Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
What to Know Before You Go On A Cleanse

What to Know Before You Go On A Cleanse

Food & Drink: It’s been a year since I’ve taken up this gig of eating and drinking across San Antonio. Since then, no fewer than seven juice shops have opened in the area... By Jessica Elizarraras 8/20/2014
Brendan Gleeson Carries Pitch-black ‘Calvary,’ Weighed Down by the Rest

Brendan Gleeson Carries Pitch-black ‘Calvary,’ Weighed Down by the Rest

Screens: Father James (Brendan Gleeson) sits in a confessional, waiting. An unseen man enters the box and says, “The first time I tasted semen, I was seven... By David Riedel 8/20/2014
SA’s Gritty PuroSlam is Feared, Respected in National Slam Poetry Scene

SA’s Gritty PuroSlam is Feared, Respected in National Slam Poetry Scene

Arts & Culture: See, there is this place where people participate in a ritual derived from the verbal tradition of telling and retelling stories to a room of bodies... By Melanie Robinson 8/20/2014
15 Types of Commonly Encountered College Students

15 Types of Commonly Encountered College Students

College Issue 2014: Usually a freshman, this student tries to absorb everything the teacher says and immediately after class rushes to... By Alex Deleon 8/18/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

News

Cityscrapes: A historic argument for a streetcar vote

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo


Here in San Antonio, we’re really, really good at remembering some things: Travis, Barrett, Crockett, the defenders of the Alamo and the story of the creation of the Republic of Texas. We also show off the heritage of the Missions and the triumph of HemisFair.

We’re equally good at forgetting other things. Recent weeks have seen stirring commentaries in the Express-News from local leaders such as former Mayor Henry Cisneros and Pat DiGiovanni of the Centro Partnership. Both endorse the proposed downtown streetcar, describing it as the first step in a far grander scheme of rail-based, multimodal transportation improvements. Both point to a host of benefits from investment in the streetcar plan, including acting “as a catalyst for building strong urban communities” and “fueling the kind of economic growth and vibrancy that will truly make this the ‘Decade of Downtown.’”

And despite vocal criticism from some, Cisneros points specifically to other public projects, originally mired in controversy, that (he argues) demonstrate the wisdom and vision of our community’s leadership.

Cisneros cites the Alamodome, HemisFair ’68, aquifer protection and water fluoridation as examples of the “important decisions [that] are the most difficult to make because of the debate they engender.” Yet he fails to mention that in each of those cases, and many others, the public was able to vote on the investment or decision. And ultimately things like fluoride, the Dome, and the Tower of the Americas and convention center that were part of HemisFair won majority support at the polls. There will apparently be no public vote on the streetcar project and its millions in public dollars. So while many of those “important decisions” cited by Cisneros were indeed difficult and conflicted, they eventually carried the legitimacy of voter approval.

Both the Alamodome and HemisFair point to another dimension of our “forgetfulness,” one not acknowledged by DiGiovanni or Cisneros. They were originally sold on a wave of promises and forecasts—seemingly expert and authoritative—that never quite happened. As former Express-News columnist Roddy Stinson documented so well after the Dome’s opening, beyond the implicit promise that the Dome would house San Antonio’s new NFL team, backers regularly promised that it would serve to help the city land more and larger conventions and tradeshows. Indeed, Mayor Cisneros forecast in 1989 that “for every sports event there will be 20 others, such as conventions and trade shows.”

The Alamodome has never really fulfilled the promise of serving as a convention venue. Since opening, it has been followed by two successive expansions of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

What about HemisFair ’68, the event that ostensibly placed San Antonio on the world stage? There were expansive promises and precise forecasts made for the fair as well. Speaking to the City’s urban renewal commissioners in December 1963, Bill Sinkin, the “father” of HemisFair, said that beyond the planned new convention and exhibition center, the fair would ultimately yield a new permanent “trade center … built by private enterprise.” He added, “Somewhere in San Antonio or Texas will have to be found the man, or the corporation, with enough imagination and courage, and of course, money.”

Recently in News
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus