San Antonio was established in May 1718 following a Spanish expedition originating from Mexico founded the San Antonio de Valero Mission. The mission, which later came to be known as Alamo (Spanish for ‘Cotton wood’), was among the five that had been founded in the region. On the 5th of May that same year, a military garrison by the name San Antonio de Bexar was founded close by. This site was established as a stop between missions that were to the East of Texas and those on the Rio Grande.
In 1731, early settlers hailing from the Canary Islands laid out plans for the San Fernando town near the Presidio. In this region, there was an existing civilian community that had been laid out when both the mission and presidio were established. In its early days, this settlement experienced a lot of raiding from the Comanche and Apache tribes. In 1793, this mission got secularized and was turned into a military post.
By the time it was getting to the 1821 Mexican independence, San Antonio, alongside Nacogdoches and Goliad, got established as a Spanish community in Texas. That year’s summer saw Stephen Austin arrive in the city, which as the seat of the Spanish government in the Texas region by then. Austin was here to follow up on a permit that had been obtained by his father a couple of years back. This permit allowed admission of 300 US families in the area.
By the 1830s, San Antonio was still Texas’ most advanced city, featuring approximately 2,500 residents. After independence, it recorded rapid growth, especially with the huge number of immigrants from Germany. In the last few decades of the 19th century, San Antonio became a major center for cattle. It was here that herds could be assembled prior to the overland drives that led to Kansas’ railheads.
With time, San Antonio grew, quickly becoming a major commercial hub in the south-west. The 1877 arrival of the first railroad in the region brought a lot of migrants from the south. After the Mexican Revolution started, a lot of Mexican immigrants trickled in. During the First and Second World Wars, San Antonio was a major military hub, a factor that helped in dominating the city’s economy in the years that followed.
Today, San Antonio is characterized by a colorful blend of Texan and Mexican culture, and it is one of the most travelled to destinations in Mexico. Most of its population is made up of Hispanics of Mexican descent, and a majority of its residents are either bilingual or Spanish-speaking.