SPC Alumni Shine in VIA's 1000th Bus Shelter

February 27, 2018

Public Information Officer


The community college in San Antonio with the largest archive https://www.alamo.edu/spc/archives/ has completed a partnership project to improve the quality of life for riders on one of the nation’s larger mass transit systems and future residents at an innovative property of one of the nation’s larger public housing systems.

When users of VIA Metropolitan Transit's 1,000th new “Next-Gen” bus stop improvement at the Hays and Mittman St. intersection in San Antonio look upward, they see an inspiring piece of 119-year-old St. Philip's College's vast history floating above their heads, sheltering them from sun and wind.

A large black and white archival photo depicting the college class of 1952, showing 38 triumphal alumni who entered the workforce or transferred to a four-year college, was one of several improvements celebrated in a confetti-filled celebration VIA held during the ceremonial dedication of its 1,000th new “Next-Gen” bus stop improvement.

About 18 blocks north of north of the college property on Walters St. in the city's Denver Heights neighborhood, the new shelter located at the Hays and Mittman St. intersection is part of VIA’s ongoing Passenger Amenities Improvement Program that includes the enhancement of 1,000 existing bus stops throughout the VIA service area. St. Philip's College was the mass transit provider's art partner for the 1000th shelter milestone.

In a city on the go, the college helps its students make the connections between mass transit and successful postsecondary education through discounted fares for VIA passes sold in its business office. The college is commemorated in such iconic touristic locations as the La Villita and Ellis Alley historic villages serviced by a combined 14 VIA routes, and on iconic VIA routes 25, 26 and 524 that locals depend on in order to reach SPC campuses in the city's Denver Heights and Port San Antonio locations. The VIA transit center that is a hub for five VIA bus lines was named in 2008 for iconic late St. Philip's College faculty member and statesman Sen. Frank Madla. The VIA shelter that serves the college's Southwest Campus is one of the few in a 10 mph zone, thanks to a partnership with VIA and Port San Antonio. And the college serves as a special event service site during the city's annual MLK Day of Service march that is one of the nation’s largest events for that holiday. St. Philip's College students purchase hundreds of VIA bus passes each year, and the display of the college name in front and side digital graphics on each VIA bus 26 that stops at the college is an integral part of the SPC experience for both employees and students.

The 1000th stop is located near new construction underway at the former San Antonio Housing Authority's first phase of East Meadows, a $41.7 million development containing 215 apartments. East Meadows’ first phase, a $41.7 million development containing 215 apartments, was built where the old Wheatley Courts public housing complex of more than 400 units existed at 906 N. Mittman St. near the college campus for 65 years.

"At the housing authority’s request through our college, I provided the photo to VIA in July," college archivist Rebecca Barnard said of the 65-year-old image.

“Transit systems throughout the world illustrate the contribution of public art and its role in establishing relationships with the community," VIA shares at its website. The display at Hays and Mittman is part of the lineage of the sensitive use of art and design in transit systems as a tool that gives vibrancy to public spaces and presents iconic images of the local culture and architectural heritage. VIA staff managed the process of translating the college's graphic image into precision cut panels that were integrated as artwork in the shelter, promoting local culture and influencing transit use.

College Title III Director Dr. Erick Akins has been engaged with the multi-year civic art project from the start.

"We were involved from the very beginning when the housing authority was at the table for the Choice Neighborhood grant," Akins said in reference to the college's education partnership for only community in the nation to have received all four White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives, including Choice Neighborhoods, Promise Neighborhoods, Byrne Criminal Justice, and Promise Zone.

"During the planning process over many evenings and weekends, they felt St. Philip's College needed to be at the table as a part of the community as a whole," Akins shared. "They allocated us funds to help with a stand-alone facility for our college's Good Samaritan Veterans Outreach and Transition Center. They fell in love with the history of everything we kept https://www.alamo.edu/spc/archives/. They wanted to utilize that to show the rich heritage of the education that’s occurring on the East Side," Akins said.

"When you look at the history of San Antonio and things that get taken for granted, these higher education moments archived in photographs are positive things that occurred in the city many years ago, and I think that's still significant. When they approached us, we said, 'by all means, we do not mind sharing our heritage with others. It's helping to beautify the city,’ " Akins concluded. (SPC archival image used in VIA Metropolitan Transit's 1,000th new “Next-Gen” bus stop improvement project)

Learn more at VIA's report VIA Reaches Major Milestone with 1,000th Bus Stop Improvementhttp://www.viainfo.net/2017/12/13/via-reaches-major-milestone-1000th-bus-stop-improvement/. Learn more about the Archives of St. Philip’s College at https://www.alamo.edu/spc/archives/.