Students, residents and visitors of San Marcos ought to start seeing the city as a history-rich destination rather than just a hub of collegiate activity.
There is a stigma attached to the home of the Bobcats. I will never forget graduating high school and proudly telling friends and family that I would be attending Texas State. This was almost always responded to with a comment about how the university was a party school, and San Marcos was a town full of trouble. This was frustrating to say the least.
People have to get past seeing San Marcos as a college town alone. This is a city where residents live first and foremost. It is a place with real stories behind its people and businesses. Looking beyond the university is important for those who would like to change the common perceptions of the area. There is much more to San Marcos than the river and outlet malls. This city has been a remarkable place for decades, and the view many have of San Marcos as nothing more than a “college town” is not only erroneous but insulting.
San Marcos’ history in popular locations such as The Square goes deeper than what happened last Thursday night. Years ago, this city was centered on community and small businesses. San Marcos’ culture is still focused on that to this day, you just have to look close enough. If you have passed the Main Street building on East Hopkins Street, you have seen the office where workers tirelessly labor to maintain the image and history of the city.
The Main Street Program, a part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is a nationwide effort to preserve and protect places like San Marcos. People like city-native Samantha Armbruster, program manager for Main Street San Marcos, are committed to telling the stories of our city and keeping its history alive. These are the people who help put on iconic annual events like the Sights and Sounds of Christmas. Main Street revives and restores past San Marcos traditions such as the daily ringing of the Great Old Bell that sits outside the courthouse. However, although history is important to San Marcos so is Bobcat culture. Texas State is a huge part of San Marcos too, and Bobcats are the future and lifeblood of this city, not a detriment.
Texas State is an integral part of San Marcos history. From the early days in 1899 as Southwest Texas State Normal School to today’s Texas State, Bobcats have been aiding San Marcos in writing its past, present and future. Former President Lyndon B. Johnson and singer songwriter George Strait, both past students of the university, have helped create that story. All of the students who have attended in the past, all who are attending now and all who will attend in the future are helping write the ongoing story of San Marcos. The town’s culture is built by students, residents and businesses—from the student who does four years and moves away to Ralph the Swimming Pig from the Aquarena Springs theme park days, everyone who passes through leaves their mark on the city’s history. The maroon and gold have played a significant role in the history and culture of San Marcos.
I do not think it is possible to fully change the commonly held ideas about this area. San Marcos will probably always be seen as a college town, its history clouded by frat parties and tailgate fame. However, this fact does not mean we should not try to maintain and protect San Marcos history. Not only is this history important to the city, it is vital to the culture of Bobcats themselves.