Austin’s Downtown Activity Since 1998

November 10, 2019

(Originally written a couple of months ago.)

Sometimes I get the feeling it needs to be pointed out that Austin’s downtown wasn’t/isn’t being revitalized. Austin’s downtown was already active. That’s why so many people wanted to live here, which brought the tech companies and others. I see comments in the #atxurbanist Facebook group that claim there were no businesses downtown 20 years and more ago, as if downtown Austin were a ghost town before the condos arrived. That may have been true for some areas of the CBD (many of the same areas that are still dead — San Jac, for instance), but only those who didn’t frequent the area can (incorrectly) claim the Warehouse District, Sixth St. (incl. east of 35, if you spoke decent Spanish) and other areas (those in which infill is still concentrated) were dead day or night (except maybe on Sundays, though there were coffee shops and bars open). Austin is a booming city because of the qualities it already possessed. Its success wasn’t thrust upon it by outsiders. Its existing culture and climate (funny to say sitting outside in the Texas heat) and whatever. Let’s not pretend we’re trying to make Austin attractive. If anything, we’re trying to keep it attractive and improve upon it.