Woodlawn Lake was the dream of real estate developers in the 1880s who wanted to build West End, a residential subdivision on San Antonio's rural west side. It was George W. Russ, president of the Rhode Island-based West End Town Company, who saw great potential in the flat pasture on Alazan Creek and made the dream come true. To attract residents, the creek was dammed to create West End Lake, which some reports say was as large as 80 acres. (Today it is about 30 acres.)
Visitors traveled by street car to enjoy what was called "the finest artificial lake in the south." Electric lights (still new at that time) illuminated the lake where visitors danced in an outdoor pavilion and rowed in small boats. In later years there were outdoor movies and vaudeville acts. The lake and surrounding land were privately owned until 1918 when they were deeded to the City. The name was changed to Woodlawn Lake and many improvements and additions were made to the 62-acre park in the next 79 years.
Today, after more than 100 years, Woodlawn Lake remains a popular gathering spot for visitors from throughout San Antonio. Residents use a walking trail daily, fish from the boat dock, swim at the pool, play basketball in the gym, and dance at Bertha Almaguer Dance studio. In the late 1990s the park became the site of the city's annual Fourth of July celebration, complete with fireworks and a parade. It continues to draw enormous crowds each year.