The Alamo

With the unexpected setback of SeaWorld being closed what else were we to in San Antonio with no planning…    The Alamo!

The Alamo is a tourist trap of course and overcomercialized to the point that theres little authenticity left and as much as I hate coming to places like this it is still The Alamo, arguably the heart of Texas.  As anyone who has met a Texan can tell you they tend to have a certain swagger an arrogance even, a pride of being Texan that you just don’t see from citizens of other states.  You don’t see too many people sporting a tattoo of the outline of Ohio behind a flag of red white and blue prominently on their forearm or have regularly repeated expressions like some of my friends would semi-jokingly say “F’ U’ I’m from Texas!”

Hahaha!  Gotta love it.  Yep, you could say that all of that attitude stems from these hallowed grounds. Remember the Alamo! Fight to the death!  Never give up! Fight for what you believe against impossible odds and get it done!  Not since Thermopylae has a lost battle been celebrated so much.  The courage of these brave men’s sacrifice inspired everyone to do more and fight harder and those men’s courage inspired yet others and so this bravado has spread through the generations.

So yes I know its giant tourist trap commercializing those sacred grounds and profiting from and tainting the memory of her fallen heroes but yet it is still important.  A small flicker of truth remains in the Heart of Texas to make it worth seeing and afterwards you can get your coon skin cap and tshirt to show all your friends back home you have been there.

Never static, The Alamo has slowly evolved and changed over time as the city of San Antonio grew up around it.  I remember as a kid being able to drive up to the buildings and park alongside the barracks which is now fenced off.  In fact the iconic Alamo faced itself was changed many years after the historic battle, had it ever been completed according to plan it would have looked more like Mission Concepción below.  For a look at the changes to the mission over time look here.

Theres not much left of the original grounds or the original buildings.  Part of the barracks were left and part of the chapel, the rest had been demolished and rebuilt a number of times.  James Bowie himself was charged with destroying the mission by General Sam Houston after he decided they did not have enough men to secure it. Colonel Bowie decided to fortify it instead and we all know the rest.  One of the last surviving parts of the Alamo was also tied into a large store front.

As you can see most of the original grounds are gone.   That which has been beautifully restored, however, is quite amazing if you like old buildings and history. The landscaping was immaculate.

Of course we had to contend with multiple school groups of screaming kids on top of the way too many tourists trying to cram and shove their way through very tiny rooms and displays. Sorry I don’t have many pictures of the nice artifact displays, there was just no way with the masses of bodies crammed in like sardines in the way.  It took quite a lot of patience just to get shots of the buildings without tons of people in them.  So if you really don’t like crowds maybe this isn’t for you. I think the historic buildings and well done movies of the history they showed at the top and bottom of every hour were more than enough to put up with the screaming kids for a while.

I was also pleasantly surprised that this visit I found more and more mention of the brave Tejanos that fought along side their more famous white counterparts.  When I was a young kid coming here there was no mention of the Mexican fighters on our side of the revolution.  After all this was Mexico at the time, the American settlers who at first illegally crossed the border into Texas were only a minority. Who do you think was really fighting then?  A lot of them were Tejanos, the hispanic settlers who had been here for generations before the Americans arrived.

The history of the Alamo has largely been more myth and legend than fact.  In my AP history class we read documents and letters from some of the prominent Tejanos during and after the revolution and they were celebrated for their contributions.  Somewhere along the line they were largely written out of history and It is good that they are now slowly correcting these oversights.

For more light reading on the subject Wikipedia has some more history of the Alamo as well as the Battle.

So is the Alamo worth seeing?  Absolutely!  If you’ve never been here before its well worth seeing the cool buildings.  I would not want to deal with the crowds on the weekends though.  Check it out just to say you’ve been there and head over to the river walk to spend the rest of the day.



1 comment to The Alamo

Leave a Reply