Nestled in the heart of downtown San Antonio, the historic River Walk has long been one of Texas’ top tourist destinations. Its winding, tree-lined pathways, lush landscaping, and endless procession of restaurants, shops, and hotels attract millions each year. Originally constructed in the late 1930s, the wear and tear of constant use and the ever-growing mature planting had created severe accessibility, life safety, and aesthetic concerns by the 1990s. The City faced a dilemma: How do we make the River Walk experience universally accessible and safe while maintaining the historic fabric and aesthetic ambience that draws people there in the first place?
To address this unique challenge, a series of master planning and implementation projects were commissioned, all with a single defining goal: Maintain the unique River Walk experience while ensuring that it is enjoyable and accessible.
The Master Planning documents establish a new baseline for the River Walk’s overall physical condition and quality, create an on-going assessment/maintenance program, and provide a framework for change to accommodate new developments which interact with the River Walk.
Each phase of construction work has dealt with complex historic and technical challenges that have required unique design solutions. Custom details and construction systems have been developed to lift and reset historic sidewalk panels, elevate and cantilever walks to create room for vegetation, restore historic features, and seamlessly blend new construction to existing.
As a result of these on-going efforts, the River Walk remains beautiful and authentic but is also safe and accessible to all.