Beautification of the San Antonio River was a long-time dream of local residents who urged city officials to improve the river through the downtown area. These efforts were just beginning when devastating floods caused widespread damage in 1913 and 1921. Only after a flood retention dam was completed north of the city across Olmos Creek, a major tributary of the river, did planners recommend comprehensive river improvements.
In 1929 local architect Robert H.H. Hugman presented the mayor with his Spanish-inspired plan to transform the meandering waterway with stone stairs and walkways, arched bridges, and river-level shops and restaurants. The Depression and local politics delayed the project, and Hugman's plans were not finalized until 1939. After two years of construction, a crowd of fifty thousand gathered to dedicate the River Walk on April 21, 1941. Here, at the northern end of Hugman's River Walk, water cascaded over a small stone and concrete weir and passengers embarked on river cruises at the boat landing just above the Fourth Street Bridge. The weir was modified in 2008 as part of the San Antonio River Improvements Project to allow barge traffic to move upstream.