The American Cyclopædia (1879)/San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO, a city and the county seat of Bexar co., Texas, on the San Antonio and San Pedro rivers, 75 m. S. W. of Austin and 250 m. N. by W. of Brownsville; pop. in 1850, 3,488; in 1860, 8,235; in 1870, 12,256, of whom 4,120 were foreigners and 1,957 colored; in 1875, about 16,000, of whom about a third are of German and a third of Mexican origin. It consists of three parts: the old town, or San Antonio proper, between the two streams; Alamo, E. of the San Antonio; and Chihuahua, W. of the San Pedro. The old town is the business quarter, and has in great part lost its Mexican character, having been almost entirely rebuilt since 1860. The two principal streets are Commerce and Market, running parallel to each other from the main plaza. The former is built up with handsome business structures, two and three stories high. Separated from the main plaza by a fine Catholic church is the plaza de las armas. From the two plazas run to the right and left a number of other streets, mostly with Spanish names, and still in part occupied by low, castellated Mexican houses, built of limestone, without windows. Chihuahua is almost exclusively Mexican in character and population. The houses are one story high, partly built of stone and partly of upright logs with cane roofs. Alamo is the largest quarter of the city, is considerably higher than the other two, and is mostly inhabited by Germans. It is divided into two parts by the Alameda, an extension of Commerce street. In the N. part is the Alamo plaza, with the fort of that name celebrated in Texan history. (See Alamo.) The land immediately around the city is level. A mile distant rises a chain of limestone hills, which furnish an excellent building material. The sources of the San Pedro and the adjacent land belong to the city, and are set apart as a public park, which has long been the principal pleasure resort of the citizens.—San Antonio is the chief city of W. Texas, and has an extensive trade. Its most important manufactories are three large flouring mills, a soap and candle factory, a wood and stone cutting establishment, two ice factories, a meat extract factory, and three breweries. It has a national bank, with $125,000 capital, and four private banks. The city is not yet reached by any railroad, but the Gulf, Western Texas, and Pacific, and the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio lines, in progress (1875), will connect it with Indianola and with Houston and Galveston respectively. The former is completed to Cuero, 75 m. S. E., and the latter to Kingsbury, 42 m. E. N. E. Regular lines of stage coaches run to these points and to Austin. San Antonio is divided into four wards, and is governed by a mayor, recorder, and a board of twelve aldermen. It has a good fire department. There are a hospital and a female orphan asylum, under the control of the Roman Catholics; a Roman Catholic college and convent; two German-American schools; five free public schools with about 1,000 pupils ; two daily, a tri-weekly (German), and three weekly (one German) newspapers; and ten churches, viz.: 1 Episcopal, 1 Lutheran, 3 Methodist (2 colored), 1 Presbyterian, and 4 Roman Catholic.—San Antonio was founded in 1714 by the Spaniards, who established a fort on the right bank of the San Pedro, and called it San Fernando. Near this some monks in 1718 established the mission of the Alamo. On account of the Indians, both the fort and mission were removed to the left bank, where the plaza de las armas now is. The settlers established themselves around this, and called it San Antonio de Bexar, while a portion of the town E. of this was called San Antonio de Valero. The mission continued to be called San Antonio de Valero till 1783. San Antonio was the centre of important operations in the wars for Mexican and Texan independence. It was incorporated as a city in 1733. The German immigration commenced in 1845.