Commerce Street Bridge

Location: On stone at northeast corner of bridge, E. Commerce St., San Antonio, TX

The main ford between San Fernando de Bexar (the city) and San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo), this river crossing has long been a focal point of history. At its footbridge on Feb 23, 1836, Alamo emissary Albert Martin met to parley with Santa Anna's aide, Juan Almonte, during the Texas War for Independence.

Mayor John W. Smith employed R. T. Higginbotham to build a wooden bridge in 1842. The scene was painted by artist Herman Lungwitz in 1854. In the 1850s the bridge and river (then as now an asset to the city) were described by world travelers Frederick Olmsted and William Bollaert. It was a favorite spot of noted southern author Sidney Lanier while he lived here.

A sign in English, Spanish, and German recognizing the local ethnic population division was placed on the bridge in the 1870s. Law-abiding Teutons were told brusquely, "Schnelles Reiten Uber Dise Brucke Is Verboten". Mexicans however, were warned, "Anda Despacio Con Su Caballo, O Teme La Ley", while Anglo-Americans, unlikely to truckle to authority or fear the law, had their pocketbooks threatened: "Walk your horse over the bridge or you will be fined." Present bridge replaces an 1880 iron structure. Linking old and new, it spans 250 years of recorded history. (1971)