San Antonio is the nation’s seventh-largest city. Located in south-central Texas, history truly comes to life in San Antonio. The city’s rich culture offers an authentic glimpse of early Spanish colonial life in the Southwest. San Antonio is the first civilian settlement in Texas, known as San Antonio de Béxar. It was founded in the year 1718. San Antonio history is one you’ll want to know.
A Spanish Founded City
In 1691, San Antonio was discovered by Spanish explorers who first visited the site, then by a camp of the Payaya Indians. Then, 18 years later, what is now known as San Antonio was founded on May 1, 1718. A Spanish expedition from Mexico established the Mission San Antonio de Valero. San Antonio de Béxar was established on May 5 and was known as a presidio (military garrison).
Just a few years later, in 1731 to be exact, settlers from the Canary Islands laid out the town of San Fernando de Béxar near the presidio. However, in its early years, the settlement suffered from raids by the Apache and Comanche tribes. The mission was then converted in 1793 and became a military post. San Fernando de Béxar functioned as a rural capital from 1773 to 1824.
The Battle of the Alamo
You can’t talk about the history of San Antonio without discussing the Battle of the Alamo. A crucial event in the Texas Revolution, the Battle of Alamo occurred from February 23, 1836 to March 6, 1836. This 13-day battle between Mexican forces and Texans resulted in a victory for Mexico. Nearly 200 volunteer soldiers—farmers, doctors, and the famous Tennessee frontiersman and Congressman Davy Crockett- were killed.
“Remember the Alamo!” became a war cry as a reminder of the bloodshed. In April of that year, Texas and Mexico fought again at the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas won this time, gaining its independence from Mexico once and for all.
San Antonio Gets Its Name
In 1837, the city became a county seat of the Republic of Texas and was renamed “San Antonio.” The city was known as the foremost city of Texas, with 2,500 inhabitants. San Antonio grew rapidly after independence.
By the last decade of the 19th century, San Antonio was a starting point for the Chisholm Trail, making it a major cattle center. The arrival of the first railroad also brought immigrants from Mexico after the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Additionally, the city was known as a major military center during World Wars I and II, a factor that continued to dominate its economy in subsequent decades.
In 1968, San Antonio celebrated its 250th anniversary as well its cultural ties with Latin America.
Modern Day San Antonio
Today, many of the city’s early architectural and cultural elements remain, allowing visitors to see into the city’s storied past first-hand. Additionally, much of its population is of Hispanic descent, and many are Spanish-speaking or bilingual. It is also the second most populated city in the state of Texas and is the focus of a metropolitan area that includes Alamo Heights, Castle Hills, Converse, Kirby, Leon Valley, Live Oak, Schertz, Terrell Hills, Universal City, and Windcrest. Truly a wonderful city to visit or live in, San Antonio history is certainly one for the record books.