O'Neil Ford, the consulting architect for La Villita’s restoration, recounted his first impression of the area in a 1976 interview: "When I first saw it, it was like 1926, and it was just the worst slum you ever saw. You wouldn't believe there'd be a slum in the middle of town like that--there were 26 families living in there and they had as many wrecked cars as you ever saw in your life, just piles of them."
But San Antonio Mayor Maury Maverick, a former United States Congressman with close ties to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, had a vision for La Villita. He saw its possibilities as a restored village that would be "a symbol and monument to those simple people who had made possible the great city which had grown up around it." Maverick, strongly committed to the concept of Pan-American unity, authored the La Villita ordinance that was adopted by the City Council on October 12, 1939, dedicating the project to "the promotion of peace, friendship and justice between the United States of America and all other nations in the Western Hemisphere."