The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

Growing up in a military family meant we moved around — from Brownsville to Spokane, Washington, to Dallas before finally settling outside of San Antonio, where I finished high school. Then I spent some time away when I joined the military myself, but after a few years, I returned to San Antonio and moved back in with my parents on the outskirts of the Northeast Side while I worked and took classes at the Alamo Colleges.

As a photographer, I’m always looking for new perspectives and moments to photograph. While staying with my parents, I’d explore all the different sides of the city to look for new stories. Most times I’d drive downtown, park my car and walk for hours and miles until I was satisfied with all the images I took. I’d even scout locations to have future photo shoots and direct music videos.

Some days I’d go back home with all kinds of new photos and ideas, and some days I’d come back with nothing but a low gas tank. I’ve spent so much money on gas alone over the years, but it’s all been worth it.

Between 2016 and 2021 I dedicated myself heavily to photography, immersing myself in the art community, open markets, exhibitions, and First Friday and Second Saturday events. In the process, I realized I needed to move into the city if I wanted to keep up. It would also help me avoid paying for $50 Lyft rides to and from the St. Mary’s Strip (still better than paying for a DWI) — and avoid coming home so late to my parents.

While I was thankful to my parents for allowing me the space to keep growing and working, it was time for my own space.

Dominique Beltran lives in St. Paul Square with her dog Louis.
Dominique Beltran lives in St. Paul Square with her dog Louis. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

I’ve explored all sides of the city, but downtown has always been where I wanted to settle while I figure out life. Between being cut off by a horse, stuck in traffic on U.S. Highway 281, and caught in the middle of Fiesta mayhem, my space in St. Paul Square is my dojo and where I feel my most vulnerable — this is my safe space. My home is a reflection of myself. I love music, traveling, art, cooking and being active.  

I love where I live.

I’m only 14 minutes from where I work, a Lyft to the St. Mary’s Strip averages $7-$12, and I can ride my bike to the mission trails then to Oasis Tropical Fruteria on the West Side and back home in less than 30 minutes. 

I have access to three H-E-Bs. The McCreless location is great for my grocery hauls on Sunday, the SoFlo one is nice for pizza and drinks, and my favorite location is off Houston Street and New Braunfels Avenue. I always see the most interesting people there. 

Artist and photographer Dominique Beltran says that her home in St. Paul Square is her dojo where she works on her photographic works.
Artist and photographer Dominique Beltran says that her home in St. Paul Square is a space where she can explore her creative side. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

While living near downtown is convenient, I realize how much I love and miss the stillness of my parents’ house. The sound of 281 is now white noise for me, the smell of Smoke BBQ lingers at 8 a.m., and you’re lucky if you find parking to come visit after 7 p.m. on a Friday night. Living in St. Paul Square is waking up from a nap to walk your dog in sweats and a hoodie while passing Club 1902 and seeing so many people in high heels, their best dresses and makeup done. 

Some of my favorite early childhood memories consist of driving to the carnival during Fiesta, going downtown for New Year’s Eve, and going to the San Antonio Museum of Art with my dad. It felt like a journey to get there (probably because I was so young and we lived in Schertz), and now I’m just a seven-minute walk from it all. As the city changes, I hold onto those memories.

San Antonio is changing so fast, and while it’s exciting to see new opportunities, it’s also sad to see people who have been here for generations being displaced due to rising property taxes. The detrimental impact on local businesses due to the never-ending construction on North New Braunfels Avenue and North St. Mary’s Street is heartbreaking. 

I wish there were safer shelters for the homeless community here. After being here for a year, I’ve gotten to know a handful of homeless people, mostly women. I don’t believe destroying people’s homes is a way to move homeless people out. They are still human beings. When investors bought the lot under 281 and drove the homeless community away, my heart was broken for weeks. I still haven’t seen some of those people since then. Living in the downtown area has not only brought me closer to my art community and creative opportunities, it has also opened my eyes to the issues facing our city.

I don’t know how long I’ll be in this neighborhood, and I don’t know how long I’ll be in San Antonio, but for now, this is home.