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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
San Antonio in Bexar County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Main Plaza - Plaza de las Islas

1730 - 1890

 

—A Pedestrian Place —

 
Main Plaza - Plaza de las Islas Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 21, 2018
1. Main Plaza - Plaza de las Islas Marker
Inscription.
Spanish urban planners in the New World knew how to create a vibrant community: its two interconnected building blocks were a cathedral and a plaza. This spatial structure compelled the citizens of New Spain to revolve around a civic center, timing their movements to the comings and goings of their neighbors with whom they worked, played, and prayed.

The 1730 plan for San Fernando de Bexar (San Antonio) drew on this tradition, beginning with the iglesia, the town’s 18th-century church that later became a cathedral. From its front door, surveyors marked off Plaza de las Islas (Main Plaza) and a set of radiating streets along whose flanks government buildings, stores, and individual housing would be built. The whole plaza was locked in a grid, forming "a cross with the church as a center.”

This circulatory pattern stimulated a robust street life, especially in the plaza. Its open-aired expanse was crowded with religious festivals, political rallies, military formations, and civilian parades. Amid its dust rose the noise of merchants and shoppers haggling and gossiping, of people dancing and mules braying. Plaza de las Islas, this dynamic, intimate, and walking landscape was the city’s communal core until the late 19th-century arrival of streetcars, which started pulling people away from the plaza.


 
Location. 29° 25.489′ N, 98° 29.589′ W. Marker is in San Antonio, Texas, in Bexar County. Marker is at
Main Plaza - Plaza de las Islas Marker & Mural (<i>wide view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 21, 2018
2. Main Plaza - Plaza de las Islas Marker & Mural (wide view)
the intersection of East Commerce Street and Soledad Street, on the left when traveling west on East Commerce Street. Touch for map. Marker is located at the northeast corner of Main Plaza, by the sidewalk, near the intersection. Marker is at or near this postal address: 115 North Main Avenue, San Antonio TX 78205, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Perote Prisoners (within shouting distance of this marker); The Casas Reales (within shouting distance of this marker); Civil War Centennial 1861 - 1961 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Woll Invasion (within shouting distance of this marker); General David E. Twiggs (within shouting distance of this marker); T.C. Frost and the Frost Bank (within shouting distance of this marker); San Antonio River Walk (within shouting distance of this marker); Reaffirming the Miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Antonio.
 
More about this marker. Marker consists of a large, multi-paneled historical mural with text, mounted on the north side of the building at the northeast corner of Main Plaza.
 
Also see . . .
1. Main Plaza - Plaza de las Islas - History.
Long the spiritual heart, government center, and social hub of San Antonio, Plaza de las Islas (Main Plaza) began to lose its centrality in the late nineteenth century. Railroads and trolleys reorganized the city's commercial activity by enabling developers to create new, more distant suburbs, shifting where
Marker detail: French Building and U.S. Post Office, San Antonio, Texas, 1861 image. Click for full size.
UTSA:s Institute of Texan Cultures, 101-0047; Courtesy of Ellie Lamb
3. Marker detail: French Building and U.S. Post Office, San Antonio, Texas, 1861
people lived and shopped, in an outward thrust that later the automobile would accelerate. Bypassed, like most of downtown, until the late twentieth century, the plaza has since figured in several revitalization efforts. Launched in 2006, city planners sought to recreate its pedestrian character by knitting together the plaza, cathedral, courthouse, and the river. (Submitted on June 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Main Plaza: San Antonio, Texas.
Main Plaza was the site of the first civil settlement in Texas. The plaza was locked in a grid, with plans to build government buildings, and housing along radiating streets with the cathedral in the center. Established in 1731 as "the Villa de San Fernando" by the Spanish Settlers from the Canary Islands. On the northeast side of the plaza is a plaque that marks the exact location where women and children were taken to safety during the Battle of the Alamo. Two buildings bordering Main Plaza are a part of the National Register of Historical Places : San Fernando Cathedral (1755), and Bexar County Courthouse (1896). (Submitted on June 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Imagine Plaza de las Islas 300 Year Ago . . .
In 1573 the King of Spain, Philip II, decreed an extensive set of rules for the building of towns and cities in the Americas, known as “The Law of the Indies.” While these rules applied to many facets of colonial life, their main legacy has been the planning of Latin American cities. The Law of the Indies decreed that all new towns must have a central plaza surrounded by important buildings
Marker detail: Central Hotel image. Click for full size.
By UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures, 075-0455
4. Marker detail: Central Hotel
with portales or arcades, and from which the principal streets, laid out in a grid pattern, were to begin. Smaller secondary plazas were also called for as well as narrow streets to provide shade. (Submitted on June 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Churches & ReligionColonial EraParks & Recreational AreasSettlements & Settlers
 
Marker detail: East side of Main Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, 1872 image. Click for full size.
UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures, 093-0392; Courtesy of Mary Ann Guerra and Wandita Ford Turner, May 21, 2018
5. Marker detail: East side of Main Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, 1872
San Fernando Cathedral, Main Plaza, San Antonio, Texas (<i>near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 21, 2018
6. San Fernando Cathedral, Main Plaza, San Antonio, Texas (near marker)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 4, 2018. This page originally submitted on June 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 56 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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