A Confluence of Photographs
The Transformation Begins

Early reports stated that HemisFair would require 2,239 residential and 686 business relocations, and the demolition of 1,349 structures. In fact, "two dozen streets were altered or disappeared, and 1,600 people moved away."

The San Antonio Development Agency documented the effect of this relocation on both individuals and businesses in a series of reports (see Books 1 and 3) now housed at the San Antonio Public Library. Many now iconic businesses, like Schilo's Delicatessen and Paris Hatters, prospered in their new locations. One positive report on the Atlantic Plumbing Company (formerly at 601 Water St.) read, "His business has picked up mostly neighborhood repair business that he had lost in old location due to our buying the property. They are well accepted in the new neighborhood and are real well pleased with the move."

However, other family enterprises, like the popular Double Dip ice cream shop, ended up closing their doors forever. One neighborhood business woman reported that "she is not doing good at all. The house that she bought is too small to allow her to do anything with. She used to operate a small laundry on Water Street and rent rooms on Matagorda. She is not pleased at her having to move."

About this Image:

1) Like most urban renewal projects, HemisFair involved a years-long process even after the site had been selected. From 1963 through 1966, the Urban Renewal Agency worked to relocate occupants and complete land purchases before site clearance and construction could commence. Here construction crews work in the pit dug for the foundation of the new Convention Center. The Smith-Young Tower (left) and Alamo National Bank Building (center) can be seen in the background. Photo by Orville Thompson.

2-3) Most buildings were not in bad condition when urban renewal began. After a year or more of standing vacant, deterioration and vandalism took their toll. This physical deterioration added to the challenge involved in saving a number of historic buildings that had been identified for preservation and reuse. This house at 121 Goliad shows the difference a year can make.

4) The photographer captured the east side of Hermann Shultze's home at 114 South, as seen through the remnants of a wall. Although the hardware store owner's 19th century home was demolished to make room for parking near the Convention Center, a replica using the original tinwork from the front façade was reconstructed on the HemisFair site.

5) Window frames, ornate column capitals, bathroom fixtures and water heaters salvaged from demolished houses fill this space. Photo by Orville Thompson.

Courtesy of San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation
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19652) 1965
19663) 1966
1964-19674) 1964-1967
1964-19685) 1964-1968