famed San Antonio Riverwalk, or Paseo Del Rio, is a 2 1/2 mile
stretch of beautifully landscaped waterfront that features
many of San Antonio's most spectacular hotels, restaurants,
night clubs, bars, shopping centers and businesses. It is
one of the most dynamic tourist attractions in the entire
state of Texas, pouring nearly $800 million a year into the
local economy. While it is an amazing and romantic place to
visit, that wasn't always true.
In the beginning, Spanish Explorers used the waterway to supply
water to their missions. Mission San Antonio de Valero, also known
as The Alamo, was the first to benefit from it. The river flooded its
banks many times. In September 1921 the worst flood in its
history killed over fifty people and caused millions of dollars in damage to
City planners struggled over what to do while large debates rang among the people.
One man, an architect named Robert H. H. Hugman proposed a plan that would turn
the area into a
beautiful urban park with apartments, dining, shopping, boat rides and walk ways
lit with old-fashioned
street lamps. He wanted it to be just as if one were walking in Venice, Italy.
After convincing city officials
and business leaders of the financial benefits of his plan, the dream became
a reality and the riverwalk
was eventually sculpted into the masterpiece you see today.
Later, in the 1930's, many efforts were made to clean and beautify the river
by groups like the
San Antonio Advertising Club, Daughters of the American Revolution San Antonio
chapter, and the San
Antonio Real Estate Board. Hugman worked many years with the city to construct
the plans for the riverwalk, however, despite their best efforts it would be years before the riverwalk
could be called a success
due to low business volumes and a high level of crime. The 1960's, on the other
hand, was a great time
for improvement and growth. Paseo Del Rio Association was established in 1969
to promote the continuous
improvement and development of the riverwalk.
Today, the people of San Antonio continue to preserve its history and beauty
and develop its economic
resources. It truly is one of the greatest vacation destinations in the United