To paraphrase my favorite comedian, Albert Brooks, if you go there, you will eat, sleep, read and hear about The Alamo so much, that you’ll want to hire The Cleveland Wrecking Company to knock it down.
And Albert was right; it’s hard to stand on the corner of Crockett Street and Travis Boulevard without thinking, “if I can only make it to Bowie Avenue, maybe I can avoid the constant Chamber of Commerce mandate of what not to forget.”
So early Saturday morning, I lit up a cigar (what a civilized town) and joined the hordes of pasty skinned, fanny pack wearing, pot-bellied tourists crossing Alamo Plaza to visit the shrine to Texas independence. And I gotta tell you, it was pretty cool.
First of all, it’s free and I’m big on free. Second and more importantly, the folks that go there seem to get it. They enter the old mission quietly with the kind of respect one reserves for hallowed ground, because that precisely what it is.
And while Gettysburg may not have a Denny’s just up the street, it is no more sacred. In Texas, a state far too large to comprehend, they’ve managed to reserve four and a half acres to put Freedom on display daily … check it out.
Now, lest you think that my trip didn’t involve a bit of R&R, think again. The River Walk in San Antonio is something to behold. If they gave a Nobel Prize to city planners, whoever is responsible for this, best brush up on their Swedish.
You see, for years, their downtown area was dying. The City Fathers were faced with the, not uncommon, choice of giving in to developers or looking out for the local merchants. Thankfully, they chose the latter. The result of which, is one great success stories in urban renewal. A magnificent four-mile tree lined promenade featuring dozens of restaurants and retail stores.
Whether you are walking it, jogging it or in my case, stumbling it, The River Walk is one terrific development. It’s what San Jose might have been pre-Santana Row.
I have long believed that the deaths of most downtowns are a result of self inflicted wounds caused by local government giving up and selling out. San Antonio didn’t take the easy way out … and it paid off. Go figure. At least that’s what I think.