Remembering San Antonio A day of learning. A lifetime of memories. by Diana Esquivel
The Missions of San Antonio Along the San Antonio River five missions were established during the 1700’s which still stand today. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is located at 2202 Roosevelt Avenue. Four of the missions are located along the banks of the San Antonio River, and are within a 2 mile radius of each other. The fifth mission and probably the most famous is the Alamo which is located in downtown San Antonio. The other four missions are the Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada. Each of these missions were established in the 1700’s and served as small communities for the Indian neophytes and Spanish soldiers. Visitors are allowed to enter each of these missions and see for themselves the living quarters and confines of these midlevel communities. The four missions in the National Historical Park each have an active Catholic Church parish that can still be viewed by visitors throughout the year. The Mission San Jose is the most complete and well preserved of the missions in the National Historical Park, however the church is undergoing remodeling and will remain closed till the end of summer 2011. Visitors are allowed to walk inside each mission and even enter into select areas where they can see the living quarters, stores and shops, and even the fortified towers that provided defense for the missions. Outside the mission walls you can see the vast land where crops and ranches were located. The church of each mission was and still is the focal point in each of these communities. Mission Concepcion was founded in 1716 and moved to its present site in 1731. Mission San Jose was founded in 1720 and remains the most intact of all the missions in the park. Mission San Juan failed when it was first established in East Texas in 1716, so it was reestablished along the banks of the San Antonio River on March 5, 1731. Mission Espada was also established on March 5, 1731 and was the only San Antonio mission where tiles and bricks were made. The purpose of these missions was to Christianize the natives and make them Spanish citizens.
The Missions of San Antonio cont. The San Antonio Missions National Park is open daily from 9:00 A.M. through 5:00 P.M. They are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and January 1st. There are no fees for park entry or visitor activities during regular park hours. The missions offer guided tours daily by park rangers that last between 45 minutes to an hour. Visitors are asked to meet at the information center of the mission they would like to tour so they can begin the tour.
The Alamo San Antonio, Texas is home to The Alamo, the site for one of the most historical battles in Texas history. What remains inside the mission walls is a story that every Texan is brought up learning and is proud of. The mission was originally named Mision San Antonio de Valero in the mid to late 1600’s, and by the early 1800’s under Spanish military it was named the Alamo. Now a famous tourist attraction to over 2.5 million visitors a year The Alamo is a historical site that one would not want to miss when visiting the city of San Antonio. The story behind the battle of the Alamo begins in December 1835 during the Texas Revolution. Ben Milam and his Texian and Tejano volunteers forced Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cos and his soldiers to surrender after five days of fighting. William B. Travis then became the commander of the Alamo and on February 23, 1836 General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his army arrived outside San Antonio. The Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo at all costs for they knew the significance it held as the defense of Texas. For 13 days Travis and his men defended the Alamo from the Mexican Army receiving help in the form of 32 volunteers from the town of Gonzalez. There is a legend that during this battle Travis drew a line in the ground and asked the nearly 200 defenders who were willing to stay and fight to step over. All the men, except one, knowing their fate stepped over the line and prepared to defend the Alamo from General Santa Anna knowing their lives were on the line. On March 6, 1836 the Mexican army was finally able to breach the mission walls. They turned a captured cannon and used it to blast open the doors. The struggle continued inside and after 90 minutes Travis and his men were defeated with every man fighting till their death. The 200 defenders of the Alamo had fought off a Mexican army of over 1000 men for 13 days making the ultimate sacrifice. They were up against impossible odds, but fought for freedom.
The Alamo When visiting the Alamo audio tours are available where the story and tradition are described in more detail. As you tour the Alamo the audio tour recaps what happened in certain areas and brings the battle to life for the tourists. There are no walking tours of the Alamo, but they do offer history talks on the hour and the half hour except from 12:00 – 1:00 for the lunch hour. There is no charge for admission into the Alamo, but donations are appreciated for the maintenance and upkeep of this historical mission. The Alamo is open every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hours of operation are from 9:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. Monday through Saturday and 10:00 A.M. through 5:30 P.M. on Sunday. During the months of June, July, and August the Alamo will remain open till 7 P.M. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Witte Museum The Witte Museum, located on Broadway Street, dedicates time to educating the public through different and changing exhibits. The idea of the Witte Museum began 80 years ago, October 8, 1926, as a vision of men and women of varying cultures. The museum has permanent exhibits such as Texas Wild: Ecology Illustrated, Dinosaurs: Vanished Texans, Ancient Texans: Rock Art and Lifeways along the Lower Pecos, Mummies: Unwrapping the Past, H-E-B Science Treehouse, World of Water: Take it to the River, and Log Cabins & Historic Homes. The Science Treehouse is sponsored by H-E-B and is located in the back area of the museum. The Treehouse is a place where young and old can interact with the wonders of science and see the functions of simple machines, LASERs, sound, electricity, air, and weather. The building is a four story “treehouse” that offers fun throughout. Step outside and ride a bicycle on a high wire or go downstairs and become a weather anchor on television. The basement offers daily science experience. The Treehouse is a hands-on interactive program suited for all ages.
The Witte Museum cont. The museum also showcases traveling exhibits to expose guests to different pieces of art, culture, and exhibitions that one would normally find in larger city museums. The museum also displays exhibits that Texas natives can relate to. Currently, the museum is showcasing Miradas: Mexican Art from the Bank of America Collection. The exhibit is a collection of different paintings, photographs, and pieces by different Mexican artists. Water in Motion: A Visual History of the San Antonio River a historical and cultural view of the San Antonio River through pictures. A Night at the Museum: Fiesta Trains Inspired by Museums of the World is a selection of 11 gowns and trains featuring elements inspired by art and museums. This exhibit is similar to the Martha Washington Society that features dresses worn by debutantes in Laredo, Texas. Amazon Voyage: Vicious Fishes & Other Riches is an interactive and in-depth look at the sea life of the Amazon River. The exhibit also describes the lives of the people who live around the river. The current exhibits usually are displayed in the museum for about six months and then new exhibits are brought in.
The Witte Museum cont. The museum also offers programs for students as well as workshops. Educators can take advantage of programs offered to educate students in art & history, science, and environmental ecology. The museum extends their sources to small children to further expand their knowledge. Throughout the year, the Witte presents several events which are open to the public. These events have included Archaeology Day, Sunday Jazz at the Witte and more. Guests can stay up to date with upcoming events by visiting the website.
St. Mary’s University Library
San Antonio Public Library The San Antonio Public Library, located downtown at 600 Soledad Street, boasts 6 floors housed inside a beautifully designed building with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The staff is very friendly and quick to assist anyone who enters the library. The library is an inviting place that draws patrons in to browse around the many non-constricting areas to find something interesting for the likes of all visitors. The architect, Ricardo Legorreta Vilchis, from Mexico wanted to create a building free of restricting walls and barriers that makes other libraries cold and quiet. He envisioned a building with many curves, low walls, open spaces, and quiet nooks for readers to sit quietly and read yet not isolated from the rest of the library. The building has a Mexican architectural appeal that blends in with the culture of the city. The first floor has the most movement and provides the more common services. Patrons can check out/return items, get a library card, read current newspapers and magazines. Patrons will also find the fiction, large print, DVDs, music CDs, new books (Wowbrary), books in Spanish, and audio books. The Wowbrary is a new concept that the library has set up to display current trend or new books with easy-to-browse access. The most interesting section of this floor is the Teen or young adult area. The area is designed and set up to provide teens with services geared towards ages ranging from 13-18. This provides space strictly for young adults to read, do homework, use the computer, watch movies, receive information dealing with teen issues, and to interact with young adults of the same age. It is a TEENS ONLY area.
San Antonio Public Library The second floor holds non-fiction, books in foreign languages, and maps. There is also many study areas for patrons to sit in a quiet atmosphere and read or research. The third floor is the children’s floor. Small children have their personal librarian to assist them with anything they may need. There are computers for children and even the smaller children. While the library has programs that run through the year, it is currently holding its summer program to encourage children to continue reading. Dig Up A Good Book!is the Texas Reading Club for the 2011 summer. The kids sign up for the club and read as many books as they can and in return are rewarded with incentives such as books of their choice. The children are encouraged to read at higher levels to increase their own reading levels. The fifth floor is another reference sections and government documents. This floor has a section devoted to Latino writers and local writers as well. Another area on this floor that is unique to this library is the Job Center, SCORE. This area consists of a computer center that is strictly for citizens searching for jobs. Patrons receive assistant from trained staff members in searching for jobs, the basics of conducting searchers, and also provide assistance with resumes and applications. The service is a great way to educate the public with basic job searching skills. There is also a Special Needs Services and Collections for patrons with special needs. If patrons are homebound the library offers a Books by Mail service.
San Antonio Public Library Aside from the main library, San Antonio also has 25 branch libraries throughout the city and surrounding areas. The downtown branch is truly an amazing library with something for everyone. The comfortable atmosphere provides patrons of all ages the opportunity to read, expand their knowledge, explore their interests and encourage growth as avid readers. The central library located downtown is open Monday-Thursday from 9-9, Friday and Saturday from 9-5 and Sunday 11-5. The library also offers a parking garage with low hourly rates.
San Antonio Public LibrarySpecial Collections The San Antonio Public Library’s special collections are housed on the sixth floor of the Central Library in Texana/Genealogy room. The special collection is comprised of books, photographs, archives, 11% of US government documents, stock exchange information dating back to mid 1900’s, newspapers dating from the late 1800’s, and the most recent discovery, an original King James Bible from 1615. A few of the interesting archives available for viewing are the Black Journals which is a collection of over thirty journals and newspapers published between 1827 and now. The journals recount the experiences of African-Americans in the United States. The collection is also home to more than 2,000 Union and Confederate unit and personal histories written by servicemen between 1861 and 1920. The library also holds a collection of original WWll posters. The Spanish and Mexican Archival Records represent Laredo, Bexar, Camargo, Nacogdoches, Parral, Saltillo, New Mexico, and West Florida. The date range of records vary in time from 1631-1880 depending on location. The Texana room currently has a copy of the first issue of the first edition (1611) of the King James Bible on display through the month of August. This is one copy of only fifty in the world. The special collections department also has information via the library website under resources covering deaths, family history, Hispanic Genealogical research, Jewish Genealogy, local history, Texas History, and the Wild West.
Hours of Operation The Missions of San Antonio 10:00 am Mission San José Mission Concepción 11:00 am Mission San José 1:30 pm Mission San Juan (staff permitting) 2:00 pm Mission San José Mission Concepción Mission Espada (staff permitting) 3:00 pm Mission San José Mission San Juan (staff permitting) 3:30 pm Mission Espada (staff permitting) The Alamo The Alamo is open every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hours of operation are from 9:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. Monday through Saturday and 10:00 A.M. through 5:30 P.M. on Sunday. During the months of June, July, and August the Alamo will remain open till 7 P.M. on Fridays and Saturdays. The Witte Museum The Witte Museum is open year-round except for the third Monday in October, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission is $6-8. Regular operating times are: Monday - 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday - 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday - 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday - Noon - 5 p.m. The San Antonio Public Library
The central library located downtown is open Monday-Thursday from 9-9, Friday and Saturday from 9-5 and Sunday 11-5. The library also offers a parking garage with low hourly rates.