San Antonio has a rich history that begins long before its official founding. The San Antonio River and its surroundings have been home to the San Antonio Missions which are a group of five Spanish Catholic missions in the San Antonio, Texas area. They were established during the late 1700s by Franciscan friars to Christianize and colonize the local tribes native to that area.
San Antonio was founded as a Spanish mission for Native Americans (Indians) on May 1, 1718 (the feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua), by Father Antonio de Olivares who was an emissary from Spain for whom the city was named in honor of his patron saint, Anthony of Padua.
In 1793, A group of wealthy families decided to establish a new town along the banks of the San Antonio River, about 20 miles upstream from the original settlement.
They purchased large tracts of land from ranchers and other owners in order to fulfill their plan. The Spanish Governor of Texas helped them with some initial financial assistance but this was eventually withdrawn by his successor when political changes occurred back in Spain resulting in a coup d’état against King Ferdinand VII.
Despite the lack of governmental support, 10 families risked everything they had to establish a new town determined to succeed on its own .
The name “San Antonio” was chosen as a tribute to Alamo de Parras which is located near Cadiz, Spain. Though it has been speculated that perhaps Olivares chose Saint Anthony as his patron because he was the patron saint of farmers due to his association with agriculture as well as being the patron saint of pigs. Pigs had been domesticated and were an important source of food in that part of the world at that time.
The mission was named “San Antonio de Valero” (after Saint Anthony of Padua and the Marquis of San Vicente) with a patron saint’s day on May 1, 1793, when the town of San Fernando de Béxar officially became known as San Antonio.
In 1804. The city was still very small at this time but it would grow rapidly over the next few years as new settlers began to arrive in large numbers and new building projects were undertaken which included more missions for local tribes who were converted to Christianity; one such mission is now known as the Alamo. A military fort called “the Presidio” was also built during this period as well as many private homes for important families. The military and important families were the primary residents of San Antonio at this time.
San Antonio played an extremely important role in Texas during the Texas Revolution . It is because of General Sam Houston’s surprise victory over Mexican troops led by General Santa Anna on a march from Goliad, Texas that he was able to succeed in his goal of capturing San Antonio de Bexar (as it was then called) despite being greatly outnumbered and he was able to secure more volunteers who flocked to join him after they heard about his victories not only against the Mexican army in general but also specifically for defeating the previously undefeated Santa Anna. This event occurred on March 6, 1836 which became known as “The Siege of the Alamo” even though it was actually a minor skirmish.
The Mexican government tried to retake San Antonio and failed miserably several times in the early 1840’s. Their attempts included The Battle of Rosillo Creek, The Battle of Salado Creek and The Second Battle of the Alamo which resulted in the deaths of many Mexican soldiers as well as Texas settler men who were fighting alongside them .
This series of battles caused Texas’ population to swell with new volunteers who flocked to join their army. After these failed attempts by the Mexicans, they finally succeeded in recapturing San Antonio on December 11 1842 when General Adrian Woll launched a surprise attack during The Battle of Salado Creek but it was also short-lived because Sam Houston led troops from Gonzales to recapture the city a few months later on March 2, 1843.
San Antonio became an American city in 1845 and this led to many infrastructure improvements over the next few years as America modernized San Antonio’s military fort .
The cattle industry was established here by German immigrants who founded nearby Castroville and within 20 years it had become one of the largest cattle markets in the entire country. The first railroad arrived in San Antonio in 1863 which greatly increased trade opportunities for businesses located here like Plough Publishing House, which printed books, pamphlets and other material related to agriculture as well as religious materials. Camp Bullis was built during World War I and expanded with more advanced training facilities after World War II; it is still used today for advanced training by military personnel who are deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.
During World War II , the second largest military installation in the world was established here . It is a highly secretive facility known as Lackland Air Force Base which is located at the old Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas. During this time San Antonio also became a major center of aluminum production and it currently has about 25% of all U.S. capacity for that kind of manufacturing .
San Antonio became the largest American city without an interstate highway connection on November 21, 1985 when Interstate Highway 37 opened; this was part of a plan to donate portions of newly built freeways to local cities so they could build ring roads around them when possible which would help ease traffic congestion. The first section of Loop 410 anywhere in the San Antonio metropolitan area was completed on July 25, 1988; this is now one of many different loop freeways in the city including 1604 and 281 .
San Antonio suffered greatly during the 1980’s oil bust but it has once again recovered and thrived economically thanks to rapid expansion in numerous industries like banking, education, defense, tourism, information technology as well as health care which are all important for San Antonio’s economy.
In the 2000’s San Antonio has nearly doubled its population thanks to rapid expansion at Camp Bullis, Randolph AFB as well as the proposed base realignment and closure which could add 100,000 new jobs here in the next few years .
The first large chain of grocery stores that was ever established in San Antonio is currently headquartered here; it is H.E. Butt Grocery Company but this company recently announced plans to build a distribution center near Eagle Pass, Texas on February 13, 2012 which will create about 675 jobs in addition to those who are already employed there . They are also opening a $40 million office tower downtown which will increase their presence even more.
Today San Antonio is considered one of the top 10 places to live in America thanks to it’s strong economy, great public education and many different activities for everyone including several large amusement parks, more than 50 golf courses and over 300 restaurants .