AUSTIN NOW & THEN: HERE’S HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED

At a meeting on the 26th floor of the new Colorado Tower building the other morning, it struck us how midtown Manhattan-ish the view of the Austin had really become. Skyscrapers surrounded us as the green Central Texas hills lay on the horizon. The best of both worlds – sophisticated Austin and the natural environ within reach. We got to thinking, what did Austin look like a generation, or so, ago? Here’s how life has progressed in a relatively short time…with special thanks to the Austin History Center for their help in curating these photographic gems.

DASHING DINING

Now the city is a gastronomic mecca where international visitors come and share our food trends with their own communities. For fine dining in Austin, beyond the country clubs, there was the Villa Capri restaurant located in the Villa Capri Motel on I-35 where the Frank Denius Practice Football Field now occupies the location. In fact, here’s a set of commercials from its heyday: http://www.texasarchive.org/library/index.php/2010_01862

[Photo courtesy: Douglass, Neal. [Men and women gathered around dining table at Villa Capri], photograph, April 6, 1960; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth19492/: accessed August 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.]

DOWNTOWN IS THE PLACE TO BE

Here’s an aerial shot of downtown in 1969. The plethora of high-rises that appears now would have been science fiction fantasy to the Austin man of that era. Where many gleaming towers of glass stand now were only surface parking lots and warehouses.

[Photo courtesy:  Douglass, Neal. Austin Aerials – Downtown and East Austin, photograph, January 1, 1969; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth33282/: accessed August 9, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.]

FILM’S STYLE

Before the plethora of film making, thanks to incentives from the state of Texas in the past, the Austin Film Society,  Austin Film Festival, SXSW and many people who had a vision for the film and TV creativity to flourish, there was the Paramount and State theaters on Congress. Here you see a glimpse of the Batman regional film premiere in 1966 at the Paramount.

[Photo courtesy:  Douglass, Neal. [Batman premiere at Paramount Theater], photograph, 1966; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth329390/: accessed August 9, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.]

SET TO JET

When the Austin Bergstrom Municipal Airport was located off of M.L.K. Blvd. up until 2000, flying privately happened at its nearby Browning or Ragsdale airports. Now, FBOs look a tad different for the average JetSetter, don’t you think?

[Photo courtesy:  Douglass, Neal. Browning Aviation, photograph, 1960; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth329380/: accessed August 9, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.]

MEET ME IN THE LOBBY

Say you’re meeting a pal in town on business in the Red Room at the W.  Or, by the fireplace in the bar at Hotel Cecillia. You’d be in for a super time in a great scene, right? Back in the day, Austin had fewer hotels downtown: like the Driskill or the Austin (now the Stephen F. Austin) Hotels. Then there was the Terrace Hotel on SoCo that’s long gone. Here’s a look at a vastly different lobby scene then, at the Austin Hotel at 7th and Congress.

[Photo courtesy: Douglass, Neal. Austin Hotel Lounge, photograph, December 3, 1954; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth19424/: accessed August 9, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.]
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