’You don’t see stuff like this’: San Antonio photographer captures surreal sights of empty downtown on a Saturday evening

Photos show a quiet evening that would have been the first Saturday of Fiesta

San Antonio photographer Sophia Mattos captured photos of an empty downtown on Saturday, April 18, 2020, which would have been the first Saturday of Fiesta if not for the coronavirus pandemic.
San Antonio photographer Sophia Mattos captured photos of an empty downtown on Saturday, April 18, 2020, which would have been the first Saturday of Fiesta if not for the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy, Sophia Mattos)

SAN ANTONIO – On a Saturday evening that was supposed to be filled with Fiesta revelry, the sounds of birds chirping, not Tejano music or the clanks of Fiesta medals, filtered through Market Square. And bicycle riders, not flower crown-wearing partygoers, filled downtown streets.

Those surreal, and to a point, eerie, sights were captured by San Antonio photographer Sophia Mattos.

Normally a nature and family portrait photographer, Mattos decided to grab her camera on the evening of April 18 — which in pre-coronavirus times was scheduled to mark the first Saturday of Fiesta — to document an empty downtown.

“It felt weird being down there,” she said. “I’ve never encountered anything like that.”

People were few and far between along the River Walk and other landmarks that evening. Bicyclists, though scattered, were seemingly “taking over the streets,” she said.

Desolate photos show San Antonio River Walk, other tourist spots during coronavirus pandemic

She spent a couple of hours safely driving around downtown, she said. It surprised her that she could park almost anywhere, so she stayed in or as close to her car as possible.

When she arrived at Market Square, she said, the clarity of birds chirping amazed her. One of the photos she captured, seen in the gallery below, shows a deserted Market Square with the exception of a bird walking solo.


About the Author: