The river walk (paseo del río) is one of the principal tourist attractions in San Antonio: below street-level some well-maintained footpaths follow about three miles of the San Antonio river and interconnecting canals. The river walk was the idea of a local businessman in the 1920s, but it was constructed with funding and support from the Federal government, as part of F.D. Roosevelt’s Public Works Programme. Now the central portions of the river walk are packed with tourists, and tens of riverside restaurants and bars seemed to be doing a roaring trade when I was there.
It is remarkable how much more comfortable it was being beside the river compared to being on the street. Temperatures were about 102ºF on the two days I was in San Antonio, but at river-level it was very pleasant. Being on the street is uncomfortable because the vast expanses of concrete and other paved surfaces reflect very dry heat back up to you, whereas the river, with the trees and other plants along its edge, humidifies the air just enough to make walking the long distances quite comfortable even in such hot weather.
From Texas and Arizona, August 2009