San Antonio and the Riverwalk

Heading out to the Riverwalk was the very first thing we did!

The San Antonio River Walk is a City Park and 2.5 mile pedestrian walk one level below streets full of vehicle traffic. It winds and loops under bridges as two parallel sidewalks, on each side of the canal, are lined with restaurants and shops, that connect to the major tourist draws of the city. (Editor’s note: In some places it is written “Riverwalk” and in others “River Walk.”)

We were told that the San Antonio River is spring-fed from springs 4 miles upstream.

The Riverwalk is below the street level of the city. Stairs and elevators make it very accessible.
The Riverwalk is narrow and at times very tranquil and intimate.
At other times, the Riverwalk is also a very bustling place. We enjoyed the Go Rio boat tour and learned several interesting facts. Businesses on the Riverwalk have entrances on the both the street and Riverwalk levels.
We walked The Riverwalk first on one side and then the other as well as in the day and at night when it’s all illuminated plus toured on the Go-Rio boats. There are lovely places along the Riverwalk to sit and people watch.

In 1921, a disastrous flood along the San Antonio River took 51 lives. Plans were then developed for flood control of the river. No major plans came into play until 1929, when San Antonio native and architect Robert Hugman submitted his plans for what would become the Riverwalk. Hugman’s plan was initially not well-received. Crucial funding came in 1939 under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Today over 30 million people visit San Antonio each year and the Riverwalk is hugely popular.

Pro Tip: There are 3 places where one can embark on the Go Rio river boat tour. Sometimes the ticket lines and wait times are long. We purchased our tickets at a 7-11 ahead of time and when we found ourselves in the right place with a boat ready to board we were prepared!
They said this bridge was featured in Selena, a Jennifer Lopez film.
The Riverwalk is very picturesque.
We had a dinner at Acena on this balcony overlooking the Riverwalk.
We had a great Tex-Mex dinner here. It was a lively evening with lots of passers-by and a mariachi band performing.
Our riverboat guide said that the stage on the right was the set for filming the bathing suit competition scene in the Sandra Bullock film Miss Congeniality.
This last 2020-2021 winter Texas had several days of historic sub-zero weather and snowfall which sadly burned or killed a lot of the greenery.
San Antonio native and architect Robert Hugman submitted his plans for what would become the River Walk and where he had his office.

Sights Around San Antonio

In 1691, on June 13, the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, a group of Spanish explorers and missionaries came upon the river and a Payaya Native American settlement. They named the place and river “San Antonio” in his honor.

Today, downtown San Antonio encompasses many of the city’s famous structures, attractions, and businesses. The city has a interesting mix of old and new buildings. The following photos are just a fraction of what there is to see around the city.

Some of San Antonio’s buildings make you feel as if you have been transported back in time.
This building, completed in 1926, was originally a hospital and now houses the Emily Morgan Hotel. It is directly across Houston Street from The Alamo.
Mexico gifted this sculpture for the 1968 World’s Fair in honor of the friendship between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas was constructed for the 1989 World’s Fair, HemisFair ’68, and has a revolving restaurant and observation deck.

Earliest Colonists Came From The Canary Islands

After a year of travel over land and sea, including walking nearly 1200 miles from Veracruz with children, livestock and all their worldly possessions, 56 weary pioneers from the Canary Islands arrived at the Presidio of San Antonio on March 9, 1731. They were met by a Franciscan friar, soldiers from the Presidio and indigenous peoples. They were sent by Spanish King Felipe V to found the first civil government in Texas. They laid out the Village of San Fernando de Bexar. Today, the village is the City of San Antonio.

The Cathedral of San Fernando

The original church of San Fernando was built between 1738 and 1750 by the settlers from the Canary Islands. The walls of that church today form the sanctuary of the cathedral, which gives rise to its claim as the oldest cathedral in the State of Texas.
Interior of the Cathedral of San Francisco.
San Fernando de Bexar was laid out like most Spanish towns around a Main Plaza with the church and civil government around it. This is looking at the Main Plaza and Cathedral from the courthouse.

San Antonio’s First Neighborhood: La Villita

In 1792 it was noted that a large settlement of families had grown up south of the mission San Antonio de Valera (later known as The Alamo). The area was called Pueblo de Valero. Eventually, along with the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, the Villa de San Fernando and the surrounding missions united to form the town that later came to be called San Antonio.

By the early 20th century it had deteriorated into a slum. With construction of the Riverwalk underway, the mayor sponsored a restoration project to preserve this historic neighborhood.

Stairs from the Riverwalk ascend to the restored La Villita Historic Arts Village.
The Villita occupies one square block of cobblestone alleys and restored buildings housing local artisans shops, art galleries and eateries.
The Little Church of La Villita.
The lobby of the historic Menger Hotel which opened in 1859. William and Mary Menger, both born in Germany, opened a boarding house and brewery at this site in 1855. It’s popularity led the Menger to replace it with a two-story stone hotel in 1859. Famed for its excellent meals and beautiful patio garden, The Menger was San Antonio’s most prominent hotel in the 19th century. It still operates as a hotel today.
Many U.S. presidents have stayed at the Menger Hotel throughout the years.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned…I will meet you next time from The Alamo!

One response to “San Antonio and the Riverwalk

  1. Pingback: The Mission Reach of San Antonio | Meet You In The Morning·

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