San Antonio is located in the United States in the state of Texas. It is the second largest city of the state and the seventh largest in the country. It is situated in the northern portion of South Texas and is the center of Texas tourism. The city covers an area of four hundred and twelve miles and has a population of almost one and a half million residents. San Antonio was originally inhabited by Native Americans who dubbed the area “land of refreshing waters”. Near the end of the seventeenth century, Spanish explorers stumbled upon the Native American settlement on the feast day of St. Anthony of Padova. They named the area San Antonio in his honor. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Spanish War Council approved a spot on the San Antonio River for the construction of a military fort. This fort was established by the Domingo Ramon expedition. Two years later, the Governor of Texas reinforced the fort with additional soldiers and their families. This would become the official beginning of the villa. At the same time, the Mission of San Francisco de Solano was joined with the mission of San Antonio de Padua. Governor Alarcon named the area that was composed of the fort, mission and the villa San Antonio de los Llanos. The next year, the Marquis de Aguayo moved the San Antonio de Bejar fort to a site on the Plaza de Armas. The city would continue to grow and it became the largest Spanish settlement in the state.
In 1821, Mexico achieved its independence and invited American settlers to settle the area north of San Antonio. When Santa Anna repealed the Mexican constitution of 1824, violence broke out in many parts of Mexico. The white settlers of Texas joined forces with Hispanic Texans and called for the return of the constitution. Through a series of skirmishes, the Texans were able to force out the Mexican forces in many of the anglo settlements. In December of 1835, Texan forces captured San Antonio from Santa Anna’s brother in law General Martin Perfecto de Cos. This decisive battle gave the Texans complete control of Texas. In 1836, Santa Anna subdued resistance in most areas of Mexico and began a march against San Antonio. Several patriots garrisoned and fortified the mission called the Alamo as an impromptu fort against Santa Anna’s advance. Famous volunteers who occupied the fort included Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Barrett Travis and a company of Hispanic Texan volunteers. Santa Anna set out to take the Alamo by force on March 6. After several attacks, his troops overwhelmed the weak defenses of the northern wall and captured the fort. The following year Texas independance was attained. In 1845, the United States annexed Texas. This act led to the Mexican War which lasted three years and ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. San Antonio would become a frontier city of the American West and hosted a large population of cow ranchers and herders. In 1877, the first railroad reached the borders of the city and it began to become assimilated into American society.
Today, San Antonio has a strong economy that is based upon four areas; government, health care, financial services and tourism. The health care industries crown jewel is the South Texas Medical Center, which is a collection of clinics, research centers, hospitals and educational facilities. The United States military also has a large concentration in the city. In fact, the defense industry employs almost ninety thousand people in the city and contributes over five billion dollars to the local economy. The tourist sector is bolstered by the influx of over twenty million visitors every year. Tourism employs over ninety-four thousand people in the city and contributes almost nine billion to its economy. It also brings a lot of tax revenue to the city thanks to the hotel and motel tax, as well as sales taxes.
One of the most popular attractions in the city, besides the Alamo, is the Cathedral of San Fernando. This Roman Catholic church is the mother church of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the seat of the archbisop of San Antonio. It is considered one of the oldest cathedrals in the country and is also known by its Spanish name, Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe. The church was built in 1731 and was named after King Ferdinand III of Castile. Today, the church is visited by over five thousand people each week for Mass. The church also sees over nine hundred baptisms, one hundred funerals and one hundred weddings each and every year. The church is also home to concerts, television specials and symphonies all year round. Another popular attraction in San Antonio is the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium. This zoo was founded in 1914 by Colonel George W. Brackenridge. It opened its first cageless exhibits in 1929 and opened its aquarium in 1948. In 1966, the Hixon Bird House was opened in the complex and now contains one of the largest bird collections in the world. Today, this fifty-six acre zoo has over thirty-five hundred animals taken from almost eight hundred species. The yearly attendance of the zoo is almost nine hundred thousand people a year.
Other popular attractions in the city include San Antonio Japanese Tea Gardens, McNay Art Museum, Brackenridge Park, the Witte Museum, Splashtown San Antonio, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, the Texas Transportation Museum, Museo Alameda, Woodlawn Theatre, SeaWorld San Antonio, Tower of the Americas, The Torch of Friendship, Menger Hotel, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, the Fairmount Hotel, HemisFair Park, Arneson River Theater, Bexar County Courthouse, San Antonio Botanical Garden, the Emily Morgan Hotel, the San Antonio Cavalry Museum, Aztec On The River, the River Walk and El Mercado. The city of San Antonio is also home to a number of restaurants and hotels. Prominent restaurants in the city include the Fig Tree Restaurant, Boudro’s On The Riverwalk, El Mirador Restaurant, Casa Rio and the Guenther House Restaurant.