San Antonio: Recreation

views updated May 21 2018

San Antonio: Recreation


San Antonio's most popular tourist destinations are the Alamo and the Paseo del Rio, or River Walk. The River Walk is a one and a half mile winding waterway of landscaped cobblestone paths and bridges set 20 feet below street level. The result of a downtown urban revitalization project, the River Walk is lined with cafes, shops, galleries, restaurants, and nightclubs. A visitor can sample the flavor of Mexico or relive the birth of Texas by simply enjoying the scenery, day or night. Tree-lined footpaths are lighted at night, creating a romantic ambience. For those who want more than a waterside view, boats cruise the 21 blocks at 10-minute intervals.

Mission San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo, was the first of five missions established in San Antonio and dates back to 1718 and is located downtown near the river. The chapel's facade represents what is left of the site where nearly 200 Texans died in their fight for independence from Mexico. Nearby lies the Long Barracks Museum and Library. In October of 2005, the Museum will unveil a new exhibit that will incorporate recent interpretations of events that occurred at the Alamo, and the Alamo's place in history. The four other missions are all part of the San Antonio Missions National Park, a 10 mile long Mission Trail that begins at the Alamo, located at street level between Commerce and Houston Streets on Alamo Plaza.

A walking tour from the town's center will take in a number of other attractions. Among them are La Villita, the "little town," adjacent to the River Walk on Alamo Street and across from the Convention Center, where former adobe houses along cobblestone walkways now contain shops, galleries, and a museum; Market Square with its Farmers Market and El Mercado area, with its specialty shops and weekend arts demonstrations; HemisFair Park, site of San Antonio's World's Fair in 1968 and now the center of downtown entertainment; and the King William Historic Area, a 25-block area that had been San Antonio's most elegant residential area, near downtown on the river's south banks.

Now a National Historic District, La Villita was the city's earliest settlement, evolving into a slum by the 1930s. After extensive renovation, it is now home to artists and craftspeople. Market Square is billed as the home of chili, and chili stands draw numerous visitors. The square is also host to a number of citywide festivals throughout the year. Each morning in the Farmers Market section of Market Square, fresh produce is sold directly to consumers. And in El Mercado, patterned after a Mexican market, there are 80 specialty shops. Inside the 92-acre HemisFair Plaza stands the Tower of the Americas, where an observation deck provides a panoramic view of the city from 500 feet up. The King William Historic Area serves as a reminder of the city's German heritage, and its stately mansions date to the 1800s. In the King William Historic Area, the Steves Homestead, an 1876 mansion with a slate mansard roof and 13-inch think limestone walls houses Victorian antiques and is open to the public.

The colorful flora and fauna of the Japanese Tea Gardens located at the northwestern edge of 343-acre Brackenridge Park offer a change of pace to visitors. The Sunken Garden Theatre here features Sunday afternoon concerts in the summertime. The main entrance to the park is about two miles from downtown. Inside the park are a bike trail, picnic area, polo field, golf course, carousel, a miniature railroad, riding stables, and paddle boats. The San Antonio Zoo, where exotic animals roam in barless cages, is also located in Brackenridge Park. The 35-acre Zoo is particularly notable for its endangered animals, including snow leopards, Sumatran tigers, and white rhinos. The newest addition to the Zoo is its Kronkosky's Tiny Tot Nature Spot, designed to connect children aged five and younger with the natural world. Across from the zoo's main entrance is the Skyride, where cable cars afford a panoramic view of the city's skyline. Nearby is Splashtown waterpark, which features water slides and south Texas's largest wave pool.

The military bases of San Antonio are also tourist destinations, but public access can vary. Group tours are welcomed, but advance reservations are advised at all posts except Fort Sam Houston, which is open to the public without restriction. Established in 1876 at its present location, historic Fort Sam Houston was the site of the first military airplane flight. Located here are the Army Medical Department Museum, which traces the history of the U.S. Army medical department with its collection of U.S. Army uniforms, medical equipment, and POW memorabilia; the Fort Sam Houston Museum, which houses a collection of military memorabilia; and the Post Chapel, built in 1917 and dedicated by President Taft. Birds and small animals roam the quadrangle grounds, where the centerpiece is the clock tower. Brooks Air Force Base, now known as Brooks City Base, permits the public to tour the Hangar 9/Edward H. White Museum, the oldest in the Air Force, which contains capsules used by the first space monkeys. A History and Traditions Museum at Lackland Air Force Base contains combat aircraft parts. Randolph Air Force Base features the Taj Mahal offices of the 12th Flying Wing. The rotunda of the white structure displays aviation memorabilia.

The newest San Antonio attractions include Sea World San Antonio, the world's largest marine life showplace and home of The Steel Eel exhibit, the Southwest's only hypercoaster; and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, a $100 million showplace park with live musical productions and world-class rides, including the Rattler, the world's tallest, fastest, and steepest wooden roller coaster. Fiesta Texas added $30 million in new rides and attractions in 1999, including a million-gallon wave pool shaped like the state of Texas. Other sites of note in the San Antonio area include San Fernando Cathedral, where the remains of Alamo heroes are thought to be held in a marble coffin on display; Spanish Governor's Palace, called the "most beautiful building in San Antonio" by the National Geographic Society, a national historic landmark dating from 1749 that once served as offices for the Spanish Province of Texas; San Antonio Botanical Gardens, emphasizing native Texas vegetation and incorporating a biblical garden, a children's garden, and a conservatory featuring tropical and exotic plants; and Jose Antonio Navarro State Historical Park, the former home of the prominent Texan who participated in the convention to ratify Texas as a state.

Arts and Culture

When actress Sarah Bernhardt performed in San Antonio's Grand Opera House, built in 1886, she called the city "the art center of Texas." While San Antonio attracts well-known performers, it is perhaps better known for opening its cultural doors to the public through colorful festivals that celebrate the blending of its Anglo-Hispanic heritage. The San Antonio Performing Arts Association, founded in 1976, functions as the city's presenter agency.

The Majestic Performing Arts Center, a relic of the days of "movie palaces," has been restored and is home to the San Antonio Symphony, which enjoys a reputation as one of the best in the country. Its repertoire ranges from pops to classical. The Majestic Theater plays host to many of the city's premier events, ranging from traveling Broadway companies to ballet performances to classical music concerts. Not simply a theater or a museum, the Carver Community Cultural Center is a showcase for African American artists while also providing entertainment with broad cultural appeal. Music, literature, art, drama and dance, and a major film festival, all with a Hispanic flavor, are combined at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, where local, national, and international presentations are offered. Grand Opera is performed by the San Antonio Opera Company. The Chamber Arts Ensemble and the Texas Bach Choir, the only one of its kind in the state, round out San Antonio's musical options.

Flamenco dancing is offered at the Arneson River Theatre, a unique venue spanning both sides of the river. The Mexican Cultural Institute showcases folkloric dance as well as theater.

Among the city's museums and galleries is the San Antonio Museum of Art, one of the largest museums in the Southwest and home to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art, featuring a 2,500-piece collection dating as far back as 500 B.C.; notable works include a portrait of a Mayan nobleman from A.D. 700-900. An expansion of the museum's Asian wing is underway and will add 9,000 square feet of new art gallery space for Asian art, as well as renovate the museum's current 6,000 square feet of Asian art space. Witte Museum, located at one of the Brackenridge Park entrances, presents local and natural history exhibits and special children's exhibits. Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum is a former private mansion that now houses modern art. The folk history of Texas unfolds through a multimedia exhibit using 36 screens at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Oddities and western memorabilia are the focus at the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum, housed in a renovated 1881 saloon.

Other special collections and contemporary and historical exhibits are on display at the Mexican Cultural Institute; HemisFair Plaza, featuring art from Mexico and South America; the Pioneer, Trail Drivers and Texas Rangers Memorial Museum; the Hertzberg Circus Collection, where Tom Thumb's carriage is among more than 20,000 items representing big top memorabilia; and the Buckhorn Museum containing curiosities such as a two headed calf and a lamb with eight legs. New attractions directly across from the Alamo are the Guinness World Records Museum; Ripley's Haunted Adventure, a multi-million dollar haunted house; and the Plaza Wax Museum. The San Antonio IMAX Theatre at Rivercenter shows a 48-minute docudrama depicting the famous battle at the Alamo. Images shown on a huge screen and magnetic surround sound makes viewers feel that they are there in the thick of battle.

Festivals and Holidays

For ten days in mid-April, from dawn to well past dusk, San Antonio celebrates the Fiesta San Antonio. Featuring more than 150 events illustrative of the city's gastronomic, ethnic and western history, Fiesta starts out with an oyster bake and culminates in colorful spectacles. Along the way revelers enjoy the crowning of King Antonio, a giant block party known as A Night in Old Santonio, fireworks, musical productions, fashion shows, and the Battle of the Flowers parade, in which 7,000 participants honor the Queen of the Order of the Alamo and her court. Flickering torches light up the Fiesta Flambeau parade; other activities include street dancing, a carnival, and concerts. Fiesta events have multiplied over the years, and they now attract some 3.5 million people annually.

San Antonio hosts a number of other celebrations and festivals throughout the year. The San Antonio River takes the spotlight in January when River Walk Mud Festival revolves around the annual draining of the river for maintenance. Championship rodeo competitors display their skills during February's San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, a 16-day western roundup that begins with a downtown parade. In March the San Antonio River is renamed the River Shannon and is dyed green for the St. Patrick's Day celebration, when Irish music and entertainment prevail. The Starving Artists Show in early April brings professionals and amateurs to the River Walk to sell their creations. The Cinco de Mayo events during the weekend nearest May 5 celebrate one of Mexico's Independence Days through mariachi music, folkloric dancing, and parades. Tejano music, described as a mixture of Mexican and German, is celebrated and studied at the annual Tejano Conjunto Festival in May. The beat of Latin music and dance fills the air in the outdoor Arneson River Theatre in June, kicking off the Fiesta Noche del Rio, which runs on weekends through the summer. San Antonio's Contemporary Art Month, held in July, is the only month-long contemporary arts festival in the nation; it features more than 400 exhibitions and involves more than 50 venues. September's FotoSeptiembre USA is one of the three largest photography festivals in the country. Oktoberfest and the River Art Group Show by major state artists enliven the month of October. The Christmas season has a Mexican flair led by the four-day Fiestas Navidenas in Market Square and Las Posadas, a reenactment of the Holy Family's search for an inn during which children go door-to-door seeking shelter. The River Walk itself becomes a festival of lights known as the Fiesta de las Luminarias.

Sports for the Spectator

The San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association and he San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League play their home games at the SBC Center, opened in October of 2002. The Center is a state-of-the-art 18,500 seat arena. The facility is 730,000 square feet, with four concourses, 54 suites, a practice facility, and restaurants. San Antonio's baseball team, the Missions of the Texas League, play at the Municipal Stadium. Major league pari-mutuel live and televised horse racing are offered at Retama Park year-round.

Sports for the Participant

The mild climate of San Antonio lends itself to a multitude of outdoor sport activities, many tied to the network of more than 100 parks administered by the city Department of Parks and Recreation. San Pedro Park, the city's oldest, includes the McFarlin Tennis Center. Brackenridge Park is San Antonio's showplace, with more than 300 acres of ballfields, horseback riding trails, bike paths, and scenic walkways through intricate gardens. Overnight camping is available at McAllister Park, an 850-acre facility with a number of playing fields. Outside of the city lies Friedrich Park, where wilderness trails offer a peaceful challenge to hikers. The city operates 21 public swimming pools throughout San Antonio, including a year-round indoor Natatorium where competitions take place. Some 100 tennis courts in various locations augment the Fairchild and McFarlin Tennis Centers.

Bordered by the Texas Hill Country, San Antonio provides ready access to a number of recreation areas where hunting and water sports are popular activities. Fifteen lakes are within 150 miles of the city, and the Guadalupe River north of San Antonio is a favorite spot for canoeing, tubing, and white water rafting. Lake McQueeney, 25 miles from the city, attracts weekenders for boating and swimming. Corpus Christi and other Gulf Coast towns provide seacoast attractions about 140 miles from San Antonio. Natural bridge Caverns are located nearby between San Antonio and New Braunfels, off I-35, exit 175. Here you can tour spectacular caverns, climb and "zip" from the tallest climbing tower in Texas while the less adventurous pan for gems and minerals. Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, located in the same area, is a Texas style African safari with hundreds of Animals from all over the world roaming freely. The Vietnam War Memorial is located at Veterans Memorial Plaza. Also not to be missed and located at 3400 Fredericksburg Road is the marker for the Old Spanish Trail which linked cities of Spanish conquest and settlement.

Blessed with more than 300 days of sunshine each year, San Antonio is becoming a major golf destination. Thirty-five courses (including military and private) and a championship course at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort are the lure. Citizens are also fond of bowlingmore than 26 commercial and military bowling centers dot the city. It was a San Antonio firm, Columbia Industries, that introduced polyester resin into the manufacture of bowling balls in 1960.

Shopping and Dining

The newest and most exciting shopping, dining, and entertainment venue in San Antonio is Sunset Station, housed in the restored 1902 South Pacific Railroad depot near the convention center. Market Square downtown houses a large specialty shopping area, as well as a Mexican-style market featuring crafts, apparel, pottery, and jewelry. La Villita has 26 arts and crafts shops and three restaurants. Southwest School of Art and Craft, on the grounds of a former cloistered convent, sells the works of local artists and operates a restaurant in a beautiful historic setting. Many other art galleries feature Latin American and Native American artworks. Souvenir shops offer the latest in Western wear, including hand-crafted leather boots and ten-gallon hats. Antique stores feature authentic and reproduction items, including miniature replica Civil War and Texas Revolution toy soldiers and fine furniture and jewelry that may once have belonged to turn-of-the-century settlers. For those who wish to make a day of it, many antique stores can be found along the main streets of nearby charming towns such as Comfort, Boerne, Fredericksburg, Castroville, New Braunfels, Gruene and Leon Springs. In addition, the San Antonio area has 16 retail shopping malls and two major outlet malls.

Downtown dining ranges from ethnic cuisine to barbecue. Many restaurants feature some Tex-Mex dishes on their menus, and a number of restaurants specialize in south-ofthe-border food. An emerging style of cooking, called New Southwestern, incorporates local produce and game. Italian, Greek, and German restaurants are well represented, as are delicatessens.

Visitor Information: San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau, 121 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, 78205, telephone (210)207-6700

San Antonio: Economy

views updated Jun 08 2018

San Antonio: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

As of February 2005, San Antonio has seen 13 consecutive quarters of economic growth and has earned a top ranking among large Texas cities. The largest employment sectors in San Antonio are services, manufacturing, and government. The large concentration of government workers is due mainly to the location of four military bases in the areathree Air Force bases (Brooks, Lackland, and Randolph) and one Army post (Fort Sam Houston). From the days its first mission and accompanying presidio military post were founded in 1718, San Antonio has been regarded as an area of strategic importance. By the end of World War II, the city had become the location for the nerve center of the nation's defense network, and it remains the headquarters for the largest military establishment in the United States. The bases provide employment to approximately 74,500 military and civilian personnel and have an economic impact on the local community of $4.9 billion. In July of 2001, another of San Antonio's military basesKellyclosed and was redeveloped as KellyUSA, a commercial port. Comprised of an airport and rail-served business park, KellyUSA employs 12,361 people (among them, 7,221 Air Force employees) and has a $2.5 billion economic impact on the San Antonio area.

The service sector is the largest and fastest growing sector of the economy, largely because of increased demand for health care and business services, and San Antonio's sound tourism industry. Medical and biomedical industries now account for the largest part of the city's economy, contributing approximately $11.9 billion to the area in 2003. San Antonio's highly regarded medical industry includes the 900-acre South Texas Medical Center, which employs approximately 25,000 people. Medical industry employees account for 14 percent of all employees in the San Antonio. In a 2003 survey by the Tourism Division of Texas, 5 of the top 10 tourist draws in the state were in San Antonio, with the Alamo and the River Walk in the number one and two spots, respectively. The attractions of the Alamo City, as San Antonio is known, appeal to tourists from across the country. Approximately 8 million people visit San Antonio per year, and the tourism industry has an estimated $4 billion impact on the city's economy.

Toyota Motor Corp. recently chose the San Antonio area as the location for one of its newest truck manufacturing plants. The plant, expected to generate approximately 2,500 jobs, will produce approximately 150,000 trucks annually. Production start-up is scheduled for 2006.

Items and goods produced: processed foods, airplane parts, storage batteries, steel forms, structural steel, food handling equipment, semiconductors, rolled aluminum sheet, cement

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, founded and supported by the business community of San Antonio for the purpose of recruiting new manufacturing, office, research and development, warehousing, and distribution operations to San Antonio. The staff provides factual information on the community from which a business can make an informed decision on establishing or relocating a new facility in San Antonio. The City of San Antonio's Economic Development Department (EDD) helps relocating, expanding, and start-up businesses. EDD offers a variety of financial incentives to encourage business and residential development, including tax and fee incentives, financing, regulatory reductions, and workforce development assistance, and provides customized, one-on-one service.

State programs

Texas is a right-to-work state. Texas Economic Development is the state's leading economic development agency. It offers financial incentives through various programs: the Capital Access Fund supports businesses and nonprofits that fall outside the guidelines of conventional lending or otherwise face barriers in accessing capital; Linked Deposit Fund encourages lending to non-profits, childcare-providers, historically underutilized businesses, and/or small businesses; Leverage Fund is an "economic development bank" providing financing to Texas cities that have passed an economic development sales tax; Industrial Revenue Bonds offers tax-exempt financing on land and property for eligible industrial or manufacturing projects; Defense Zone Program supports Texas's military presence; and Enterprise Zone Program encourages investment and job creation in areas or "zone"s of economic distress. San Antonio has five designated enterprise zones.

Job training programs

The Alamo Workforce Development Council will assist businesses in employee recruitment, screening, assessment, and customized training. Also, the State's Skills Development Fund has $25 million available to fund training programs designed by employers in partnership with local community colleges. The Texas Workforce Commission provides funds for training. In 2003 there were 32 grants, totaling $12 million.

Development Projects

San Antonio is getting ready to welcome even more visitors with its expanded convention center, the new SBC Center sports arena (opened in October of 2002), and other new construction. In 2004, $2.2 billion worth of construction permits were issued; the city usually is in the $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion range. Projects underway as of 2005 include the building of a new Texas A&M campus, a new convention center hotel, the Toyota plant, and several retail centers. San Antonio's Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center recently underwent a six-year, $218-million expansion that increased its square footage to 1.3 million. The convention center has more than 203,000 square feet of meeting space that is divisible in 67 ways, four exhibit halls offering a total of approximately 440,000 square feet of contiguous display space, and three ballrooms. The convention center complex also features the Lila Cockrell Theatre, a performance art theater offering seating for more than 2,500. The San Antonio Spurs share the SBC Center, a $175 million, 18,500-seat venue, with the San Antonio Livestock Exposition.

Economic Development Information: San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, 602 East Commerce Street, San Antonio, TX 78205; telephone (210) 226-1394; fax (210)223-3386; email [email protected]. City of San Antonio Economic Development Department, PO Box 839966, San Antonio, TX 78283-3966; telephone (210)207-8080; fax (210)207-8151

Commercial Shipping

Positioned on airline, highway, and railroad routes to Mexico, San Antonio is also the center of a 47-county agribusiness market area for crops grown elsewhere in the state of Texas. San Antonio firms handle processing, packaging, and nationwide distribution of vegetables, pecans, watermelons, and citrus fruits. Livestock, poultry and poultry products, and dairy products also pass through San Antonio.

San Antonio's KellyUSA is a major logistics port. It has 300,000 square feet of warehouse space available and 11,500-foot heavy-duty runway. Kelly is directly linked by three interchanges with Interstate-90 to I-35, I-10, and I-37, and is located on two major rail lines. San Antonio International Airport provides direct and non-stop service to all major hubs. Dallas and Houston are 50 minutes away by air and Mexico City is one and one-half hours away. Stinson Municipal Airport handles general aviation traffic and acts as a reliever airpost for San Antonio International Airport. Two freight railroads serve the area, providing service to Mexico and linking San Antonio with St. Louis. The city of San Antonio operates a general purpose Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) under the supervision of the U.S. Customs Service. Sometimes referred to as "free ports," FTZs are secured areas that officially fall outside U.S. Customs territory. FTZs help U.S.-based businesses cut costs, improve cash flow, and increase return on investment by deferring, reducing, or altogether eliminating duties and excise taxes if the final product is exported from the zone.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

San Antonio's economy saw unprecedented growth in the 1990s and has remained strong in recent years. In 2004, Houston was the only Texas city to exceed San Antonio's job growth rate; that year, the San Antonio area added 12,000 new jobs. In 2005, an additional 18,500 new jobs are expected. A local economist theorizes that the remarkable strength of San Antonio's job market can be attributed to its economic diversity. Projected job growth between 2005 and 2009 is expected to be 87,340 new jobs, with the largest gains projected in the following sectors: services; trade; government; finance, insurance, and real estate; and construction.

The following is a summary of data regarding the San Antonio metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 725,000

Number of workers employed in . . . natural resources and mining: 2,300 construction: 39,900 manufacturing: 45,400 trade, transportation and utilities: 129,800 information: 23,500 financial activities: 59,200 professional and business services: 85,800 educational and health services: 96,500 leisure and hospitality: 80,400 other services: 27,200 government: 135,000

Average hourly earnings of workers employed in manufacturing: $10.85

Unemployment rate: 4.5% (December 2004)

Largest employersNumber of employees
United Service Automobile Assoc. (insurance)13,773
H.E.B. Food Stores9,942
H.B. Zachry Co. (contractors)8,000
SBC Communications7,000
Southwestern Bell4,589
Frost National Bank3,290
West Telemarketing3,087
Taco Cabana3,000
Ultramar Diamond Shamrock (oil refining)2,857
QVC Network2,034

Cost of Living

San Antonio's cost of living is one of the lowest among large American cities. San Antonio's housing costs rank among the lowest of the 25 largest metropolitan areas.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the San Antonio area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $238,000

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 95.2 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None

State sales tax rate: 6.25% (groceries and medicines are exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.5% (groceries, medicines, rent, mortgage payments, and gasoline are exempt)

Property tax rate: $0.58 per $100 of assessed valuation (100% of market value) for real property; also hospital and school district, county and flood taxes (2003)

Economic Information: San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, 602 East Commerce Street San Antonio, TX 78205; telephone (210) 226-1394; fax (210)223-3386. City of San Antonio, Economic Development Department, PO Box 839966, San Antonio, TX 78283; telephone (210)207-8080

San Antonio: History

views updated May 29 2018

San Antonio: History

Alamo Dominates Early History

Crossing six miles of city blocks, the San Antonio River is the focus of the city, just as it has been ever since the surrounding valley drew wandering Coahuitecan tribes seeking respite from the heat. Members of the Payaya tribe who camped on the river's banks named the region Yanaguana, or "Place of Restful Waters." But written records of these tribes' presence are minimal, and it was not until 1691 that the first visit to the river valley was made by a European. That year, on June 13, a day devoted to Saint Anthony of Padua on the Roman Catholic calendar, the river was christened by a Spanish official exploring the region. After he moved on, it was not until 1709 that a second party of Spaniards encountered the river while searching for a site for a new mission. They returned to the area in 1718 to found Mission San Antonio de Valero and Villa de Bexar, the outpost established to govern the Texas province. The mission eventually became the most famous of all Spanish missions established throughout the American Southwest. Although its crude huts were destroyed in 1724 by a hurricane, they were rebuilt on the site where its remains now stand. The mission's nickname became the Alamo; in Spanish, the word "alamo" means cottonwood, and writings by settlers of the period note the region's groves of trees, its water supply, and its mild climate reminiscent of their home country.

Six missions in all were founded around San Antonio, with a goal of converting the native population to Roman Catholicism. A presidio, or fort, was established near each mission, with soldiers to protect the missionaries and, when necessary, to add force to the missionary argument. The system was designed to create new Spanish subjects out of the natives, enabling Spain to hold onto the vast territories it claimed in North America. Historians blame the eventual failure of the mission system on epidemics that reduced the population, periodic raids by Apaches and Comanches, and cultural differences resulting in feuds among friars, soldiers, and colonists. Mission San Antonio was secularized (removed from Church control) in 1793, and the city was incorporated in 1809.

From 1810 to 1821, San Antonio, which served as the seat of the Spanish government in Texas, was the site of several major battles in Mexico's fight for independence from Spain. Anglo-American colonization began with 300 families brought to Texas by Stephen F. Austin, whose father envisioned a settlement with ties to neither Spain nor Mexico. By 1835, the settlers' resentment of Mexico had grown into an armed revolt. Mexico's first attempt to quell the rebellion was defeated. In revenge, Mexican dictator Antonio Löpez de Santa Anna brought with him an army of 5,000 men to attack San Antonio's defenders, a force of fewer than 200 Texans fighting from inside the fortified Alamo. Among those within its walls who held off Santa Anna's troops for 13 days beginning in February 1836, were frontiersman Davey Crockett, soldier Jim Bowie, and Lieutenant Colonel William Travis, who vowed to neither surrender nor retreat.

Statehood's Aftermath

The "Victory or Death" dedication of the Alamo's defenders, who ultimately perished when their call for reinforcements went unanswered, inspired other insurgents throughout Texas to take up arms against Mexico. Forty-six days after the Alamo fellto the battle cry "Remember the Alamo!"Sam Houston's Texans defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto, and the Republic of Texas was established. The battles and uncertainties, however, did not end until 1845 when Texas became the twenty-eighth U.S. state. The ensuing period brought an influx of German settlers to San Antonio, which increased the population from about 800 to 8,000 people. Texas, aligned with the Confederacy in the Civil War, maintained its rough frontier atmosphere until 1877, when the railroad linked the isolated region with the rest of the nation.

The City in the Twentieth Century

A regional cattle industry evolved, and San Antonio's progress was further enhanced with the advent of gas lights, telephones, and electricity. When the city entered the twentieth century, it was a melting pot of German and Hispanic influence, and its population swelled with newcomers from urban America. Between 1870 and 1920 San Antonio grew to 161,000 people, making it Texas's largest city. Shortly after the turn of the century, "Aeroplane No. 1," a Wright brothers-type aircraft, flew over Fort Sam Houston and marked the debut of military aviation as an economic force in the region. Downtown businesses flourished, and the coming of the automobile fed the growth of newer surrounding communities.

World War I solidified San Antonio's position as a military command center; 70,000 troops trained there in 1917 and 1918. The war also diminished the status of the city's German community, leading to the resurgence of the Hispanic population, which was growing due to the influx of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans into Texas. San Antonio's Great Flood of 1921 left destruction in its wake, but by 1929 the city's adobe structures were complemented by skyscrapers, the most notable being the Tower Life Building, at one time the tallest office building in the state. San Antonio's Conservation Society became a vigorous presence in the preservation of the city's historical treasures, including the river around which it is built.

The onset of World War II meant intensive military activity for San Antonio. Lackland Air Force Base, for instance, trained more than one third of the war's air cadets. Expansion of the military complex led to tremendous postwar growth for the city and its environs. The 1968 HemisFair celebration placed an international spotlight on the city, attracting thousands of visitors, including some who decided to make the thriving Sun Belt community their home. By the 1970s the city's population numbered well over 700,000 people, of which more than half were Hispanic. Demand for more services and housing increased, yet language and cultural barriers had created pockets of poverty and ethnic tensions. Politics reflected the city's changing mood, and in 1975 Lila Cockrell became the first woman mayor of San Antonio. Eventually the Hispanic majority concentrated its new political force in the person of Councilman Henry Cisneros, elected in 1981 as the country's first Mexican-American mayor of a major city. San Antonio entered the 1980s as a national example of growing Latin influence in politics. The 1990 groundbreaking for the Alamodome, a $170 million domed stadium which served as the home to the NBA Spurs and was the city's first venue for major conventions and special events, marked the beginning of a progressive decade for the city. In recent years the city has seen further growth, with the completion of such projects as the expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, which has helped bring the city's annual convention attendance to 500,000, and the completion of the SBC Center, a new home for the Spurs. The Mission Trails project, which will make the area's historic missions more easily accessible, is nearing completion. San Antonio's multifaceted allure currently brings nearly 8 million visitors to the city per year.

Historical Information: San Antonio Conservation Society, 418 Villita Street, San Antonio, TX 78205; telephone (210)224-5711

San Antonio: Education and Research

views updated Jun 11 2018

San Antonio: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Unlike many school systems elsewhere, the San Antonio area's 19 school districts (the largest of whichthe Northside Independent School Districtis the sixth largest in Texas) function as separate, independent entities. Each has its own superintendent, its own elected board of education, and its own taxing authority. The Texas Education Agency in Austin oversees all districts, but they function apart from city or county jurisdiction.

The public school system in San Antonio is supplemented by specialized high schools including the Business Careers High School, Jay Science & Engineering Academy High School, Communication Arts High School, and Health Careers High School, which provide curriculums focused on specific fields of study.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Northside Independent School District as of the 2003-2004 school year.

Total enrollment: 74,018

Number of facilities elementary schools: 54

middle schools: 14

senior high schools: 12

other: 19

Student/teacher ratio: 15.6:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $35,020

maximum: $59,051

Funding per pupil: $6,933

More than 100 parochial schools and private schools also operate in San Antonio.

Public Schools Information: Northside Independent School District, 5900 Evers Road, San Antonio, TX 78238; telephone (210)397-8500

Colleges and Universities

Variously offering associate, undergraduate, and graduate degrees in many disciplines, San Antonio's institutions of higher learning include the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), is comprised of Colleges of Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Liberal and Fine Arts, Sciences, Public Policy, and Honors College; a school of Architecture; and Graduate School. UTSA offers 106 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and is the second largest University of Texas component after UT at Austin. At the University of Texas Health Science Center, students pursue degrees in medicine, dentistry, and nursing, and receive training at affiliated teaching hospitals. Trinity University, a private school founded by Presbyterians that offers its students degrees in the liberal arts and the sciences, has been repeatedly selected by U.S. News and World Report as one of the best colleges in the western U.S.; in 2005 Trinity ranked 1st overall among schools offering undergrad and master's programs in this region. St. Mary's University, a private Catholic institution, is particularly known for its law and business schools. University of the Incarnate Word, also a private Catholic school, is known for its nursing curriculum. Our Lady of the Lake University is a private Catholic institution that emphasizes minority programs, particularly for Hispanics. Oblate School of Theology is a private Catholic college serving men and women seeking graduate study in theology. San Antonio College, one of the major junior colleges in Texas, has an average enrollment of more than 22,000 students and is among the largest single-campus two-year colleges in the United States. St. Philip's College, a two-year public facility that focuses its curriculum on restaurant management, data processing, and health-related fields as well as arts and sciences, was founded in 1898 and is one of the oldest and most diverse community colleges in the country. San Antonio's Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (National Autonomous University of Mexico) offers Hispanic-oriented courses and is the only U.S. branch of UNAM's home campus in Mexico City, Mexico. Palo Alto College, a two-year college in San Antonio's south side, has recently added new programs in Academic Computing Technology, Aviation Management, Criminal Justice, Environmental Technology, Electrical Mechanical Technology, Health Professions, Logistics, Nursing, Teacher Assistant, and Turfgrass Management.

Libraries and Research Centers

The San Antonio Public Library operates the San Antonio Central Library and 18 branch libraries across the city. The Central Library at 600 Soledad Street has received national attention for its unique design and color ("enchilada red"). The library was designed by Ricardo Legorreta Arquitectos of Mexico City. The library collection encompasses 1.8 million volumes. The Central Library houses the Texana/Genealogy and Latino reference collections, showcasing the history, culture, and art of the region. The Central Library also features an art gallery with exhibits that change periodically. The Central Library is six stories high plus a basement level; the entire third floor is devoted to children 3 and under. Children have their own "KidsCat" computer catalog and a spacious story and craft room.

San Antonio's numerous research centers include those supported by the University of Texas in the fields of archaeology, environmental resources, neuroscience, women's studies, biotechnology, culture and community, aging, music, bioengineering; UT's Health Science Center has many additional research centers, devoted to areas of the medical field. Others include the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, and the Mexican-American Cultural Center, which seeks the harmonious integration of Hispanic and North American cultures in a manner consistent with democratic and Christian precepts. San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute occupies 1,200 acres and has a staff of 2,800 studying many topics such as automation, robotics, space sciences, and fuels and lubricants.

Public Library Information: San Antonio Public Library, 600 Soledad Street, San Antonio, Texas 78205; telephone (210)207-2500

San Antonio

views updated Jun 11 2018


SAN ANTONIO , city in S. central Texas; 2005 population, 1,144,646; Jewish population, 12,000. As early as 1715, three years before the founding of the city, several courageous families from northern Mexico had settled on the banks of the San Antonio River. Among them were members of the Carvajal family, of Jewish descent. Two Jewish patriots of the Texan Army fought the Mexican troops in San Antonio in 1835 – Surgeon Moses Albert Levy, and Edward Israel Johnson. With the advent of Texas statehood and the simultaneous immigration to Texas of Jews from Germany and Alsace-Lorraine, a permanent Jewish community in San Antonio was established around 1850. By 1855 Jews established their own cemetery. In 1856 they had organized the Hebrew Benevolent Society, re-organized in 1885 as the Montefiore Benevolent Society; and in 1870 the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society was formed. By 1874 there were enough Jews to found a formal congregation, Temple Beth-El (Reform), although Jews had been gathering for worship in private homes for years.

With the mass immigration of Central and East European Jews from the early 1880s into the 20th century, more Orthodox Jews reached San Antonio. These traditionalists founded their own cemetery in 1885, organized their own congregation, Agudas Achim, in 1889, and established a talmud torah in 1909. As Agudas Achim became Conservative, a third synagogue – Orthodox-Rodfei Sholom-B'nai Israel, was created in 1908. Many organizations proliferated: the first B'nai B'rith lodge was chartered in 1874; a chapter of the Zionist Organization of America was formed in 1904; a section of the National Council of Jewish Women began in 1907; and a chapter of Hadassah was organized in 1918.

In 1922 the San Antonio Jewish Social Service Federation (now the Jewish Federation of San Antonio) was created to coordinate the many community groups. During World War i the influx of Jewish military personnel in the South Texas area brought the need for extensive hospitality and services in San Antonio, a major military post. This tradition, supervised by the National Welfare Board, continued throughout the years and four wars.

In the last third of the 20th century, scores of northern Jews moved to the Sun Belt, and the Jewish population of San Antonio nearly doubled during this period. In 1985, emissaries of Chabad Lubavitch established a base in San Antonio. In 1989, a Reconstructionist congregation, Beth Am, was established, and in 2005, Temple Chai, a second Reform congregation was founded. Congregations and rabbis of all wings of Judaism have traditionally enjoyed unusually harmonious and productive relationships.

Jews have been cordially accepted in all phases of industrial, commercial, and professional life in San Antonio. However, social acceptance in its highest ranks was once limited, although today there are no barriers to such acceptance. None of the three predominately Jewish social clubs organized from 1887 onward survived. San Antonio Jews have not sought political office, by and large, but the community has produced leaders in every other phase of civic life: manufacturing, creation of department stores, agriculture, banking, and the professions.

Jews have distinguished themselves in the city's philanthropic and cultural activities. Rabbi David Jacobson, together with the local Roman Catholic archbishop and the Episcopal bishop, is credited with the peaceful racial desegregation of San Antonio in the 1960s. Other prominent leaders have included: Alexander Joske, pioneer merchant and philanthropist; Dan and Anton Oppenheim, pioneer bankers, ranchers, and Confederate officers; Mayer and Sol Halff, pioneer merchants and ranchers; Frederick Oppenheimer and his wife, pioneer art collectors and museum benefactors; Max Reiter, founder of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra; Rabbi Samuel Stahl, Helen Jacobson, Jocelyn Straus, Richard Goldsmith, Charles Martin Wender, and Michael Beldon, civic workers; Joe and Harry Freeman, agriculturalists and philanthropists; Sylvan Lang, leader in legal education; and Perry Kallison, agriculturalist and local radio personality.


F.C. Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (1937); S. Viener, in: ajhsp, 46 (1956/57), 101–13; ajyb, 2 (1900– 01), 472–3; Temple Beth-El, San-Antonio, Texas, Diamond Jubilee 18741949 (1949).

[Frances R. Kallison /

Samuel Stahl (2nd ed.)]

San Antonio

views updated May 23 2018


SAN ANTONIO, Texas, was founded in 1718 as a mission outpost of the Spanish empire and has become the eighth largest city in the United States. The ready availability of water from the San Antonio River helped prompt the Spanish to establish an unusual concentration of five missions in the area, together with a presidio, or military post. Throughout the period of Spanish and Mexican rule, San Antonio served as the capital of Texas. In March 1836 the northernmost mission, popularly known as the Alamo, became the scene of the most celebrated battle of the Texas revolt. Today it remains the most visited tourist site in the state.

After independence in 1836, Texas relocated its capital northward, but San Antonio flourished during the post–Civil War boom in the cattle industry. The arrival of the railroad in 1877 somewhat compensated for the region's loss of preeminence as a national supplier of beef. Beginning in 1885, Mayor Bryan Callaghan II assembled a political coalition that promoted business development over competing interests. One harbinger of later growth was the federal government's establishment of Fort Sam Houston in 1879; it remains San Antonio's largest single employer. World War I brought a major expansion of military facilities in the city, notably with the founding of Kelly Field (later Kelly Air Force Base) in 1917. The growth of the military, especially aviation, was even more pronounced after 1941. Despite the closing of Kelly in 2001, more than 40,000 uniformed personnel remain based in San Antonio, and the military employs more than 31,000 civilians.

In addition, the city has become a major retirement center for veterans and their families, who are attracted by its mild winters, low cost of living, and urban services. The economy is dominated by the service sector, with tourism and government being especially prominent. Along with the Alamo, the nearby Riverwalk, a mixed-use urban park along the San Antonio River, is a leading tourist attraction.

The majority of San Antonio's population is Hispanic (58.7 percent according to the 2000 census) while African Americans comprise a fairly small proportion (6.8 percent) of the population. Ethnicity has been a major factor in the city's politics, intertwined with debates over economic development. The Hispanic population has been concentrated west of the downtown area, with African Americans on the near east side, although residential segregation has declined since 1970. This residential pattern resulted in part from flooding problems. Flood control had long been a major civic issue, but one addressed with considerable success in the last decades of the twentieth century. In the early 2000s management of the city's water supply in a period of economic development and rapid population growth (19.3 percent between 1990 and 2000 to 1,144,646) emerged as a key issue.


Davis, John L. San Antonio: A Historical Portrait. Austin, Tex.: Encino Press, 1978.

Johnson, David R., John A. Booth and Richard J. Harris, eds. The Politics of San Antonio: Community, Progress, and Power. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

Poyo, Gerald E., and Gilberto M. Hinojosa, eds. Tejano Origins in Eighteenth-Century San Antonio. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991.

James C.Schneider

See alsoAlamo, Siege of the ; "Remember the Alamo."

San Antonio

views updated May 18 2018

San Antonio

San Antonio, a presidio-mission-town complex founded in 1718, as a way station between Spanish settlements on the Río Grande and the recently founded Spanish outpost on the French Louisiana frontier. Originally composed of Presidio San Antonio de Béxar and Misión San Antonio de Valero (now the Alamo), the settlement was enlarged in 1720 with the addition of a second Franciscan mission, San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, and in 1731 by the relocation of three other missions, Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción, San Juan Capistrano, and San Francisco de la Espada. That same year Canary Islands colonists, holding a royal charter, founded Villa San Fernando de Béxar adjacent to the presidio and Misión San Antonio.

San Antonio grew slowly through the 1760s because of chronic Indian warfare, an absence of mineral wealth, and remoteness from colonial population centers. Throughout the colonial and Mexican periods the economy depended on cattle ranching, subsistence agriculture, and the furnishing of services to the presidio. In the 1770s, as part of a reform of New Spain's frontier defenses, the garrison was strengthened and the population augmented by the resettlement of settlers from the extinguished East Texas presidio of Los Adaes. In 1773 San Antonio became the capital of Texas, a position it maintained until its status was reduced to departmental seat of government following the union of Texas with Coahuila under the Mexican constitution of 1824.

During the Mexican War of Independence the city experienced outbreaks of violence and brief insurrectionary governments in 1811 and 1813. In the 1820s secularization of the missions, which had begun in 1793, was completed. The presidio went out of existence in the spring of 1836, following the successful Texan revolt against Mexico, but the town survived as the largest Texas city for much of the nineteenth century.

Today San Antonio is the second-largest city in Texas with a 2005 population of over 1.2 million. The city is home to a number of military bases, including Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base. Almost 20 million tourists visit San Antonio each year, drawn by its Tejano culture, the Alamo, Riverwalk, and the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum.

See alsoAlamo, Battle of the; Texas.


Castañeda, Carlos E. Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, 7 vols. (1936–1958).

Crisp, James E. Sleuthing the Alamo: Davy Crockett's Last Stand and Other Mysteries of the Texas Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

De La Teja, Jesús F. San Antonio de Béxar: A Community on New Spain's Frontier (1995).

Matovina, Timothy M. Tejano Religion and Ethnicity: San Antonio, 1821–1860. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.

                                      JesÚs F. de la Teja

San Antonio: Transportation

views updated May 29 2018

San Antonio: Transportation

Approaching the city

San Antonio International Airport, a modern facility located 13 miles from the downtown River Walk, is served by 14 major carriers flying domestic and international routes, including nonstop flights to 28 destinations. The airport has an average of 248 daily departures and arrivals. Primary domestic destinations include Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Phoenix; primary international destinations include Mexico City, Monterrey, Cancun, and Cozumel. Its terminal was described as "one of the most beautiful in years" by the American Institute of Architects. Traveling from the airport downtown by taxi takes about 15 minutes during normal traffic. Express limousine service runs to major hotels, and buses depart every half-hour. Stinson Field, also operated by the city Aviation Department, handles general aviation traffic. Amtrak carries rail passengers to San Antonio from points all around the country. Entering San Antonio by road is comparatively easy; the loop design of San Antonio freeways and their connecting highways enable a motorist to reach the central district from any direction.

Traveling in the City

The centerpiece of San Antonio's transportation network is its VIA Metropolitan Transit Service. This service enables visitors to experience the major attractions without a car and commuters can enjoy a near perfect on-time record. VIA's buses cover 106 routes; special vehicles serve the handicapped and elderly. To ease the flow of cars into downtown, VIA operates a number of park-and-ride locations from which commuters can catch an express bus to the business area. There are also special schedules for major events. In the downtown area, VIA Streetcars with wooden slats and brass railings cover five routes and function as a shuttle to many major attraction and major stores.

San Antonio can be reached in 30 minutes or less by car from any point in Bexar County. The San Antonio's "hub and spoke" expressway arrangement, where all highways radiate from the central business district, makes all parts of the city easily accessible.

The Mission Trails Project, a $17.7 million transportation enhancement project, is well underway and parts of it will be completed and operational in 2005. Described as a project equal in importance to the city's famed River Walk, the Mission Trails Project is a hike and bike trail connecting the Alamo, Mission Concepcion, Mission San José, and Mission Espada along a 10-mile trail, and enhance the roadways leading to the missions.

San Antonio: Population Profile

views updated May 21 2018

San Antonio: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 1,089,000

1990: 1,324,749

2000: 1,592,383

Percent change, 19902000: 20.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 34th (MSA)

U.S. rank in 1990: 30th (MSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 29th (MSA)

City Residents

1980: 785,940

1990: 976,514

2000: 1,144,646

2003 estimate: 1,214,725

Percent change, 19902000: 17.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 11th

U.S. rank in 1990: 10th (State rank: 3rd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 13th (State rank: 3rd)

Density: 2,808.5 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 774,708

Black or African American: 78,120

American Indian and Alaska Native: 9,584

Asian: 17,934

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 1,067

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 671,394

Other: 263,233

Percent of residents born in state: 66.8% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Poplation under 5 years old: 92,446

Poplation 5 to 9 years old: 91,849

Poplation 10 to 14 years old: 89,113

Poplation 15 to 19 years old: 88,951

Poplation 20 to 24 years old: 87,684

Poplation 25 to 34 years old: 177,842

Poplation 35 to 44 years old: 174,810

Poplation 45 to 54 years old: 138,880

Poplation 55 to 59 years old: 46,898

Poplation 60 to 64 years old: 36,811

Poplation 65 to 74 years old: 64,108

Poplation 75 to 84 years old: 41,707

Population 85 years and older: 13,547

Median age: 31.7 years

Births (2002)

Total number: 23,169

Deaths (2002)

Total number: 9,386 (of which, 168 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $17,487

Median household income: $36,214

Total households: 405,887

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 46,058

$10,000 to $14,999: 28,462

$15,000 to $24,999: 61,545

$25,000 to $34,999: 59,989

$35,000 to $49,999: 69,799

$50,000 to $74,999: 72,213

$75,000 to $99,999: 32,724

$100,000 to $149,999: 23,245

$150,000 to $199,999: 5,942

$200,000 or more: 5,910

Percent of families below poverty level: 14.0% (23.1% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 76,777

San Antonio

views updated May 29 2018

San Antonio

San Antonio: Introduction
San Antonio: Geography and Climate
San Antonio: History
San Antonio: Population Profile
San Antonio: Municipal Government
San Antonio: Economy
San Antonio: Education and Research
San Antonio: Health Care
San Antonio: Recreation
San Antonio: Convention Facilities
San Antonio: Transportation
San Antonio: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1718 (incorporated 1809)

Head Official: Mayor Ed Garza (D) (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 785,940

1990: 976,514

2000: 1,144,646

2003 estimate: 1,214,725

Percent change, 19902000: 17.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 11th

U.S. rank in 1990: 10th (State rank: 3rd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 13th (State rank: 3rd)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 1,089,000

1990: 1,325,000

2000: 1,592,383

Percent change, 19902000: 20.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 34th (MSA)

U.S. rank in 1990: 30th (MSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 29th (MSA)

Area: 407.6 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Approximately 701 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 68.6° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 27.9 inches

Major Economic Sectors: services, wholesale and retail trade, government

Unemployment rate: 4.5% (December 2004)

Per Capita Income: $17,487 (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 94,132

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Texas at San Antonio, St. Mary's University, San Antonio College

Daily Newspaper: Express-News

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