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.
The community where I live is puro San Anto. In Prospect Hill, which most simply call the West Side, you’ll find everything you’ll ever need.
You’ll find Latinx-owned mechanic shops, tire shops, botanicas, piñata shops, barber shops, fruterías, Mexican restaurants, churches, and cultural centers, like the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Anto Cultural Arts and the Rinconcito de Esperanza. On my block, Carlos can help repair your washer and dryer — and teaches other folks in the neighborhood how to do repairs as well. The brothers diagonal from where I live are plumbers who, along with other buena gente like Denise Lozano, helped fix my backyard faucet during the Texas freeze.
Prospect Hill is home to Elmendorf Lake Park, where students from Our Lady of the Lake and families in the area cook out, feed ducks, run laps and fish. The neighborhood not only boasts Our Lady of the Lake University, but also Lanier High School, known for participating in the 1968 walkouts, along with Edgewood High School, where students walked out to protest racism in schools.
The community is filled with art: from the colorful and detailed murals created by San Anto Cultural Arts, to the huge family photos displayed by Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, to the local music coming from Jaime’s Place to the altars in people’s front yards honoring the Virgen (or sometimes the Spurs), to the trucks driving by blasting corridos in the morning and hip hop at night, to the families throwing colorful parties filled with the sounds of Spanglish, kids laughing, and mariachis.
It’s home to delicious restaurants like Ray’s Drive Inn, Yatzil Mexican Restaurant, and Kong’s Express, where if you’re lucky, the servers will call you “Mamas.” There are tons of mom-and-pop convenience stores hidden throughout, like Sari Food Mart, which now sells dresses along with cold drinks and snacks. Commerce Street runs through the neighborhood, and on the holidays, you’ll see vendors lined up along the corridor, selling teddy bears and flowers for Mother’s Day, pre-made Easter baskets, and even turkey legs during Fiesta time.
Prospect Hill smells and feels like hustling. And it’s understandable, not just because of the generations of neglect and forced poverty experienced by the community, but also because of the community’s drive and desire to build, to create, and to show up for each other.
The neighborhood is experiencing increased houselessness and, not unrelated, the threat of gentrification. On any given day, you’ll find gente like Susana Mendez Segura, groups like Mutual Aid SA, and countless other people bringing bread, pan dulce, water and supplies to encampments across the West Side, as well as to the pantries located at the Rinconcito de Esperanza and the West Side Community Pantry. You’ll also see small white signs with bold, black font that read, “Mi Barrio No Se Vende,” created by a coalition of Westside neighbors and community organizations committed to addressing San Antonio’s housing crisis.
We are fortunate to have the support and advocacy of Councilwoman Teri Castillo, who pushes the city for much-needed resources for the West Side. Prospect Hill has recently benefited from a bike lane along Buena Vista Street and much-needed sidewalks, given that so many of my neighbors walk, ride bikes, and use the VIA bus system to get around. The community could benefit from further resources, especially related to education, health care, animal care services, housing and employment. Despite the fact there is so much need, the community where I live does not wait around for the resources it deserves and instead continues to hustle, thrive, create, dance, love and care for itself.