Remember the Alamo because it's getting a facelift
By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The man who long-headed San Antonio's Chamber of Commerce has grown tired of the reaction he receives from the visitors he takes to the Alamo, the highly recognizable monument to Texas independence and the state' most-visited tourist site.
"Underwhelmed," is how Joe Krier, also a city councilman, sums up many of the reactions.
The clamor of city traffic, the modern hotels and office towers rising up around the surprisingly small building have diminished the stature of the white stone-walled structure with its distinctive curved facade. An often-used derision is that it looks like a tourist trap.
The state of Texas has also heard the complaints and the legislature has set aside $32 million to transform the Alamo and the plaza in front of it for the first time in more than a century. It is planning a facelift that will preserve its history and restore dignity to the square where a momentous event in state history unfolded.
"The problem is, it doesn't look like John Wayne's movie set," said Richard Bruce Winders, the long-time official Alamo historian, referring to the iconic 1960 film where Wayne played Alamo defender and famed frontiersman Davy Crockett.
The structure began life as a Spanish colonial mission in the mid 1700s.
In the 1836 battle between Texian and Mexican forces, the Alamo's vastly outnumbered defenders were routed by Mexican forces in a 13-day siege. But the battle became a rallying point for the Texas forces, who defeated the Mexican Army a few weeks later.
For most the 20th century, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, an underfunded heritage organization, has managed the building ever since it prevented a portion of the grounds from being sold to a hotel developer in 1905. Continued...