My parents and grandparents are from San Antonio, and I was born and raised here. We moved around a lot when I was younger and had familial ties all around town, so I got a taste of several neighborhoods throughout my childhood. I pride myself on being a “puro” San Antonian (also seventh-generation Texan if we’re keeping score). 

After graduating from Madison High School and wandering through life for a few years, I quit my full-time serving job and part-time classes at San Antonio College and moved to Austin for a fresh start. After growing up, gaining life experiences, and finding direction, I decided it was time to replant my roots back in my hometown.

Now, my dog Bexar and I hang our hats in Alta Vista and couldn’t be happier. This neighborhood has so much to offer to a millennial like myself who secretly misses Austin’s “weird” flare. Alta Vista is nestled between Beacon Hill and Monte Vista, the more prominent neighborhoods of Midtown, which is why you don’t hear our name too often. I have the best of several worlds – close proximity to downtown minus the noise and traffic, walking distance to local bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, and the coziness of a quaint and quiet subdivision with older, charming neighbors. I enjoy the suburbia vibe without the long commute to entertainment and nightlife. 

My casita sits behind a large home built in 1909, which has been converted to a fourplex that houses three other polite and quiet tenants. One of my neighbors is a middle-aged gentleman named James, who can be found doing yard work on almost any given day and is always patient with Bexar’s overbearing “give me pets” requests.

I have the detached unit in the back that’s been renovated with stainless steel appliances and farmhouse style accents. Having a yard is the best part about my home, especially after living in apartments for over 10 years. One of my favorite features is the massive pecan tree that lives just outside my front door. During peak season, pecans fill the patio and front yard. It reminds me of the pecan tree that was in the backyard of my late grandparents’ home in Denver Heights. My grandpa used to make me help pick and gather pecans, a chore that annoyed me as kid, but now I cherish as a fond memory.

Hannah plays with her dog Bexar near her home in Alta Vista. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

San Pedro Springs Park is another earmark of Alta Vista. This park is dubbed as the oldest in Texas and one of the oldest in the United States. In fact, it was even an early Canary Islander settlement in the 18th century. My grandmother is of Canary Islander ancestry, so I appreciate the rich history of this park. Because the park is in walking distance from my home, Bexar and I get to enjoy its well-paved trails on a frequent basis. The park has many features, like a lush green landscape, skate park, swimming pool, tennis courts, and a huge gazebo. There is also the San Pedro Playhouse open to the community for plays and live theatrics. 

Being in Midtown, I’m also conveniently located near all of my favorite spots such as the Pearl, the Broadway shops, nightlife, and Southtown. Every weekend, Bexar and I choose between two Saturday routines – scoping out the Pearl Farmer’s Market or going for a run on the Mission Reach part of the San Antonio River. Afterwards, we usually stop by a dog-friendly local brewery such as Roadmap or Kunstler for a refreshing beer. I love that Alta Vista is also so close to the Olmos Drive roundabout. Along this road is where you can find vintage clothing, antique gems, or San Antonio-themed gifts at one of my favorite shops, Felíz Modern. 

Felíz Modern sells gifts and home decorations and serves the local downtown area. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

We are uniquely home to a noteworthy and highly rated middle school, Mark Twain Dual Language Academy, which is not common of inner-city neighborhoods. This Spanish-English language educational institution has high hopes of being a national model as the need for bilingualism becomes indisputable.  

Like many other San Antonio neighborhoods, Alta Vista faces challenges caused by gentrification. Revitalization and the attraction of new and younger residents brings many advantages, however, that comes with rising rents and inflated property taxes that threaten to push out longtime residents. Fortunately, this part of town has a relatively high voter turnout and considerable involvement from local elected officials to address issues that arise.

Few nonnatives realize that San Antonio has so much more to flaunt in addition to our unforgettable Alamo or touristic River Walk. When any of my friends from Austin come to visit, especially the ones who question why I left, I can proudly say this is home and where I’m meant to be. I love showing off our deep pockets of arts and music, Hispanic culture and food, and the sense of a close-knit community that you just can’t quite find anywhere else. 

Hannah Santino is a graduate of Texas State University with an enthusiasm for community involvement, local government, and public affairs. She is committed to staying engaged with initiatives that make...