San Antonio Downtown and River Walk Historic District Listed in National Register of Historic Places

The San Antonio downtown and River Walk Historic District in Bexar County was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Texas Historical Commission (THC) assisted in the nomination of this district in recognition of its importance to the history of San Antonio and the State of Texas. Noted for its historical significance, the district joins other properties around the state with National Register status.

“Listing in the National Register of Historic Places is both an honor, and a substantial contribution to the local economy through the state’s heritage tourism efforts,” said THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe. “The work done by property owners, local preservation organizations, preservation specialists, THC staff, and the THC’s professional review board results in an achievement that the City of San Antonio can be proud of as they join our agency in saving the real places that tell the real stories of Texas history.”

The San Antonio Downtown and River Walk Historic District reflects the city’s commercial and architectural development and growth between 1854 and 1970, with 172 contributing buildings, several historic bridges, and the San Antonio River Walk. Buildings in the district, most of which were constructed between 1912 and 1930, display a variety of architectural styles designed by some of the state’s most significant architects, including Alfred Giles, Atlee Ayers, James Riely Gordon, and Robert H. H. Hugman. The period of significance extends through 1970 to acknowledge the full extent of postwar growth, including development spurred by the 1968 HemisFair, which coincided with the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city. The district was listed at the state level of significance for its contributions to the commercial and financial environment of the city that resulted in unprecedented economic growth and building development, surpassing all other Texas cities during the early 20th century. It was also listed for its association with ambitious city planning programs, including flood control and related infrastructure improvements that resulted in the San Antonio River Walk.

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources deemed worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a federal program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect the country’s historic and archeological resources. The National Register includes more than 3,300 listings in Texas. Listing affords properties a measure of protection from the possible impact of federally funded projects, as well as access to technical expertise and grant funds to facilitate their restoration and preservation. Income-producing properties are also eligible for federal tax benefits for sympathetic rehabilitation work.

To learn more about the National Register of Historic Places, contact the THC’s History Programs Division at 512-463-5853.