San Antonio

World Facts Index > United States > San Antonio

River Walk/Downtown
The heart of the city's tourism business beats along the River Walk and in the downtown area. Densely packed with hotels of varying price ranges, attractions, restaurants and bars, a visitor could conceivably spend his entire trip in one area of town. The area bustles with activity nearly every night of the week almost all year long with locals and tourists alike enjoying mouth-watering cuisine at Boudro's or Paesano's River Walk, singing their hearts out at Howl at the Moon, dancing the night away at Polly Esther's or knocking back a few brews at the Houston Street Alehouse. Not your average tourist trap, many locals brave the crowds to enjoy their own city.

King William/Southtown
If San Antonio gets funky, this is where it happens. Once primarily residential and neglected, the area has seen a resurgence of interest and an infusion of capital. Urban professionals are snatching up historical homes and refurbishing them, entrepreneurs are launching hip new businesses, and the locals are taking notice. Wander just a few blocks from downtown and discover Espuma Tea & Coffee Emporium, the City Market, and Rosario's. If you can, check out the area during a First Friday celebration. Aptly named, the community-wide celebration held the first Friday of each month draws crowds from all over the city for art openings, theater productions, dining and shopping.

Alamo Heights
One of the original suburbs of San Antonio, the original developers nearly went bankrupt trying to develop the then remote area. Now, Alamo Heights is its own city with its own school district and zip code. '09,' as the area is referred to stemming from the zip code 78209, harbors some of the city's finest dining establishments and upscale shopping opportunities. And with good reason as a huge portion of the city's wealth resides in this neighborhood. For dinner, locals flock to Paloma Blanca or Cappy's. Beer and pool preside at the Broadway 50/50 and one of the city's best wine lists calls Niles Wine Bar home. For a gift for that special someone, you can't go wrong at Sloan-Hall, Timbuktu, or Sunset Ridge Home and Hardware. At Twin Sisters, pull up a chair and get your daily dose of neighborhood gossip over breakfast or lunch.

Monte Vista/Olmos Park
An area neighboring Alamo Heights, it vacillates between very well-to-do and woe-is-me. Home to some of the most exquisite mansions in the city, at the very least it's worth driving through just to gawk. But then turn the corner and find a once-elegant home standing in disrepair. Improvement is creeping through the area, but slowly. Regardless, you'll find some wonderful neighborhood secrets such as the thick chocolate shakes at Olmos Pharmacy, the city's best breakfast tacos at Panchito's, superb deli take-out at WD Deli, and goofy gifts at On Main.

North East/North Central
'Go north young married, professional couple with 2.5 kids and a dog seeking a mammoth-sized mortgage!' The growth in this direction has been so overwhelming, you'd think someone must have screamed that command. Shopping centers, housing developments and highways are popping up all over North East and North Central San Antonio as many new residents move in, both from out of town and from within the city's more central neighborhoods. This kind of rapid growth seems to require predictability as is evidenced in the plethora of restaurant and shopping chains. If you want to shop at Old Navy, use the phone book. Otherwise, be a rebel and shop at Sticks and Stones, Too Good to Be Threw, or James Avery Craftsman. Likewise with dining, enjoy Mama's Caf茅, Maggie's, Casey's BBQ, or Alamo Caf茅.

Northwest/Medical Center
The medical industry is big business in San Antonio; therefore this area continues to grow at a steady pace. Sort of a hodgepodge of strip shopping centers, restaurants, residences and office complexes, the atmosphere of the neighborhood seems a bit disjointed. Still, you can find great dining at Fratelli's, Casa Real, Carraba's and Hui's Chinese. Shopping is somewhat limited to chain stores, with the delightful exception of Elements gifts. For a fun night out in this part of town, you can't beat Jewels or Joe's Volcano.

Far Northwest
When big money folks are tired of paying city taxes, they flee outside the city limits. In the 80s and 90s, they fled to the Dominion and Fair Oaks Ranch housing developments, and beyond to the towns of Leon Springs, Boerne, and Comfort. Locals that feel the need to escape the city head out this way to dine at Macaroni Grill or Rudy's BBQ and then dance the night away at Leon Springs Dance Hall. The next day, they may shop all the antique stores in Boerne or spend the day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas or Sea World.

History of San Antonio

What began as a small settlement of missionaries, priests, and local Native Americans has swelled into a metropolis of nearly one million citizens of varying ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds.

The area was originally occupied by Native Americans who lived along the stream that is now known as the San Antonio River, some as early as 9000 B.C. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Spanish settlers migrated north from what is now Mexico to settle along the banks of the stream, claim the area for themselves, and Christianize the peaceful tribes inhabiting the area. As decades passed, the Spanish colonists dominated the area both agriculturally, spiritually, and culturally. In 1718, Mission San Antonio de Valero was established along the river; the chapel and its grounds would later be known as the Alamo. Over the next few years the Spanish culture and the Catholic faith would come to play an integral role in the settlement's development.

In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain and held its claim to northern territories, including that which included San Antonio, with the aid of US settlers who had entered the area while it was under Spain's rule. Tension slowly arose between the US settlers and the Mexican government, particularly over the issue of slavery. In 1833, that tension flared into all out disdain following General Santa Anna's declaration of himself as president. The settlers refused to acknowledge his authority, trounced him in a confrontation the general instigated over the rebellion, and braced for the backlash. Retribution was harsh. Led by Santa Anna himself, thousands of Mexican soldiers marched into the territory and confronted a rag-tag band of only 188 rebellious Texans barricaded within the Alamo. The battle that ensued resulted in over 1000 Mexican deaths, the deaths of all of the Texan rebels, and numerous myths and legends that are still debated by historians today.

Ultimately, Texas won its independence from Mexico and San Antonio became a part of the Republic of Texas. An influx of European immigrants followed the Mexican-American war. San Antonio's inherent Tex-Mex style blended with the new European influences to create a vibrant, growing town. However, the city's isolation from the remainder of the state helped preserve its reputation as a rowdy, rebellious town and resulted in the gradual decline in new residents. The reputation diminished only after the arrival of the railroad and the construction of Fort Sam Houston.

Progress ensued, the population grew, and the city prospered. Over the following decades the city witnessed the confluence of wealth in neighborhoods like King William, Monte Vista and Alamo Heights. Downtown developed into the city's business center with the construction of the Tower Life building and Joske's department store. And, thanks to the brilliance of a local architect and the support of business leaders, the River Walk and all its beauty was created out of a seedy, run-down flood zone running through downtown.

As the city grew, several industries became quite dominant in the economy. Five US military bases, including one of the Airforce's largest training academies, located here and for years have influenced the cultural climate and have contributed to the city's grown. The University of Texas Health Science Center, along with several other top medical entities, have made the city a leader in that industry. San Antonio's designation as one of the top tourist destinations has sparked phenomenal growth in the city's tourism and convention business and has led to the expansion of the convention center downtown. In recent years, telecommunications has come to play a vital role in San Antonio's economy as Southwestern Bell Telephone continues to relocate large divisions of its business to the city.

Culturally, San Antonio continues to be a fascinating blend of many cultures. Festivals, art openings, theater, music, fine dining, and dancing reflect the city's influences from Central and South America, Europe, Asia, the Pacific Islands and Africa and offer locals and visitors alike magnificent opportunities for discovery.

The Weather

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High 60 65 74 80 85 91 95 95 88 81 71 64
Avg. Low 37 41 48 58 65 72 75 74 68 58 48 40
Mean 48 54 62 68 76 82 85 85 78 70 60 52
Avg. Precip. 1.7 in 1.8 in 1.5 in 2.5 in 4.2 in 3.8 in 2.2 in 2.5 in 3.4 in 3.2 in 2.6 in 1.5 in

 

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