The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city 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.
I absolutely love my Ridgeview neighborhood for several reasons. The mid-century houses that line its streets are what lured me in. Its location and access to my favorite spots in the city sealed my decision to find a home within it. My awesome neighbors confirmed that I picked a great neighborhood. And Clyde the Cat (real name, Patty Mills) cemented that I belong here. I’ll explain.
After 10 years in Austin, I moved to back to San Antonio in 2012. I initially lived here while pursuing my archaeology degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1997. I fell in love with this city during family vacations from the Rio Grande Valley and I decided that when I moved away for college, it was the place I wanted to be.
Leaving San Antonio to head to Austin for my first official archaeology job was bittersweet. I was elated and excited for the opportunity, but sad I was leaving. So when the chance came to come back to San Antonio, it felt as quick as a heartbeat to pack up and ship out of Austin. It was seamless. Don’t get me wrong, I did love Austin. It’s where I learned early adult lessons on life, love, and career. But I was still in love with San Antonio.
When I came back I first settled into an apartment near my old stomping grounds of UTSA, likely because of the nostalgia and comfort that it held. Even though I had been gone from San Antonio for 10 years, it still felt familiar and recognizable.
With my return came the surprising realization of how much I took San Antonio for granted. I had a newfound appreciation for the city’s history spanning 300 years, its community, and its architecture from the colonial period to its mid-century magic.
I’ve been lucky enough to work as an archaeologist in this city and have learned so much about its untold history, its people, and the neighborhoods that I would’ve never experienced had I not worked here. And one of those neighborhoods that I happened to stumble upon was the Ridgeview neighborhood.
Each street within its boundaries is filled with beautiful mid-century houses. They’re not particularly spectacular, but they are consistent in their design, with clean, low-sloped roof lines, angular columns, small porches with overhangs, and exposed beams. They are all part of the residential expansion that occurred in 1956 under the Ridgeview Development Company adjacent to the larger Shearer Hills neighborhood.
I moved here in 2016, and as my Shearer Hills neighbor alluded, I’m also worried about all the house-flipping going on throughout the neighborhood. I was lucky enough to purchase my home before any flipper or investor got a hold of it. And I’m constantly bombarded with phone calls and mailings to sell my home.
No, thank you. I bought this home with the intention of renovating it and gradually updating it for myself. I’ve fixed the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, the flooring, and some electric. I still have a lot to go, but I’m loving it. Because of my background, I know it’s important to maintain as much of the historic integrity of the home as I can.
The demographics of the neighborhood have changed since 1956. The housing boom of the post-Word War II era brought many servicemen into the city with new families and new opportunities awaiting them. Through the years, the affordability of the area allowed for more working-class, diverse citizens to buy their own homes here. I worry that families and single individuals will lose out on being able to be a part of this neighborhood if this trend of house-flipping continues.
One of the interesting things about living here is that I feel I have access to two different worlds in San Antonio. I’m not far from the Quarry, Alamo Heights, and Olmos Park, but I’m also not far from San Pedro Avenue and Basse Road. I can get a fancy dinner at J. Alexander’s at one end, or get some delicious hot dogs at the Dogfather before heading to the Bang Bang Bar on the other.
Plus, I have no problem finding taqueria’s at either end from Las Sabrosas de Guanajuato and Tlahco on San Pedro Avenue to Taqueria Vallarta on Broadway. The latter is in a classic Whataburger A-line building with the steel W, hence my friend’s nickname for it: Whataburger Vallarta. Even my grocery stores cater to my varied tastes, with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s at the Quarry and what I like to call my Mexican H-E-B on San Pedro. I can always find all my tamale ingredients there.
I also really lucked out with my neighbors. They’re all kind and welcoming. We keep watch over one another and are always down for chitchat on the front lawn when we happen to step out of the front door at the same time. It might be annoying to some, but I love that my street is lined with parked cars. It’s indicative of families or friends visiting, or big happy families living here.
When I take walks up and down Mertz Drive, I’m always running into fellow walkers and families. The Barbara Drive Drainage was completed last year and it has been a lifesaver during the pandemic, giving us access to nature and an escape from the mundane indoors. I’ve seen all sorts of waterfowl and insects, and I swear one early morning I saw a coyote.
This brings me to Clyde the Cat. Clyde, whose real name is Patty Mills per his owner, is a large orange and white tabby that oversees the neighborhood. I see him during my walks lounging in the middle of the street, sidewalk, or his front neighbor’s porch. And every time I see and greet him, his tail swishes back and forth and he rolls around to expose his belly. He rarely gets close enough for me to pet him, but when he does he appreciates it. And because he does, I feel more and more a part of this neighborhood every time.