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Arts & Culture

Picture Perfect Look At San Antonio's Past

Contributed photo
UTSA Libraries Special Collections at ITC
Downtown San Antonio

A photo exhibit at the Institute of Texan Cultures tracks San Antonio through a 130-year period.


"We have about three-and-a-half million images to draw from," said the institute's James Benavides of its massive collection of pictures.

IF YOU GO WHAT: San Antonio from the 1860s to the 1990s Photo Exhibit WHERE: Institute of Texan Cultures WHEN: 9-5 p.m. Mon-Sat, noon-5 p.m. Sunday through March COST:  $10 adult, $8 senior, student, military

This particular 300-picture exhibit is called, “San Antonio from the 1860s to the 1990s.”

Credit Contributed photo / UTSA Libraries Special Collections at ITC
UTSA Libraries Special Collections at ITC
San Antonio celebration

"They found fantastic streetscapes, architecture, some historic places in San Antonio, some historic events,” Benavides said. “We're seeing the changing face of San Antonio over time."

Most of the pictures in this exhibit come from the archives of the defunct newspaper, the San Antonio Light.

"When Hearst bought the Express-News and shuttered the Light, that content needed to go someplace and it ended up in the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures," he said.

The institute's special collections senior curator Tom Shelton established a theme to the exhibit, making San Antonians the stars of it.

"It's not about mayors or governors, elected officials or celebrities,” he said. “It's about the everyday person."

Credit UTSA Libraries Special Collections at ITC
San Antonio downtown

Benavides couldn't identify a favorite shot but says there are many that will take your breath away.

"The Alamo with covered wagons in front of it — fantastic. There are pictures of the San Antonio River pre-Robert H. H. Hugman and works project administration," Benavides said.

Hugman is the architect who designed the River Walk, so the pictures show the San Antonio River before there even was a River Walk.

"There's some really awesome stories just built into this collection," he said.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org