The 403-feet (123 metres) tall Tower Life Building is an emblem in San Antonio. The historic building, and a landmark, has 30 floors and opened its doors in 1929. The building has changed names a number of times till date. It was originally the Smith-Young Tower and changed to Transit Tower for the San Antonio Transit Company. Today, it is named after the current owner, the Tower Life Insurance Company. The stunning, eight-sided tower has been built using terracotta and neo-gothic bricks and even features stunning gargoyles. In fact, the building was the city’s tallest building for almost 60 years, making it a true icon in San Antonio. This handy guide to Tower Life Building tells you all about the tower.
1. Things to do / highlights
Snap gorgeous pictures from the San Antonio River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk, a.k.a. Paseo del Río is a sort of emblem in the city. The River Walk is a city park and walkway network along the banks of the San Antonio River. It sits one storey beneath the streets of San Antonio and is one of the most spectacular attractions of the city. The River Walk, more importantly, connects a series of San Antonio sights, one of which is the Tower Life building. One can snap amazing pictures of the building while viewing it from the River Walk. Do remember to go back to the River Walk at night, when the dramatic lighting lends intensity and radiance to the tower. Snap pictures of the building from multiple vantage points as you stroll along the River Walk. Particularly, the Tower Life building resembles a huge ship ready to set sail when viewed from the vantage point near the San Antonio International Affairs Building.
Admire the architecture of the building from outside
The Tower Life Building is a classic example of neo-gothic architecture and features several aspects of it including gargoyle rain spouts and strange faces that are believed to ward off evil spirits. The green patina copper top house is further topped by a 100-feet-tall (30.5-metre-high) flagpole from which flies an American Flag. No matter when you see it, the flag always seems to flutter in a constant breeze.
Take a boat tour on the San Antonio River
Take a cruise on one of the boats down the San Antonio River, which includes commentary about the Tower life Building. What’s more, the cruise will give you a unique perspective of the building from the river level which is actually beneath the ground floor of the building.
2. What to eat
Biga on The Banks
A River Walk institution for 30 years, Biga on the Banks serves up eclectic contemporary American cuisine. Their menu features all-time-favourite options such as venison with grilled quail, salmon nachos, apple-braised cabbage, grilled eggplant, and more. The signature sticky toffee pudding comes highly recommended.
For the best view of the river, head to the pan-Latin Ocho tucked alongside the historic Hotel Havana. Named the ‘Most Beautifully Designed Bar’ in Texas by Architectural Digest, Ocho serves up a mix of Texan, Mexican, and Cuban food. Make sure to get a river-facing table and order must-eats like huevos and chorizo, crispy snapper in coconut sauce, and arroz con pollo, among others. Down these with some delicious margaritas.
3. Traveller tips
Enter from Villita Street
The San Antonio Tower of Life Building lies at the junction of St. Mary’s Street and Villita Street. If you have access to the building, then the entrance is from Villita Street. However, if you do not have official access to the building or aren’t a guest of any of the building’s tenants, then you will have to simply see the gorgeous building from the outside. The view is superb from the street below or the River Walk.
Get a view from the River Walk
The San Antonio Tower of Life Building can be seen from multiple points along the River Walk. The River Walk has both elevator and ramp access points, but some of the crossing points along it aren’t wheelchair-friendly. So, travellers are advised to get a map of the San Antonio River Walk and check out its viable entry and exit points.
4. Things to buy
The best view of San Antonio Tower of Life Building is, undoubtedly, from San Antonio River Walk. And the San Antonio River Walk has tons of shopping opportunities for shopaholics or those simply interested in buying souvenirs as memories of their holiday. Right from chocolate shops and high-end boutiques selling everything from home decor to self-care products, the River Walk has lots of shopping avenues, especially in the section bounded by Loyola, East Commerce, and East Crockett Streets. If you’re looking to particularly pick up San Antonio souvenirs, curios, and trinkets, head to the Silversmith Inc. gift shop, which is also in this section of the River Walk.
San Antonio Tower of Life Building information
San Antonio Tower of Life Building
Address: 310 S St Mary’s St, San Antonio, TX 78205
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 7am - 6pm; Sat: 8am - 1pm (closed on Sun)
Department of tourism: Visit San Antonio
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