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7 things you need to know about downtown Victoria

Gabe Semenza

By Gabe Semenza
Sept. 29, 2009 at 4:29 a.m.
Updated Sept. 30, 2009 at 4:30 a.m.

Esperanzas bloom in De Leon Plaza, which was dedicated with its current name in 1941. Victorians previously called the area downtown Public Square.

Most say Victoria's downtown includes De Leon Plaza and the surrounding five-block swath.

No matter the boundary, the area remains steeped in history and the current-day bustle of diners, lawyers, government workers and more.

You probably visit, or at least pass through, the city's downtown daily or weekly. The next time you do, you'll know these lesser-known facts:

7 things you need to know about downtown Victoria1)Founders formed Victoria in 1824. They then built the town in the tradition of Mexican and Spanish cities: A public square, or zocalo, with a government square on one side, a church square on the other and a market square nearby. Don Martin De Leon, however, never built the church, which was to stand near where the downtown Subway is located.

2) Victoria's history includes two town centers - the original and today's downtown. The first town center, called Market Square, formed where City Hall now stands. Today's downtown, De Leon Plaza, is a few blocks north of the original.

3) In the middle of Market Square, the original town center, a building called the Market House once stood. Anyone who sold meat during the 1850s had to do so from that building, according to city ordinance of the day.

4) De Leon Plaza wasn't called De Leon Plaza until the 1940s. During the years, people referred to the area as Public Square. The covered building in the plaza's center is not a gazebo, as many refer to it. The structure is a bandstand, used by local bands as early as 1899.

5) De Leon Plaza was once home to a large water tower. Do not think of massive amounts of water if you tour the plaza today, however. Victoria's downtown lacks a public restroom.

6) The land under Rosebud Cafe, the red-painted brick restaurant on the corner of Main and Constitution streets, once served a different purpose. From the 1840s to the late 1990s, the land was home to a drug store. The first pharmacist? Louis Leibold, a local man who had three daughters.

7) These days, the city works to improve the downtown streets, sidewalks curbing and gutters. In 1917, a $100,000 bond issue kick started the era of "hard-top" streets. Uvalde Rock Asphalt Company received a contract to improve 53 blocks of downtown Victoria.



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