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Tower Life Building, San Antonio

3.8
#31 of 33 in Sightseeing in San Antonio
Observation Deck Landmark
The Tower Life Building is a landmark and historic building in Downtown San Antonio, Texas, USA.Construction of the tower began in 1927 and the building rises 403 feet (123 meters) and has 30 floors. The building, which opened in 1929, was originally named the Smith-Young Tower and is the central component of a partially completed development called the Bowen Island Skyscrapers. The eight sided, neo-gothic brick and terra-cotta tower (complete with gargoyles) was designed by noted local architectural firm Ayres & Ayres (Atlee & Robert M. Ayres). The building also housed San Antonio's first Sears, Roebuck and Company store in its lowest 6 levels.The other completed building in the development is the former Plaza Hotel (also designed by Ayres & Ayres), which opened in 1927. The property became the local outlet of Hilton Hotels in 1956 and was converted into the Granada Apartments in 1966. Subsequent structures in the development were never built as a direct result of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.In the 1940s the building was renamed the Transit Tower for the San Antonio Transit Company, which the Smith Brothers purchased in 1943. In 1953 a television transmission tower was added to the structure. Renovations in 2010 removed the obsolete television mast in favor of the tower's original design, a copper tophouse with a 100 ft tall flagpole.The building is now named for its current owner, Tower Life Insurance Company.In 1991 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bibliography National Register nomination, Smith Young Tower, prepared by Stephanie Hetos Cocke, 1991. Stephanie Hetos Cocke, "Atlee B. and Robert M. Ayres," Texas Architect, November–December 1989.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
20 reviews
Google
4.2
TripAdvisor
  • Saw this from various distances and directions and arguably it is the most impressive period building in San Antonio It is of architectural interest and it came as a slight disappointment to leatn tha...  more »
  • The Tower Life Building, named for its current owner, the Tower Life Insurance Company, was originally named the Smith-Young Tower when it was completed in 1929, just as the Great Depression started, ...  more »
  • This is an easily recognizable building in downtown San Antonio. It was completed in 1929, right at the start of the Great Depression. Only the Tower Life Building and the adjacent Plaza Hotel were co...  more »
Google
  • did not lower their flag for fallen officer Moreno.
  • Awesome building with great lights at night, definitely an icon to San Antonio's downtown skyline.
  • Creating a nice night view with colorful lights!
  • In my opinion, one of the most beautiful and interesting buildings in downtown San Antonio.
  • Superior Garage staff friendly and professional

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Where to stay in San Antonio

To be at the heart of San Antonio's buzzing atmosphere and attractions, stay along the city's River Walk. Lined with hotels of all levels, the area is known for excellent dining and nightlife, and is close to all of the city's main sights. While this area tends to be pricier than other neighborhoods, it is the best option for those traveling without a car who want to take full advantage of their vacation time in San Antonio. For a more rustic experience, venture outside of the city limits to stay at one of the old-world guest ranches that dot the beautiful countryside.
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