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San Antonio: Portrait of the Fiesta City    by Susanna Nawrocki, Gerald Lair & Mark Langford order for
San Antonio
by Susanna Nawrocki
Order:  USA  Can
Voyageur Press, 2002 (1992)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The San Antonio Express-News said of San Antonio : Portrait of the Fiesta City, 'Indeed no more beautiful verbal and visual portrait has ever been unveiled ... reinforce the adage that while San Antonio may be a great place to visit, it's even better to live here.' Fifty years ago, I lived in San Antonio for a year. I fell in love with the energy in the city, its antiquities, history and welcoming people. I've wanted to go back, but life got in the way. So, when I saw this volume, I pounced on it. It proved to be a good pounce. It's a lovely book – for anyone who lives there, has visited, or would like to.

The vibrant photographs project the intensity of the city and its inhabitants. They seem to throw themselves into their pursuits and this enthusiasm shows on their handsome faces. The missions played an important part in the settlement of San Antonio. These structures are breathtaking in their simplicity, and worth more than a cursory visit. The Alamo began its life as a mission! 'The cradle of American Liberty' sits quietly in downtown San Antonio. You can see a part of the original west wall of the Alamo as you enter the Pasea del Alamo.

A photo of the Menger Hotel depicts the façade as more glamorous than I remember it. How nice to see it survived today's push for the modern. The much publicized River Walk looks like a movie set, but actually exists to give visitor and resident alike a special experience. They can either stroll along the romantic river setting or take a barge ride on the San Antonio River. That would be my first act should I find myself in the city again. When I lived there, the Walk was in the plans, but hadn't gotten off the ground (so to speak) yet.

Spanish and Mexican architectural influences abound throughout the city, and beautifully so. What works of art they are, with softly rounded walls and muted colors. Of course, there are other influences that grace San Antonio – it took more than Latinos to found the city – which blend magnificently to present a diversified beauty. The military are a big part of the background of San Antonio - not only from its checkered past, but also today. A number of bases surround the city, including Randolph Air Force Base as well as Lackland and Kelly Air Force Bases and Fort Sam Houston.

Parks and museums provide much for the visitor to do as well as the residents. I remember the San Antonio Zoo well. Fiestas remain very clear in my memory bank. Vivid colors, rousing music, wonderful food and excitement permeating the very air you breath. What a wonderful city San Antonio is. One of a kind.

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