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Photographs of the San Antonio Floods of 1913

October 21, 2013

Major floods have occurred in San Antonio since Spanish Colonial times.  While accounts exist, there are only isolated photographs showing local flooding more than a century ago.  It wasn’t until October 1 and 2, 1913 that a flood was extensively recorded by photographers.

Both local newspapers, The San Antonio Express and the San Antonio Light, published photographs on October 2 showing views of a flooded downtown.   Front page headlines read:  “Flood Brings Swift Death and Terror” and “Four Lose Lives in Flood Which Does Immense Damage Throughout City.”  Articles describe the devastation in detail.  And that same day, a local photo finishing company began advertising photographs of the event.   The Potchernick-Birdsong Company ad in the San Antonio Light reads:   “Flood Pictures / Views of San Antonio River as seen once in a life time / Order them now…”

Only two months after the floodwaters receded, the San Antonio River again rose out of its banks into downtown during the flood of December 3 and 4.  Once again, Potchernick-Birdsong immediately placed an ad for “Flood Pictures.”

These are some of the original real photo postcards and copy prints of the 1913 floods that are part of our General Photograph Collection.  The photographers are unknown.

 

Looking south on St. Mary’s Street from Travis Street, October 1913.   Gunter Office Building on right, across from Gunter Hotel.  (MS 362:  113-044)

Looking south on St. Mary’s Street from Travis Street, October 1913. Gunter Hotel on left, across from Gunter Office Building. (MS 362: 113-044)

Floodwaters in the 200 block of E. Houston Street.   (MS 362:  113-046)

Floodwaters in the 200 block of E. Houston Street. (MS 362: 113-046)

Cavalry soldiers in floodwaters that again covered E. Houston Street at the intersection of St. Mary’s Street, December 1913.  (MS 362:  097-0863)

Cavalry soldiers in floodwaters that again covered E. Houston Street, December 1913. (MS 362: 097-0863)

St. Mary’s Street looking south from E. Houston Street, December 1913.  (MS 362:  097-0862)

St. Mary’s Street looking south from E. Houston Street, December 1913. (MS 362: 097-0862)

Floodwaters around the telegraph office in the Gunter Hotel, December 4, 1913.  (MS 362:  113-047)

Floodwaters around the telegraph office in the Gunter Hotel, December 4, 1913. (MS 362: 113-047)

Looking southwest from Travis Street toward St. Mary’s Street, October 1913.  The Gunter Ballroom (left) was later damaged beyond repair in a more devastating flood in 1921.  (MS 362:  113-043)

Looking southwest from Travis Street toward St. Mary’s Street, October 1913. The Gunter Ballroom (left) was later damaged beyond repair in a more devastating flood in 1921. (MS 362: 113-043)

Looking west on Travis Street toward river bridge, December 1913.  (MS 362:  097-0864)

Looking west on Travis Street toward river bridge, December 1913. (MS 362: 097-0864)

Wagon passing the Victoria Hotel in the 300 block of N. St. Mary’s Street, October 1913.  (MS 362:  113-045)

Wagon passing the Victoria Hotel in the 300 block of N. St. Mary’s Street, October 1913. (MS 362: 113-045)

A swollen San Antonio River as seen from the Houston Street Bridge, December 1913.  Book Building on  right.   (MS 362:  099-0510)

A swollen San Antonio River as seen from the Houston Street Bridge, December 1913. Book Building on right. (MS 362: 099-0510)

Water covers the yards of rooming houses in the 200 block of E. Travis Street, October 1913.  (MS 362:  097-0895)

Water covers the yards of rooming houses in the 200 block of E. Travis Street, October 1913. (MS 362: 097-0895)

St. Mary’s Street looking north from E. Travis Street, December 1913.  People outside Carrie Behrens Boarding House on right.  (MS 362:  113-051)

St. Mary’s Street looking north from E. Travis Street, December 1913. People outside Carrie Behrens Boarding House on right. (MS 362: 113-051)

Crowd on the Navarro Street “Old Mill Crossing” Bridge, October 1913.  (MS 362:  113-048)

Crowd on the Navarro Street “Old Mill Crossing” Bridge, October 1913. (MS 362: 113-048)

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 11, 2013 4:14 pm

    wow that’s a lot of water

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