About San Antonio
Named for Saint Anthony of Padua—the Patron Saint of everything from Native Americans to Brazil, shipwrecks and pregnant women—San Antonio is one of the country’s most popular destinations with over 26 million annual visitors. This is thanks in part to the city’s historic Spanish belltowers, its iconic buildings (like the Tower of the Americas) and its one-of-a-kind River Walk promenade.
But despite all the Spanish-influenced architecture & history, the Alamo City is a deeply patriotic and very American kind of city. Home to half a dozen major military bases from Fort Sam Houston to the Lackland Air Force Base, there’s simply no shortage of American Pride in San Antonio.
Home to the five-time NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs and huge events like the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, there’s also never a shortage of exciting things to do. With everything from Sea World and Six Flags Texas to the McNay Art Museum all located nearby, there’s a little something for everyone.
So regardless of whether you’re looking for a more urban-friendly taste of the cowboy culture … exciting sports … or immersive local culture, San Antonio is simply the place to be.
San Antonio by Chance
It was all the way back in 1691 when European explorers and missionaries first happened upon the San Antonio river valley—a relieving break from the surrounding desert, and a blessing as they saw it.
Having discovered the area on June 13th, the feast day of St. Anthony, they named the area San Antonio in his honor and in celebration of their fortuity. This combination of luck, humility and passion has since come to define the area throughout its history.
During the years when the city was under Spanish control, it was always seen as an important crossroads—a junction where Spanish settlers and missions would form a passive, peaceful border that could help prevent French expansion.
For roughly a century thereafter, the small settlements around San Antonio (known as “Bexar” at the time) grew to become the most important settlements in Spanish Texas—and eventually the province’s capital. Emerging from San Antonio, the Camino Real offered swift transit just as the territories were growing more liberal, allowing American settlers and explorers into the province of Tejas.
The rest, as they say, is history … with General Santa Anna abolishing the Mexican Constitution in 1824, followed by the Texian Army claiming San Antonio as their own and staging a defiant but futile defense at the universally-known Alamo.
By 1845, the US was committed to annexing Texas as a state, and just a few years later (in 1860) the city’s population had swollen to over 15,000.
A Beacon of Modern Texan Culture
With all the romance and excitement of San Antonio’s history … all the passion and pride of its local population, it should come as absolutely no surprise that the city is one of Texas’ proudest examples of Modern Southern Culture.
We’re talking about the kind of city where cowboy hats are paired with sports coats and bespoke suits as often as blue jeans and flannel shirts. The kind of city that can celebrate Texas’ unique heritage while pushing at that cultural frontier and redefining what we think of as “Texas” with places like the McNay Museum (Texas’ first museum dedicated to Modern Art).
From the Cathedral of San Fernando and the Spanish Governor’s Palace to the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center and The Southwest School of Art, San Antonio is a city that will take you both backward into history and forward into the future all at once …
One of America’s Best Places for Business
While the city’s massive tourist business drives a healthy service industry, you might be surprised to find that this lucky little city also has a relatively quiet but fast-growing local business sector.
Fortune 500 companies like Valero Energy, USAA and Clear Channel all operate out of San Antonio, contributing to the city’s $97 Billion domestic product, with a focus on financial services, oil & gas, and tourism—along with a healthy boost from the city’s concentrated military presence. The defense industry alone employs almost 90,000 people and contributes roughly $5.25 Billion to the city’s economy.
Combining the pleasure of touring San Antonio with the thriving businesses that call it home leads to a huge number of business conventions held in and around the city each year. The local Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center alone reports hosting more than 300 events each year—contributing to the $10.7 Billion in tourist business each year.
One of the city’s biggest draws for local businesses is the simple fact that it’s less overcrowded and more accessible than a city like New York or San Francisco. Where it might take an hour to reach downtown from most city’s big airports, you can do it in under fifteen minutes in San Antonio … making it easier to go about your business with less delay and hassle along the way …
The Elite “Downtown Cowboy” Lifestyle
The only major downside of San Antonio is that you wouldn’t be the first person to have discovered the place.
While housing is generally pretty affordable and it’s supremely easy to get around, it can be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for due to a limited local market and the simple fact that people rarely move away from the city. Housing prices aren’t that bad, but they’re not nearly as good as they were just a few years ago, either.
One local realtor points out the fact that Austin and Houston often lead the state in terms of Real Estate performance, but that San Antonio’s residents are “rediscovering downtown and people are finding that they like being close by.”
She goes on to explain that as traffic gradually gets worse and the city gets more and more crowded, downtown condos will finally offer the kind of convenience and access that they already do in so many other cities. So while San Antonio’s condos are surprisingly accessible today, that just might not last.