San Antonio, founded May 17, 1718, by a Spanish expedition that established the “Mission of San Antonio de Valero” was one of 5 missions in the area. The mission was named for St. Anthony of Padau and was later called Alamo City (“Cottonwood” in Spanish). Also known by other titles such as the Mission City, Military City USA, and the River City, it has a 300-year history that goes back to the establishment of a town, presidio and 5 Franciscan missions in Spanish Texas along the San Antonio River.
San Antonio played a strategic role in two separate independence struggles: the fight for Mexican independence from 1811 to 1813; and for Texas independence from 1835 to 1836. These bloody conflicts eventually established the standing of San Antonio as a national symbol and state for the battle of self-government.
Largest City In Texas
As the largest city in Texas, San Antonio supported a diverse immigrant and native population during the second half of the 19th century that further perpetuated its reputation as a city of cultural crossroads.
As the city prospered its growing industry became the center of ranching and agricultural activities. The establishment of educational facilities, strong connection to the military, and advances in transportation firmly carried it into the 20th century and the post-WWII era and in recent decades it has become a top tourist destination.
In 1731 the Villa of San Fernando de Béxar was established by the Canary Islanders which became the first properly organized civil government of Texas. The Spanish Governor’s Palace was completed on Military Plaza in 1749 and in 1773 San Antonio de Béxar became the first capital of Spanish Texas with a population of 2,060 listed in 1777. By 1880 the population had grown to 20,550 and increased to 45,000 in 1887. That figure ballooned to more than 96,000 in 1910. Due to the Mexican Revolution, Mexican immigration increased substantially.
The Beginning of San Antonio
German immigrants brought their cultural traditions in the form of arts, music, and architecture to San Antonio and the city began a long historical association with aviation with the U.S. Army’s only airplane arriving at Fort Sam Houston. The first solo flight of Lt. Benjamin Foulois on March 2, 1910, marked the “birth of military aviation” in America. San Antonio’s airfields provided attractive settings for a growing motion picture industry and army facilities served as a backdrop for films such as The Big Parade and Rough Riders.