In the early to mid 1900s, a series of fatal floods convinced the people of San Antonio that something had to be done to protect the city from the raging river waters. Funded by Works Progress Administration, the agency established by Franklin Roosevelt to boost the economy and carry out public works, dams and gates were built to regulate the river’s flow. This allowed the branches downtown to be used as pedestrian walkways and tourism hotspot. Casa Rio, the restaurant pictured below, was the first business to open its doors along the San Antonio River Walk in 1946.
I recently spent a few hours enjoying the sites San Antonio has to offer, and I’m convinced this city doesn’t get enough credit. If you’re into history, there is plenty to see. Take a quick tour of the Alamo or the missions, which are only steps away from the riverwalk. San Antonio is home to a huge bat colony (much like Austin), has tons of great, authentic food, and is home to vibrant art and museums. Vendors sell their wares from stands, folks walk around with boozy drinks, and tours are given in brightly colored boats. As a Texan, who admittedly doesn’t know much about her home state other than what I learned in my Texas history class in middle school, I give San Antonio a round of applause.
Fun Facts about the San Antonio River:
- Yanaguana, meaning “place of restful waters,” was the original name of the San Antonio River
- it cost $430,000 to construct the original plans for the riverwalk
- the folks who designed Disneyland designed this Texan attraction
- there is no open container ordinance along the river’s edge, so feel free to enjoy a drink as you wander
- every year, the river is drained and cleaned, exposing lost wedding rings, cameras, silverware, furniture, etc…
- the riverwalk is 15 miles long with around 20 bridges
Oh! And if you’re in San Antonio over St. Patrick’s Day, don’t miss the dying of the river. (I’ll take that St. Patty’s mention as a chance to link you to Chicago’s river dying ritual.)