The San Jacinto Monument
Sam Houston and the Battle of San Jacinto
The San Jacinto Monument stands next to the Houston Ship Channel in memory of a battle that would change the course of history for a once remote corner of Mexico. On April 21, 1836, the battle of San Jacinto would go down in Texas history as the final decisive battle of the six month long Texas Revolution.
During the weeks leading up to the battle, and after the Mexican victory at the battle of the Alamo, Sam Houston had been retreating eastward with his troops. Mexican General Santa Ana was in pursuit and felt certain that he was about to break the rebellion. After crossing Buffalo Bayou, in what is today Houston, a decision was made to take a stand and face Santa Ana’s larger contingent of troops. Due to some good decisions by the Texans and considerable lack of strategy by Santa Ana, the Texans won the battle within 18 minutes. Sam Houston became a hero of the revolution and was elected the first president of the Republic of Texas. The city of Houston was founded and named after him that same year.
The San Jacinto Monument
The 567 foot tall San Jacinto Monument is the tallest stone monument in the world. The star that crowns the monument - the Lone Star - measures 34 feet and weighs an incredible 220 tons! Although the core of the monument is made of reinforced concrete, the exterior is clad in beautiful Texas limestone.
The Texas state legislature purchased the land on which the battle of San Jacinto took place in 1897, although the construction of a monument at the site didn’t begin until March 1936. The timing of the construction meant that the monument became a natural focus of the Texas Centennial Celebrations, despite the fact that it would take 3 years before it was completed.
In the base of the monument is a small historical museum containing historical documents, personal items and some nice paintings that bring the time period to life. There are also a number of glass encased dioramas in the central lobby. Children always seem to love these, as do some adults…
The Spectacular View from Above
In the lobby of the monument you can purchase a $6 ticket to ride the elevator up to the observation level. You may feel it’s not worth it because a high-rise in Houston, or any large city, would allow you a view from that same elevation, but it would not allow you a view of an unobstructed open landscape. You will be able to look down on the Houston Ship Channel and surrounding wetland areas, you can see ships making their way into and out of port, you can look out over Deer Park, you can see the USS Texas anchored close by and you can even see Houston way off in the distance. It really is an unusual experience.
If you decide to visit the San Jacinto Monument, try to make time to see the USS Texas while you’re there. Both monuments are cared for and maintained by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.