What Does It Take To Vanish?

Big City, Little Coffee by Jann Alexander © 2013

Big City, Little Coffee by Jann Alexander © 2013


It takes a certain knack to make the Vanishing Austin list and actually do the unthinkable—Vanish.

That’s what Little City did on May 13, 2011, after 18 years on Congress Avenue as an original, independent, Austin-style coffee house. Only by necessity, though, when it found itself homeless after the historic building at 916 Congress Avenue was purchased by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Little City Espresso Bar & Cafe was kicked out.

What makes an Austin landmark prone to vanishing?

  1. It’s beloved by a certain crowd (like Las Manitas)
  2. It’s unique (with an identity a chain store could never replicate)
  3. It’s in a vulnerable section of town (translation: desirable and/or developable real estate)
  4. It’s a small business (not always woman-owned, though Little City and Las Manitas were)
  5. Its owner (after dedicating energy, passion and resources for years to its care) cannot summon up what’s required to fight the big guys
  6. Its city nods to the notion of ‘keeping Austin weird’ as a marketing slogan for tourism (but doesn’t actually support the unique character of small businesses who underpin the city’s rich fabric)
  7. It had its own style (not replicable by a corporate giant, surface parking lot or lobbying firm).

It’s not so hard to spot the ones that will vanish. They are always the ones that are most photogenic, too. 

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Where do get your cuppa joe on Congress these days?


Shop with PayPal: There are nearly 100 photographs in my ongoing Vanishing Austin series; many are lost, but many are survivors still. Admire them all in a slideshow, HERE. Prints start at $35.

You can marvel at what’s lost and what’s survived in my Endangered Species of Austin poster, featuring 16 Austin icons, and sized at a handsomely large 24 x 36,” available for $25, HERE.

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