World War II divided the world and when it ended, after years of suffering, violence and sacrifice, it needed healing. In 1956 President Dwight D. Eisenhower created Sister Cities International to forge bonds between Earth’s citizens. Sixty years later, 545 U.S. cities have more than 2,000 siblings in 145 countries.
Back when Eisenhower made that 1956 announcement, San Antonio was already on board. Its first sister city relationship was established in 1953 with Monterrey, in Nuevo León, Mexico — the first Mexican city to form a sister city pairing. Sister Cities engage in cultural and commercial exchanges, not only between governments but in people-to-people “citizen diplomacy,” much like our international walking community!
We can’t, alas, walk everywhere on this Texas Trail Roundup, so you won’t get to see the Korea Pavilion (pictured above) at the Denman Estate, now a park, a gift in 2010 from the people of our sister city of Gwangju South Korea and modeled on their “democracy bell.” You will also miss the Kumamoto en, a formal garden at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, a gift from our sister city of Kumamoto, Japan (pictured below.) You can, however, keep an eye peeled for all the international signs and symbols in San Antonio as you walk through this very international city. They’re everywhere!
San Antonio Sister Cities
- Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico (Established 1953, first Mexican city to have a US Sister City)
- Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (Established 1974)
- Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain (Established 1975)
- Gwangju, South Korea (Established 1981)
- Kaohsiung, Taiwan, ROC (Established 1982)
- Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain (Established 1983)
- Kumamoto, Japan (Established 1987)
- Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India (Established 2008)
- Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China (Established 2012)
- Windhoek, Namibia (Established 2016)
- Darmstadt, Germany (Established 2017)
Friendship City Agreements are usually the first step on the road to becoming a Sister City. Some have described Friendship City relationships are ‘the engagement before the marriage’. Whereas Sister City relationships require approval from both cities’ respective city councils, Friendship City Agreements can be made between Mayors.
San Antonio’s Mayor, Ron Nirenberg, is currently the Chairman of the Board of Sister Cities International.