Our city is full of culture, thriving communities, and rich history. The stuff that makes Austin “weird.” Can you imagine The Continental Club in shiny, new digs? No, right? Its location and character are what make it special. While Austin continues to grow at break-neck speed, Preservation Austin strives to keep places like The Continental Club alive and thriving. This important organization has been “saving the good stuff” for 65 years now!
In 1894, Austin bought moonlight in the form of towers. Nowadays, these monolithic lamps are super impractical, but in 1895 they were a revelation. Moonlight towers, also referred to as moon towers, liberated citizens from the constraints of nighttime and heralded Austin as “The Coming Great Manufacturer of the South.”
Many speculated these lights would eliminate the need for police entirely. The carbon-arc bulbs were so bright, in fact, that locals worried about potential crop overgrowth and wore umbrellas at night to protect their skin.
The moonlight towers did not eliminate crime, nor did they cause vegetable hysteria. What they did was stir up a frothing pot of controversy. A small list of fatalities accumulated, as workers and ambitious young men climbed up and fell to the ground.
Located within Zilker Park’s 358 acres is Barton Springs Pool, a three-acre, underground fed spring that has been referred to as the “Heart and Soul” and “Crown Jewel” of Austin. If you’ve been there, you understand why. In 1947, Barton Springs Bathhouse opened its doors for the first time, welcoming swimmers from all walks of life who sought fun, relaxation, and healing in the water beyond its walls.
This year marks 70 years that the historic Barton Springs Bathhouse has been open. On May 13, Austinites can celebrate this anniversary during the 70th Birthday Splash: Parade and Plunge. The event is hosted by Barton Springs Conservancy, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor, preserve, and enhance the Barton Springs experience through education and facility improvements. [Read more…]
It takes climbing 106 steps up a historical flagstone staircase to reach the top of Austin’s famous 775 foot tall promontory, Mount Bonnell. What is now a popular destination for tourists, photographers, couples and families was once a wilder, more rural part of Austin.
Though Austinites love to climb to the top for a quick photo, what do most of us know about this iconic natural formation? To get an overview of Mount Bonnell’s development, I asked the knowledgeable Kim McKnight from the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department for details on what we should know about this Central Texas wonder. [Read more…]
For 50 years, John Aielli has brought a mixture of musings, music and even a bit of dead air to The University of Texas at Austin’s radio station, KUT. He’s a unique host who loves to present his passion for music and local talent to the ears of listening Austinites, along with some bizarre conversations with himself that have made him an Austin icon. [Read more…]
The huge educational institution that sits in the middle of our city, The University of Texas at Austin, contains millions of objects that reflect human history. In January 2016, The University of Texas Press published a book called “The Collections,” which details some of the items on campus that exemplify history and culture across more than 700 pages.
As Austinites, we either feel a kinship with The University of Texas campus or we feel detached from it. By learning about UT’s collections, this institution can become more accessible to us and deepen our appreciation for the university. [Read more…]
People with a passion for history and architecture dream of traveling to Europe for a chance to see some of the most wondrous buildings, bridges and churches in history. While you may not think of Texas in the same way, it doesn’t lack in history!
Austin is a short day trip away from many historical sites, such as the Texas Hill Country castles. A lesser known day trip is the Painted Churches of Texas tour. It’s perfect for anyone interested in art, architecture and small town Texas history. [Read more…]
The Broken Spoke isn’t just a venue. It’s a symbol of Texan defiance. You won’t take the Alamo without a fight and The Broken Spoke will never change. Even as South Lamar explodes skyward with apartment complexes and hotels, one of the most famous dancehalls in Texas remains intact. A genuine relic of Lone Star uniqueness.
In the course of a four-hour visit, I not only got a chance to breathe in everything this storied establishment has to offer, but I learned why it has endured over 50 years. Underneath the weathered bar neon and aging exterior lies a musical history and sense of family that are unlike anything else Austin has to offer. [Read more…]
When you first walk into The Driskill Hotel, you wouldn’t think it’s haunted. From the dozens of columns brilliantly lining the lobby, to the spotless marble floors, the hotel is gorgeous. The ambience screams luxury and comfort. But if you listen closely, it also screams bloody murder.
Look, this place was built in 1886. That’s plenty of time for some messed up stuff to go down within the walls of The Driskill. For example, did you hear the one about the young girl who fell to her death down the grand staircase? How about the two “suicide brides” who killed themselves in the same bathtub in the same room, 20 years apart to the day?
Who knows if these ghost stories [Read more…]
Austinites have socialized, fished, waded and swum in the clear blue waters of Barton Springs since the 1800s. The water’s temperature stays at a steady 68-70 degrees while the setting around it changes drastically throughout the year.
I wanted to compile a short guide on what makes Barton Springs Pool quintessentially Austin. In order to scratch the surface of this historical gem, I met with Wayne Simmons, Aquatic Program Manager for the City of Austin, and Clark Hancock, Exhibit Coordinator at the Nature & Science Center. [Read more…]