With the boom times came some problems. Fort Worth had a knack for separating cattlemen from their money. Cowboys took full advantage of their last brush with civilization before the long drive on the Chisholm Trail from Fort Worth up north to Kansas. They stocked up on provisions from local merchants, visited the colorful saloons for a bit of gambling and carousing, then galloped northward with their cattle only to whoop it up again on their way back. The town soon became home to Hell's Half Acre, the biggest collection of bars, dance halls and bawdy houses south of Dodge City, Kansas (the northern terminus of the Chisholm Trail), giving Fort Worth the nickname of "The Paris of the Plains".
Crime was rampant, and certain sections of town were off-limits for proper citizens. Shootings, knifings, muggings and brawls became a nightly occurrence. Cowboys were joined by a motley assortment of buffalo hunters, gunmen, adventurers, and crooks. As the importance of Fort Worth as a crossroads and cow town grew, so did Hell's Half Acre.
What was originally limited to the lower end of Rusk Street (renamed Commerce Street in 1917) spread out in all directions. By 1881 the Fort Worth Democrat was complaining that Hell's Half Acre covered more like 2.5 acres (10,000 m).
The Acre grew until it sprawled across four of the city's main north-south thoroughfares. These boundaries, which were never formally recognized, represented the maximum area covered by the Acre, around 1900. Occasionally, the Acre was