“He Soared with Eagles” is a book about the transformation and growth of downtown San Antonio from the 1940’s to the present day, and how one man, Morris Kallison, influenced those years just after World War II. Chapter one introduces and shares the history of the Kallison family and exemplifies the moral character that shaped Morris’s life. In our book, we describe four time periods in which the great rebirth of downtown San Antonio took place. Each time period had separate and distinct features from the others.
The first time period was from 1946 to 1966. In this twenty-year time space, Morris Kallison developed twenty-six downtown office and apartment buildings with very little competition from other real estate developers. All in all, Morris averaged a little over one project per year of his total twenty-year developments.
The second time period was 1968 when HemisFair was held in downtown San Antonio. Planning, land purchase, and construction took approximately seven years before HemisFair opened on April 6, 1968. HemisFair transformed San Antonio’s vision for the future. San Antonio would never be the same again.
The third time period was from 1969 through 1982. During this period many thousands of square feet of downtown office space was vacated with most departing tenants moving to the vicinity of Loop 410 North. The reason for the great office relocation was the lack of easy vehicular mobility and parking for office tenants and their customers. From early morning until evening there were horns honking everywhere and jack hammers pounding the streets without relief from the troublesome noise. It was said that the fastest time in the downtown area was the time-lapse between when the light turned green and the drivers in the rear honked their horns. Also, there was inadequate convenience of ingress and egress to and from downtown.
During the overall downtown transformation when negative events were taking place, positive events simultaneously occurred. One important accomplishment during the third time period was the building of IH-37 and IH-281 from South Loop 410 to North Loop 410. These highways pass through the eastern fringes of downtown San Antonio and are a great benefit to downtown.
The fourth time period was from 1983 through 2010 and, in some cases, to the present time. From the mid 1980’s through the early 1990’s, the downtown area lost Joske’s of Texas, Wolff & Marx, Frost Bros., and many other retail tenants. Some of the positive events that happened during this period were: approximately twenty-seven new hotels constructed downtown; six new high-rise office towers; the creation of the AT&T Center and the Alamodome; the building of Rivercenter Mall; the north and south extensions of the San Antonio River; the downtown flood control project with tunnel. Also, the visually beautiful Majestic Theatre was totally refurbished by the Las Casas Foundation. In 1989-1991, the Tri-Party project by VIA, City of San Antonio and the Downtown Property Owners Association transformed downtown San Antonio.
The very positive results by Morris Kallison during the first downtown time period of 1946 to his death in February of 1966, together with the successful completion of HemisFair in 1968, gave downtown two grand achievements that had enduring impact. These two successful time periods served to soften the blow and make for a softer landing after the great loss of downtown tenants that occurred during the third and fourth time periods.
Downtown has had many accomplishments. Begun by Morris Kallison over a twenty year period, numerous factors and personalities have contributed to its success. The high trajectory of good fortune signifies a successful and glorious future for our city’s historical downtown core.