History of San Antonio
San Antonio was founded in 1691, when a group of Spanish missionaries came upon a Native American settlement on what is now known as the San Antonio River. Since it was the feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua, they decided to name the settlement after this saint. In 1718, the Franciscans founded a mission, called San Antonio de Valero, with the purpose of educating and converting the native tribes and of providing a solid core for the new settlement. Other missionaries came to the area from Spain and founded their own missions, but the original one remained the strongest. However, the mission was under constant attacks by the Comanche and Apaches and it became difficult to maintain it. In 1794, the mission was converted to a Spanish military installment under the new name - the Alamo.
San Antonio became the largest Spanish settlement in Texas and became capital of the Province of Tejas. Mexico continuously encouraged Americans to purchase the land in the area and soon they actually outnumbered the Spanish. In 1835, Texas declared independence from Mexico and a series of battles ensued, the most pivotal of them being the Battle of Alamo, which lasted 12 days. A month and a half after the fall of Alamo, Sam Houston’s troops won the Battle of San Jacinto, achieving the independence of Texas.
Texas joined the Union in 1845 as the 28th state, which led to the Mexican-American War. San Antonio was devastated during that war and its population was reduced by two-thirds.
After the Civil War, San Antonio remained a typical frontier city but it also became an important center for cattle trade. Many new immigrants moved to the city, and the European ones brought their culture, cuisine and architecture, making San Antonio a vibrant and somewhat exotic city. After the railroad reached San Antonio in 1877, its real development began. The population continued to grow steadily and its economy became much stronger. In the 20th century San Antonio became the home of several military installations, which proved important for the further development of the city.
Geography and Climate
San Antonio is located in south-central Texas, in the southwestern corner of the so-called Texas Triangle, an urban area consisting of Houston, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin. It is located at 722 ft. above sea level, along the San Antonio River, and occupies an area of 41,207 square miles. Like much of the western urban centers, the areas outside the strict city limits are sparsely populated. The climate is humid subtropical, with hot summers and warm to cool winters. The weather is alternately dry and humid, depending on the winds. San Antonio is one of the most flood-prone cities in the USA. The worst flooding took place in 1998.
In 2010, according to the U.S. Census, San Antonio had a population of 1,327,407. The racial makeup in the city was 63.2% Hispanic or Latino, 26.6% non-Hispanic White, 6.9% Black or African American, 2.4% Asian, 0.9% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 13.7% some other race and 3.4% biracial.
In 2000, the median household income was $36.214 and the per capita income was $17.487.
Economy of San Antonio
Economically, the primary focus of the city is on government, financial services, healthcare and tourism. The city has one of the largest military concentrations in the nation, with more than 89,000 residents employed in that sector.
San Antonio is home to two Fortune Global 500 companies - Valero Energy Corp and Tesoro Petroleum Corp, and also home to five Fortune 500 companies: USAA, Clear Channel Communications, Tesoro and Valero.
Other large companies based in San Antonio include Frost National Bank, Harte-Hanks, Kinetic Concepts, Taco Cabana, Whataburger, NewTek and many more.
Tourism and Events
Tourism brings twenty million visitors to the city each year, mostly because of the Alamo. Other frequently visited tourist attractions are the River Walk, the Seaworld Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Marriage Island and many historic and cultural sites at the downtown area of the city, such as the Cathedral of San Fernando, HemisFair Park with the famous Tower of the Americas, La Villita, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, Menger Hotel, The Majestic Theatre, Bexar County Courthouse and many others.
San Antonio hosts several annual events, most notably the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, the Tejano Music Awards, the Texas Folklife Festival and San Antonio Film Festival.
The city is home to the first museum of modern art in Texas - the McNay Art Museum. Other notable cultural institutions include the Museo Alameda, San Antonio Missions national Historical Park, The Woodlawn Theatre, San Antonio Museum of Art, Japanese Tea Gardens, the Witte Museum, the Institute of Texan Cultures, Artspace San Antonio and the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center. The city also has a number of performing arts venues, most notably the Alameda Theater, the Lila Cockrel Theatre and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
Education in San Antonio
Some of the most important institutions of higher learning in the city include University of Texas Health Care Science Center at San Antonio, University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, which are all public, and several private universities, most notably the prestigious Trinity University, St. Mary’s University, Our Lady of the Lake University and more than 30 private and charter schools. The city is also home to U.S. Air Force Basic Military Training.
The primary airport is San Antonio International Airport (SAT). Passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak on two of its services: Texas Eagle (daily) and Sunset Limited (three times a week).