Historic Travis Park just got a makeover, and the newly-refurbished park is now a fun place for everyone to play in downtown San Antonio.
On a breezy spring morning, I walked through the park with my son, F.T., to see the new features, including landscaping and seating.
There’s a kiosk where you can borrow books, games, and toys. (In this photo, it’s only partially open, because it was an exceptionally windy day.)
Here’s a look inside the kiosk.
There’s also a giant chess set and dog park.
Snow Montemayor, the official King of Downtown and a board member of theDowntown Residents Association, filled me in about some of the new events at Travis Park.
- An Evening in Travis Park—food trucks and live music, on Tuesday, May 27, 2014; part of Downtown Tuesday (free parking in city garages and meters from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; specials at restaurants and bars)
- Movies by Moonlight—free showings of family movies on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.: Brave on June 3, Frozen on June 10, Monsters University on June 17, Finding Nemo on June 24, Toy Story 2 on July 1, Cars 2 on July 8, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 on July 15; The Smurfs 2 on July 22, and Despicable Me 2 on July 29.
- Urban Pet Market—from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month (June 21, July 19, August 16), an opportunity for animal lovers to shop for treats, accessories, grooming, training, and more, with food trucks and demonstrations.
Save the date: Jazz’SAlive, an annual tradition, will return on September 20-21, 2014 and September 19-20, 2015.
To keep up with more events in Travis Park San Antonio, including fitness programs, check these feeds:
- Follow @TravisParkSA on Twitter and like travisparksa on Facebook
- Find events at Travis Park in the Centro 365 directory (a service of Centro San Antonio)
- Visit the website of the City Center Development and Operations (CCDO) department of the City of San Antonio and look for the Travis Park Schedule
Travis Park San Antonio has a rich history; learn more by downloading the brochure, Walking Tour of Historic Travis Park, created by the Office of Historic Preservation. The land was once part of the farmland of the mission that is now the Alamo. From 1851-70, Samuel Augustus Maverick used the land as a pecan orchard. Maverick donated the land to the city, and it became a city park, named after William Barrett Travis, the Texas commander at the Battle of the Alamo.
The focal point of the park is a Confederate war memorial, built in 1899. Which raises the question: What do you say when your kids ask what the memorial is for?
Depending on your kids’ ages, here are some talking points you can use and adapt:
- This monument is to commemorate the soldiers who died fighting for the Confederacy. A long time ago, the Confederate states (including Texas) seceded from the United States, and that started the Civil War. Many people died. The Confederacy lost the war, so Texas became part of the United States again.
- A long time ago, some white people in Texas owned black people as slaves. Slavery is wrong. Slavery ended after the Civil War. Even today, life is not fair for black people because of the history of slavery.
- Texas is a good place, but sometimes good societies make bad choices. We are still changing and trying to do better.
- We should treat all people the same, regardless of their skin color. It’s what’s inside that counts.
This sounds so overly simplified, but you have to start somewhere, especially for young children. Readers, what would you add to that list? Please leave a comment to share.
I asked some of my friends for their thoughts. Robert McGarraugh, a descendent of Samuel Maverick, says, “Personally, I just try to be a decent person. You can’t change the past, nor would I want to.”
Katy Galindo advises, “Celebrate the culture (in my case, New Orleans and South Alabama) and talk openly about our mistakes.”
Several friends noted that Texans were divided about whether or not to secede from the Union. The Treue der Union Monument in Comfort (northwest of San Antonio) commemorates the Hill Country Unionists, mostly German immigrants, who died at the Battle of the Nueces. See also “‘Freethinkers’ of the Early Texas Hill Country”, Edwin E. Scharf, Freethought Today, April 1998.
Whether your ancestors owned slaves (as Robert’s did) or picked cotton (as my friend Cindy’s did), talk to your kids about history. Take them to Travis Park, and also go to a Juneteenth celebration, such as Juneteenth San Antonio, and celebrate the anniversary of the day that news about the Emancipation Proclamation (signed January 1, 1863) finally reached Texas . . . in 1865.
The neighborhood around Travis Park is rich with history, too. Did you know that the founding of Southwest Airlines, with a business plan written on the back of a napkin, happened in 1967 at the St. Anthony Hotel, across the street from Travis Park? Now, Southwest Airlines and the Project for Public Spaces have formed a partnership to develop places like Travis Park in San Antonio and other cities. “Southwest Airlines’ new cause: ‘Placemaking'”, Leigh Gallagher, Fortune, April 3, 2014; “Southwest Airlines to help fund makeover of historic Travis Park”, W. Scott Bailey, San Antonio Business Journal, March 26, 2014.
Read more about the renovation of Travis Park:
- “Travis Park Open for Business, Play, Awesome Ideas”, Iris Dimmick, Rivard Report, March 31, 2014
- “Revamped Travis Park opens”, Kolten Parker, Downtown Blog (San Antonio Express-News), March 31, 2014
- “City seeks balance between safety, inclusivity at Travis Park”, Jeremy T. Gerlach, San Antonio Express-News, April 1, 2014
If you are curious about F.T.’s homeschool history lessons, check out these posts:
- “Enjoy what’s unique about San Antonio on a Texas Star Trail downtown walking tour”, Inga Cotton, Alamo City Moms Blog, May 20, 2014
- “The Alamo is special (even if you weren’t born in San Antonio)”, Inga Cotton, Alamo City Moms Blog, April 17, 2014
- “The Briscoe Western Art Museum: Continuing the Rodeo Spirit”, Inga Cotton, Alamo City Moms Blog, February 19, 2014