Delegates and Families Tour Historic City
While delegates have been busy with the work of the convention, there has been free time for them and their families to enjoy the sights, tastes, history and excitement of San Antonio, the city on a river. Tours organized by the Texas State Council have been taking place over the past few days, visiting the storied Spanish missions, the famed Alamo, the stately Fredericksburg section, the National Museum of the Pacific War, the Witte Museum and other local attractions.
The history of San Antonio reaches back nearly a century before the founding of the United States, to June 13, 1691, when Spanish priests and explorers from Mexico came across a native settlement along a river and called it San Antonio, since it was the feast day of the saint of Padua. Over time, the Spanish built a cluster of missions, some of which still stand as active parishes, the first of which was called Mission San Antonio de Valero, more popularly known as the Alamo. The mission was secularized in the late 18th century and became a fortification that was the site of the famous battle of 1836, which became a rallying cry for Texas independence. Today, the Alamo stands in the heart of the downtown area as a museum dedicated to the memory of heroic defenders such as Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Travis, and offering a tribute to the spirit of freedom and independence that marks the character of Texas.
The other missions on the convention tour included: San Jose, San Juan Capistrano, San Francisco de la Espada, Concepcion, and San Fernando Cathedral. The cathedral is the oldest continuously used church building within the present borders of the United States and houses the baptismal font that was a gift of Spain’s King Charles II in 1759.
Past and present San Antonio are met side by side along the river that runs through the city, and many convention families took advantage of the barge tours. Floating upon the water that runs below street level and ranges in depth from three to 20 feet, tourists get a close look at the world-renowned River Walk. Shops, restaurants, hotels, old Spanish stone work and skyscrapers bump up against one another in this colorful display of the growing metropolis. A number of the taller buildings and artistic displays were completed for the 1968 World’s Fair, including the Tower of the Americas, a spire reaching 750 feet into the sky, with a breathtaking view of the city and beyond.