Saving San Antonio
The Preservation of a Heritage
The compelling story of the groundbreaking preservation of San Antonio’s cultural and architectural past
Few American cities enjoy the likes of San Antonio’s visual links with its dramatic past. The Alamo and four other Spanish missions, recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, are the most obvious, but there are countless other landmarks and folkways that lend San Antonio an “odd and antiquated foreignness.” Adding to the charm of the nation’s seventh largest city is the San Antonio River, saved to become a winding linear park through downtown and beyond and a world model for sensitive urban development.
San Antonio’s heritage has not been preserved by accident. The wrecking balls and headlong development that accompanied progress in the nineteenth century roused an indigenous historic preservation movementthe first effective one west of the Mississippi River.
Its thrust gained momentum beginning in the mid-1920s with the pioneering work of the San Antonio Conservation Society. In Saving San Antonio, Lewis Fisher peels back the myths surrounding more than a century of preservation triumphs and failures to reveal a lively mosaic of San Antonio’s cultural and architectural soul. The process, entertaining in the telling, has offered significant lessons for the built environments and economies of cities everywhere.
A superb read.
Maury Maverick Jr.
A thorough history of the organization and of the politics of preservation in the Alamo City.
Celebrated San Antonio historian Lewis F. Fisher, whose Maverick Publishing Company was acquired by Trinity University Press in 2015, has published forty-five books on topics ranging from San Antonios Spanish heritage to its urban development, and from the military to sports, architecture, and multicultural legends. A former member of the San Antonio River Commission, he has written numerous books himself, recently including Chili Queens, Hay Wagons, and Fandango