A New Exhibit Opens at the Alamo

“… it is more important to occupy this Post than I imagined when I last saw you — It is the key of Texas …” William B. Travis

January 1, 2018, marks the beginning of the celebration of the 300 year anniversary of the founding of the City of San Antonio. From a small collection of Spanish settlements, the community has evolved to become the second largest metropolitan area in Texas and the seventh largest in the United States. Today, nearly 1.5 million people call San Antonio home. In addition to being a vital transportation hub connecting different parts of the country, San Antonio has developed into a world renowned scientific, medical, and technology center. Visitors flock here by the millions each year to enjoy its inviting climate and exciting entertainment attractions. Just as importantly its long history and association with various armies has earned it the label, “Military City U.S.A.”

Since its beginning in 1718, San Antonio has been a military city, thanks largely to the Alamo. Although it was originally established as Mission San Antonio, its location near the headwaters of the San Antonio River made it an important place. Nations seeking to settle and control Texas relied on the Alamo to reinforce their claim and bring stability to the region. San Antonio’s development into a military city involved several groups of people. These included Coahuiltecans, Apaches, Comanches, Spaniards, Mexicans, Tejanos, Texans, and Americans. Each viewed the region as vital to its interests because of its location and resources. Identities tended to blend over time through contact, as each sought to gain or keep control of Texas.

All people attempting to settle a frontier face the same challenges. By definition a frontier is a place located far from other settlements. This isolation made the mobility offered by the horse a necessity for travel, trade, and communication. A frontier also serves as a contact zone, where different groups compete for control. Although the most famous conflict was the Texas Revolution — which gave Texas the Battle of the Alamo — other battles also raged around San Antonio and the surrounding area. Gradually, often as a result of these conflicts, the frontier becomes a stable region with well-established communities.

This is the story that will be told in the Alamo’s new exhibit, Fortress Alamo: The Key to Texas. Visitors will learn that San Antonio’s location and importance ensured that it would be the scene of conflict between rivals competing for the control of Texas. Apache raids, filibustering expeditions, sieges, battles, and capitulations are all part of San Antonio’s early history. As the guardian of the town, the Alamo was naturally at the center of these epic events.

Fortress Alamo opened on February 1, and will run through December 31. Visitors can view the exhibit in the Alamo Annex adjacent to the famous church. As always, the Alamo, including this exhibit, is open to the public free of charge.

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