If you talk to a “northsider,” they will probably tell you that the Southside of San Antonio is “the dangerous part.” I don’t know if any part of the fastest growing city in America is more dangerous than any other. For me, it is the “authentic part” of San Antonio. The pace is slower, The traffic much less dense, the buildings older, and I can hear my self think on the south side. I like that.
I never liked history in high school. I was valedictorian of the 1976 class at Southside High, but our history teacher was Coach Grindle. He tolds us things like, “King Tut was buried with his Fritos.” I have never appreciated being lied to. Enough lies happen in the educating of the young, but Coach G. was over the top.
So, considering my attitude about all things historical, I’m stunned to find my self writing about historical aspects of San Antonio and enjoying it. Of course, I now have Uncle Ernie, and my Toastmaster Buddies, Mel Mountjoy, former stock car driver, and David Bamberger, former heir to the Church’s Fried Chicken dynasty. They make looking back at San Antonio FUN!
So here’s a tribute to Riverside park, the oldest golf course in San Antonio, and my first view of the city every morning when I walk out the door of my home.
From San Antonio Parks & Recreation Department records: Riverside Park, 100 McDonald, is listed:
As a privately owned park in the late 1800s, Riverside was known as the “old picnic grounds,” and described in newspapers as “a delightful retreat.” It was leased by the Alamo Electric Street Railway Company and used as an attraction at the end of the streetcar line. Across a fence to the east was Exposition Park where an annual trade fair promoting relations between the United States and Mexico was held.
In 1892, Riverside Park was sold to a local funeral director who wanted to turn it into a cemetery, a plan that failed because of citizen opposition. When Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt gathered his troops in San Antonio for the Spanish American War, they camped and drilled at Riverside Park. In spite of its beauty, Riverside was not able to compete with Brackenridge Park, which opened in 1901, and it was abandoned.
Finally, in 1927, the City purchased 90 acres for a new south side park which was first named for Theodore Roosevelt, and later renamed Riverside. Today, the nine-hole golf course built in 1930 has grown to 27 holes, and the park has nearly doubled in size to 176 acres.