Home Lifestyle Walking Around South Austin: Its Architectural and Cultural Diversity
Walking Around South Austin: Its Architectural and Cultural Diversity

Walking Around South Austin: Its Architectural and Cultural Diversity

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I haven’t lived inside the city limits of a big city since attending grad school in New Orleans. Accustomed to life in the suburbs over the past four decades, I acquiesced to the idea of living in South Austin post-retirement.

Historically, the southern boundary of Austin was the Colorado River. The early growth of the city was toward the north side. The area south of the river was neglected until a concrete bridge was completed on Congress Street in 1910.

In the 1970s, South Congress (the dividing line between two historic neighborhoods, Travis Heights and Bouldin Creek) became a popular location for artists, musicians, and their supporters. In the 1980s, small retailers and restaurants moved to South Austin, attracted by the reasonable rents.

chicken yard art
Some local art. Image courtesy of the author.

With the influx of new companies and the workers to support them, Austin’s growth accelerated in the 1990s. Older homes in the Travis Heights and Bouldin Creek neighborhoods were popular because of their proximity to downtown as well as the restaurants and music scene.

As the city of Austin has scrambled to meet the housing needs of its new and old residents, zoning laws have changed accordingly. In many situations where developers purchase older South Austin properties with the intention of razing a smaller structure and building a newer and larger home, the city has encouraged/required developers to build two homes at the same address with an A and B designation.

Theoretically, this requirement increases housing availability as well as density. It also increases profits for the developers.

For the most part, Austin residents and businesses have followed the CDC guidelines for masking during the pandemic. While that mandate limited my ability to meet neighbors outside of the property boundaries on either side of my home, it has not limited my ability to take walks (while masked) and explore the area on foot.

The three main north/south thoroughfares are South Lamar, South 1st, and South Congress. I typically walk between 5th Street on the West, Oltorf Street on the South, Congress on the East, and Barton Creek on the North. While most of this walk is through residential neighborhoods, South 1st and South Congress (also known as SoCo) are mostly commercial.

Giraffe statue South Austin
A local giraffe statue in one neighborhood. Image courtesy of the author.

The architecture of South Austin homes varies substantially. I’ve included a few pictures to show various designs of homes and other features.

peacock
A local pet peacock. Image courtesy of the author.

Because of the smaller lot sizes, fences are fairly popular. Homeowners’ associations with restrictive covenants are rare, so yard art and/or unusual pets are fairly common. It’s not unusual to see a chicken coop with hens or a yard with a miniature goat or two. In the Bouldin Creek neighborhood, some homeowners have signs denoting that the wild peacocks in the area are welcome.

The canopy of live oak trees (protected by the city) shades many homes and lawns in the hot summer months. Cacti and palm trees are prevalent as well.

Given the popularity of the area with musicians and artists, sizable pieces of art placed in front and side yards are not unusual, either. Two of my favorites are a life-sized giraffe and a festive rooster with a cowboy hat.

food truck
One of South Austin’s many food trucks. Image courtesy of the author.

Austin is known for its food scene, and there’s a pecking order ranging from food trucks to restaurants. Some notable restaurants have even originated from a food truck operation.

It’s great to walk around South Austin, and it will be greater when we can forget about wearing masks other than when we are home or at our tables in a restaurant. Maybe I’ll add restaurant reviews to my blog in the future. Even better, when the live music scene resumes, I intend to check it out.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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