San Antonio is a charming and historic city in Texas. My future husband spent many childhood years there. It has the Alamo and so much more!
San Antonio River Walk
Next to The Alamo, San Antonio's famous Riverwalk downtown is probably one of the most visited tourist destinations ever in that part of Texas, and for good reason. But it was not always the case.
From the age of ten, my husband grew up in San Antonio and can remember when the Riverwalk was a place to be avoided due to muggings and mayhem. It was not well patrolled by police nor as scenic an area as it is today. San Antonio houses several military bases and even the soldiers were advised to stay clear of that area! All of that changed substantially for the better when HemisFair came to San Antonio.
1968 World's Fair
In preparation for the World's Fair (a.k.a. HemisFair) in 1968, city planners helped spur endeavors to help clean up the downtown river area to show off the City of San Antonio to the many tourists worldwide who might be seeing it for the first time.
This clean-up process happens in every town, city, or country when events of magnitude bring attention to a place along with tourists and their dollars. Whether it is Olympics, World Fairs, or other events, it generally encourages the host city to put on its best face for others to see.
Efforts to extend the river for HemisFair and since that time has served the city and its businesses well. The Riverwalk is now well policed, and people can feel safe whether strolling the sidewalks, taking a boat ride, shopping, or dining at one of the many restaurants that line the scenic riverfront.
My Early Memories
HemisFair had already taken place when I took my psychiatric nursing course in San Antonio, so those of us who were students took full advantage of the scenery and action when we had some free time.
The scenery included all the attractive young men in soldier's uniforms who were found in abundance gracing the Riverwalk with their handsome youthful faces and firm bodies.
I don't think that any of my classmates found their Mr. Right among those Army and Air Force guys, but we certainly had some fun visiting, flirting, dining, dancing, singing, and even one time went on a swimming date with a group of them. Ah yes! Those were the days!
Only one mishap occurred while coming down the steps of one of those stone bridges that links one side of the Riverwalk to the other. One of my heels broke off, and fortunately, I caught myself before tumbling down face forward. It was common back then to wear high heels. So at first glance, it would have appeared to onlookers that I had a severe limp. I attracted no soldier's eye that day! (Smile)
Nearby Sites of Interest
With the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio, any tourist is sure to head for that area if they want to depart with the flavor of having visited San Antonio.
A sampling of sites that one can see along the waterway adjacent or nearby includes some of the following.
- The Alamo ~ Most people already know that this was a historic mission where the famous battle occurred between early Texans fighting for their independence from Mexico.
- La Villita ~ One of the first neighborhoods in San Antonio is adjacent to the Riverwalk. It has a fascinating history and now houses an active arts community in the quaint architecturally styled buildings. If one is looking for a distinctively different and handmade object of art, perhaps as a souvenir, head for La Villita. A wide variety of choices are there to suit almost anyone's interest or budget. My husband's office for many years had some artwork that we acquired at La Villita.
- The Spanish Governor's Palace ~ Now a museum, the Spanish Governor's Palace was the capital building of Spanish Texas in 1722. Although it has the name of King Ferdinand VI with the date 1749 inscribed over the door, the Spanish king never lived there. Instead, it was the working residence of the local captain in the area. It is a beautiful building worth seeing, and one can learn more history of the early days in the San Antonio region by visiting there.
- The King William District ~ This is now a historic district where mansions mingle with more modest abodes. One of the first neighborhoods established in this region of Texas, it was first settled by immigrant Germans. Located on the south side of the San Antonio River, one can take hourly tours through this district or walk the streets or even stay in one of the Bed and Breakfast establishments in this beautiful area. ( I created a linocut inspired by one of the columned homes seen there and titled it "Classically Adorned."
- El Mercado ~ An authentic old Spanish marketplace adds interest to this downtown area.
- HemisFair Plaza ~ Among many remaining buildings from the 1968 World's Fair is the 750 foot Tower of the Americas on 92 acres in a setting of waterfalls, a great children's playground, museums, etc. Head on over to this plaza if you want a bird's eye view of San Antonio from the top of the tower.