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San Antonio River Walk

River Walk is Main Artery of San Antonio Experience
Amidst the daily hubbub of a busy metropolitan downtown, sequestered 20 feet below street level, lies one of San Antonio's jewels - the Paseo del Rio.

Better known as the River Walk, these cobblestone and flagstone paths border both sides of the San Antonio River as it winds its way through the middle of the business district.

The River Walk has multiple personalities - quiet and parklike in some stretches, while other areas are full of activity with European-style sidewalk cafes, specialty boutiques, nightclubs and gleaming high-rise hotels.

Stretching for approximately 2 1/2 miles from the Municipal Auditorium and Conference Center on the north end to the King William Historic District on the south, the River Walk designs were mainly the work of the late Robert H.H. Hugman, a landscape architect.

A major flood in 1921 had killed 50 people and resulted in millions of dollars in property damage, as well as public outcries to cover the river with concrete, with the riverbed to serve as a sewer. Fortunately, a small group of women, who formed the nucleus of the present day San Antonio Conservation Society, saved the river from this fate through a puppet show entitled "The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg," written by Emily Edwards.

With WPA work crews, Hugman and engineer Edwin P. Arneson completed most of the walks, arched bridges and entrance steps during 1939 to 1941. Hugman initially called his plan "The Shops Of Aragon And Romula."

The River Walk remained primarily a park for years, and, in fact, developed a tainted reputation. However, in preparation for HemisFair 1968, the World's Fair in San Antonio, commercial development and beautification along the river began in earnest and still continues.

Today, the river's floating transportation system provides a novel method of sightseeing and people watching in downtown San Antonio. Groups can also dine aboard open-air, candlelit cruisers. River cruisers deliver visitors to Rivercenter, a dazzling three-level, glass shopping, dining and entertainment complex, and to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

Entertaining is a favorite activity along the River Walk, and restaurants offer cuisines from the finest Tex-Mex delicacies to sizzling Texas steaks to Creole cooking to Italian pasta. Lively groups sing along in an Irish pub and a Dixieland band performs far into the night. Hard Rock Cafe anchors South Bank, a collection of dining and entertainment options, while Planet Hollywood anchors Presidio Plaza, the newest complex on the River Walk.

The River Walk also offers its own unique outdoor theatre. Spectators sit on grassy steps on one side of the river, while the performance stage is on the other. The Arneson River Theatre is the site for events ranging from the Great Country River Festival and a Saint Patrick's Day show to summer's Fiesta Noche del Rio and Las Posadas ceremonies at Christmas.

Two annual parades actually "float" on the San Antonio River downtown each year. The Fiesta River Parade and the Holiday River Parade fill every inch of the River Walk with people, celebrating the season.

The San Antonio River provided life-sustaining water for the native Indians who first settled in this area and still pumps life and energy into downtown San Antonio today as the setting for the River Walk.

Source: The information in this report is provided by the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1-800-ALAMO-07.

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