An old friend of mine recently hosted an exchange student from Denmark for the school year. Out of the blue, she called me to say they made plans to drive from Houston to San Antonio for a day trip – their exchange student HAD to see The Alamo. It was on the top of his bucket list for coming to the United States, and imagine his luck that he got placed in Texas. I immediately told her I would meet them there – a former Texas history teacher NEVER passes up the chance to go walk around the grounds at the Alamo!
Two realizations struck me: the miracle of a high school student who has the desire to take an educational day trip to San Antonio on a day off from school, and second, realizing that a teenager from across the world knew enough Texas History to appreciate the events that took place here. “Remember the Alamo!” indeed!
And so this is the “thing” I love about San Antonio: this city is the heart of Texas History. Established in 1718, San Antonio is a relatively “new” city compared to other cities around the world, but even so, it seems there is just as much “old” here as there is “new.”
The history of San Antonio runs much deeper than the first civil settlements from the Spanish Mission System. A few years ago, I was able to accompany my father-in-law on one of his archaeological digs. After a short hike from 281, and a just a minute or two drive from Stone Oak, I found myself crouching in a small rock alcove in a ridge along the creek. My father-in-law and his two colleagues were removing the dirt layer by layer, with excruciating care. A rudimentary campsite was uncovered, used perhaps for shelter by a small family or group of hunters thousands of years ago. Many San Antonionians don’t realize these shelters are scattered across the North Side, some within walking distance of many homes.
And that is the beautiful juxtaposition of the old and the new in San Antonio. Old missions amongst staggering hotels. A hundred year old modernized brewery revitalizes a downtown neighborhood. Families moving into neighborhoods formally used for refuge by Native Texans several thousand years ago. There is no escaping the fascinating history here. And for the most part, the new in San Antonio doesn’t outshine the old. History is celebrated here, and revered. Anyone can see it in “The Saga” show at the San Fernando Cathedral, or the week long celebration of the heroes of the Texas Revolution, our beloved Fiesta, which has morphed into an incredible celebration of the culture and diversity of San Antonio.
I have lived in several different cities in Texas, traveled to many others, and still have a bucket list of places to go, but San Antonio has always felt like home – even before I lived here. Childhood visits to San Antonio, or more specifically to my grandparents house, were the trips I looked forward to all year. And maybe that is what I love most of all about this city – it holds much of my personal family history, my favorite history of all.