May 07, 2021

20 things in San Antonio that are gone but we’d really like back

San Antonio's recent growth has brought along some great things, but it's also changed the character of our city. We've lost local landmarks, favorite dining spots and cultural institutions. And as time continues its tireless march, we've also lost some of the people that make this a unique and vibrant city. Here are 20 things San Antonio has lost over recent years that we sure wish it still had around. 
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Cadillac Bar
This iconic downtown watering hole was a casualty of the pandemic, closing its doors after decades serving the courthouse-area community ice cold brews and post-proceedings shots. Reportedly, the building was constructed in the 1870s and features what are said to be the first electric streetlights in Texas.  
Photo via Instagram / texas.is.the.reason
Cadillac Bar
This iconic downtown watering hole was a casualty of the pandemic, closing its doors after decades serving the courthouse-area community ice cold brews and post-proceedings shots. Reportedly, the building was constructed in the 1870s and features what are said to be the first electric streetlights in Texas.
Photo via Instagram / texas.is.the.reason
Taco Land
When it comes to underground rock clubs, they didn't come more underground than Taco Land. The rough-edged neighborhood bar and its profane proprietor Ram Ayala had a way of scaring off squares. All the while, it played host to a litany of amazing touring and local acts, some of whom were so impressed they even commemorated the place in song. The slaying of Ayala and doorman Doug "Gypsy Doug" Morgan during a 2005 robbery permanently closed the spot, although the Velvet Taco restaurant now on the site includes tributes to both men and the one-of-a-kind venue that once stood there.
Courtesy Photo / Erik Sanden
Courtesy Photo / Erik Sanden
Taco Land
When it comes to underground rock clubs, they didn't come more underground than Taco Land. The rough-edged neighborhood bar and its profane proprietor Ram Ayala had a way of scaring off squares. All the while, it played host to a litany of amazing touring and local acts, some of whom were so impressed they even commemorated the place in song. The slaying of Ayala and doorman Doug "Gypsy Doug" Morgan during a 2005 robbery permanently closed the spot, although the Velvet Taco restaurant now on the site includes tributes to both men and the one-of-a-kind venue that once stood there.
Courtesy Photo / Erik Sanden
La Semana Alegre
This long-running Fiesta event hosted by the San Antonio Jaycees on the Freeman Coliseum grounds was an annual pilgrimage for music fans. For 26 years, the outdoor concert series stacked up deep bills that included music legends ranging from Steve Ray Vaughn to Motörhead. Of course, there were perennial fixtures like Legs Diamond, and plentiful surprises. Remember Spinal Tap performing in front of a crowd where at least a quarter of the attendees didn't quite get that they were a parody band? Or how about the time Welsh proto-metal trailblazers Budgie reformed specifically to play La Semana?
Photo via Instagram / justincpress
La Semana Alegre
This long-running Fiesta event hosted by the San Antonio Jaycees on the Freeman Coliseum grounds was an annual pilgrimage for music fans. For 26 years, the outdoor concert series stacked up deep bills that included music legends ranging from Steve Ray Vaughn to Motörhead. Of course, there were perennial fixtures like Legs Diamond, and plentiful surprises. Remember Spinal Tap performing in front of a crowd where at least a quarter of the attendees didn't quite get that they were a parody band? Or how about the time Welsh proto-metal trailblazers Budgie reformed specifically to play La Semana?
Photo via Instagram / justincpress
Spurs Championships
No matter how many times TV news trots out those "Race for seis" graphics as the Spurs head into the playoff season, it seems unlikely our NBA team will be able to go all the way until we land another draft pick of Tim Duncan's caliber.
Photo by Josh Huskin
Spurs Championships
No matter how many times TV news trots out those "Race for seis" graphics as the Spurs head into the playoff season, it seems unlikely our NBA team will be able to go all the way until we land another draft pick of Tim Duncan's caliber.
Photo by Josh Huskin
The ability to get anywhere in San Antonio in under a half hour
Believe it or not, that used to be the case. However, as San Antonio keeps growing and as ever more folks seek shelter in the suburbs, it can now take commuters 30 minutes just to get out of the Medical Center or pass through a traffic snarl at Loop 1604 and U.S. Highway 281.
Photo via Instagram / mrgarycooper
The ability to get anywhere in San Antonio in under a half hour
Believe it or not, that used to be the case. However, as San Antonio keeps growing and as ever more folks seek shelter in the suburbs, it can now take commuters 30 minutes just to get out of the Medical Center or pass through a traffic snarl at Loop 1604 and U.S. Highway 281.
Photo via Instagram / mrgarycooper
"Spot" Barnett
When Vernon "Spot" Barnett died in 2019, San Antonio lost a bonafide music legend. The saxophonist was a key figure in the city's blues and jazz scenes and even helped pioneer its homegrown Westside Sound. The beloved horn man's resume also included stints with artists including Bobby "Blue" Bland and Ike and Tina Turner.
Courtesy Photo / Josh Huskin
"Spot" Barnett
When Vernon "Spot" Barnett died in 2019, San Antonio lost a bonafide music legend. The saxophonist was a key figure in the city's blues and jazz scenes and even helped pioneer its homegrown Westside Sound. The beloved horn man's resume also included stints with artists including Bobby "Blue" Bland and Ike and Tina Turner.
Courtesy Photo / Josh Huskin
The Sky Ride at Brackenridge Park
For 35 years, the Sky Ride offered San Antonians and tourists amazing views of the city skyline and a magical view of Brackenridge Park below. However, over time, the colorful four-foot wide gondolas deteriorated, and in 1999, city council opted not to spend the millions of dollars required on upgrades. For those old enough to remember, a visit to Brackenridge or the nearby San Antonio Zoo was never quite the same after the ride's closure.
Photo via UTSA Libraries Digital Collections
The Sky Ride at Brackenridge Park
For 35 years, the Sky Ride offered San Antonians and tourists amazing views of the city skyline and a magical view of Brackenridge Park below. However, over time, the colorful four-foot wide gondolas deteriorated, and in 1999, city council opted not to spend the millions of dollars required on upgrades. For those old enough to remember, a visit to Brackenridge or the nearby San Antonio Zoo was never quite the same after the ride's closure.
Photo via UTSA Libraries Digital Collections
The Brooklynite
The Brooklynite ushered in a new wave of cocktail appreciation in the Alamo City, offering premium spirits and top-notch service in a decidedly swanky environment. The space itself may have been small, but its impact on SA’s cocktail community was immense.
Photo by Greta Garrett
Greta Garrett
The Brooklynite
The Brooklynite ushered in a new wave of cocktail appreciation in the Alamo City, offering premium spirits and top-notch service in a decidedly swanky environment. The space itself may have been small, but its impact on SA’s cocktail community was immense.
Photo by Greta Garrett
Saluté International Bar
Under the watchful eye of owner Azeneth Domínguez, tiny Saluté enjoyed a 25-year run, outlasting nearly every other live music venue on the St. Mary's Strip. Fans could flock the colorful corner bar to hear conjunto giants including Flaco Jiménez and Esteban Jordan one night and have their fillings rattled loose by touring underground acts like Jucifer and the Flying Luttenbachers the next. The vibes were unforgettable — and puro San Antonio. 
Photo by Steven Gilmore
Saluté International Bar
Under the watchful eye of owner Azeneth Domínguez, tiny Saluté enjoyed a 25-year run, outlasting nearly every other live music venue on the St. Mary's Strip. Fans could flock the colorful corner bar to hear conjunto giants including Flaco Jiménez and Esteban Jordan one night and have their fillings rattled loose by touring underground acts like Jucifer and the Flying Luttenbachers the next. The vibes were unforgettable — and puro San Antonio.
Photo by Steven Gilmore
Chuck Ramirez
More than a decade after his death from a cycling accident, Chuck Ramirez casts a larger-than-life shadow over the San Antonio arts community. Known for his photographs of mundane objects against stark white backgrounds, Ramirez appeared to be on the verge of breaking out internationally at the time of his death. Although his influence lives on in Casa Chuck, a residency program established in the artist's former home, there's no doubt Tía Chuck left us too soon. 
Courtesy Photo / Ruiz-Healy Art
Chuck Ramirez
More than a decade after his death from a cycling accident, Chuck Ramirez casts a larger-than-life shadow over the San Antonio arts community. Known for his photographs of mundane objects against stark white backgrounds, Ramirez appeared to be on the verge of breaking out internationally at the time of his death. Although his influence lives on in Casa Chuck, a residency program established in the artist's former home, there's no doubt Tía Chuck left us too soon.
Courtesy Photo / Ruiz-Healy Art