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February 2018 edit: Enjoy this look at TTAT past from our archives, then register for TTAT 2018, coming to Austin May 2-4. Questions? Call us at 512-476-7433.
Complementary four-dollar daily pass in hand and sheltered under one of Vía's graffiti-proof bus stops, Abigail Kinnison began our afternoon multimodal tour of the King William Historic Neighborhood during the 2012 Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Participants in this mobile session enjoyed a panoramic VÍA Metropolitan Transit trolley ride from the intersection of Lexington and Avenue A to within a short walk of the Anton Wulff House, serving as headquarters to the San Antonio Conservation Society and the gateway to the homes on and around King William Street. The trolley ride over took us past the recently inaugurated San Antonio B-Cycle's headquarters, with its rows of commuter/tourist friendly bicycles at the ready.
Before setting off on a self-guided tour of the historic district, we were treated to a brief but informative presentation on the grounds of the Conservation Society's headquarters.
Most of the grand homes along King William Street and adjoining streets were built in the 1800s by prosperous German business owners. However, due to housing shortages as the military population grew during World War II, many of the homes were divided into apartments for military spouses. Many homes suffered from disrepair and abandonment in later years. The restoration of these homes back to their single family, original design was possible due to the momentum started by Walter Mathis and many others who shared his vision up to the present.
While there is still some work to be done, the neighborhood has been largely restored to its former splendor, and today's residents include many successful businessmen and professionals such as HEB grocery empire chairman Charles Butt. All participants found something to admire along our architectural/historical walk-most of the homes along the walking tour have been beautifully restored.
Our tour, which was one of many activities offered to conference participants, enjoyed some refreshments at a wonderful outdoor hang out--The Friendly Spot--before taking the VÍA Metropolitan Transit trolley ride back to the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel, our conference headquarters. Other groups chose optional activities such as bike rides along the city's bike trail system or runs through interesting San Antonio neighborhoods.