Thursday, May 8, 2008

Exploring Downtown San Antonio

This week, I've been attending some training downtown. Now, most of the time I'm in classes but during lunch I've had some time to explore...And I decided to put my new camera to the test. So, this photo-heavy post is the result.

Full post includes photos from the hotel, riverwalk area (including new construction) and various downtown buildings.
Teaser: Weird Modern Fountain.

While the hotel itself was older, it had an interesting tropical theme that resulted in some nice touches. The patterns from this place will be a separate post. But here are a few decorative highlights....

Throughout the hotel lobby, they had these mask/suit things on display. They were quite colorful.
If a little scary.

The phone alcove.
I love this. It's very arresting.

And the piece de resistance:
Chairs made with seatbelt webbing! All over the lobby! Very Awesome.

The hotel was on the riverwalk at the very North end. The banks were lined with one of my favorite plants:
Now, I always heard this referred to as a "Wandering Jew" which, according to Wikipedia, is not a polite term. The technical name is Tradescantia pallida. It grows all over the Texas Gulf coast.

San Antonio is extending the riverwalk on the Northern end so from the hotel we had a great view of the construction (I know, only an engineer would think this).

To get to the riverwalk, there's always these wonderful stone staircases and tunnels, like so:
Well, in the new construction, you can see the "skeletons" for future staircases:

Most of the touristy parts of the riverwalk are on the Southern end, the North is more local businesses and park-like.

Sometimes the bridges are quite decorated, both under and over

There's also the occasional tunnel.
Can you tell I'm a fan of the stonework?

All around the hotel, there's tons of just gorgeous old & new buildings. Some fit in with what you'd expect and some are just very out of place if cool. Let's start with the first one I noticed:
Webb Hall is this huge complex of red brick buildings. It's practically a whole city-block.

Next up is the Municipal Auditorium. From the back, it appears quite stern and boring. Think: the administrative offices for Azkaban prison. The front however is quite cool.
(Note: the antenna is behind the building not sprouting from one of the domes)

Across from there is one of the many AT&T buildings downtown. This one is the largest I saw. It has a couple war memorials out front in a little park area. The majority of the building is boring-ol-skyscraper. But the windows and doors on the first floor are stunning:
And it's not just in front either, along the side there's equal detail:

Unfortunately, downtown has some parts that aren't very nice. But sometimes, even a rundown buildings catch your eye.
I love the details around the second story windows here.

Now some buildings very much blend in while also being nice-looking in their own right. For instance, there's this apartment building:
Definitely Hispanic influence, fits in with the neighborhood and beautiful building.

Other buildings, man, they stuck out like a sore thumb.
I don't know what this is. I call it 'Crazy Red Building'. It doesn't fit in AT ALL. In another area, it might be more appealing but I went looking for old houses and came across this.

Eventually, I did find some grand old mansion-like houses.
Most are law offices with the backyard converted into tiny parking lots. They usually have pretty huge porches and balconies.
This one looks great considering it's abandoned:

Finally, I struck GOLD. One morning while on the freeway, I noticed a church steeple:

I thought, 'Hmmmm...that's probably worth checking out for pictures'. Boy, was I right!

It's a historical building according to the marker, the "Madison Square Presbyterian Church'. Gorgeous stonework, with some buildings behind it done in the same material.

All in all, wandering around downtown like a tourists isn't a bad way to spend my lunch hours.

Coming soon! Patterns from my training experience.

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