San Antonio Texas: Facts about the city

San Antonio, TX is a major city in the US state of Texas.  It’s location is in the transition zone between Central and South Texas.  The distance from San Antonio to Austin, the state capital, is 74 miles northeast “as the crow flies,” or 79 miles by car (1 hour 14 min).  The distance from San Antonio to Houston, the largest Texas city, is 189 miles east, or 195 miles by car (2 hours 52 min).

San Antonio is an historic and beloved city.  It recently celebrated its tricentennial year, having begun more than 300 years ago in 1718.  It was founded as Presidio San Antonio de Béjar, when the region was an outpost of imperial Spain.  San Antonio later played important roles as a part of Mexico, the independent Republic of Texas, and now the United States of America.  After his travels to the city, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, who later went on to design Central Park in Manhattan, New York City, gushed: “We have no city, except, perhaps, New Orleans, that can vie, in point of the picturesque interest that attaches to odd and antiquated foreignness, with San Antonio.”

A tall red metal abstract sculpture in downtown San Antonio called The Torch of Friendship by Mexican artist Sebastian

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San Antonio Population

San Antonio is a rapidly growing city. According to the US Census bureau, the population estimate for the city in 2018 was 1,532,233 inhabitants.  This makes San Antonio the seventh-most populous city in the United States.  San Antonio is also the second-most populous city in the southern United States.  Moreover, it is the second-most populous city in the state of Texas.

Nicknames for the City

San Antonio nicknames are common.  Some of these include “Alamo City” and “River City,” the two most popular among city residents.  These names respectively refer to the city’s role as the home of the historically important Alamo Mission and Battle, as well as the source of the vital San Antonio River.  It is also very common to hear San Antonio shortened to “San Antone.”  This is a jovial and informal nickname of long standing.  It dates back to the years of the Mexican Republic before the battle of the Alamo.  Although residents of San Antonio no longer use it themselves (ever!), you can commonly hear this jocular nickname for the city in other parts of the US.

Other less frequent San Antonio nicknames include Mission City (a nod to the city’s five historic Spanish missions), Military City USA (in reference to its significant military base and facility presence), and “the 210” (referring to the regional telephone area code).

Romantic view of a boat passing under an arched bridge on the San Antonio River Walk surrounded by palm trees

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San Antonio Tourism

The two top tourist destinations in the state of Texas are the San Antonio River Walk and the Alamo.  These two attractions are both in San Antonio TX.  San Antonio is also home to a number of amusement parks.  Some of these are: SeaWorld® San Antonio, Six Flags® Fiesta Texas, Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island, and Splashtown San Antonio.  There are others in surrounding towns.  Moreover, San Antonio stands out for its excellent museums, a top-notch zoo, botanical gardens, rodeos, and the San Antonio Missions UNESCO World Heritage site.  Further, San Antonio is home to the five-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs basketball team.

The Henry B. González Convention Center is the City of San Antonio’s convention center.  It hosts more than 300 events and welcomes more than 750,000 convention delegates a year. The Convention Center is downtown, right along the banks of the scenic River Walk.

Besides tourism and related retail and food services sectors, San Antonio’s diverse economy comprises a wide range of other industries.  Some of these include: healthcare and biomedical research, education, military, government, business/financial services, the energy sector, manufacturing, and cybersecurity.

San Antonio demographics

The population of San Antonio is predominantly Hispanic, at approximate 64% of the population.  Other populous groups include non-Hispanic whites, who make up about 25 percent of the population, African-Americans, who make up about 7%, Asians/Pacific Islanders, at about 3% of the population, and American Indians/Native Americans, who make up about 1%.  All these groups have made significant contributions to the history and culture of the region, a fact celebrated at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures.

San Antonio Climate

San Antonio’s climate is transitional.  The city’s location is where the humid subtropical climate of the Gulf coastal plains meets the semi-arid climate further west.

During the winter, the San Antonio weather changes depending on whether continental influences (winds blowing from the north and west) or maritime influences (with south and southeast winds from the Gulf of Mexico) prevail. Winter in San Antonio is generally quite mild.  However, cold fronts occasionally punctuate the winter weather, and on rare occasion can even bring snow.

San Antonio summers are usually long and hot, with conditions similar to the tropics.  Daily high temperatures during the summertime exceed 90 degrees most of the time. Some years these soaring temperatures can last well into September or October.

View from the tree-covered hills overlooking San Antonio with the city skyline in the distance

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San Antonio Location: Desert or No?

Before visiting, some travelers envision San Antonio as a city in the midst of a flat Texas desert.  However, many are surprised to find instead that it is a city of gently rolling hills, oak and cedar woodlands, and meadows dotted with oaks.

The area is watered by the San Antonio River and many creeks, although, like much of the state of Texas, the region is subject to periodic droughts. Many areas and neighborhoods of the city, especially in times of good rainfall, merit the designation as “lush.”

Lush Green Palm Trees and Banana trees surrounding a green lake at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio TX

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Conclusion

San Antonio is a vibrant city, rooted in a historic and colorful past, and rapidly expanding into a dynamic future.  Come explore this fascinating metropolis!

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