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June 30, 2020 Slideshows » Arts

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

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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Station, 1905
Exterior of San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Station in Cuero, Texas.
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Pioneer Flour Mills, 1948
Photograph shows north entrance gate, mill in background, Guenther house on far left.
San Antonio Country Club, 1907-8
South elevation exterior of the San Antonio Country Club.
Hot Sulphur Wells Hotel, 1907
The three story brick building constructed by Otto Koehler of Pearl Brewing Company hosted Hollywood celebrities and international guests.
Mission San Jose, 1910-20
South elevation of Mission San Jose. Side of church and convento visible.
Streetcar outside entrance to Fort Sam Houston, 1909
Passengers and conductors standing in and outside streetcar on Grayson Street. Fort Sam Houston entrance is in the background.
Alamo Plaza
View of Alamo Plaza looking north from Gallagher Building.
Entrance portal, Mission San Jose, 1920s
Photograph shows a postcard view of the facade of Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo prior to restoration.
HemisFair, 1968
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the fair scene. Historic 19th century mansions were restored for use by exhibitors as shops and restaurants.
Tower of the Americas, HemisFair '68
Rendering shows the 622 foot structure and downtown San Antonio.
Mini-monorail, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the mini-monorail.
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San Antonio Convention Center, HemisFair ‘68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the San Antonio Convention Center.
HemisFair '68 Headquarters, HemisFair ‘68
This restored structure was originally the German-English school in San Antonio.
Mini-monorail, HemisFair '68.
The mini-monorail was one of the major transportation means on the HemisFair '68 site.
The Institute of Texan Cultures, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Institute of Texan Cultures.
United States Confluence Theatre, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the United States Confluence Theatre.
The Woman's Pavilion, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Woman's Pavilion.
The General Electric Pavilion, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the General Electric Pavilion.
Las Plazas del Mundo, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Las Plazas del Mundo (Plazas of the World), HemisFair's international area for exhibitors.
SouthWestern Bell Telephone Company Pavilion, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the SouthWestern Bell Telephone Company Pavilion.
Las Plazas del Mundo, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Las Plazas del Mundo (Plazas of the World), HemisFair's international area for exhibitors.
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The Calypso, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Calypso, one of the many rides seen at HemisFair '68.
IBM Lakeside Pavilion, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the IBM Lakeside Pavilion.
The Institute of Texan Cultures, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Institute of Texan Cultures.
Las Plazas del Mundo, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Las Plazas del Mundo (Plazas of the World), HemisFair's international area for exhibitors.
Coca-Cola Company Exhibit, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Coca-Cola Company Exhibit.
Morman Church, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints Pavilion, known as Morman at HemisFair '68.
Los Voladores, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of Los Voladores. Los Voladores performed daily at HemisFair '68.
Les PouPees de Paris, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Les PouPees de Paris. A marionette show for adults only, created by Sid and Marty Kroft.
Carlos Merida mural, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of Carlos Merida's mural. Abstract mural captures the theme of HemisFair '68, Confluence of Civilization in the Americas.
Theatre and River Court, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the theatre court yard and river.
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Humble Pavilion, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Humble Pavilion.
Eastman Kodak Pavilion, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Eastman Kodak Pavilion.
The Institute of Texan Cultures, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Institue of Texan Cultures. The Institure of Texas Cultures was showcased as the State of Texas exhibit at HemisFair '68.
IBM Pavilions, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the IBM Pavilions. The Durango Pavilion and the Lakeside Pavilion introduced visitors to the exciting world of computers.
The United States Exhibit Pavilion, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the The United States Exhibit Pavilion.
Fiesta Gardens, HemisFair '68
Postcard from HemisFair '68 of the Fiesta Gardens. The Fiesta Gardens with exotic rides, food kiosks, shops and tree shaded areas surrounded the base of the Tower of the Americas.
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Chili Stands in Alamo Plaza, 1905
Chili Stands in Alamo Plaza, with Post Office Building in the background.

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