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.
When I first moved to San Antonio in 1974 to teach art history at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the university was just starting out at the Koger Center. My daughter Miriam and I lived in a condominium, but there weren’t any kids around for her to play with, so in 1984, when Miriam was 8, I decided to look for a neighborhood where she could make friends.
By then I was teaching at UTSA’s main campus on the Northwest Side, so I chose to look for a home in the area to be close to work and so my daughter could stay in Northside schools. Woods of Shavano was a perfect fit.
It was one of the first subdivisions built in the area, so there wasn’t much around at first. There was an H-E-B nearby, but that was about it. I remember when the main campus of UTSA first opened and people thought it was in Boerne because it was so far out. Though it might have felt far away from downtown and the city back then, the city has come out to meet us. Now we’re in the middle of everything and have become a second epicenter with The Rim and La Cantera.
A couple of local favorites are Sol y Luna, a fantastic, family-owned bakery, and Royal Pizza, which in addition to excellent pizza serves great gyros. Also within walking distance, we have everything from a hookah lounge to a beer bar to Chinese takeout and a Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Because it’s such a walkable area, you’ll always run into neighbors while out for a stroll. People here are friendly. If you’re out walking your dog, there are always other people out walking their dogs. That’s how I’ve gotten to know a lot of my neighbors.
One of the most memorable nights here was when there was a moon eclipse and everybody went outside to watch. Kids were running around and adults were catching up with each other. I even met people I hadn’t met before. It was just lovely.
While we can’t do a whole lot of socializing these days because of the pandemic, the community association has done a great job keeping us connected with events like food truck nights and produce markets.
Neighbors have come and gone, but Woods of Shavano has always felt like home. For us older residents, it’s nice to see new faces around the neighborhood. Both of my next-door neighbors have moved in within the last year. Thanks to new families moving in, there are still little ones running around. It’s a nifty neighborhood because there are people of all ages and from all over the place here. We’re close enough to the Medical Center that we have people from there, there are a lot of UTSA people like myself, and, though we’re still a primarily white neighborhood, the area is getting more and more diverse.
Unlike many of the newer subdivisions where the trees have been stripped out, almost every house in Woods of Shavano has a live oak in the front yard. They don’t call it the woods for nothing. There are a lot of different styles of homes here and over the years the neighbors have personalized their houses so that it doesn’t look like the typical, cookie-cutter subdivision. Though most of the houses followed builder’s conventions of the 1970s, each of them has become as diverse as its inhabitants.
My house started out as a ‘70s tract house and it was rather dark, with wood paneling and bookcases in the living room. The previous owners took out those bookcases and installed windows to bring more light in. I’ve made my own updates over the years, like changing the carpeting and putting solar panels on the roof. When I moved in the kitchen was tiny. As someone who dwells in the kitchen, I needed a lot more space, so I took half the garage and doubled the size of the kitchen.
The home has gotten a bit big for me since I’ve been on my own, but I’d hate to leave this neighborhood and my dream kitchen. Plus my daughter still visits often and my 2-year-old granddaughter, Sydney, stays with me one night of the week, so it’s nice to have room for her to play.
Though it’s been a long time since anyone could say we’re in the middle of nowhere, the neighborhood still feels disconnected from downtown and the urban core because we don’t have a quick way to get there. There are limited public transportation options and those options aren’t very efficient. I would love to see light rail in San Antonio to connect different hubs in the city. Because San Antonio is so spread out by design, you need a car to get around to it all. Not everyone has a car (or the patience to sit in traffic even if they do), so we miss out on exciting spaces outside of our own. Light rail would help bring us all together.