Where I live: Prospect Hill

The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week, a local resident invites us over and tells us what makes their neighborhood so special. Have we been near you? Contact us to share your story.

The municipality I live in is puro San Anto. In Prospect Hill, which is easiest to call the West Side, you’ll find everything you’ll ever need.

You’ll find Latinx-owned mechanic shops, tire shops, botanicas, pinata shops, barber shops, fruterías, Mexican restaurants, churches, and cultural centers like the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Anto Cultural Arts, and the Rinconcito de Esperanza. On my block, Carlos can help fix your washer and dryer—and teach other people in the neighborhood how to do repairs, too. The brothers across the street from where I live are plumbers who, along with other buena gente like Denise Lozano, helped fix my backyard faucet during the Texas freeze.

Atop Prospect Hill is Elmendorf Lake Park, where Our Lady of the Lake students and local families cook, feed ducks, run laps, and fish. Not only is Our Lady of the Lake University in the neighborhood, but also Lanier High School, known for its participation in the 1968 strikes, and Edgewood High School, where students marched out to speak out against racism in schools to protest.

The community is teeming with art: from the colorful and detailed murals created by San Anto Cultural Arts, to the giant family photos on display by the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, to the local music that descends from Jaime’s Place to the altars in the front yards of people honoring the Virgen (or sometimes the Spurs), to the trucks cruising by in the mornings and hip-hop corridors, to the families throwing colorful parties filled with the sounds of Spanglish, laughing children and mariachis.

It’s home to delicious restaurants like Ray’s Drive Inn, Yatzil Mexican Restaurant, and Kong’s Express, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll call the waiters “mamas.” There are loads of corner shops tucked away all over the place like Sari Food Mart which now sells clothes along with cold drinks and snacks. Commerce Street runs through the neighborhood, and on the holidays you’ll see vendors lined up along the corridor selling teddy bears and flowers for Mother’s Day, pre-made Easter baskets and even turkey drumsticks during fiesta time.

One of Sylvia Mendoza’s most popular murals is painted on Zarzamora Street by the Yatzil Mexican Restaurant. Recognition: Nick Wagner/San Antonio Report

Prospect Hill smells and feels like hustle and bustle. And it’s understandable, not only because of the generations of neglect and enforced poverty the community is experiencing, but also because of the community’s drive and desire to build, create, and serve one another.

The quarter is suffering from increasing homelessness and, not least, the threat of gentrification. On any given day, you’ll find genteels like Susana Mendez Segura, groups like Mutual Aid SA, and countless other people bringing bread, pan dulce, water, and supplies to West Side camps and to Rinconcito de Esperanza pantries and the West Side Community Pantry. You’ll also see small white signs with bold black lettering that read “Mi Barrio No Se Vende,” created by a coalition of Westside neighbors and community organizations dedicated to solving San Antonio’s housing crisis.

We are fortunate to have the support and advocacy of Councilwoman Teri Castillo as she urges the city for much-needed resources for the West Side. Prospect Hill has recently benefited from a bike lane along Buena Vista Street and much needed sidewalks as so many of my neighbors walk, bike and use the VIA bus system to get around. The community could benefit from additional resources, particularly in relation to education, health care, pet care services, housing and employment. Despite the fact that there is so much need, the community I live in does not wait for the resources it deserves, but continues to hurry, thrive, create, dance, love and for to take care of yourself.

About Stephanie McGehee

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