The San Antonio River Walk, also known as Paseo del Rio, is a two-and-a-half mile stretch of pedestrian walkways, shops, and restaurants along the river in the heart of downtown San Antonio, one story below street level.
As the city developed along the San Antonio River, the area was plagued by flooding. After a devastating flood in 1921 in which 50 people lost their lives, the city government went forward with a plan to divert the river and pave over the section that flowed through the city, creating a storm sewer in its place. A group of concerned citizens, founding what would become the San Antonio Conservation Society, succeeded in stopping the paving and in 1929, the city adopted Robert H.H. Hugman’s plan to continue with flood control measures, but incorporate plans for commercial development along the banks. However, the area was reputedly highly dangerous, as a result of both natural disasters and crime.
Nonetheless, WPA funding helped bring this first phase of the project to completion in 1938. According to the Paseo del Rio Association, a nonprofit organization founded in 1968 to promote and preserve the River Walk, it is today the number-one tourist attraction in Texas, with continued growth and expansion.
The River Walk is home to many festivals and celebrations, including Fiesta San Antonio, Fiesta de Las Luminarias, and the Mud Festival.