The San Antonio River begins four miles north of here, fed by springs that rise from the Edwards Aquifer deep below the Texas Hill Country. The river is also fed by tributaries along its winding, southeasterly course to join the Guadalupe River near the Gulf of Mexico.
A rich array of vegetation and wildlife sustained Native Americans who camped near the river for thousands of years. After the Spanish established a permanent settlement at San Antonio in 1718, missions, forts, and homes were built dose to the river that provided water for agricultural and house-hold use. The meandering waterway remained essential to the growing population until the 1890s when deep artesian wells were drilled to access a steady, pure water supply. Though no longer the city's primary water source, the river was still a centerpiece of the community that some envisioned as a linear park.
In 1941 efforts to beautify the river culminated with the dedication of a major Works Progress Administration project in downtown San Antonio. Extended north and south of the city center in the early 21st century to a length of thirteen miles, the San Antonio River Walk has become one of America's unique urban amenities.