Travis Park San Antonio is a Fresh Place to Play Downtown

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.

Travis Park San Antonio | San Antonio Charter Moms

On a breezy spring morning, I walked through the park with my son, F.T., to see the new features, including landscaping and seating.

New seating at Travis Park San Antonio | San Antonio Charter Moms

New tables and chairs

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.)

Kiosk at Travis Park | San Antonio Charter Moms

The lending kiosk

Here’s a look inside the kiosk.

Borrow books, games, and toys from the kiosk at Travis Park, downtown San Antonio | San Antonio Charter Moms

Kiosk with books, games, and toys

There’s also a giant chess set and dog park.

Chess set and dog park at Travis Park, downtown San Antonio | San Antonio Charter Moms

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.

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:

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.

Confederate memorial at Travis Park | San Antonio Charter Moms

Confederate memorial

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.

St. Anthony Hotel, San Antonio, Texas | San Antonio Charter Moms

St. Anthony Hotel

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:

If you are curious about F.T.’s homeschool history lessons, check out these posts:

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