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For history buffs: The San Pedro Creek’s rich and storied past

San Pedro Creek Culture Park

The San Pedro Creek Culture Park is a brand-new development that allows today’s San Antonians to embrace the history of our city, but the creek in which it surrounds is many, many years old. Archeologists and paleontologists tell us that there are many signs of prehistoric human habitation here from as far back as 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Since then, the San Pedro Creek has gone through many ups and downs, leading the sacred creek to today, where its significance and beauty is finally given the attention it deserves.

Here is a brief timeline of the exhilarating history of our beloved San Pedro Creek:

June 13, 1691
Governor Domingo Terán de los Ríos and his group of Spanish explorers made camp under the shade of cottonwood, oak, and mulberry trees near the area. The Governor announced that the place would be named San Antonio, in honor of St. Anthony of Padua.

Another expedition, this one led by Captain Pedro de Aguirre, stumbled upon the lush valley with its spring-fed river, creek, and peaceful Payaya indigenous people who resided here. A Franciscan priest who was on the expedition, Father Isidro Félix de Espinosa, wrote that the creek was to be called Agua De San Pedro.

May 5, 1718
In an official ceremony, Texas Governor Don Martín de Alarcón founded the Presidio San Antonio de Béjar, which would one day become Bexar County.

March 9, 1731
A group of fifteen families from the Canary Islands arrived with permission from King Fernando II of Spain to form a town government. This became the first official civilian settlement in Texas.

A disastrous flood killed many living and working near San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River turned from desirable to devastating. Many moved away from the creek and to a barrio on the high east bank of San Antonio River, now known as La Villita.

Frederick Klemcke began making soap in a small building on San Pedro Creek in 1849. Two years later, 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.

The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word relocated their infirmary from Military Plaza to Presidio Street (now Houston Street) in 1875. The facility continued to grow into a multi-building complex known as Santa Rosa Hospital, now The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.

The creek was modified as a result of increased flooding and construction of new rail lines and modern highways. These changes put San Pedro Creek into hiding. It was no longer in plain sight, as it had been for centuries.

  • 1914: The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (known as the M-K-T or the Katy) received approval to construct a passenger and freight terminal in the city.
  • Early 1900s-1930s: San Pedro Creek was altered and re-aligned to prevent flooding and reinforce the water banks.
  • 1945: After World War II, the development of new suburbs and highways changed the fact of San Antonio and San Pedro Creek.
  • 1991: The construction of a deep underground tunnel is completed. It was designed to divert the overflow from both the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek.

December 14, 2016
Construction began on the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project with the mission to transform San Pedro Creek to a cultural park to reflect its place in our cultural history, improve its function in flood control, revitalize natural habitat and water quality, and catalyze economic development.

May 5, 2018

Bexar County, the city of San Antonio, and the San Antonio River Authority will officially open Segment 1 of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park with a ceremony and public event for families to come out and celebrate. It’s a new chapter for this historic creek that will be enjoyed now and remembered always. We invite you to be part of history.

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