In 1872, Fort Worth was in a prime position for growth. The city was expanding, and a railroad was being laid near the town. Then the Wall Street firm that served as the financial backer to the railroad collapsed. A mass exodus from Fort Worth followed, with some 75% of the population leaving.
A local citizen soon claimed that the city was so deserted he had seen a panther napping by the courthouse. While doubtless intended to mock the city, the city instead seized on the panther as a mascot. To this day, "Panther City" is the unofficial nickname of Fort Worth, and a statue of a panther stands by the Tarrant County Administration Building.