Archaeological Survey and Historic Background Research Conducted for the Alamo Community College District at the Former Site of Playland Park, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas




Meissner, Barbara A.

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Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio


In November and December 2008, the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) of the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) conducted a 100 percent pedestrian survey (excluding known areas of contaminated soils) of the Area of Potential Effect (APE) of a project funded by the Alamo Community College District (ACCD), to build a centralized administration facility just northeast of downtown San Antonio, Texas. The survey was conducted under the requirements of the City of San Antonio Unified Development Code, Chapter 35, and the Texas Antiquities Code. The property was bounded on the east by a segment of the Acequia Madre de Valero, part of the Spanish Colonial irrigation system that continued in use until the end of the nineteenth century. In addition, the property was known to have been the location of Playland Park, a well-known amusement park that operated from 1943 to 1980. The archaeological services described in this report were performed under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 5076, with Barbara A. Meissner serving as Project Archaeologist and Cynthia M. Munoz as Principal Investigator. A search of historic records was conducted to learn the ownership history of the APE. In addition, a total of seven shovel tests were excavated and photographs of 17 extant structures remaining from Playland were taken. The CAR crew also photographed the condition of the remains of the Acequia Madre de Valero on the eastern edge of the APE. Examination of the ditch on the eastern edge of the property indicates that it follows the old course of the Acequia Madre de Valero, but all traces of the original acequia have been obliterated by erosion in the northern part of the APE. The uncovered portion of the ditch is now much deeper and much wider than the original acequia, and active erosion is still ongoing. The condition of the acequia in the southern part of the APE, which was filled at some time after 1916, has not been determined. While there are still many remnants of the historic use of the property as the Playland amusement park, all such structures are in poor condition. Two chert flakes were recovered in the shovel tests, but both were in mixed context. No evidence of intact prehistoric cultural debris was encountered. No new sites were documented during the pedestrian survey. Due to the condition and construction style of the remaining Playland structures, CAR, in accordance with the Texas Historic Commission (THC) does not recommend designation of the amusement park as a historic site. Because the Acequia Madre de Valero runs along eastern edge of the APE, the CAR, in accordance with the THC, recommends that the ACCD preserve this feature. The Alamo Community College District concurred with the CAR and the THC recommendation and will work with the City of San Antonio Historic Design Review Board to preserve and restore the acequia. Therefore, the CAR recommends that the construction of the proposed ACCD facility proceed as proposed, with preservation of the acequia. All materials recovered during the investigation and all project related documents are curated at the CAR.



archaeological investigation, archaeology, Texas archaeology, San Antonio, Bexar County