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The City of Live Oak Evolves While Keeping Small-Town Friendliness

October 25, 2022 Texas History, Member Spotlight

San Antonio suburb, Live Oak, has evolved over the last 60+ years into an affordable residential community while still maintaining the friendliness and neighborly feel of its farming and ranching roots.

This approximately 5-square mile town sits amidst gently rolling hills at the interchange of Interstate 35 and Loop 1604, just about 17 miles northeast of The Alamo on the road to New Braunfels.

Live Oak is Popular with Families and Young Professionals

Live Oak, incorporated in 1960, has an A+ diversity rating from and is attracting young professionals looking to take advantage of single-family home prices with new construction under $500,000 and older homes selling for less than $300,000.

Live Oak’s main park, a 75-acre hidden gem with ballfields, walking trails, a disc golf course, and a lake stocked with fish, is one of the main reasons that the small city is popular with families.

Started with just 316 residents, Live Oak is now home to some 18,000 residents, most of them native Texans and the rest who might claim “they weren’t born in Texas, but they got there as quickly as they could.”

“Live Oak has evolved from a rich farming and ranching tradition to developments of peaceful residential neighborhoods, multiple shopping centers, a major hospital and medical complexes, college campuses, and financial resources,” says the City of Live Oak.

San Antonio Suburb Live Oak Became Its Own City in 1960

Until 1960, Live Oak featured just a few residents, farming and ranching, on large tracts of land outside of a growing San Antonio.

“The original settlers of the area had names of Engleman, Riedel, Fey, Albrecht, Schumann, and Friesenhahn. The current city split from an old German-speaking community called Selma. They incorporated with a population of 316 inhabitants and established their name as “Live Oak.”,” says the town history of Live Oak.

The vote to incorporate – thus avoiding becoming a part of San Antonio in the future – was decided with only 33 votes cast. The name “Live Oak” was checked in the Texas Almanac, to make sure no other Texas city had claimed the name!

When the first mayor, Clarence Albrecht, would meet with the city’s alderman, it would often be in outdoor meetings in his backyard under large live oak trees.

Live Oak may have been a “city”, but it was definitely a small-town feel with 19 people donating $10 each to get the ball rolling on incorporation, and Live Oak’s first EMS vehicle looked like an old milk truck. The city’s first fire truck was an old army vehicle.

The nascent city grew very slowly at first with Live Oak’s 1963 monthly treasury report showing a total of $4.58 in the bank.

The first building permit would be issued in 1963, but population growth did not take off until the 1970s when the population jumped from 2,779 residents to 8,183, thanks to the construction of the Live Oak Estates and Live Oak Villages subdivisions.

It would take another 40 years for Live Oak’s population to double to its current figures.

Today the city is a full-service community providing all core municipal services including public safety (police and fire protection), solid waste, and public utilities (including water and wastewater).

Live Oak Takes Pride in City Events and Festivals

Live Oak residents take pride in their events, especially the city festival – Shindig on Shin Oak!

The annual September city festival has featured music, food, a petting zoo, carnival attractions, family yard games, a 60-foot obstacle course, and a 24-foot rock-climbing wall.

As put it: “Residents in Live Oak know how to party, and they are not afraid to show how — right in front of City Hall, and right across from the city's police station.”

Other events popular in Live Oak are the Daddy Daughter Dance, Easter Egg Scramble, Memorial Day Parade, Junior Fishing, Movie in the Park, Halloween Family Night, and Christmas in the Park

Live Oak Park: The Crown Jewel of Outdoor Activities

There is plenty to do the rest of the year with the city of Live Oak looking after nearly 150 acres of parks and amenities.

The crown jewel is Live Oak Park, a place for ball games, picnics, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

According to the city: “The park area was petitioned to become a Texas Historical Site in 1979 because of an old Indian Camp Site that was located in the park. Records of the archeological dig remain in the records of the city.”

The park is about 75 acres with:

  • Football Field

  • Basketball Court

  • Skate Spot

  • Three Baseball Fields

  • Multiple Playscapes

  • Disc Golf Course

  • Trail that Circumnavigates the Lake to Make a Path of Nearly 2 Miles Long

  • Two Handicap-accessible Fishing Piers

The lake is stocked twice a year with fish, with some sizable trout caught in cooler months and catfish and bass hooked in summer months.

There is also the Live Oak Community Club House with a swimming pool and the Live Oak Hillside Disc Golf Course just across the street.

Eat Like a Local in Live Oak

There are plenty of mom-and-pop places in Live Oak that make it easy to eat like a local.

Some popular spots, and winners of the Best of Live Oak 2022 contest, include:

  • Biff Buzby’s Burgers: This local joint has been serving hand-patty burgers and homestyle recipes since 1999. If you dare, take “The Red Baron” challenge and get your name on the wall – you will, however, have to eat a 3-pound cheeseburger (and fries!) within 30 minutes to win a t-shirt and be placed on the winner’s list of “those who defeated the Red Baron.” The unusual name? It was the adult imaginary friend of the original owner Ronald Humprheys, who opened the restaurant with his wife Donna. Today, it is run by their grandson.

  • Happy Day Café: This local eatery was opened in 2021 by Tonya Atkins, who had 27 years of restaurant experience on the San Antonio River Walk. The café took home honors for “best sandwich” as well as “best breakfast”. The star of its breakfast must be the homemade “Biggie biscuits” which make the breakfast sandwiches shine or go great with gravy or their homemade jams.

  • Las Palapas: This San Antonio area chain started out in 1981 with a small storefront with 60 seats and a walk-up window. Locations in the area now serve up award-winning dishes and Live Oak residents claimed it as its “best breakfast taco” spot where they scarfed up the likes of the spicy sausage ranchero or country sausage and egg breakfast tacos.

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