San Antonio River Walk – The American Venice

San Antonio, Texas.

The San Antonio River, named in 1691, and the city of San Antonio have been intertwined for centuries. The first bridge across the river at San Antonio connected the Presidio, a Spanish fort built in 1716, to the Mission San Antonio in 1736. Over the centuries, the population growth of the city created flooding issues on a regular basis. By the 1920s, flood control was a major concern and in 1926, a bypass channel was created. You can read more about the River Walk’s early history from a timeline published here.

In 1929, and architect by the name of Robert H. Hugman proposed a plan for shops to property owners and civic leaders. Leveraging funding via the WPA, construction on the project began in 1939. In 1946, the first restaurant at the river bend, Casa Rio, opened. It is still open today. During the 1960s, the anticipation of a World’s Fair, the 1968 Hemisfair brought new construction, hotels and restaurants, to the edge of the river.

My first views of the river were from the upper level entrance to the Marriott Hotel. Stepping outside on a bridge, I saw a Mexican Restaurant. The weather, unsettled and rainy, was much better than forecast and few people were about. Many places were closed on the Sunday I arrived due to the possible arrival of Hurricane Harvey. As I noted in an earlier post, a last-minute change in the path of the hurricane spared San Antonio while Hurricane Harvey battered Houston, the worst weather I saw was light showers. After my arrival that morning and a quick lunch, I set out to explore the well-known attraction.

The hotel is located at the end of a “spur” canal in the river, a large shopping mall, RiverCenter Mall is a major attraction and, as I noted in my post about San Antonio a few weeks back, things were pretty quiet. There are daily cruises along the river, but the sign at the nearby ticket window noted the cruises were closed due to the forecast weather. Before I would leave in about a week, I will have taken that cruise a couple of times. Before the end of the month, I’ll share some of the sights from those trips.

My walk along the canals was punctuated by occasional showers, but none strong enough to make me seek shelter, though a few of my photos were spoiled by inadvertent raindrops on the camera lens. In the photo above, a light shower causes ripples in the river. Many of the photos I share here appear to be captured from upon the water, but there are many bridges and wider areas of sidewalk that make for views that appear to be from the water rather than from the shore.

There are many places along the beautiful walk to sit and rest. One evening after our day’s meetings, my colleagues and I walked much of the available canal sidewalks. There are plenty of opportunities to cross from one side to the other so we were able to mostly walk in one direction on the right bank and return on the left bank. At “T”s in the canal, we sometimes swapped banks.

The gallery of images below features photos taken both on my initial walk on Sunday and the late afternoon and evening walk a few days later. In most browsers, you can click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner

2 thoughts on “San Antonio River Walk – The American Venice

  1. What a cool looking city! Bonus the forecast helped keep the area clear of tourists for the day so you could enjoy w/out the typical throngs of people.

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