This article is inspired by past issues of the King Association newsletter, beginning in November 1967. Its purpose is to inform newer neighbors and remind those who have been here awhile of how the King William Area has evolved through the years.
References and comments are from those issues containing “news” items that seem, to this writer, to show the development of the King William neighborhood or merely to show how some things are unique to an historic district. The series starts with comments taken from the November 1967 newsletter about the first King William Association meeting held in October 1967. Articles will continue, but will not in every issue of the newsletter.
MAY 1968 - After meetings among members of the City Council, the KWA and the San Antonio Conservation Society, the King William area was designated as an Historic District. Then Mayor Walter McAllister asked the KWA to nominate persons for membership to the new Review Board for Historic Districts. Five of the 9 members were selected from those nominated.
MARCH 1969 - This issue included 3 important matters of concern to the King William neighborhood. One was that plans were proceeding for the new Post Office to be built where the San Antonio Housing Authority and O. P. Schnabel apartments are now, between S. Main Avenue and S. Flores Street. Four blocks of homes had been razed for the site. Thanks to efforts and negotiations between the Federal government, the Housing Authority, the San Antonio Independent School District, and the King William Association, a compromise was reached to locate the Post Office away from the residential area to a site east of the airport.
A second matter was the possibility of a freeway passing along Durango Street (now César Chávez Blvd) and La Villita. Members of the KWA organized a protest and began meetings with officials to change the proposed route. The freeway was not built.
A third matter concerned a request from the San Antonio River Authority to the KWA about the Johnson Street bridge, which had been removed when the river was re-channelized and widened for flood control.
The so-called “O. Henry Bridge” had originally crossed the river on Commerce Street near S. Alamo and was relocated to the King William neighborhood when the present Commerce Street bridge was built. An arched iron bridge much like the Arsenal Street bridge but older and more decorative, it was named after the author who had lived in San Antonio for a while. He reportedly watched the river from the bridge to get ideas for his writings.
Members voted to request a pedestrian rather than a vehicular bridge and that ironwork from the “O. Henry Bridge” be replaced on the new span. The present pedestrian bridge was finally built in 1983-4, by which time much of the ironwork had been scrapped. The two spires on the east end of the pedestrian bridge are from the historic bridge.
- Alan Cash