River Walk, San Antonio, Texas

DSCN1955In an age of instant gratification, we should remember it sometimes takes many years for something great to be achieved.

The San Antonio River flows about 130 miles from Central Texas to the Gulf of Mexico.  And, as rivers will do, it would flood which was not a good thing since it ran through the center of the developing town of San Antonio.

Bust of Hugman in front of where his office was.

Bust of Hugman in front of where his office was.

So in the 1920s, the city fathers decided it should be “channelized” and perhaps even covered like a giant sewer.  But some of the public and officials thought the natural nature of the river should be preserved.

A young architect, H.H. Hugman, developed a plan in 1929 for both beautification and commercialization of the river, two things that don’t often go together.  He had a hard time selling the idea of putting shops and restaurants along the scenic river.

Money for the project came ten years later under the Works Progress Administration, a Federal program to help revive the economy during the Great Depression through building projects.   Hugman worked on the project for a year, but came into conflict with the mayor who had his own ideas on how to use the money.  Hugman’s ideas DSCN1954for stone paving, bridges and stairways also bothered those who wanted to preserve the natural setting, and he was dismissed.  Nonetheless, many of his ideas were implemented by the time the project opened in 1941.

While there were sidewalks, benches and plants, there was little commercial development.  The river through town is narrow – really just a canal, and there wasn’t much room for development.  Also, it takes tax dollars to support urban beautification.

San Antonio’s 1968 World’s Fair spurred new interest in the River Walk, the development came, and now it is a nationally-ranked tourist attraction bringing millions of visitors to the city.

Casa Rio - Restaurant since 1946

Casa Rio – Restaurant since 1946

We took a short boat ride, enjoyed walking along the pathways, stopping for a bite in a couple restaurants, and chatting with the boat operators and a local artist.

Hugman lived to see his projects come to life and to receive the honor he was due.  If you would like to explore Hugman’s ideas further, the city has developed a walking tour which visitors can access with their smart phones.DSCN2036

Click on photos to enlarge.


About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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2 Responses to River Walk, San Antonio, Texas

  1. Pingback: River Walk, San Antonio, Texas | Just an Opinion

  2. I’ve walked along the trail. It’s quite an asset to the city. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

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