Tobin Hill’s history began with a portion of the city once known as the Old Main Association, started in 1731 and finished in 1798. In 1777 the Upper Labor Acequia irrigation canal was finished and located at the southern boundary of today’s Tobin Hill. Although public distribution of the land by lottery began in 1777, development didn’t begin until 1877, after Colonel Augustus Belknap bought the San Antonio Street Railway Company Stock granting a franchise for a “horse railroad” and built a route from Houston Street to San Pedro Springs Park.
In 1883, William G. Tobin, father of Mayor John Tobin, purchased a home site on a hill on Maple Ave. in 1883, and one of San Antonio’s first suburbs was established. By 1925, “the hill” was into its third generation of Tobins, more than 51 percent of Americans lived in suburbs, and the Progressive Era was revolting against Victorian excesses by building smaller, simpler cottages known as Craftsman or Bungalow Style.
In November of 2007, a group of Tobin Hill residents walked block to block in an effort to preserve this history. They succeeded in creating the Tobin Hill Historic District, which contains Victorian and Neo Classical mansions of more than 4,000-square-feet and Craftsman bungalows ranging from 900 to 2,700-square-feet. Stately historic apartment buildings are also interspersed throughout the Historic District.