San Pedro Springs Park
The springs you see here today fed the creek on which San Antonio was founded downstream by Spaniards in 1718 as a mission (San Antonio de Valero),and a settlement (Villa de Bexar) plus a presidio to protect them. In 1731, the members of the settlement ) joined with the men and women of the new Villa de San Fernando de Bexar, who had come from the Spanish Canary Island with a charter from King Philip V to establish the first municipality in Texas. At that time their were many Indians who were originally here camping among the trees off and on for many centuries.
San Pedro Springs Park is the second oldest public park in the United States. It was designated by a royal Spanish Grant in 1729. Dozens of fascinating historic events have occurred in the 297 years since April 13, 1709, when San Pedro Springs site was named by Father Isidro Felix Espinosa on a Spanish expedition up from Nueva Espana, now Mexico.
2200 N Flores St, San Antonio, TX 78212
Archaeological findings have uncovered evidence that human presence in the area dates back 12,000 years. The earliest recorded inhabitants of the springs were the Payaya Indians, who referred to their village as Yanaguana . Spanish Franciscian priest Damián Massanet led the first European contact with the area, a military expedition in 1691. In 1709, Spanish Franciscan missionary Isidro de Espinosa and a retinue of Spanish soldiers traveled to the area. In his diary, Espinoza described the springs in detail and noted they had named it Agua de San Pedro (Waters of Saint Peter). Martín de Alarcón founded the city of San Antonio by establishing San Antonio de Valero and Presidio San Antonio de Bexar at the Springs in 1718. He built an acequia (irrigation canal) in 1719. The springs and surrounding area were designated as public land by King Philip V of Spain in 1729. When the Canary Islanders began arriving in 1731, they first camped in this area.
HistoricalBased on the original Spanish land grant, the city of San Antonio’s first surveyor Francois P. Giraud defined the park’s boundaries in 1851. The city officially declared it a public park in 1852, making it the oldest park in the state of Texas. By 1856, the U.S. Camel Corps had camel stables on the site. In 1860, Sam Houston stopped here to deliver a two-hour speech opposing the proposed Texas secession from the United States. During the Civil War the park was used as a prisoner of war camp. After the Civil War, Buffalo Soldiers used the park as a training camp.
Natural SpringsSwiss landscape designer John J. Duerler leased land adjacent to the park, and reached an 1864 agreement with the city to redesign the park. Duerler developed the park with landscaping, a garden, picnic areas, a zoo and aviary, a music pavilion, and even a racetrack. Naturalist Gustave Jermy opened the Museum of Natural History in the park in 1885. The park suffered in 1891 when wells dug into the Edwards Aquifer dwindled the park’s water supply. Between 1897 and 1899, the park was renovated under the direction of Mayor Bryan Callaghan. Beginning just before World War II, the water needs of a burgeoning population once again decreased water levels, drying up the springs for the next 35 years. When excessive rainfalls during the 1990s replenished the park’s water supply, the public once again became interested in the park. The park underwent an additional renovation 1998-2000.