San Antonio in 1937
What Was San Antonio Like in 1937?
City of San Antonio
San Antonio with its heritage of romance and grandeur merged with the sparkling newness of the Twentieth Century, is a paradise for sight-seers and pleasure-hungry travelers, a city of unusual contrasts. Crowded by the towering buildings of modern San Antonio are the many beautiful old structures erected about 1700 by soft-spoken priests and harsh grandees of the King of Spain. The City’s founding dates back to 1731, when a municipality was established here by the King of Spain, although history records that as early as 1691 a garrison had been established here by New Spain. For many years prior to that date it is known that an Indian village surrounded San Pedro Springs, now in the northern part of the city, nestled in the heart of beautiful San Pedro Park.
Treasured more than any of San Antonio’s historic structures is the Alamo, Shrine of Texas Liberty. The old structure lies dreaming today on Alamo Plaza, in the heart of the business district. Erected as a church and fortress by the Franciscan padres, the walled Alamo served as house of worship, school for Indian converts and haven for early settlers beset by savages. When Texas declared her independence from Mexico the Alamo again became a fortress, and on March 6, 1836, after a siege of two weeks, it fell before the onslaught of the Mexican army under Santa Anna. Not a man of its garrison of 182 lived to tell of defeat. The battle cry of “Remember the Alamo!” carried the Texans to victory at San Jacinto, on April 21st of the same year—and the Republic of Texas was born.
Flanking other plazas are the San Fernando Cathedral, still the hub of Catholic worship in San Antonio, and the stern old Governor’s palace from which the whip of Spanish viceroys and Mexican governors once cracked over unruly Texas. The Cathedral, situated on Main Plaza, takes its name from Ferdinand of Spain, who made it a royal chapel in 1744 by a grant of money to help complete and enlarge the structure. According to tradition, its altar shelters the ashes of the Alamo defenders.
The missions of the early monks still stand in a half circle about the city like Christian guardians. These old Spanish missions were established on alternate sides of the San Antonio river and connected by an irrigation system, part of which is still used.
Mission Concepcion de Acuna, 206 years old, is within the city limits and is about three miles from Mission San Juan de Capistrano of the same age, with Missions San Jose, “The Beautiful,” (founded by Franciscan monks in 1.720), and San Francisco de Espada (founded in 1731) between them. The “Rose Window” at mission San Jose is regarded as the finest example of stone carving in America.