As a child in Chicago, Larnzell Harper would wake up at 4 am to ride on his father’s bus route. His father and two of his uncles were bus operators at the Chicago Transit Authority. He also had a habit of riding alone on the train because in those days passengers at the front could see the track as they traveled. Larnzell remains a “transit geek” to this day.
Downtown Resident Larnzell Harper engages with friends and downtown community members at Brooklynite, a popular downtown neighborhood bar during a Loop Mixer event. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Downtown Resident Larnzell Harper enjoys a conversation with friends at a local neighbor bar called Brooklynite which is a couple blocks walk from his home on July 18, 2018. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antoio
Ever since he was little, Larnzell knew he would end up in the South. His family is originally from Mississippi, and he ended up studying communications in New Orleans. The move to San Antonio just made sense to him. He’s been here for around two years and his focus has been clear: “How do I meet people? How do I grow? How do I network?” he explains.
Having been a bus operator in Chicago and involved in public transit for twenty years, Larnzell creates training programs for adults focusing on operations. He says the most rewarding part of this work is when students tell him they made better decisions based on his training. Whether its new compressed natural gas buses or routine training, Larnzell has grown professionally by helping others adjust to the evolution of transit.
While living here, a few downtown mainstays became his favorite spots. After sitting on the balcony at the Marriot Rivercenter Larnzell got a whole new perspective on the neighborhood. He immediately began to search for a downtown living space. Larnzell now lives at 1221 Broadway near some of his favorite haunts like the Brooklynite, The Luxury, Rosella, and Pete’s Tako House. “This was a game changer moving downtown because it allowed me to walk to things,” he reflects.
Downtown Resident Larnzell Harper takes a moment to work on his laptop at the GS 1221 community pool. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antoio
A self-described transit geek, Larnzell even started a blog called Max Multimodel in which he talks about the current transit options in San Antonio and what the future could look like. Whether it’s rail, bus rapid transit, or a completely new concept, he believes in the importance of well-planned corridors in and out of the urban core. He imagines a connection between the universities in midtown all the way to the UTSA Downtown Campus.
Larnzell also writes about the challenges and opportunities of relocating to a new city. He admits to getting homesick from time to time, but has found solace in a unique place. The San Antonio River lies just steps from his front door. With such easy access, Larnzell has started exercising more by utilizing the River Walk. Not a day goes by when he’s feeling homesick that he returns from the river without a smile on his face.
Downtown Resident Larnzell Harper walks along River Walk North from GS 1221. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antoio
““When I look into the water I can see the souls of
As he describes it: “When I look into the water I can see the souls of San Antonio.” The river has served as a source of transportation, leisure and more to the city for hundreds of years. Larnzell contemplates how he is a part of that long story just by being present on the river. And he thinks all San Antonians should contemplate their historic downtown once again.
While a resident may know the downtown of ten or twenty years ago, Larnzell insists they need to take another look. He says they’ll get to experience the future of San Antonio when they come downtown. “You need to reinvest in Downtown San Antonio to see the changes,” he explains, “and see where you fit in.”
And maybe that describes downtown resident Larnzell Harper best: He makes people aware of the connections that exist in the city as well as those among the people who live in it.
Downtown Resident Larnzell Harper poses for a portrait at GS 1221. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Top image: Downtown Resident Larnzell Harper engages with friends and downtown community members at Brooklynite, a popular downtown neighborhood bar. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio