When it seems way too quiet on the western front

crockett block palace theatre

The western front of Alamo Plaza. Is no news good news, or just a well-guarded secret?

It has been almost two years since the Alamo issued its request for qualifications to hire a firm to conduct an historical assessment of the significance of the Crockett Block (above, a personal favorite), the Palace Theatre and the Woolworth Building on Alamo Plaza. The RFQ included an evaluation of their appropriateness for reuse as a visitor center and museum for the Alamo.

The historical assessment is easy. These structures are well-documented as part of an historic district included in the National Register of Historic Places.

As for their reuse? That might depend on how the issue is approached. The illustration used on the Alamo website only highlights obstacles.

Click here to see illustrations and read this alamobsessive post

Biannual Roundup: Thanks for following posts to and fro

Haunting the Graveyard: Unearthing the Story of the Coker Settlement

Know it appears suspicious that a post about the author’s book that finally made it into print popped up as the most-read by you during the past year, but you actually were that kind.

Of course, the controversial redevelopment plans for Alamo Plaza still remain of grave concern for those who love San Antonio. Will the plaza be fenced in? Will the Texas General Land Office repurpose the buildings on the west side of the plaza as a new museum or bulldoze those important historic landmarks? So many design issues remain unresolved as we enter 2020.

The author always hope postcards sent back from other places help tease out the boulevardier in you, seducing you into traveling more and serving as helpful guides when you do.

The following list represents the posts you clicked most in 2019, with the number in parentheses representing rankings from six months ago.

  1. Postcard from the Coker Settlement: Following long gestation, book finally due to arrive, 2019
  2. Has Alamo Plaza fallen in the hands of ‘reverential’ caretakers? 2019 (2)
  3. How’s the GLO managing Alamo Plaza? Welcome to the faux Alamo. 2019 (3)

    Hey, GLO. No faux Alamo.
  4. Postcard from Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy: History with a horse hanging overhead, 2019, (5)
  5. The Madarasz murder mystery: Might Helen haunt Brackenridge Park? 2012 (7)
  6. The danger of playing hardball with our Library: Bookworms tend to vote, 2014
  7. Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: ‘I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.’ 2019
  8. Postcard from Mexico City: The Lord of Poison and potent relics, 2017
  9. Postcard from Sevilla, Spain: Foods steeped in tradition, 2019 (11)

    Boquerones, fried anchovies, at El Rinconcillo in Sevilla, Spain
  10. Postcard from Sevilla, Spain: The most celebrated mother in Spain, 2019
  11. Postcard from Malaga, Spain: Street Art, Part I, 2019
  12. Postcard from San Antonio Botanical Garden: Walking across Texas without leaving home, 2019

From the streets of Malaga, Spain, pulpo y vino

Thanks for dropping by. Would love to see comments anytime.

How’s the GLO managing Alamo Plaza? Welcome to the faux Alamo.

Oft-criticized for its failure to curb commercialism on Alamo Plaza, the City of San Antonio turned management of the historic city park over to the Texas General Land Office.

Millions of people presumably have passed through there since then, and the first thing most see is a caboose-red, shiny metal, faux Alamo Welcome Center. There in the middle of the plaza where there used to be a small table stand with an umbrella shading a vendor of icy cold raspas. It was 99 degrees when I was there, and I definitely would have found a snow cone more welcoming.

Anyway, visitors first glimpse of the distinctive Alamo-shaped parapet is on this booth. Why? Well, that’s obvious. It’s shiny red, and the Alamo with its ancient limestone walls pales by comparison. The Alamo might be free, but the Alamo prefers you to pay for headsets or tours. It requires the bold red to make sure you do not miss the opportunity.

protester with pitifully inadequate #NoFauxAlamo sign

Oh, there’s the real Alamo, along with protester with pitifully inadequate #NoFauxAlamo sign.

While the General Land Office deems the stately Cenotaph nearby as inappropriate for the battlefield site, the powers that be evidently consider this carnivalesque booth a perfect fit.

In case you somehow manage to miss the warm welcome this booth extends to you, there are other signs strategically placed around the plaza.

And there is the opportunity to purchase a photo taken right up close by the Alamo door.

But the appropriateness of the tenant mix and their appearance on the west side of Alamo Plaza was top among the complaints aired by many, and supposedly the state solved that with the General Land Office’s purchase of a row of historical buildings there. A new Alamo Museum is envisioned for the area.

In the meantime, millions of visitors pass by. Strangely, among the most flagrant violators of the sign ordinance governing the Alamo Plaza Historic District (view signage codes here) is the Official San Antonio Visitor Center, with flamboyant advertisements completely covering one its windows. And the Del Sol Color Change shop located next door to the Official The Alamo Store. The GLO evidently is not able to request its tenants abide by tasteful signage regulations.

But, hey, one can never have too many signs addressing Alamo Plaza. So both the San Antonio Visitor Information Center and the Official The Alamo Store plop illegal signage boards right in the middle of the sidewalk.

As a final pictorial update to how the Texas General Land Office is managing one of San Antonio’s most treasured plazas, there is this mysterious Christo-like treatment between the Alamo Chapel and the Menger. I peeked in and could determine no function, but it does arouse one’s curiosity.

Welcome to the improved (?) version of Alamo Plaza.

June 27, 2019, Update: A portion of this post was published in The Rivard Report.