The story of the sleeping panther - which inspired Fort Worth's nickname, Panther City - is inscribed on a granite plaque near the sculpture. In 1873, a nationwide depression was underway and many believed Fort Worth to be doomed economically. 

Robert E.Cowart, a former Fort Worth resident who practiced law in Dallas, wrote the Dallas Herald that he had "been to a meeting in Fort Worth the other day and things were so quiet I saw a panther asleep on Main Street, undisturbed by the rush of men or the hum of trade." B.B. Paddock, editor of the 'Fort Worth Democrat', took these comments as a challenge and had a new masthead engraved with a panther lying in front of the bluff and the motto "Where the Panther Laid Down."

 The intended insult has become an enduring symbol of the city's strength. Throughout Fort Worth, panthers have appeared over the years, carved on downtown buildings (the Flatiron, and the Intermodal Transportation Center), crouching on Fort Worth Police badges, painted on fire trucks and cheered as mascots by Paschal High School students and Fort Worth Cats baseball fans.