Our HISTORY

San Antonio’s first spark of electricity took place here at The Espee and the energy has never left. Nestled on the outskirts of downtown and rich in San Antonio history, The Espee is now home to a multitude of exciting eclectic events and is a sister neighbor to St. Paul Square, a treasure of local gems featuring dozens of amazing eateries and bars. Come visit this iconic retired train station turned community event fun hub and make a whole day out of it!

The Espee is a place for everyone to visit, reminisce on memories, and enjoy the making of more.

Nestled right on the outskirts of “Downtown” San Antonio is this gem that has beautifully matured and thrived within our city for multiple centuries. The Espee was originally named The Southern Pacific Railroad’s Sunset Limited train route. It quickly became a famous train station that served as the central connection to a multitude of states such as California, Missouri, Louisiana, and many more. The Nation so deeply loved the Southern Pacific Depot because of all the opportunities it provided that over the years, it was tagged with many nicknames such as “The Building of 1000 lights”, “The Crossroads of America”, and “The S.P.”

Espee Sunset Station train engine illustration

TIMELINE

Today this retried train station is more hip than ever, and we simply call it “The Espee.” It remains listed on the National Register of Historic Places as ‘thank you’ for all it has done for our country. The innovative and inspirational spirit of The Southern Pacific Depot has never left these historic grounds. The Espee has experienced many chapters of growth and change, alongside the wonderful city of San Antonio. It began as the leading cause of major economic development within the State of Texas, it has hosted Presidential campaigns, iconic music videos, and continues to be a place that attracts celebrities. Take a look at our timeline below to see how The Espee has always been a center for community and a constant cause for celebration in the City of San Antonio.

Buffalo Bayou train cross-section
1850
The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado are chartered. The BBB&C is the 1st railroad in Texas.
1850
Painting of Benjamin Harrison
1891
Traveling from New Orleans to California by rail, Benjamin Harrison is the first sitting US President to visit San Antonio. This visit is the catalyst for the annual "Battle of Flowers.
1891
Black and white photo of train at Arcade Station
1893
The SP begins operating the coast to coast Sunset Limited train. It later evolved into a ‘1st class only’ train. Still operating today under AMRAK, it is the oldest continuously operated train in the USA.
1893
Sunset Station after roof burned down
1907
Head House at Sunset Station suffers damage from an electrical fire.
1907
Photo of Mount Rushmore
1930
Former President Calvin Coolidge stopped at the Southern Pacific Depot for 20 minutes. On the train, he discussed the Mt. Rushmore monument with sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
1930
Closeup of train tracks
1932
The SP reports its first annual loss, but survives the Great Depression without declaring bankruptcy, one of the few major train lines to do so.
1932
Black and white photo of old time baseball game
1939
John Hermann “Dizzy” Dean comes to San Antonio to lead his Chicago Cubs against the St. Louis Browns in two exhibition baseball games.
1939
Tinted photo of Harry Jersig at sunset Station
1940
King Antonio XXII leads the Fiesta Parade on East Commerce Street.
1940
Painting of Harry Truman
1948
Harry Truman’s presidential campaign makes stops in Uvalde and San Antonio.
1948
Black and white photo of John Wayne
1950
John Wayne arrives in San Antonio at the Southern Pacific Depot for the premiere of Rio Grande, along with actress Maureen O’Hara and director John Ford
1950
Selena Singing at Sunset Station now the Espee
1994
Selena films “No Me Queda Mas” music video at Sunset Station
1994
Southern Pacific cab first locomotive
1996
The Southern Pacific is acquired by the Union Pacific. AMTRAK is asked to leave Sunset Station
Photo By BenFranske - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
1996
Photo of Selena waving
1996
Filming of the movie “Selena” at Sunset Station.
1996
Espee crowded music venue
1999
Following restoration, the complex of building opens as an entertainment venue.
1999
2000 -2010
Converted into a major concert venue hosting celebrity performances ranging from Vanilla Ice, Nickelback, Pat Green, Slayer, the Marley Brothers, Maroon 5, and many more.
2000 -2010
2012
Host for Mayor Castro’s Birthday Party.
2012
Tailgate UTSA grilling at the Espee
2015
Began hosting UTSA alumni tailgate parties.
2015
2020
The Espee name unveiled.
2020

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Sunset Station Rose of the winds history icon

Experience San Antonio, Come to an Espee event.