Top 10 Things I Miss About {The Original} Austin

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I am an Austin original, an Austinite if you will. My parents grew up in Michigan, my dad worked for Warner Bros and they had a job for him in Houston. While in Houston, they discovered Austin, moved there, started a family and the rest is history. For the last 33 years, I have watched my beloved city grow and grow and grow. Some of the growth has brought positive changes, some negative.

Today I pondered on what I missed about the original Austin:

  • Not Crowded—we know Austin is “weird” and all, but the constant addition of more people is making Austin less enjoyable for the originals. It used to take 15 minutes flat to get downtown…now hello, Mopac cluster!
  • The Backyard Music Venue—being the Live Music Capital of the World…you can catch a live show just about anywhere, but the best was The Backyard, I went to see Coldplay there when I was a sophomore in high school (before they were widespread) and it was fantastic…up close and personal, under a huge tree, no fluff and flash…just good music.
  • Carlos n Charlies—one of our favorite things to do in the summers was hanging at the lake…now it is so crowded you can hardly find a place to park. CNC was our jam…great view, great staff, decent food, decent drinks, live music. I worked there one summer and it was a perfect summer job for a high schooler/college student. But then the lake dropped…
  • Dirty Sixth—Have you been there lately? It used to be incredibly fun, grunge-like sprinkled with a few uppity bars, a lot of laid-back bars (Blind Pig, Dizzy Rooster, The Aquarium, Chuggin Monkey, The Library, Maggie Maes) with a Bob Marley attitude. Now it is hard to get down there and once you are there you want to leave. Other streets like 4th, 5th, and 7th are becoming more popular and now the Domain has its own downtown vibe, just isn’t the same. 
  • Blues on the Green by the Cows—when I was young Blues on the Green was so laid-back and small and awesome, that it was perched by the marble cows in the Arboretum. I remember sitting on the cool grass listening to every genre you can think of or climbing the cows, not at all feeling swarmed by millions of people. Those were the days…
  • Hamilton Pool—this place was a hidden gem and like you were transported away from Texas. I loved growing up going there on a hot day in summer with my cousins in from out of town, or my friends. But then things got funky and now you have a to make a reservation to visit…didn’t used to be that way.
  • The Food Scene… currently, I have been researching brunch options… how in the world can people pay $72/person for brunch?! I am talking one plate of food, maybe one and a half. I think Austin’s food scene has incredible merits…the variety, the quality, the flavors… but what the fork? Growing up these prices were nonexistent, we could visit several delicious joints for decent pricing back in the day and no ridiculous waits to then be the rushed through a meal for the next table to sit down. {Don’t even get me started on the outrageous hotel scene…good grief.}
  • Traffic— it is truly absurd and our city doesn’t seem to have a great concept of how to grow our highways to accommodate the growing population. It is a gridlock, it is miserable, it raises stress to unhealthy levels, it brings out the worst in people. A few years ago, I had to drive from Anderson Mill to Bowie High School every single morning to teach, I would drop off my husband at Westlake. Taking 360 home was bumper to bumper and could easily cause road rage or a mental breakdown. I loathed it. Didn’t used to be that way…my mom worked downtown and lived in Cedar Park and the drive for her used to be no big deal at all. Now she has to maneuver back roads to get to and from in a decent timeframe, she avoids Mopac at all costs.
  • Avalon Hair Salon – does anyone remember this place? I grew up with it nestled between Amy’s Ice Creams, Waterloo Records, Waterloo Icehouse and a cute bookstore off West 6th street catty-corner to Whole Foods. My mom owned the hair salon for 26 years… I grew up hanging out there. Eating ice cream (Mexican vanilla mixed with Heath bar and strawberries was my go-to), getting a veggie burger from Waterloo, everyone knew my name. Eventually, I grew to go there to get a cut and highlight. I would even roam around the corner to Emerald’s to look at shoes and gifts. I loved that little corner. But then Austin took on a different attitude and things changed…
  • The mentality—I feel like the original Austinites were so easy going, kind, and happy. Nowadays I see snobbish, flashy, frustrated, chip-on-their-shoulder, complicated, busy folks. Maybe that is just a sign of the times, (and certainly not everyone) but it sure was nice growing up in a pretty sweet town of 400,000 vs 900,00 of today. (What a growth change.)

Trees and pretty pieces of land are constantly being torn up now and turned into subdivisions, I miss the widespread, more nature vs. concrete that I grew up with. Now concrete and cookie cutter homes squished next to each other are taking over. I find it so sad. I now crave space, greenery, trees, air… oh ATX. I will always love you — many many things about you — but I can’t help but miss the old you.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Granville did a wonderful job on my hair at Avalon’s for years! I miss the old Austin, too; got to work with your daddy in radio for years!

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