San Antonio, Alamo City, home to 1.14 million wildly diverse residents and the eighth largest city in the United States, was the site of the 55th World Science Fiction Convention, LoneStarCon 2.
A Bit of History
Native Americans first lived along the San Antonio River, calling the area "Yanaguana," which means "refreshing waters." A band of Spanish explorers and missionaries came upon the river in 1691, and because it was the feast day of St. Anthony, they named the river "San Antonio." The city was later named for the river - and food and drink has been important to San Antonio ever since. In San Antonio's
many restaurants flavors of Native Americans, Old Mexico, Germans, the Wild West, African-Americans and the Deep South mingle and merge. This fact is celebrated annually with the San Antonio Food & Wine Festival, during Fiesta of course, and in smaller celebrations of Texas cooking throughout the year.
The Mission That Became a Fortress, The Fortress That Became a Shrine
The same Spanish explorers named San Pedro Creek where a town sprang up, but the original settlement along San Pedro Creek was moved to what's now downtown San Antonio in 1724. Known originally as the Misión San Antonio de Valero established by Father Antonio Olivares, it was later renamed and much better known as the Alamo. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Texas History and have never seen the John Wayne movie, this is the spot where courage in the face of inevitable defeat was defined, where 189 brave defenders held the old mission against overwhelming odds, some 4,000 Mexican troops under the experenced leadership of Mexican General (and president and dictator) Santa Anna, for 13 days. Historians have debunked many of the myths of those 13 days of glory that Texas school children once learned, but the prior reputations of Travis, Bowie, Crocket and many of the others bear their own mute evidence as to what must have happened at the Alamo. The details were almost unimportant. The cry "Remember the Alamo" became the rallying point of the Texan revolution against Mexico.
Altogether 1600 Mexican troops were killed here, together with the 189 Alamo defenders, many without the benefit of a proper burial. Some claim this left many souls in search of eternal life, thus helping make San Antonio one of the most haunted cities in America. Whatever the truth, on moonlit nights semi-sober individuals have reported sighting spirits of the dead warriors over the internet on the Alamo Web-Cam.
Only the chapel and the Long Barracks remain. In the heart of San Antonio, inside beautifully landscaped grounds, the remains of the Alamo are at once a museum, containing relics and mementos from the Republic of Texas, the most visited tourist attraction in Texas, a shrine, and an eternal monument to those who died defending freedom.
All This and More
The River itself remains today, and is the site of the San Antonio River Walk, Paseo del Rio, the second most visited tourist attraction in Texas. Above ground are the noisy streets of a modern city. Descend a street corner stairway and you enter, not a parking garage, but another peaceful world of lush green foliage, towering cypresses, oaks and willows and bordered by gardens of flowering ornamental plants, bubbling water, glass and concrete and cobblestone walkways , blue skies, and old world architecture, a magical place where beauty, unique commercial enterprises, retail shops, restaurants, nightclubs and habitats for birds, wildlife and fish make for a startling juxtaposition. Whether you travel on foot, by horse drawn carriage, or by Riverboat, the reality exceeds even the Virtual Tour.
Rivercenter Mall deserves a web page to itself, standing with one foot in the Riverwalk, one foot in downtown San Antonio, featuring an IMAX Theater and a jillion stores. No mention of San Antonio can be complete without mentioning La Villita (Spanish for little town, an active arts and crafts community amidst beautifully landscaped grounds and historic buildings. Architectural styles range from simple adobe structures to early Victorian and natural cut limestone buildings. Nor is it possible to avoid mentioning the San Antonio Zoo (and Aquarium), the Japanese Tea Garden (which has an interesting history in it's own right), HemisFair Park and the Tower of the Americas ( which were built for the 1968 World's Fair), the 33 acre San Antonio Botanical Garden, a massive number of city parks, Six Flags Fiesta Texas (amusingly San Antonio has been a part of seven nations, not six), Market Square (the largest Mexican marketplace outside of Mexico), the Alamodome, a half dozen military bases, a world class Symphony, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, SeaWorld San Antonio, the Institute of Texan Cultures, the San Antonio Museum of Art , and the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum. Whew! And that is just the must-see tip of the iceberg. For the rest we direct you to Yahoo.
Disclaimer - While this document is written and maintained in support of ALAMO, Inc.,
it is an unofficial document and reflects only the opinions and ideas of its editors.
ALAMO, Inc. should not be held responsible for the accuracy or omissions in the information