During the mid-1980s, it was tough to miss the TV news reports and the regular headlines about the “Death Loop.” Burdened with traffic and loaded gravel trucks, each accident and traffic fatality brought another wave of calls to fix the “Death Loop” — Loop 1604. Improvement of the Loop was pressed by city and county officials with the Texas Transportation Commission. But the real impetus for widening and improving 1604 came with the generous donation of land for the right-of-way from adjacent landowners, including Dan Parman, the developer of Stone Oak. Armed with the promise of free land, the 1604 widening moved ahead rapidly, and with it an end to the deluge of “Death Loop” stories. But while turning 1604 into a four-lane divided highway solved one problem, it created a host of others. Providing an easy connection to job centers along the I-10 corridor like USAA and the Medical Center, it boosted the development prospects of new subdivisions all along the stretch west of I-10 and then north on 281. The frontage roads gave those “generous” adjacent landowners an enormous boost in land value, as office buildings, hotels, restaurants, and strip centers began to sprout along 1604, and the north side boomed. — Heywood Sanders
Heywood Sanders is a professor of public administration at UTSA and frequent contributor to the Current. He is currently working on a book about the development of the city. His picks for the most important developments in San Antonio’s recent history are scattered across this issue.