San Antonio (/ˌsænænˈtoʊni.oʊ/ Spanish for "Saint Anthony"), officially the City of San Antonio, is the seventh most populous city in the United States of America and the second most populous city in the state of Texas, with a population of 1.3 million. It was the fastest growing of the top 10 largest cities in the United States from 2000-2010, and the second from 1990-2000. The city is located in the American Southwest, the south–central part of Texas, and the southwestern corner of an urban region known as the Texas Triangle.
Payaya Indians originally lived near the San Antonio River Valley, in the San Pedro Springs area, calling the vicinity Yanaguana, meaning "refreshing waters". In 1691, a group of Spanish explorers and missionaries came upon the river and Native American settlement on June 13, the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, and named the place and river "San Antonio" in his honor.
Early Spanish settlement of San Antonio began with the Martin de Alarcon expedition and the establishment of the San Antonio de Valero Mission (now the Alamo) as a means to reassert Spanish dominance over Texas from the nearby French in Louisiana. The viceroy, at the instigation of Father Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares, made the suppression of illicit trade from Louisiana a primary objective. He also pledged support for the Franciscan missions in Texas.
Post-Civil War to present
Following the Civil War, San Antonio prospered as a Center of the cattle industry. During this period, it remained a frontier city, but its mixture of cultures also gave it a reputation as being exotic. Frederick Law Olmstead, the architect who designed Central Park in New York City, travelled throughout the South and Southwest. In his book about Texas, he described San Antonio as having a "jumble of races, costumes, languages, and buildings," which gave it a quality that only New Orleans could rival in what he described as "odd and antiquated foreignness."
The River Walk meanders through the Downtown area. It was one of the first restorations of an urban river. Lined with numerous shops, bars, and restaurants, as well as the Arneson River Theater, this attraction is transformed into an impressive festival of lights during the Christmas and New Year holiday period, and is suffused with the local sounds of folklorico and flamenco music during the summer, particularly during celebrations such as the Fiesta Noche Del Rio. Also based along the River Walk is the newly restored Aztec On The River, the only surviving exotic-themed movie palace in Texas.
San Antonio has claims on being the birthplace of the spicy stew known as chili. It was introduced to the nation when the city sent a 'San Antonio Chili stand' to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Chili is still widely available. In passing, San Antonio is also the home of the Frito, the Cheeto and David Pace's Pace picante sauce.
The Alamo, located in Downtown, is Texas' top tourist attraction. Because of the mission, San Antonio is often called the "Alamo City." The River Walk is the second most visited attraction. SeaWorld, located 16 miles (26 km) west of Downtown in the city's Westover Hills district, is the number 3 attraction. Also, there is the very popular Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Morgan's Wonderland is a theme park for children who have special needs.