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  • Writer's pictureChristina Mantas

A Lesson In Vision

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

Think the Riverwalk is just a place to stop for a bite to eat? Look closer.

Are your teenagers struggling with motivation in their online economics classes, or geography work? San Antonio is a place to show them where those two things collide, in the real time.

Start off the morning with warm breakfast tacos, in your comfortable O’Casey’s Boutique Inn room, then head the two miles downtown, to the corner of South Alamo and Commerce: There you’ll see an old coin shop.

In the coin shop, was the office of San Antonio Riverwalk Designer, Architect H.H. Hugman.

“I knew you a dreamer,” some city folk of San Antonio once told him, “but now I know you are also a fool; you’ll be drowned like a rat in your own hole.”

But as you can see, the coin shop was never drowned.

In the early 1920s, a flood washed away nearly 5 miles of downtown.

A struggle began to sway public opinion in one direction, or another: Many wanted to block off the river for the sake of “safety.” But Harold Hugman had other ideas.

His vision included incorporating the river and nature into the growing San Antonio Downtown, by creating a commercial space that was walkable: He proposed landscaping the river to give each bend the feel of courtyard, while making the river easily navigable, and accessible to shops and restaurants.

First and foremost, his design solved the flood problem; but it also would set the city of San Antonio on a path to become one of the most visited places in the entire country.

The Riverwalk has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, and touched the lives of the millions who visit it.

And it all began, as a solution to a flood problem.

Explore the San Antonio Riverwalk’s pathways, and discuss how Hugman’s vision is related to your teenager’s studies. How much of our lives do we owe to those enterprising risktakers, and visionaries? If Hugman didn’t understand how water and nature could be harnessed to prevent flooding, if he hadn’t desired to create something beautiful, if he hadn’t thought about the role of business in the life of a city: Most of us in San Antonio, would not be living the life we are living, today.

And that, is worth studying.

Before you head back to your O'Casey's Boutique Inn Room, visit the Casa Rio; not only is it another lesson in vision and entrepreneurship; but it's the oldest restaurant on the Riverwalk: A Festive Favorite, since 1946.

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