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San Antonio history
José Antonio Navarro (1795–1871), one of two native-born signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Courtesy: University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

The residential and commercial development affected every part of town—including the area along and near San Pedro Creek.

An especially illustrious Texas name became associated with the creek. José Antonio Navarro, who had owned land and a small house on the west bank of the creek since the early 1830s, decided to build a new house and a two story commercial building there. Entrepreneurs saw the potential too of a reliable water source. Frederick Klemcke began making soap in a small building on San Pedro Creek in 1849.

Two years later, in 1851, he sold his business to Simon Menger, who expanded the facility. After a flood in 1859, the San Antonio Soap Works moved to another location on the creek and operated there until 1917. Near the soap works and the creek, Henry Karber operated a brewery. There were other small industrial operations near the creek as well, including a brewery operated by Dan Heber farther to the south.

With all the growth and development, however, obstructions that blocked the flow of the San Antonio River (like bathhouses, fences, and debris) had also become an issue for San Pedro Creek. To solve the problem of the obstructed flow, city ordinances were passed. The creek was deepened and widened, and a uniform, twelve-foot-wide creek channel was constructed. The result? Little by little, the natural creek bed began to disappear; it was being replaced with stone and concrete. And so, the ‘boom’ period of San Pedro Creek continued on, as more history was made.

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