Thoughts on San Antonio Historical Photo Project

I’m in the Ds now going through the photos on UTSA’s website. In fact, I’m skimming photos that start with “Dr.” right now.

One of the things that makes me pause are photos of historic houses that were taken in 1968. I always go, “Ooh! That house looks old! Oh. Never Mind.”

You see, when they were planning the World’s Fair, San Antonio wasn’t actually that big. For some reason, when the city decided where to put the fair, they put it where a neighborhood was. These photos were taken to memorialize the houses of that neighborhood.

It was the 1960s, and “urban renewal,” which means basically tearing down buildings that were considered to be “urban blight.” In the case of Hemisfair, they tore down a residential neighborhood of about 300 houses, called Germantown.

They saved 22 of the houses for use in the fair, but the rest of the houses are nothing but memories and photographs now. And, of course, the houses that were saved were purchased by eminent domain (which is where the government can basically force you to sell to them) and the families that lived in them were also displaced.

For a city that prides itself on its pride in its history, that’s a damn shame.

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