Photo Credit and Photo Copyright

The photographs of San Antonio and Dignowity Hill used within this blog are the property of Juan A Garcia East Light Images. All rights are reserved to the owner. Copy and use of these pictures is forbidden without written permission. Contact Juan at for permission.

Friday, June 27, 2008

An Old Bridge

There's an old bridge in our neighborhood. Looking down Hays Street from Dignowity Hill one can glimpse at the trusses of iron of the old Hays Street Bridge. If you're into bridge engineering and history, the bridge is actually two different iron truss bridges linked together, a “whipple” and a “phoenix” style trusses. Records of the Phoenix Bridge Company show that the Whipple truss dates from 1881 and was reconstructed from one or more salvaged spans over the Nueces River west of San Antonio. Sometime between 1908 and 1910 the bridge was moved and reconstructed as a viaduct over the railroad tracks to allow residents of the Eastside to cross over the railroad tracks safely into downtown San Antonio. As a kid growing up in San Antonio I remember riding across the old bridge in Pop's '55 Chevy station wagon. Time and neglect took their toll on the old bridge and in 1982 the bridge was permanently barricaded and closed to vehicular traffic. In 1983 the city came up with a plan to replace the structure with another bridge, fortunately for the bridge and us, the plan fell through. In the late 1990's Nettie Hinton, a long time Dignowity Hill resident, circulated a petition to help save the old Bridge from being dismantled. The Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group has worked diligently to help save the old bridge and find funding for the project.

Today the old bridge proudly stands ready for its next life as a restored link between downtown and the Eastside. In 2001 $2.89 million federal funds were committed to rehabilitate the bridge as part of a hike and bike trail and restore the bridge as a key link to our neighborhood and downtown. In late 2007 the city and Union Pacific reached an agreement allowing the city to take control of the historic bidge. Well, here we are July 2008 and the old bridge still sits waiting, waiting and waiting for restoration to begin. What's the hold up? I'm sure there are legitimate reasons why this project hasn't moved but come on.....lets get serious. With all the hotel and condo construction going on a few blocks south of the bridge as well as increased revitalization activity in the Dignowity Hill area, I think its time that this project show some visible life. So if anyone in charge of this project should read this posting please shoot me an email or post a comment it would be nice to hear from you. I really would like be able to walk or ride my bike across the restored old bridge in my lifetime.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Our Front Porch

We live on a corner lot and because of our location we are literally at a crossroads of neighborhood life. Across street from our house is Bowden Elementary School. Kitty corner from us is the Ella Austin Community Center which has been serving Eastside neighborhoods for over 100 years. A block away is Childress Memorial Church. A plaque on the building tells us it was built in 1908 by a Baptist congregation. The current congregation provides a wonderful community anchor. From our front porch we have a wrap-around view of community life. We can sit on our front porch and see all three of these community service and gathering places. On Sunday mornings and often times during the week we can sit on our front porch and listen to the lively spirit filled worship services coming from the church. During the school year we can view and listen to the daily start of school day activity....the sounds of children talking and laughing, the school guard whistle, the school horn signaling the start of classes or recess. The community center is busy all day with their activities....there are always people and cars coming and going.

Our front porch perch gives us great front row seats to what goes on in our corner of the world. However, lest you think that sitting on our front porch is this romatic experience of a by gone era, the reality is that from our porch we also see the gritty side of life in our neighborhood. Which is not a bad's good to have a balanced view of the world. Keeps you grounded. For us, seeing the needs and challenges of this old neighborhood has produced this interesting motivation to make this place better. We have been inspired by many of the long time residents such as Nettie Hinton, Betty and Diane Green, Hector Gonzalez, Evelyn Brown and others who love and believe in this community passionately....and I do mean passionately! They are always lifting up our neighborhood to the powers that be to bring recognition and improving the quality of life. Come to one of our nieghborhood association meetings and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about!
The point of this little ramble is that if you want to change the world you need to act, you need to raise your voice, you need to get involved, you need to hang out out with people who have courage and vision. And.... it helps to have a front porch.