Friday, November 19, 2010

Flash Back Friday: Rib Train

Today, I bring you, circa 1970: The Rib Train.
I've been going to the medical center for about six months on a fairly regular basis.  How could I not be facinated by this?


The front of the train in the parking lot, it's number 9!  Hummmm.

Sorry for the blurry shot: The Rib Train has pulled into the station, for the last time.

The old message board.

The front of the building from the parking lot.

The Rib Train is connected to a hotel in SA's Med Center.

Entrance to the former Rib Train.

According to the dining guide, the capacity here is 500 seats.  That's huge in terms of restaurant capacity, standard is 250, give or take.  And the question I always ask: What the heck to we do with the former Rib Train?  It's attached to budget type motel in the medical center area.  Sure, there is potential for the motel: loved ones in the hospital, etc.  The kitchen, in order to feed 500 seats has to be huge!  Could the kitchen/dining room be re-vamped to serve the hotel?
New research: The hotel/restaurant opened in 1974. The hotel changed hand very recently.  BRING BACK THE RIB TRAIN!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

When Chain Stores Move to a Better Neighborhood

Originally a Lowe's, it became a Furniture Factory Warehouse, all 8 locations have closed due to bankruptcy.

Another shot of the old Lowes, it's a Texas Thrift, I think they sell furniture there too.

Ahh, the side of of the Furniture Factory Warehouse: Only closed for 1 week, I noticed the tag on my way home from work last Tuesday.  I'm slightly impressed becaused a spray gun and a truck almost HAD to be involved.  However, it is a sloppy tag.  Jesus, if you have access to a spray gun and a big truck, take some pride for fucks sake.  Is this an ad for the Democrats during a hotly contested election season?

Side view, this is a HUGE building.

This was a Wal-Mart.  This is much tackier than Wal-Mart.  Fiesta FUN Mall? Not freaking likely.

Impervious surface, in disrepair.

More impervious surface and the billboard touting the "wonder" of Windcrest.

Um, Six Flags of the Fiesta Fun Mart?  But due to the bad economy, only four flags fly.

More crappy parking lot: there's no way know how much shit runs off this lot when it rains.

The old Windsor Park Mall sign.  Rackspace has taken over part of the mall, but it's mostly the beginning of the largely abandonded and derelict Walzem Road.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Abandoned Cleaners

Dry cleaners are notorious areas of toxic waste.  The chemicals (once used, hopefully not being used by modern era cleaners) are probably still lingering at this site, years later.
Located at the corner of East Elmira and West Josephine, the cleaners is located 1 block from the San Antonio River and across the street from an elementary school and has been vacant for at least 2 years.
Other versions:

The last in carnation was Slater-White.  The white truck was new, for 2 years no one came around. The architecture is beautiful for what was a dry cleaners.

Of course, it's been "tagged".
 Abandoned tank of probable chemicals.

Was the first incarnation the "Family Laundry"?

The roof, advertising and another giant tank.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Taco Land

There was a time between 1989 and 1992, I was pretty much running around in the streets, seeking "fun" (mostly dangerous and illegal). Looking back on it, now, I steal the term, "The Wilderness Years" from writer, chef, tv personality, Anthony Bourdain. I could not come up with a better term on my own. Part of that history is Taco Land and its owner, Ram. Once upon a time, Austin, Texas was not The Hipster Douchebag center of North America. Me and the rest of my "punk" friends had to go up the road to San Antonio to see big shows. No trip to S.A. was complete without a trip to Taco Land. Fuzzy memories: Ram was a kind man, welcoming us into his little corner of paradise. Ram was gunned down June 24, 2005, during a robbery. Two of his other long employees were shot during the robbery, his doorman, Gypsy Doug was also murdered that night also.

Here's what is left:

What do you do with this space? It's a historical space (god only knows how many bands played here), it is also the scene of a double murder.

It is also on the fringe of the San Antonio River Museum Reach.

The empty Taco Land looking over The Pearl redevelopment at the Josephine Street bridge.

Here's some outside links:

50 years is NOT enough:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mystery Solved: 1419 Austin Highway

Okay, at least once a week, for two years I have been driving past this building:It's a castle, in the middle of Austin Highway! With a super cool train in the front! It's NOT a train, it's a magic latern!
It's practically a fortress.
After coming out to the site on two different occasions to take pictures, I finally notice this sign:
Interesting, it's a castle with a train out front, with a serious security fence and with gargoyles at the front door. What in the hell is this place?
One of the reasons I started this blog was because there's a story behind every building, sturcture or lack there of. And this place at 1419 Austin Highway has a super cool one.
It's owned by a man named Jack Judson and inside is the Magic Latern Castle Museum. Way back in the day, movie projectors were called Magic Laterns. Here is the link:
Mr. Judson also has a nature trail (that's pretty popular with the birding set), here's that link:
I'm going to make it a point to see if I can make an appointment to see the museum really soon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I have no idea why this restaurant failed.

Ah, who the hell would not want Mexican/Chinese food? Seriously, the possibilities are endless: Mexican Fried Rice, Kung-Pow Burrito, Deep Fried Won Tons filled with Refried Beans. Mmmmm, I regret never having dined here. However, the sign is killer: a vaquero lassoing a dragon? It's a tat waiting to happen!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

3303 Broadway

3303 Broadway WAS the home of Inter-Continental Motors Corp, San Antonio's Volkswagen Dealership.

Now, it's largely abandoned:

According to the Bexar County Appraisal District website (, the property was purchased in 2000 by a real estate agency. They seem to be sitting on this rather large (1.1205 acres or 48810 square feet) property, because there are no "For Sale" signs to be seen.

A few links for the history of the property:

The Samba has a few cool pics of the dealership in its heyday:

Also, dealer Rod East (yes, that is his name) got his start at Inter-Continental:

A shot of the back of the building, with a travel trailer sitting on the property. Note how large the trees are, indicating how old the property is.

Here is a shot of the old showroom. I guess one of the owners of the real estate company needed a place to stash their old Dodge:

One last note: notice all of the brickwork, you don't see that kind of thing in modern car dealerships. This was a showplace for Volkswagens (and at one point Porsches), and now it's another empty space lacking purpose or meaning.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pat Booker Road

Pat Booker Road is located in Universal City, Texas. It is the main road through this small 'burb and the main retail area.

Our first stop in the UC is the Nursery that closed the weekend my husband and I moved in to our house.

We were pretty disappointed that the place had closed, it would have been nice to have a nursery less than 2 blocks from our house.

Here is a shot of the fenced in outdoor portion of the nursery, including the greenhouse:

This a pic of the front of the building, to show what a large, empty space this really is:

It's disheartening to see things like this for many reasons. This was someones business, their livelihood, their life, people worked here, people shopped here. When geographers talk about "sense of place", they are talking about the cultural aspects of how humans interact with their environment and how that relationship is what "makes" that place special.
For this nursery in a rather small military community, it undoubtedly had its "regulars", folks who came in and interacted with the staff and each other, sharing gardening tips; talking about their families, telling stories. The nursery is gone and without human involvement , it's just an empty, decaying building.
What could this empty space, built for a very specific be redeveloped into?


Geography is many things. It's where things are located and why those things are there. It's the significance of those things in terms of spatial relationships and their place in both the built and natural landscape.
Why am I fascinated with Empty Spaces? I can't really answer that question, but I'm going to examine it. Empty big box retailers, abandoned fast food locations, places that are just empty for whatever reasons will be the main focus of this page. Naturally, I will also go off-topic. You've been warned.