yard where students sit to smoke. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

See, while these homes are all ancient (by a Texan’s standards), brand- new parking garages, basketball stadiums and dormitories lie just across the street to the east. The University of Texas at Arlington, my alma mater, is our kind neighbor, and its students always make life interesting. Some smoke their cigarettes on our retaining wall (it’s a tobacco-free campus) while other kind scholars pick up any trash on their way between home and class. 

The 420-acre campus, dotted with mature pines, magnolias and oaks, makes for a beautiful run or walk with the dogs. We think we’ve become daily staples of dopamine for the students who are always asking to pet the dogs. (“You can pet this one, but this one is shy” I can hear myself say in my sleep.)

Downtown Arlington is just up the street past the Mayor Rose house, which is the main reason Emily and I live here. Friday nights are bustling with live music from concerts at the Levitt Pavilion and Growl Records, just a quick walk from our house. Students pass between Inclusion Coffee and Rita’s Ice Cream to stop and get a drink or meal at J Gilligan’s, like 50 years’ worth of students before them, though they have considerably more choices now. What I love most is that the majority of these businesses are owned locally, and you can walk in and shake the owners’ hands any day of the week.

Downtown Arlington is going through a renaissance of its own. While it has been downtrodden since its heyday in the early 1900s, Abram Street just completed a $26 million renovation project, much of it in the downtown area, fueling an explosion of new businesses and developments. There’s a ton of places to choose from for lunch or a drink in the evening, and entertainment any time of day. Options range from live music on the West Main creative stretch (as I like to call it), which has Theatre Arlington, Arlington Museum of Art, and independent galleries, to axe throwing and great outdoor spaces. 

As a UTA alumnus myself, I really hope this is the beginning of a cultural revolution that keeps UTA students around, walking their dogs and creating new local businesses.

Garret Martin, 25, is a digital marketing and events specialist for the Downtown Arlington Management Corp. 

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