The infamous San Antonio River Walk (aka Paseo del Río) is a network of walkways along the San Antonio riverbanks, one story beneath the downtown area, although it has been greatly expanded beyond the downtown segment since its origination.
The section that runs beneath downtown San Antonio, lined by bars, restaurants, shops, hotels, condos, and lofts, has been described as “The American Venice”. Sights, sounds and flavors of Native America, Old Mexico and the Wild West blend with the hustle and bustle of a modern city. It is an important part of the city’s fabric and a major tourist attraction as well.
In 1921, disastrous flooding along the San Antonio River took 50 lives. Serious discussions began shortly thereafter for the development of flood control in the area and by 1929 dams were created and bends in the river removed in the hopes of preventing further flooding.
A bond issue was passed in 1938 which provided for the “San Antonio Beautification Project”, a 2.5 mile River Walk in the downtown area. Robert Hugman, local architect, designed and submitted plans for this project and subsequently became project manager. Over the decades the River Walk continues to be expanded upon, with the addition of 20 bridges, waterfalls, seating areas, outdoor art, and extensive trees and shrubbery. What originated as a 2.5 mile project has been expanded into a 13 mile work of art! The River Walk is maintained and operated as a park by the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department.
The River Walk became our source of daily exercise but for those who would prefer a more relaxed means of motoring around, Rio Taxis are available, with historical narrative of San Antonio provided by the driver.
We were in San Antonio for the annual Ford Holiday Parade and Lighting Ceremony, which occurs the Friday after Thanksgiving. Approximately 1.8 million LED lights are strung among the trees lining the River Walk and are lit at the beginning of the river parade, a panorama of 30 floating barges of lights and music. The only drawback was the 250 thousand people who attend this event, so it definitely was elbow-to-elbow but worth seeing. I have included a few shots of holiday lights, to put everyone in the spirit of the season.
Nightly until Christmas, barges of carolers cruise the canals and beginning December 1st over 6000 luminaries will line the riverbanks in the downtown area. We wish we could be here for that but are thankful for the two weeks we did have.