‘It’s everybody’s place to come’: Downtowners say they welcome crowds, events to their neighborhood

Residents say despite parking issues and traffic, the tradeoff is worth it

SAN ANTONIO – Beyond the San Antonio River and its canopy of trees and whimsical wildlife, Cathey Meyer says the beauty of downtown lies in its culture and people.

“I like to say I was born on the river and now we live right on the river, so I will die on the river,” Meyer said.

She’s watched the river ebb and flow from her downtown home for around 20 years.

Tourist destinations like the San Fernando Cathedral and Main Plaza are just around the block.

“It’s a great spot to have a museum in the center of the city like that,” Meyer said.

Cathey Meyer gives KSAT reporter Daniela Ibarra a tour around downtown San Antonio. (Copyright 2024 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Just like its skyline, Meyer said downtown has evolved. But what has stayed constant is the city’s congeniality.

“It’s fun to either drive through or walk through and see people you know and just wave and say hello,” Meyer said.

“So people who live downtown actually know each other?” asked KSAT reporter Daniela Ibarra.

“Yes,” answered Meyer. “Well, we’re a neighborhood, yes we know our neighbors. And you can tell worker bees and you can tell tourists, you can tell residents.”

And there are plenty of new ones, like Amina Thomas.

She used to live out by UTSA on the Northwest Side, but downtown drew her in.

“You really have your fingerprint on a lot of, a lot of the essence of San Antonio here in (the) downtown area,” Thomas said. “And I really enjoy that.”

Amina Thomas discusses what drew her to reside in downtown San Antonio. (Copyright 2024 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

“What’s it like living in downtown during Fiesta?” Ibarra asked.

“To me, it’s fun because I love being around people,” Thomas said. “I love seeing the celebrations. I love the noise.”

“You just count your blessings you don’t have to park somewhere because parking is an issue,” Meyer added. “But you name a city where you go and you don’t pay for parking.”

While downtown San Antonio is considered compact, that doesn’t mean the living spaces are.

Tony Cantu showed KSAT around his condo, which he shares with Meyer.

“This is clearly not cramped,” he said.

Tony Cantu stands on the balcony of his condo in downtown San Antonio. (Copyright 2024 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Cantu said he can make plans just by looking out from his balcony.

“It’s all very walkable,” he said. “There’s things you can go to. The Majestic, the Empire Theater.”

“Is there anything that you missed or that you feel like you’re missing out on because you live downtown?” Ibarra asked.

“No, no, actually, we’re not missing out on anything,” he said.

But that answer depends on who you ask.

“Not necessity things, but, I would love a pedicure place,” said Meyer. “I would love a more convenient dry cleaner. But pretty much everything else you need downtown is here.”

It may not have everything she wants but for Meyer, downtown is home and all are welcome.

“Oh, the more the merrier, you know, we can’t get enough people,” Meyer said. “It is our neighborhood, but it’s everybody’s place to come.”

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About the Authors

Daniela Ibarra joined the KSAT News team in July 2023. This isn’t her first time in the KSAT newsroom– the San Antonio native spent the summer of 2017 as an intern. Daniela is a proud Mean Green alum, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.

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