Monday, April 8, 2013

San Antonio By Bus and Foot

We had been fortunate enough to have found a campground on the east side of San Antonio that had a bus stop right by the entrance. The #24 bus took us directly downtown to the stop near this 65-foot sculpture.

The "Torch of Friendship" was given to San Antonio by the Mexican Consulate as a sign of friendship and to represent the roots many Texans share with Mexico.

In the background is the San Antonio landmark "The Tower of the Americas". Completed in 1968, the Tower was part of HemisFair, the Texas' World's Fair, for which it was the theme structure. Rising 750 feet to the top of the antenna, the Tower is 87 feet higher than the Seattle Space Needle and 67 feet higher than the Washington Monument. Eyes over Texas, the renovated restaurant, features a 360 degree revolving vista.

Downtown San Antonio is very walkable. Within a couple of blocks are some interesting buildings,

but taking either the red or blue line buses (shown below) would take us to historic attractions around the city.

We took the Red Route and stopped at the Majestic Theater. This theatre was built in 1929 and was designed in a Spanish Mediterranean style by John Eberson for Karl Hoblitzelle's Interstate Theatres. The 2,264 seat Majestic Theatre is a National Historic Landmark, and is currently home to the San Antonio Symphony,

From this stop, we walked a few blocks, passing outdoor cafes,

some architecturally-interesting buildings,

and two other theaters. The Charline McCombs Empire Theatre was built in 1913 on the site of the former Rische's Opera House. Designed in the style of a European palazzo by architects Mauran, Russell & Crow of St. Louis, the Empire operated as a vaudeville house and then a motion picture theatre.

It has 856 seats.

In contrast, the Aztec Theatre, a city landmark since the 1920s, closed in February, 2012.

Belgian multimillionaire Theodore Bracht owns the Aztec. He purchased the theater in 1998 and carried out a $20 million renovation. It reopened in 2006 as a large-format movie theater and tourist destination, but struggled to attract an audience. Concert promoters said the venue's 970-seat capacity is part of the problem--it meant that you have to sell it out all the time. It was cost prohibitive.

Before picking up the bus for the return to the downtown area, we passed the Mexican Manhattan Restaurant. (All I know is what the sign says.)
And speaking of signs, I was attracted to this old Walgreen Drugs sign.

Lastly, in 1984, the city struggled with the fate of The Fairmount. Either demolish it or move it five blocks to make way for the Rivercenter Mall. San Antonio, a community famous for its conservation efforts, found one million dollars and means to move the 1906 hotel (the brick portion of the building below). So from March 30 to April 2, 1985, the 3.2 million pound brick and mortar structure was lifted onto rollers, trussed with bands of steel and moved five blocks to its present location.

The Guinness Book of World Records noted it as the largest structure ever moved on wheels.

So, the red bus line and the #24 bus and we were back at the RV Park.

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