There are several reasons for visiting Austin, Texas.
For many, a visit to the Capitol Building is at the top of the list. Modeled after the nation's Capitol in Washington, D.C., the Capitol of the state of Texas is built of red granite and with the help of 62 stonecutters from Scotland was completed in 1888.
Another one of the main reasons for touring Austin is to see the bats. The Congress Avenue Bats. The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Frankly, this was our reason for including Austin as a destination. We had read that many people gather around the bridge around 8:00 to watch between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats emerge each evening to feed on insects. The exit of this many bats from the crevices under the bridge can take up to 45 minutes.
Unfortunately, the Mexican free-tailed bats had not yet migrated North for the summer, so this objective will have to remain on our Must See List.
Nalle was a former mayor of Austin who spearheaded much of the city's early development.
But, I would venture to guess that to many people, Austin is synonymous with music. After all, it is known as "The Live Music Capital of the World. (Austin adopted this slogan in 1991, after it was discovered that the city had more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the nation.)
We happened to be in Austin at the time of the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference, the world's leading music industry event (held annually since 1987). At night, the absolute best mix of musical performances from over 2,300 regional, national and international acts filled Austin’s nearly 200 live music venues over the course of the six-day festival. Many street corner performers added to these totals.
From this stone and masonry building, Michael Paggi sold carriages and Studebaker wagons.
Some of the photos show preparations for the SXSW Festival. SXSW promos announced: "6th Street serves as Austin’s heart of entertainment and nightlife scene. The old historical buildings are now used as bars, music venues, cafes, art galleries, etc. If you want to experience Austin’s crazy nightlife, 6th Street is the place to go."
"Nightlife" and yours truly do not pair up easily, so I will have to content myself with catching performances on Austin City Limits, the longest-running music series in American television history.
The photos here were taken along 6th Street and along Congress Avenue. Throughout our walk, I wondered if the relationship between the historic buildings and the SXSW Festival was a symbiotic one--each helping to preserve the other.
Two-story limestone commercial building.
This four-bay commercial building built from handmade bricks features detailed masonry and handsome first-floor arches.
First served as a grocery store, but from 1893-1906 it housed a cotton compress business from which it derived its name.
Features typical 1870s commercial Victorian architecture with three arched windows (hidden by the tree) and is crowned by an elaborate metal cornice with an arched centerpiece.
A third story was added around 1894 along with copper, Queen Anne bay windows. This is one of Austin's few remaining cast-iron front buildings.
Edward Carrington was an African American grocer. He and his son-in-law, Louis Lyons, who continued the store, were known within the community as benevolent businessmen. Louis came to be known as the "Black Mayor of 6th Street."
Leaving 6th Street, we turned onto Congress Avenue.
Architect J. Reily specialized in the Romanesque Revival style, as seen in this building.
Designed by architect J.N. Preston, the building incorporates interior columns and girders made of recast exploded Confederate shells. The first floor features Corinthian architecture while the second and third floors are Venetian Gothic. Walter Tips sold heavy machinery.
Edward Tips opened his hardware business in 1865. Walter Tips, Edward's younger brother, was a clerk in the hardware store before building the structure shown in the second photo above.
The façade of the Johns-Hamilton Building (left) is a reconstruction of the historic Gothic Revival storefront. The Townsend-Thompson Building's architectural style is Italianate Victorian.
When it opened, it seated 1600 people with no major interior columns to obstruct the views. Between 1960 and 1975 it catered almost exclusively to the movies, but it was re-dedicated to the performing arts in 1975.
The portion of the saloon shown here is the northern half of the building that survived the 1950 fire; the southern half was destroyed.
These historic buildings have been involved in tragic natural events, economic turmoil, and political struggles and have survived--seems like they are the perfect models for young musicians.