June 30, 2020

These Vintage Postcards Show How Much San Antonio Changed Over the Past Century

San Antonio's long been obsessed with how others see us — after all, we're a tourist town. And how we presented ourselves in postcards provides a valuable insight into both our changes as a city and the images we presented to the outside world.

This collection of postcards catalogs an evolution that runs from a quaint early 20th century painting of Chili Queens serving food in Alamo Plaza to the hustle and bustle of 1968's Hemisfair. The sheer volume of postcards depicting Hemisfair is noteworthy, because city leaders at the time construed the event as SA's coming out as an international city.

All images courtesy of UTSA's Digital Collections.
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Chili Stands in Alamo Plaza, 1905
Chili Stands in Alamo Plaza, with Post Office Building in the background.
Chili Stands in Alamo Plaza, 1905
Chili Stands in Alamo Plaza, with Post Office Building in the background.
Travis Park, 1910
Two boys sit on a bench on the south side of Travis Park.
Travis Park, 1910
Two boys sit on a bench on the south side of Travis Park.
South Alamo Street, 1910
Alamo Street as seen looking South from Alamo Plaza.
South Alamo Street, 1910
Alamo Street as seen looking South from Alamo Plaza.
St. Anthony Hotel, 1910
An artist’s rendering of the newly constructed St. Anthony Hotel, before it became haunted.
St. Anthony Hotel, 1910
An artist’s rendering of the newly constructed St. Anthony Hotel, before it became haunted.
Brakenridge Park, 1905
Photograph of swans floating on the San Antonio River extension.
Brakenridge Park, 1905
Photograph of swans floating on the San Antonio River extension.
Cooper Building New York City, 1906
While not a postcard showing the Alamo City, this one includes correspondence by groundbreaking Mexican-American politician Frank L. Chapa, who hailed from San Antonio.
Cooper Building New York City, 1906
While not a postcard showing the Alamo City, this one includes correspondence by groundbreaking Mexican-American politician Frank L. Chapa, who hailed from San Antonio.
Woodlawn Lake, 1909
Rowboats moored at Woodlawn Lake, then known as West End Lake.
Woodlawn Lake, 1909
Rowboats moored at Woodlawn Lake, then known as West End Lake.
Navarro Street Bridge, 1880
View looking north at the "Mill Crossing" of the San Antonio River River.
Navarro Street Bridge, 1880
View looking north at the "Mill Crossing" of the San Antonio River River.
Sunset Station, 1902-5
The facade of the historic Sunset Station when it was a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad network.
Sunset Station, 1902-5
The facade of the historic Sunset Station when it was a stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad network.
San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Station, 1905
Exterior of San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Station in Cuero, Texas.
San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Station, 1905
Exterior of San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Station in Cuero, Texas.