Wednesday, January 14, 2009

San Antonio from the top... (revised)

Yesterday we viewed the environs of San Antonio from the Tower of the Americas, 750 feet above the street...We could see for miles, and by the way, I never noticed any mountains on the horizon...flat country! The Tower was one of the stops on a trolley tour we took through the city. We learned a lot about the city from our tour guide -- surprised to find out that 1.3 million people live here and it is the second largest city in Texas. (NOTE CORRECTION: I previously said that 2.4 million people live here, but that is the population of HOUSTON, the largest city in Texas. My apologies!)

Yes -- I went to the top in spite of my feeling about heights! : )

The Alamodome, built to attract an NFL team -- that never came!

The Mission San Jose was a large compound in which 1500 people lived in a self-sustaining community. It has been restored and is a National Park now...

Mission Concepcion -- not restored as the 3-4ft thick walls have stood the test of time. However, the frescoes on the walls inside will soon need some work to preserve them for the future...

As we went past these old missions, we found out that the main purpose of their work here was to "civilize" the people and get them ready to accept Spanish rule -- less important was their conversion to Catholicism. Spain had grand plans for much of the territory that has become the US. At one time they controlled 75% of our land. The tour guide pointed out that we owe a debt of gratitude to the Mexican people who settled here as they wrested control of this area from Spain, allowing it to eventually become part of the US.

The "Mighty" San Antonio River...

We had a great visit with the tour guide for a while when we were the only ones on the trolley. We also learned that San Antonio receives 35 inches of rain per year! Unfortunately, it all comes within a month or two, and much of it is wasted. Last year they only got 13 inches -- 2 years ago they had 70 inches and dealt with a lot of flooding... extremes! This is actually their river...more like a creek, it runs clear and you can see to the bottom. The Riverwalk in downtown is actually this river running through channels constructed to control flooding.

This area was once Spain's possession, then was part of Mexico. In the years after the battle of the Alamo, Sam Houston's forces won its independence and it became its own republic, and then finally became part of the US. Our tour guide reminded us that Mexicans are the natives here. Some people view them as immigrants, but the truth is that they were original settlers here... He's had some people on his tour that were offended that he greeted them in Spanish -- as if the Mexicans are trying to commandeer the culture. In truth, Spanish is the original language of this land! English is the second language, and American culture is the immigrant to the area.

1 comment:

Les Hon said...

CORRECTION: San Antonio's population is 1.3 million...
Houston, Texas' largest city is 2.4 million...APOLOGIES, APOLOGIES!

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Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (