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Streets of San Antonio

April 26, 2012

Streets of San Antonio: A historical perspective of nineteenth century immigrants and the street names that honor their contribution to the area by Eric C. Mapes (2008).

In the spring of 2011, San Antonio’s Mayor and City Council squared off against the San Antonio Conservation Society in a fight to either change or preserve the name of Durango Boulevard. The City Council voted 7 to 4 to change the name of Durango Boulevard to César E. Chávez Boulevard. The San Antonio Conservation Society fought against the name change, asking a judge to intervene by issuing a temporary injunction.

Durango Street Sign

Durango Street Sign, ITC Photograph Collections, Z-0656-3289, UTSA Special Collections

Why the heated contest over a street name? Conservation Society President, Rollette Schreckenghost explained that part of the Society’s mission is to protect San Antonio’s history by keeping it “legible and intact.” Durango Boulevard dates back to the late 1800s and is within the 36 square miles that constituted the original city limits. The name change would disrupt the historical lexicon of San Antonio. Proponents of the name change argued that Durango Boulevard did not represent any particular individual or family and therefore, the name itself was not historically significant. A judge ruled in favor of City Council and in July 2011, Durango Boulevard officially became César E. Chávez Boulevard.

How often do we question or ponder the historical origins of street names? Why do emotions run high when a street name change is proposed? Many of San Antonio’s main thoroughfares are linked to the city’s early origins; street names pay homage to San Antonio citizens of the past. In Streets of San Antonio, Eric Mapes explores the history behind the names of well-known San Antonio streets, boulevards, and avenues. Mapes, driven to preserve the historical importance and underpinnings of San Antonio streets, draws on census data and family histories to piece together the stories behind the streets of San Antonio. As he unveils the origins of street names like DeZavala, Evers, Huebner, Navarro, and Eisenhauer, Mapes urges readers to reflect on San Antonio’s rich and diverse population of immigrants who carved out spaces and lives on the Texas frontier.

Mapes offers interesting vignettes about some of San Antonio’s early families whose family names grace San Antonio street signs. When the Huebner family settled in Leon Valley in the 1850s, they faced repeated raids by Apaches and Comanches. The Huebner house served as a rest stop for weary travelers on their way to Bandera and Fredericksburg. Adina DeZavala, whose ancestors fought for Texas independence, barricaded herself in the long barracks of the Alamo in 1908 to protest the destruction of convent walls within the fortress. The New York Times covered her three day siege and lauded her dedication to the preservation of the historic landmark.

This item has not yet been cataloged and is available upon request in Special Collections.

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