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New Landscape Report Will Guide Efforts To Improve Brackenridge Park In San Antonio

Water Works Pump House No. 1 at Brackenridge Park
Charlotte Mitchell
Water Works Pump House No. 1 at Brackenridge Park

The Brackenridge Park Conservancy has released its Cultural Landscape Report that will guide efforts to improve the park's ecological systems.

The report also aims to protect and celebrate the park's historic and archeological sites.

“Making sense of 12,000 years of an evolving landscape and providing a usable plan for the future has been no easy job,” said Lynn Osborne Bobbitt, Executive Director of the BPC.

“But the green space of Brackenridge Park and the San Antonio River through the urban center, along with the heritage of uses and stories of people through time, is irreplaceable and well worth the effort. The documentation, chronology, mapping, and analysis chronicled in the Cultural Landscape Report and Environmental Site Assessment will be an invaluable guide as we work together to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for Brackenridge Park.”

The park conservancy commissioned the report in collaboration with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department and the San Antonio River Authority. The report team included landscape architects.

Historic iron bridge at Brackenridge Park
Charlotte Mitchell
Historic iron bridge at Brackenridge Park

During a period of 18 months, the team assessed the ecological health of the landscape and the San Antonio River, conducted in-depth historical research, documented existing conditions, evaluated opportunities and challenges and developed treatment recommendations for community consideration.

The report identified key areas to focus on:

  • Research, maintain and provide accessible prehistoric and historic archeological sites
  • Restore and develop accessible and healthy upper course of the San Antonio River and riparian corridor
  • Restore damaged and hidden river structures like acequias, dams, ditches, and retaining walls
  • Restore threatened vegetation/soils/hydrology, historic tree canopies, and dwindling plant communities
  • Reimagine entry and arrival areas that are not entirely evident or inviting
  • Reimagine wayfinding and routes through the Park that provide access to the Park's numerous experiences
  • Integrate the boundaries and edges between cultural institutions that highlights their historic relationship with the park.

A long-term goal is to include the park in a Congressional designation as a National Heritage Area, capitalizing on cultural tourism as a source of revenue. Over the coming months, the Brackenridge Park Conservancy will host public meetings and tours to invite community conversation and input about the park’s future.

Just below the headwaters of the San Antonio River, the site of Brackenridge Park has been a gathering place for humans for 12,000 years, according to the conservancy.

The 343-acre park features tree-shaded paths and picnic spots along two miles of the San Antonio River. There are also playgrounds and softball fields, a miniature train, historic structures, the Witte Museum, the zoo, and the oldest municipal golf course in Texas.

Brackenridge Park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Texas State Antiquities Landmark. The Japanese Tea Garden, a footbridge and other works by artist Dionicio Rodriguez, and the Water Works Pump House No. 1 are individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, according to the conservancy.

Brackenridge Park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. The full report can be found on the Brackenridge Park Conservancy website.

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