Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Walking The Walk: Brooklyn Avenue to Navarro Street

This is the third in a series of posts covering the San Antonio River Walk which is one of our country's top tourist destinations and the #1 destination in Texas.  Most visitors spend their time along the small section downtown known as the Paseo del Rio.  But there's much more to the River Walk and I've set out to show you the entire 15 miles that most tourists miss and local residents enjoy.  My posts are covering the river starting at the Pearl Brewery on the north end and heading south to the missions.

In two previous posts I showed the Museum Reach section which ends at the locks and you can find those posts here and here.  Today we'll begin at the Brooklyn Avenue bridge just beyond the locks and dam and go south.  This section marks a transition from the newer Museum Reach to the older section at Navarro Street on the north side of downtown.

We start today by looking north from the locks at the section covered in my last post.

Puente of Rippling Waters is an art installation on the Brooklyn Avenue bridge just south of the dam.  Cutouts in the discs are designed to create patterns on the water below.

I am usually here on cloudy days because it it much more pleasant to walk and photograph when the sun is not so bright so I haven't yet captured the patterns.

Nearby is the McCullough Avenue bridge and the Puente de Encuentros or Bridge of the Encounters.  It's a series of connected hands with cutouts which make patterns on the pavement.  The hands are waving at the visitors on the river below.

Just enough sun to see the patterns along the top of the bridge.

Ornamental grasses are common landscape elements on this more modern section.

The Hugman Dam was built in 1941. After the San Antonio River flooded downtown in 1921 the city planned to install a system of culverts and pave over the river.  R.H.H. Hugman, an architect, had a better idea and fortunately his vision for two parallel sidewalks along the river prevailed.  Below you see ruins of the old dam.

The dam is cut through now to allow barges to continue on along the river.

A view to the north while standing on the dam....

...and to the south from the dam

This tile mural is about 80 years old and was created at a workshop near this site.  The tile workshop created tile for mosaics and murals in both public and private spaces around the city.  It was donated for installation here when the new section was completed in 2009.

The El Tropicano was the first hotel on the River Walk in 1962 and has seen a lot of famous guests.  It was recently restored back to 1960s style.

The old municipal auditorium across the street is being renovated into a performing arts center.

Headed south again, the walk takes on a more tropical look.  Though this area is listed as Horticultural Zone 8, much of the downtown River Walk feels more like Zone 9, with warmer microclimates created by the sunken river and walls.

The Lexington Avenue bridge has an art installation entitled "Shimmer Field".  The thousands of dichroic strips are under the bridge and reflect the colors of the city around it.

Across the way is a beautiful faux bois arbor by artist Carlos Cortes, the work of three generations of his family graces many parks and private gardens in our city.  We'll get a closer look on the way back north.

These four palms are gorgeous.

Native Turk's cap is planted along this wall.

Heading into the tropics.

We are approaching the Navarro Street Bridge. I'll save this beautiful bridge for the beginning of  my next post.

This marks our turnaround for today so we'll head back north on the other side.

Bananas and palms along the way.  There were bananas on the trees as a result of our milder winter.

A closer look at the faux bois arbor we saw from the other side.

Realistic and dreamy at the same time.

Details of the trunks, complete with carved heart on the left
Farol or lanterns on each side of the arbor.

Rusellia lining the river along the newer section.

Up ahead near Lexington Avenue and across from the El Tropicano Hotel are these stone markers with information on the history of the River Walk.

A copy of the drawing R.H.H. Hugman used to propose his plan to save the river in 1929.  The area outlined in green on the left shows a proposed bypass of the river to avert flooding which allowed the river bend loop (shown here in white) through downtown to be developed commercially.

Under the Brooklyn Avenue bridge you can see the doors of the locks and the dam to the right.

The tile steps lead up to Brooklyn Avenue and also mark the end of the walk for today.

In my next post we'll walk from Navarro Street into downtown and the beginning of the Paseo del Rio.


  1. Thanks for sharing this fabulous part of your city. There is so much beauty, creativity, practicality and history in this one spot. No wonder it is the #1 tourist destination in Texas!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Rosemary, we have so much more of all those things to show you.

  2. A nice tour.
    We haven't been on much more than the 'tourist' part of the Riverwalk. Just might have to do more.

    1. It's fun going out just a way from town, there's an entrance stair at every corner so it's easy to access. Parking can be a bit of a challenge but there are spaces.

    2. what is your public transport like in San Antonio? The walk looks inviting.

    3. We have a good system of transportation for visitors. There are special downtown shuttles to the various attractions and the Rio Taxi is available for the north end of the river so you have several options. The city bus system is available for longer distances.

      I also received a question about distances on Facebook so I'll add some information on these two in future posts.

  3. I've never visited Texas (You know the whole which state is bigger, Alaska or Texas rivalry and all) but your posts sure make me want to see your beautiful state! I love this walk and those palms - sigh.

    1. Of course I know that whole thing, we had to change our state song because of you Alaskans showing us up!

      It is a beautiful state and San Antonio is the most beautiful city in the state. Stay tuned, I've got so much more to show.

  4. Lovely tour of a part of the country that I know nothing about. What a great place to walk.

    1. I hope to change that and bring you as much as I can about this amazing land I call home!

  5. Much of this has a European feel. I think you are causing many of us to pine for Texas.

    1. That's so nice to hear Ricki. I do want to show off our city and all the beautiful areas we have here.

  6. Impressive - especially as it is down to 34F as I type, even tho sunny. I think this is one of the areas you advised me to see, so with this preview, San Antonio is on my plan for my next TX trip. In a big way. As opposed to what's-that-place.

    1. Whats that place? Oh, that city about an hour north of here. Austin is cool, we are...nice to visit!

  7. Wow, and to think that for a great architect, the river may not have been saved! I love the faux bois arbor! I have heard of San Antonio's River Walk but have never been there. I am going back to look at your previous two posts. Thanks for the views!

    1. Hugman's vision was amazing. I'm glad you are enjoying it.

  8. Wow -- our river has come a 'long way baby'. I don't remember it from quite the Native American days, but almost ;-) When I was a little kid the 1940s, Mom and I would ride the bus to town, shop and eat lunch. There were just a few ways to get down to the river then, but Mom would find one so I could feed crumbs that I'd saved from lunch to feed the minnows from the muddy bank. That was the highlight of my day.

    I still love that river! Thanks for the beautiful tours along all it's many sections of wonderfully landscaped meanderings.


    1. That's a great memory Ragna. My grandmother said that they never went down to the river when she was growing up in the early 1900s. I don't think they fixed it up the way we see it now until the 1960s and Hemisfair. It took about 40 years for the idea to take hold and another 40 to extend it outside of downtown.

      I'll have another post tomorrow. Glad you enjoyed the tours.


Thank you for stopping by. To comment simply open the Name/URL option, put in your name or initials and skip the URL.