Other Views of San Antonio

Other Views from 1873

Where is San Antonio?

Above: Augustus Koch (1840–?). Bird’s Eye View of the City of San Antonio Bexar County Texas, 1873. Lithograph (hand-colored), 23.2 x 28.5 in. Published by J. J. Stoner, Madison, Wis. Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

San Antonio in 1873

Unlike most Texas bird’s-eye views, Augustus Koch’s depiction of San Antonio does not include a train, because the railroad did not arrive in the Alamo City until 1877. The most obvious aspects of the city, viewed from the northwest, are its many public plazas and the winding San Antonio River. San Fernando Church is located on the west side of the Main Plaza, with the Bexar County Courthouse immediately to the north, a few doors down Soledad Street. The most famous building in the city is the Alamo, the former mission that served as a fort during the Texas Revolution.[1]

The second largest city in the state with a population of 12,256 in 1870, San Antonio was also unlike other Texas cities—and similar to some of the larger American cities, such as New York City and Chicago—in its racial diversity. Koch’s lithograph documents the American, German, African-American, and even Polish neighborhoods, but does not call attention to the large population of Tejanos, the majority of whom had settled in the neighborhood west of San Pedro Creek, shown flowing from northwest to south at the right-hand side of the image toward its confluence with the San Antonio River. Koch includes a number of small, nondescript structures in the area, perhaps intended to represent jacales (huts made of wood, mud, adobe, river cane, and other found materials). This diversity is confirmed by the fact that Koch includes four Catholic churches in his view: English-speaking, German, Spanish, and Polish. As was his habit, Koch called attention to the African-American community by including two of their churches (10A and 11 on map) and a school (15). Unfortunately, the four missions other than the Alamo (San Jos