A Little Bit of Home

The weather beckoned me to do something, anything, outside. It was the kind of day that makes you feel guilty for being on the couch, not that I really pay attention those feelings most days... I did finally plop down some cash for a new digital camera, perhaps I should see how the damn thing works?

I realized that it had been a very long time since I really just wandered around a place aimlessly, with no real purpose or destination. Just being and seeing and wrapping myself up in the moment, the utlimate escape from reality. It’s a concept that I first came to understand while I was in Italy, when I had a lot of time on my hands and very little in the way of money, and it’s something I really should be doing more often. I would head downtown.

I must admit that I’m pretty jaded when it comes to San Antonio, but the city is definitely not without it’s charm. I’ve spent a great deal of time in and around the downtown area since first beginning highschool just a few blocks from the Riverwalk, and I consider myself pretty well aquanted with everyhthing it has to offer to both the tourist and the locals, and I must say, it’s a shame I don’t get down there more oftern. It can be a real interesting place to be, even if change is slow to come to the area and it can get overcrowded at times. It’s easily one of the most livable downtowns that I’ve run across in the Southern US, and that’s got to stand for something.

Oh well, I’m standing around and looking like a tourist among nothing but tourists and feeling at ease. It’s not very often I take a fresh new look on an old subject, but here I am, enjoying the weather and snapping away, with no regard as to how many shots I have left on the roll. Liberating, this digital world.

Partly do to a lack of economic boom that often levels and removes history in the name of progress and partly do the a very strong preservation effort by members of the city in the mid 20’s and again in the 60’s and 70’s, most of the downtown area has kept is older charm, parts of which can date back to the 1720’s. All of the images posted here, and there are quiet a few - I’m sorry for the slow loading time, are from a couple block radius with the epicenter being where Commerce Street intersects Alamo Street, just above the Riverwalk.

BUCKHORN SALOON. Albert Friedrich of San Antonio began his exotic horn collection in 1881, his father made horn furniture - of course, he began to display his collection at a saloon that he acquired on Dolorosa Street. He moved his business to what became the Buckhorn Saloon, at Soledad and West Houston streets, in 1896. There he maintained one of the most respectable saloons in San Antonio during one of the city's rowdiest eras and acquired the antler collection of a famed hunter, Capt. Ernest Dosch, most of which is dispalyed in the bar to this day.

← ST. JOSEPH’S CATHOLIC CHURCH. This church was built for San Antonio's German community in 1876. The house of worship is as notable with the locals for the stubborness of its congregation as it is for its beautiful stained-glass windows. The worshipers' refusal to move from the site when Joske's department store was rising up all around it earned the church the affectionate moniker "St. Joske's.

↑ALAMO. The San Antonio de Valero Mission, commonly referred to the Alamo for reason that are not clear today, was authorized by the viceroy of Mexico in 1716. The cornerstone of the chapel was laid on May 8, 1741,and while founded for the purpose of Christianizing and educating the Indians, the mission later became a fortress and was the scene of many conflicts prior to the siege of 1836 for which it gained international fame.

↑MENGER HOTEL. German immigrant William Menger built this hotel in 1859 on the site of Texas's first brewery, which he had opened with partner Charles Deegan in 1855. Legend has it that Menger wanted a place to lodge hard-drinking friends who used to spend the night sleeping on his long bar. Far more prestigious guests -- presidents, Civil War generals, writers, stage actors, you name it -- stayed here over the years, and the hotel turns up in several short stories by frequent guest William Sidney Porter (O. Henry) and was the site of recruitment of the Rough Riders from it’s bar by Teddy Roosevelt in 1889.

↑THE EMILY MORGAN HOTEL. This hotel was named for a freed black woman during the Texas Revolution that was often called “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, a legend that was fostered around camp fires and barrooms all around the state during it’s Republic years. Story has it that Emily had helped defeat the Mexican army by occupying Santa Anna’s “mind” and charmed the pants off him just before the Battle of San Jacinto, in which Texas won it’s independence. Although, this story may now be in doubt, sometimes myths can be far more interesting than the truth.

Not a bad way to spend your Saturday, and it involved only a short 10 minute drive south for me. That in it's self is a real change of pace for this website and an idea worth exploring more since my truck has really starting to rack up the miles lately. 25,000 miles in 8 months, that's got to be some sort of record for me.