I had a friend post recently that the cottage that they had lived in on Elizabeth Street between South Congress and South First when they first met and had their first child had been demolished. It’s a pretty consistent story particularly in South Central Austin where housing used to be cheap in the 80s and early 90s but is now astronomically expensive. We also started talking about the changes on South Congress in the comments.
The timing is interesting as it coincides with the release of Liz Lambert’s documentary about her role in transforming the San Jose on South Congress in the late 90s (which I still need to see). The two are obviously related. I have many of my own stories as I’m sure anyone who has lived here for 30 years or more does too. I’m not going for one of those cranky posts where I claim that it was all better before. I’m happy with some of the changes. I’m not happy with others. I’m not the same person or in the same life situation now as in 1991 , 2001 or 2011. I was here in all of those years though so it lends some perspective that someone who moved here in the past couple of years will not have. I’m tempted to just throw out a list of things that only people who have lived here over that time will or will not remember.
- South Lamar
- Maudies was a Pizza Hut (look at the architecture. It’s obvious once you know)
- The shopping center just up the road where Alamo Drafthouse is now was once a massive parking lot with strip mall that contained a moderately sized grocery store, a music store and a few other small local businesses
- Horseshoe Lounge anyone?
- Trudy’s South with the crazy bar smoking area in the middle.
- Pinthouse S Lamar in the same shopping center as Trudy’s South was a Chili’s, people.
- South Congress
- Amy’s Ice Cream was the first Schlotzsky’s
- Future Protocol / SpyCloud was a porn theater called Cinema West. Prior to that it had apparently been a reputable theater that started in the 1930s called the Austin Theatre where Stanley and Livingstone was the first feature. Cinema West shut down sometime in the late 90s. Here’s the ABJ story about it becoming Future Protocol in April 2000
I wrote this back in April and left it as a draft. Fast forward to now and there’s an article about Liz in Texas Monthly. There’s also an article about Slacker 30 years later which links a related Statesman story about the changes to Austin since that heavily sources a survey that my former boss (not direct but the Founder/CEO of the company that was my first “real job” in Austin), Peter Zandan has conducted for many years. Both of the articles bring up other long gone Austin spots from the 80s like the original Quacks on The Drag, Les Amis which ironically became a Starbucks and then Mad Dog & Beans. Sadly, Fricano’s, the deli that went up roughly in the same area also has gone away. So I guess now I’ve been here long enough / am old enough to reminisce about multiple generations of changes to local Austin businesses. We also now have lost the original Alamo on Colorado and the Ritz downtown location. At least the Village location is reopening. Now get off my lawn.