San Angelo lies in the midst of West Texas ranching country almost in the center of Texas and is home to about 100,000 friendly people. A virtual oasis, San Angelo is home to three lakes, as well as the beautiful Concho River, which runs through the heart of the city.
San Angelo was established across the river from historic Fort Concho, a fort that served as headquarters for the 4th and 10th Cavalry and 16th Infantry. The settlement was originally named "Santa Angela" in honor of Carolina Angela de la Garza DeWitt, the deceased wife of the city's founder Bart J. DeWitt, a merchant and businessman. The name was later changed to San Angelo.
Today's San Angelo offers a delightful mixture of arts and culture of West Texas, from a sophisticated symphony that showcases artists such as the Vienna Boys Choir to country and western music, from a civic ballet whose students regularly earn spots at top national dance academies to the folk dances of Mexico. You can enjoy live theater at the state's longest-running theater, Angelo Civic Theatre, and on the Angelo State University campus. The Old Chicken Farm Art Center displays works by visual artists of all media, and the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, a world-class museum that received the prestigious National Museum Service Award, houses continually changing exhibits by artists from Texas and around the world. And there are our other treasures: our artistic alleys, historic murals, internationally acclaimed waterlilies and the pink-hue'd Concho pearls, found in freshwater mussels unique to this area.
Concho River Walk named Great Place in America
APA’s Great Places in America program recognizes streets, neighborhoods and public spaces that demonstrate exceptional character, quality and planning. Those attributes, the APA says, enrich communities, facilitate economic growth and inspire others around the country. The Great Neighborhoods, Great Streets and Great Public Spaces of 2017 are unique places that are exemplary in amenities and infrastructure, in cultural identity and in the use of sustainable and innovative practices.
“The Concho River is an absolute jewel,” Mayor Brenda Gunter said. “San Angelo has always known that. Now the rest of this great country does, as well. We hope this will spark an even greater interest among visitors to come see our River Walk … and all that San Angelo has to offer.
“The community can take a lot of pride in having invested in San Angelo’s signature asset,” she added. “The River Walk has been transformed into an engaging place to picnic with your family, to play with your kids, to stroll with your sweetie, to socialize with your neighbors and to celebrate with your community.”
APA President Cynthia Bowen agreed, noting the River Walk is among the places that “effectively create a sense of place that enhances the lives of all residents and visitors.”
While San Angelo has long been an economic and social hub for West Texas, residents and city officials believed more could be done to cement the city’s distinctiveness. In the mid-2000s, city officials had the passion and vision to harness one of the city’s greatest assets – the North Concho River. The River Walk improvement project developed its banks in a way that increased accessibility to both sides of the stream. In doing so, the city created a deepened sense of community and place, drawing tourists and sparking commercial activity. With plans to expand the Concho River Walk even further, the story of San Angelo’s reinvention may have only just begun.
The APA also recognized the following public spaces this year:
- Mill Creek Linear Park – Bakersfield, California
- Rosa Parks Circle – Grand Rapids, Michigan
- County Home Complex – Greenville, North Carolina
- Market Square – Knoxville, Tennessee
Since launching the Great Places in America program in 2007, APA has recognized 275 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces around the country. Designees are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for the future.
For the fourth year, the public can suggest their favorite public space, neighborhood or street to earn a “People’s Choice” designation. Throughout October, people can offer suggestions via APA’s social media channels using #APAgreatplaces. APA will select five finalists the public can vote on via APA’s website. The “People’s Choice” winner will be announced in early November.
For more information about these public spaces, as well as APA’s Great Public Spaces and Streets for 2017 and previous years, visit planning.org/greatplaces.