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.
Eleven years ago, my wife, Sara, and I met with an architect to start drawing up plans for our “dream home.” We had purchased a small lot to the south of Loop 1604 that would make my commute to the Toyota plant for work less than five minutes. I was looking forward to never having to deal with traffic again.
A few months later, I found out my in-laws were considering selling a home they had remodeled downtown off of Probandt Street. My father-in-law, Sam, had taken this dilapidated house and turned it into a home. We had visited the house from time to time, but it wasn’t until the decision was made to sell it that I began to see the real beauty in it.
It had a back patio perfect for grilling, a second-story man cave for all my Chicago Bears and Pearl Jam memorabilia, and an upstairs deck that, not only offered a prominent view of the fortress-like Pioneer building, but also a spectacular one of the Tower of the Americas, which would only be enhanced in July and December when fireworks fill the sky around it.
When I told my friends where I was moving, I was given more warnings than congratulations. Maybe I was missing something? Or maybe they were.
We spent the next few years exploring the area. From hopping over The Slab to grab some beers at La Tuna and Pedicab (oh, how I miss thee) to celebrating First Friday at Blue Star, we quickly found our favorite spots in the neighborhood. Now, I’m not exactly sure what this slab used to be in its heyday, but more recently it had found itself repurposed for Slab Cinema, a bicycle hockey league, and, more importantly, served as a short cut to an ice cold beer. And for those who don’t remember Pedicab, they had the most amazing specials ever. It’s hard to beat five giant wings for ten cents apiece.
I later became a member at Beethoven Maennerchor. Bar 1919 opened and changed my entire outlook on the art of the cocktail. The meticulous precision that goes into each drink is incredible – and much appreciated from Don and the gang.
I started taking the entire week off for NIOSA so we could celebrate San Antonio. We could also walk to the King William Parade and attend the King William Fair (for free!). We started collecting Fiesta Medals.
Then there’s my favorite part of all: the Christmas Eve Alamo Walk. Sara loves a good photo op and, one year, she asked me if we could walk downtown and take a picture in front of the Alamo and the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Knowing that the only correct answer was “yes,” I fired up the Bing Crosby and we started our maiden voyage. We didn’t know it then, but this would become an annual tradition for us – a tradition that I hope never ends.
And this whole time I was thinking to myself, this area is so cool, why don’t more people want to live down here?
Well, it turns out they do. The empty field behind our house became condos. Next came the Cevallos Lofts, followed by the five-story Southtown Lofts (which, sadly, took away my view), and eventually Big Tex.
But with the loss of my amazing view came new bars, restaurants, shops, and people. And to be honest, the trade-off was totally worth it. What we thought was already the coolest place in town started to become even cooler. We now have Il Forno at the end of our street, Küntsler Brewing just three streets down, plus Fruteria, Sukeban, and Francis Bogside, just to name a few. To have friends visit from other parts of town and to be able to walk to each location is an adventure in itself. You never know who you will meet. This neighborhood was made to make new friends.
But, for now, a lot of the typical fun that’s associated with the Lone Star area has been shut down. We’ve found new ways to entertain ourselves. In March, we made a commitment to improve our overall health and started daily walks on the River Walk. If you drop in at Blue Star and take the trail to La Villita and back, you will hit a perfect 5K. There’s beautiful scenery, dogs galore, and most importantly, shade. And when we are looking for a change of pace, we can drop the kayaks in at so many different launching points in the area. You can head south toward Confluence Park or paddle upstream to see King William’s historic homes from a different vantage point.
Looking back, I am so glad we passed up our “dream home.” Living in what’s now called the Lone Star neighborhood has been such an amazing experience. It’s a place that welcomes everyone and eagerly awaits for you to join in on the fun. We’ve seen this area truly blossom and can’t wait to see what the next ten years have to offer.