Centro de Artes Exterior with Dancers
San Antonio’s plazas have been centers for business and entertainment since they were mapped out by the viceroy of New Spain for the original Canary Island settlers who arrived in 1731. Prior to the Civil War, the center of commerce was Alamo Plaza. But more than a century ago, farmer’s stalls offering fresh produce, beef, venison, wild turkeys, honey and pecans lined Military Plaza in front of the Spanish Governor’s Palace. At nightfall, the “Chili Queens” took over, their stalls lit by distinctive glass lanterns. Romanticized by O. Henry and other writers, they sold steaming bowlfuls of the spicy beef stew they cooked at home and hauled to the market in huge earthenware ollas. As San Antonio grew, the markets had to relocate, moving from Military Plaza to the current Market Square in the 1890s. At the turn of the 20th century, the city built a modern Municipal Market designed by noted British-born architect Alfred Giles (1853-1920) with refrigeration and running water on the old Hay Market Plaza and Paschal Square – named after Mayor George Paschal.
Celebrating Dia de los Muertos at Market Square
By 1900 San Antonio was the largest city in the state and the fastestgrowing. Immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia added to the confluence of cultures at the market, establishing grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, and social clubs. Francesco “Don Pancho” Pizzini opened a store at the market and rented space to other immigrants, including Pete Cortez, who would eventually RIO Magazine
Official Magazine of the San Antonio River Walk