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.

Moving into this house in Harlandale 13 years ago, I remember being so excited that I would have my own room. Until then my family had lived in a small duplex where I shared a room with my brother, so it was a big deal for me. Not only that, but we had a huge backyard and were located near plenty of parks and shops.

Our neighborhood is calm, and all of the neighbors, most of whom have also lived in this area for years, are friendly. I love knowing I am in a safe and peaceful community. Even living near Military Drive, which is always busy, my neighborhood has a good balance.

My family later welcomed two new siblings, Nataly, who is now 13 years old, and Tommy, who is 11. I’m now 24 and still enjoying my home, where I live with my parents, Martha and Julio, my siblings, and our two dogs and cat. It’s a full house, but that’s what I love about it. We’ve always been a close family and enjoy spending time together. And we still have enough space so that we can have time to ourselves. This is especially important for me as an artist and small business owner working from home.

Because we have so much space, our house is often the designated venue for celebrations with extended family. We’ve hosted many holiday gatherings and birthday parties here, most recently getting together for Thanksgiving.

One of my favorite family activities is taking walks to the Missions and Mission Library together. We even used to do some fishing in the Espada Acequia when I was younger. My dog, Esperansito, also loves walks along the trails by Mission San Jose or Espada Park. During the summer my boyfriend, friends and I like to gather at the Mission trails and bike all the way to downtown.

Beyond proximity to the Missions and access to outdoor spaces, we have some great local businesses in the area. Fruteria La Mission across from Mission Marquee Plaza is a family favorite, especially during the hot summer months.

  • Gonzalez recalls coming to Mission Branch Library often to study when she was in college.
  • Gonzalez enjoys visiting Mission Branch Library, especially with her younger family members.
  • Gonzalez likes to come to the screenings and events at the Mission Drive-in Theater.
  • Karen Gonzalez lives with her puppy Esperansito who likes to walk the neighborhood to hang out with his other canine friends before coming back home.

Living in Harlandale has also allowed me to find a local community of artists and small business owners. My art is inspired by my Mexican culture and how San Antonio embraces that culture. Being able to connect with others who work in the same space has strengthened my own work and allowed me to expand my business.

I love participating in pop-up markets, like SA Local Market, where I get to interact with other vendors and the community. Recently I started hosting my own market, Artesenia Latina, by Cafe Cotidiano in Southtown.

This South San Antonio area is very diverse, and I’ve seen so much more cultural appreciation throughout the years, which I think has helped shape our community. As a local Mexicana artist, it’s beautiful to feel at home in this community and in San Antonio. 

There have definitely been recent developments in the Harlandale area, the main one being the Mission Drive-In, now known as the Mission Marquee Plaza. Even before it was remodeled, I remember thinking that spot was so cool and now it’s even more beautiful.

Something I do wish our neighborhood had more of is community events. Growing up, the local elementary schools would host huge family nights around Halloween and Fiesta. I remember going to holiday parties at the Missions as well. Sadly, as the years go by, and with the pandemic, we have had fewer and fewer community gatherings.

Recently I have seen the Mission Marquee Plaza host farmers markets and movie nights, so I hope that signals the return of more community events and activities. I know I miss the magic of those big neighborhood gatherings of my childhood and, especially in these times, we need more ways to regain that sense of community.


Karen Gonzalez

Karen Gonzalez is the artist behind Simply Mexicana