FROM NATIVE WOODLANDS TO LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS
San Antonio’s Brackenridge Park, located near the city’s center, is the result of a gift from philanthropist and San Antonian George Washington Brackenridge. Brackenridge, a native of Warwick County, Indiana, arrived in Texas in 1853 at the age of twenty-one. Among his many endeavors, Brackenridge established the San Antonio National Bank and owned and expanded the San Antonio Water Works Company. The failure of the waterworks, in fact, precipitated the parkland gift as Brackenridge, attempting to own and control the city’s main water supply, drilled and over-pumped his artesian wells, dropping the local water table and rendering the waterworks obsolete. Although he kept the waterworks until 1906, Brackenridge donated 199 acres of his property to the city to serve as a public park. Today, Brackenridge Park, encompassing over three hundred and forty-three acres, features a remarkable selection of activities including the San Antonio Zoo, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Sunken Garden Theatre, rentable park pavilions for family gatherings and celebrations, playscapes, a softball field, restrooms, hiking trails, and plenty of parking. Throughout the park (and in other San Antonio locations), look for whimsical and utilitarian objects such as benches, bridges, and the entry way to the Japanese Tea Garden constructed from concrete in a method called trabajo rústico or faux bois. Artists Dionicio Rodríguez and Maximo Cortés created much of this work in the 1930s and 40s, and Cortés’ son Carlos continues this tradition today.