San Antonio’s Acclaimed Urban Park
The comprehensive history of one of the nation’s foremost city parks
Brackenridge Park began its life as a heavily wooded, bucolic driving park at the turn of the twentieth century. Over the next 120 years it evolved into the sprawling, multifaceted jewel San Antonians enjoy today, home to the San Antonio Zoo, the state’s first public golf course, the ...
- Published: October 2022
- Published: October 2022
Brackenridge Park began its life as a heavily wooded, bucolic driving park at the turn of the twentieth century. Over the next 120 years it evolved into the sprawling, multifaceted jewel San Antonians enjoy today, home to the San Antonio Zoo, the state’s first public golf course, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Sunken Garden Theater, and the Witte Museum.
The land that Brackenridge Park occupies, near the San Antonio River headwaters, has been reinvented many times over. People have gathered there since prehistoric times. Following the city’s founding in 1718, the land was used to channel river water into town via a system of acequias; its limestone cliffs were quarried for building materials; and it was the site of a Civil War tannery, headquarters for two military camps, a plant nursery, and a racetrack.
The park continues to be a site of national acclaim even while major sections have fallen into disrepair. The more than 400 acres that constitute San Antonio’s flagship urban park are made up of half a dozen parcels stitched together over time to create an uncommon varied landscape. Uniquely San Antonian, Brackenridge is full of romantic wooded walks and whimsical public spaces drawing tourists, locals, wildlife, and waterfowl.
Extensively researched and illustrated with some two hundred archival photographs and vintage postcards, Brackenridge: San Antonio’s Acclaimed Urban Park is the first comprehensive look at the fascinating story of this unique park and how its diverse layers evolved to create one of the city’s foremost gathering places.
"Fisher takes the reader on a journey of discovery through the various strata of artifacts, people and policies that underlie both the soil and the social history of the park." — San Antonio Express-News
"The 400-acre park we know today is a patchwork “crazy quilt” of time, dedication, neglect and occasional infusions of interest and controversy, much of which is included in the 200 pages of Fisher’s copiously illustrated book." — San Antonio Report
"Fisher knows how much work will be required to prepare the park for the long haul. But he can see what is possible when history is taken into account." — San Antonio Magazine
"Many believe that Brackenridge Park was first opened at the turn of the 19th century. However, Brackenridge: San Antonio’s Acclaimed Urban Park reveals that the history of the park as both a gathering spot and a water source predates widely held current explanations of the park’s history." — Texas Public Radio