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[photo] Interior of the depot building
Courtesy of San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Southern Pacific Depot Historic District is an architecturally cohesive group of buildings located on the east side of San Antonio. The buildings are linked not only by design, but also by their connection to the theme of transportation. The district is located on lands once farmed by the Mission San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo) in the 18th century, and later significant as the location of a Spanish road laid out in 1805 (now East Commerce Street). After the railroad arrived in 1877, the "East Side" began to develop into an urban middle class neighborhood. East Commerce Street was lined with wagon yards and other enterprises related to transportation and shipping. Although the neighborhood was predominantly Anglo, people of many ethnic backgrounds began to settle the area including African, Mexican and German Americans. In 1902, the Southern Pacific Depot was constructed on East Commerce and Walnut streets. The opening of the depot was a catalyst for commercial development in the area, and its Mission Revival style architecture influenced the design of buildings in the district. This influence can be seen in the stucco surface and prominent curvilinear parapets of many of the buildings. Despite the proliferation of commercial activities, the area retained its neighborhood character and continued to thrive through the 1950s. The African American community attracted prominent black entertainers such as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and "Pigmeat" Markham. The depot building, located at 1174 East Commerce, is highlighted by a curvilinear parapet, tile roof and arched arcade.

The Southern Pacific Depot Historic District is roughly bounded by I-37, S. Cherry, Mackenson and Montana sts. The depot building has been renovated into a performance arena, with restaurants and shops. For further information, visit their website or call 210-222-9481.


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