20 random San Antonio facts you may not know about

Fritos were invented in SA, we have the oldest park in Texas and hold the world record for most tamales made

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio is -- in our opinion -- the best city in the state. So much culture, history and fun can be had here.

While the Alamo City has a lot of charm there are also a lot of wacky and unknown facts about the 7th largest city in the nation.

Here’s a list of facts you may not know about:

1. SeaWorld San Antonio is one of the world’s largest marine life parks. The park spans about 416 acres according to SeaWorld San Antonio. Recently the park also introduced the state’s tallest, fastest and longest wooden coaster, the Texas Stingray.

A rendering of the Texas Stingray at SeaWorld San Antonio.

2. Lanier High School holds the world record for the most tamales ever made. Back in December 2011, 17,132 tamales were made there. The previous record was 13,000 tamales. Many people from across the city participated in the event that was put together by the culinary program at Lanier.

It’s official: Lanier HS sets tamale-making record

3. Gatorade was invented by San Antonio native Robert Cade. Cade was a professor of medicine and nephrology at the University of Florida when he was doing research about the football team and why players didn’t urinate after a game. It was determined players lost so much fluid that none was left to form urine and that is when he invented a drink that had salts and sugars which was the basis for Gatorade, according to the University of Florida. Cade was born in San Antonio in 1927.

4. San Antonio is considered one of the most haunted places in the United States, according to Yahoo Travel. Many historical buildings, hotels, museums and parks are reportedly haunted in the city.

31 of the most haunted places in South Texas

5. San Pedro Park is the oldest park in Texas and one of the oldest municipal parks in the United States, according to the Texas State Historical Association. The park located just north of downtown on North Flores Street and San Pedro Avenue is 46 acres and features the San Pedro Springs swimming pool. The area was an early settlement dating back to 1729 when the Canary Islanders settled in San Antonio.

6. Church’s Chicken first opened in San Antonio and the first location used to be across the street from the Alamo. According to the Church’s website, George W. Church opened the location in 1952.

7. The Milam building downtown was the first high-rise office building in the U.S. to have air conditioning. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the 21-story building was opened in Jan. 1928. The air-conditioning design was created by Willis H. Carrier of the Carrier Engineering Corporation.

8. The San Antonio Missions are the only World Heritage Site in Texas. The designation was made in July 2015.

Party held to celebrate Mission’ World Heritage status

Mission Concepción closes its doors beginning Sunday, January 5 for a restoration project. (KSAT 12)

9. The Alamodome opened on May 15, 1993, and cost $186 million to build. It was built in hopes of attracting an NFL team. We’re still waiting.

10. The oldest cathedral in the state in San Fernando Cathedral. The cathedral was founded in 1731 by a group of families from the Canary Islands.

San Fernando Cathedral (KSAT)

11. The San Antonio Stockshow and Rodeo reuse the same dirt every year. It was purchased from near Charolotte, TX in 1988. If the dirt wasn’t recycled it would cost nearly $25,000 to purchase new dirt every year. The dirt is stored on a back lot on the grounds of the AT&T Center and it is cleaned and refined before it’s used again.

Rodeo dirt fills AT&T Center

12. Shaquille O’Neil got his start in basketball in San Antonio. Shaq played high school basketball at Cole High School and his team went 68-1 in two seasons and won the 1989 state championship.

Shaq gives Cole Cougars shoutout before state tournament

13. Pope John Paul II visited San Antonio in 1987 and held a mass where more than 350,000 people showed up. It was one of the most well-attended events in Texas History. During his visit, he also deemed San Antonio the “most Catholic” city in the U.S.

Archdiocese marks 25th anniversary of papal visit

14. Fritos and Frito pie were invented in San Antonio. Charles Doolin invented Fritos in 1932 and his mother Daisy reportedly invited Frito pie also in the 1930s. There is some debate though that Frito pie was actually invented in New Mexico. Either way Frito pie is a famous concession stand food at most high school football games in South Texas.

15. The Alamo City holds another Guinness World Record, we are home to the tallest cowboy boots sculpture. The famous boots outside North Star Mall are 35-feet, three inches tall and weigh more than 10,000 pounds. They were created by Austin-born artist Bob “Daddy O” Wade and were placed in January of 1980.

16. The San Antonio Spurs have won five championships and are the only former ABA team to win an NBA Championship. The team went into the NBA in 1976.

17. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson got married at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in downtown San Antonio.

18. Theodore Roosevelt recruited Rough Riders at the Menger Hotel. There are bullet holes in the bar, and the legend is that they are from Rough Riders before they shipped out to Cuba.

19. San Antonio is home to the nation’s first all-digital library. BiblioTech opened on Sept. 14, 2013. Library membership is free to all Bexar County residents.

20. The largest Mexican market outside of Mexico is the Historic Market Square. This popular area has been around since the 1700s. Over 100 locally-owned businesses provide a unique shopping experience. It’s also the place to go for many fun events and celebrations.

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

A San Antonio native currently in her dream job as the executive producer behind KSAT special programming like Fiesta parades, Dia De Los Muertos and the Rodeo special. When she's not prepping for these productions, she's helping run KSAT's social media channels.

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