The Alamo and Making History Present

I was working in San Antonio this week and had a couple of spare hours to revisit the Alamo. It was right across the street from my exceptional hotel, the Hotel Indigo. It had been a few years since I'd visited, and still remember childhood visits there.

I didn't remember that the Alamo proper is referred to as a shrine. Both the reverent atmosphere and the small scope of the displays kept people moving through to other areas. The Long Barracks displays are well done and there are a few Phil Collins artifacts for viewing. The $120 price tag on the book cataloguing his collection tempted me only briefly before I was able to resist.


While there I recalled a quote by Steven Levi sent to me by one of the many archivists and historians I have worked with on this project and others. not a re-creation of the past. It's an assessment of the past based on documents provided by people in archives and museums who will answer your letters.

Or in this case, what people put on display. Our view of "history" is guided by the current interpretations. Though I'm sure many wish it weren't so, there were still coonskin caps for sale and cardboard standups of Fess Parker on display. Across the street from the shrine, is the Guinness museum and the Tomb Raider adventure ride. How Alamo Plaza got "Disneyfied" I'll never understand, but the fact that those buildings are being acquired and a redesign for the plaza being developed is a real opportunity to make the whole experience more real and present.

History came to life for me on this project when I realized that Texas heroes passed down a trail that cuts across family land. For visitors to the Alamo, it will come to life when they take the time to dig deeper and make history personal.