San Antonio’s first neighborhood
Martín de Alarcón, the Spanish governor of both Coahuila and Texas, led the 1718 expedition that established the settlement that became San Antonio.
1719The springs provided abundant water, so those early settlers built their rustic houses, called jacales, nearby. These shelters were constructed of wood, mud, and straw—all materials that were right there for the taking. The settlers also turned their attention to growing crops.
They established fields between the creek and the river—but had no way of getting adequate amounts of water to the crops themselves. The corn withered up and died in the summer’s heat. A few vegetables were saved by hauling buckets of water and hand-watering—only to be destroyed by a plague of mice.
In early 1719, Governor Alarcón issued an urgent order: the settlers were to work with the indigenous people to construct acequias (irrigation ditches). They channeled water from the east side of San Pedro Creek. The earliest acequia system irrigated about 300 acres, before flowing into the San Antonio River near today’s Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
Once again, San Pedro Creek proved its importance. It wouldn’t be the last time.