Rare photos show Tower of the Americas construction on 50th anniversary

Man worked as an apprentice for sheet metal workers union in San Antonio

By Mary Claire Patton - Digital Content Curator

SAN ANTONIO - Fifty years after the opening of Tower of the Americas a man who helped build it shared photos of the construction of the tower.

Richard Castillo is a former apprentice with the Sheet Metal Workers Union who shared photos of the tower as it was being built in 1966.

Castillo’s daughter, Theresa Martinez, said her father worked as a second-year apprentice in San Antonio during the construction of the Tower, which took four months to complete.

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"My father worked seven days per week and 10 hours per day. He earned $2.50 an hour, with time and a half for weekday overtime and double pay on weekends,” Martinez said.

Castillo recalls being impressed by the amount of money he would be earning.

He was employed by the Central Sheet Metal Company as part of a 10-man team that was charged with constructing all the air conditioning ductwork for the Tower.

The team consisted of two apprentices and eight journeymen.

"My father recalls the housing of the tower was constructed around the base and stood 30 feet above the ground. Most construction materials and supplies were loaded onto the housing and then it was raised for completion of the work,” Martinez said.

Cage elevators were used to bring supplies up to the top of Tower of the Americas after it was raised, a process that took six days.

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Castillo, a native of San Antonio, has lived here all his life and has two daughters, eight years apart.

"Whenever we ask my parents why it took so long to have a second child, my dad says it was because he was waiting to save enough money. My sister was born in 1969. This is why the family affectionately nicknamed the Tower of the Americas 'the baby,’” Martinez said.

Tower of the Americas opened to the public on April 6, 1968.

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