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Say “San Antonio” and most people immediately respond with “Alamo.” But the city’s history stretches far beyond the spot where Gen. Santa Anna achieved short-lived victory against ragtag Texas troops in 1835. The city traces its history to Spanish settlers who happened upon a set of springs in 1691. Its future is being shaped by Internet companies and biomedical research facilities. Indians used the area around San Antonio for trade and recreation as early as 9000 B.C., but the Spanish began to seep into the area in the early 1700s when the viceroy of Spain established an outpost halfway between his already-established missions in East Texas and the Spanish Presidio of Northern Mexico. In 1772 the city became the seat of the Spanish government. The Spanish governor’s mansion on Military Plaza stands today, and it was there in 1820 that Moses Austin asked the government for permission to bring American settlers into Texas territory. As Mexico struggled to win freedom from Spain, many battles were fought in the area. It won its independence in 1821, and the tension shifted from Spain to the new American �migr�s. The situation came to a full boil in 1833 when Texans refused to recognize the presidency of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who called himself the “Napoleon of the West.” Santa Anna sent Gen. Martin Perfecto de Cos to restore order, but in December 1835, Ben Milam and his small army defeated de Cos. Two months later, Gen. Santa Anna arrived with several thousand troops to reclaim the city. Settlers barricaded themselves in the Valero Mission — otherwise known as the Alamo — and answered Santa Anna’s demand of surrender with a cannon blast. Mexican forces overwhelmed the defenders 13 days later, killing all but 16 Texans. Santa Anna’s victory was short-lived: Gen. Sam Houston defeated him a month later at San Jacinto. The defeat at the Alamo and the subsequent victory helped fuel the Texan army to defeat Mexico once and for all and precipitated the Republic of Texas. In 1845, Texas joined the United States as the 28th state. The U.S. Army added the now-famous arched fa�ade to the Alamo in 1849. Mid-century, San Antonio became the destination of choice for German immigrants. Rather than blend into the Mexican-influenced culture, they constructed neighborhoods, such as the Little Rhein and the Prince William District, that reflected their own Teutonic style. After the Civil War, San Antonio became the cattle capital of Texas, but industry arrived when the railroad came. The arrival of the railroad also helped quell the city’s reputation as a rowdy frontier town. When oil was discovered, the population exploded by nearly 150,000 people between 1870 and 1920. Devastating floods in 1921 and 1929 led to the construction of a concrete channel in the river that runs though downtown. Many residents weren’t satisfied and lobbied to take flood control a step further and fill in the river. The idea was vetoed, and the Works Progress Administration helped gild the sewer with trees and cobblestone. The River Walk led to the city’s sobriquet: America’s Venice. SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK Minutes south of the downtown area is a road that follows a chain of missions established by the Spanish in the 18th century to convert the Indians to Catholicism and teach them the ways of the “civilized” world. Start at Mission de San Jose, which has a visitor center providing information about all five missions in the park. If you have time to visit only one mission, the San Jose mission is a good choice. Built in 1777, it is called the “Queen of Missions” and boasts the Rose Window, considered by many to be among the finest examples of Spanish colonial ornamentation. To see centuries-old wall and ceiling paintings, visit Mission Concepcion. Mission San Juan has a bell tower that is still in use, and Mission Espada, the furthest of the five along the road, has the best preserved segments of acequitas, the irrigation system used by mission inhabitants. THE RIVER WALK AND MARKET SQUARE Today, the River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is the pride of the city. But in the 1920s, it was an unattractive, flood-prone waterway. Mayor Maury Maverick saw possibilities and developed the area in the early 1930s to become a 17,000-foot-long trail of walkways and sidewalks, lined with 4,000 trees stretching through 21 blocks of the city. “We believe that in all the United States of America, there is no city in which a river has been made a more attractive resort for all people,” commented Maverick. The park was extended for the HemisFair event in 1968, and the one million-square-foot Rivercenter Mall went up on the River Walk in 1988. The river’s course runs three miles in a horseshoe configuration through the center of the city. It is the top-rated tourist attraction in San Antonio. More than 150 hotels, bars, restaurants and shops cluster around the Big Bend area of the river. La Villita, a collection of arts and craft shops and restaurants, also sits along the river — as does its open-air entertainment area named after Maverick. Market Square (El Mercado) has been an open-air market for more than a century. The two-block area was once filled with farmers’ stalls and food stands, but today its purpose revolves primarily around tourism. The food stalls are still there, but now vendors set up shop in front of souvenir shops. Regardless, the area still retains the hustle and bustle that makes it one of the liveliest locations in the city. KING WILLIAM HISTORIC DISTRICt This area was declared the state’s first National Historic District in 1967. The history comes courtesy of the city’s German settlers, who built this neighborhood of gracious Victorian homes just west of the Big Bend portion of the River Walk. Streets feature house after house adorned with gables and pillars. The San Antonio Conservation Society is located on King William Street in the historic Wulff House and offers information on driving and walking tours of the district. HANDY NUMBERS FOR GETTING AROUND SAN ANTONIO All area codes are 210 unless otherwise noted. Seeing the City San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau: 207-6700 or (800) 447-3372 Yanaguana Cruises Inc.: 244-5700 or (800) 417-4139 Bus and trolley information: 362-2020 Airport Information San Antonio International Airport: 207-3411 America West: (800) 235-9292 American: (800) 433-7300 Continental: (800) 525-0280 Delta: (800) 221-1212 Southwest: (800) 435-9792 TWA: (800) 221-2000 United: (800) 241-6522 Airport shuttle and car rentals SATRANS airport shuttle minibus: 212-5395 or (800) 868-7707 Star Shuttle & Charter: 341-6000 Alamo Rent-A-Car: 828-7967 or (800) GOALAMO Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 283-3800 National Car Rental: 824-1841 or (8000 225-3171 VIA Metropolitan Transit Service: 362-2020

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