Monday, June 22, 2009

Old San Antonio

A post about Retro photos/advertisements at Mama Drama prompted me to look for vintage photos of San Antonio on the 'Net. I found a few to share:

PhotobucketThis is a Rambler dealership on San Pedro, photo from the 1960s.

The website I found it on says the site is now a Valero gas station.

Of course, if you know San Antonio, you know the words "Valero gas station" and "San Pedro Avenue" don't exactly narrow things down much. San Pedro is one of those streets that runs from downtown all the way to near the airport.

Most of the dealerships these days are on the far north part of San Pedro. For some reason I want to place this closer to downtown. Probably because it reminds me very strongly of a few buildings near downtown on both Broadway and McCullough (McCullough runs parallel to San Pedro for pretty much its whole length; only Main Ave. separates them).

Photobucket This is the Alamo Travelodge on Broadway. A postcard of it from the 1970s, to be exact.

It's not too far from my church (St Mark's).

The building is now a sort of pea green, and though there's technically still a restaurant there (at least, I think it's still in business), it's not one I'd want to set foot in. The entire thing is rather downmarket now; I believe they rent rooms by the week and basically attract a lot of vagrants. There was a fire there a year or so ago.

Photobucket This one comes with its own caption, which is partially cut off. The year is 1971. So you have the Tower of the Americas that is so iconic of the city these days. But other than that, the skyline looks pretty empty. What surprises me is the Marriott Riverwalk (the white building just to the left of the Tower). I didn't realize it was that old. My mother said she thinks it was built for Hemisfair '68.

That's my thing. If I could go back in time for anything, I'd want to see Hemisfair '68. It changed the face of San Antonio as we know it. Hemisfair Plaza is still there, of course, but you can't go into most of the buildings.

Photobucket This is the Greyhound bus station on St. Mary's. Looks to be '50s vintage. This is also right by St. Mark's. That big building is the Gunter Hotel (used to be the G√ľnther; guess they gave up getting people to pronounce it correctly!).

I can't read that sign to the far right of the photo. But there's a parking lot and a Bill Miller's there now.

There's also another high rise very close to the Gunter, including a parking garage. (In fact, the Gunter's own parking garage was apparently added after this.) This photo fascinates me because it looks so clean.

Photobucket Joske's from the 1950s. I don't remember Joske's very well. I'm pretty sure they closed before I was old enough to possibly remember them. This is them getting ready for Christmas, obviously. They're legendary for their window displays.

This building is like a who's who of failed department stores. First there was Joske's. Then Foley's. Then Dillard's. (The latter two only used two of the floors; it's something like a 5-storey building.) Now it's awaiting its rebirth as a multi-use facility. Which means, basically, that it's going to be subdivided even further.

Foley's resurrected the old Joske's Christmas displays for a while when I was a kid, and I remember those letters even though it was closed. They auctioned them off in like '89 or so to benefit the local public television station. They brought a pretty penny, as I recall.

Photobucket This is the oldest photo here. Alamo Plaza from 1926. It's hard for me to get my bearings, because it looks radically different from what I'm used to. That circular island...I'm lost.

There's also no Rivercenter Mall in that photo.

There is the Emily Morgan hotel, though. I think that's the Emily Morgan. There are two hotels right near the Alamo, and I'm a horrible person because I always get them confused.

If I remember my local history correctly, this was before the Daughters of the Republic of Texas cobbled together money to buy the Alamo. It was just sort of sitting there, empty & presumably moldering, for quite some time.

Photobucket I saved this one for last because it is just so out there compared to what's there now. This is just north of Loop 1604 during the 1950s. Near Retama Park (the racetrack). There was nothing in that area for a very long time, even after the track was built.

We called 1604 the "death loop" because it is so winding, the lighting is poor, the speed limit is high, and it was pretty remote. Honestly, it's still pretty dangerous, but you've got a lot of white people who moved to San Antonio from God knows where and have a deathly fear of the South Side because brown people live there (I grew up on the southeast side o' town) and so this whole area is now ridiculously overbuilt by people who think it's just groovy to spend more than an hour commuting a very short distance.

My favorite part? They built a HUGE new Circuit City store that opened maybe six months before they went bankrupt & liquidated everything. Hilarious.

I love my city, and I am fascinated by its history. It's an incredibly dynamic place; it changed so much in the seven years I was following my sailor around that I really suffered from cognitive dissonance when I returned.


Hammer said...

Thanks for the history and Tour. I moved here in 82 and remember some of the things that are now defunct.

For example There was nothing on IH10 from Heubner to DeZavala, me and my friends used to go hiking in the woods that is now Fiesta theatre.

My dad and I used to go shooting in leon creek just off 1604 near I10 I recently walked down there and I could see fiesta Texas.

The last Joskes closed around 1990 I believe. It was pretty much like Dillards and Foleys and Marshall fields.

waterbob said...

I used to be able to read and enjoy yor blog but something has happened and it is dark green. Black print on dark green means nothing is visible. If that is the intention, it's working.

I'll come by in a while and see if you have sorted it. Good luck!

Sabra said...

It didn't look that dark to me, so thanks for the feedback. I've lightened it up quite a bit; I hope you can read it now.

waterbob said...

Much better but you might consider going a couple of shades lighter still. And on the left your daily reading comes up as light green on slightly less light green. Secret Service stuff or perhaps it's just the elderly eyes but your screen may be kinder than mine. Keep up your blog - I enjoy it.