It’s time for end-of-year portfolio assessments. The giant wrecking ball that’s tormented Austin for the last five years or so has yielded some major long-term losses, like Las Manitas, The Tiniest Bar in Texas, Little City, the Joseph’s mural, the Bitter End Bar, Fran’s Hamburgers, Capitol Saddlery, The Frisco Night Hawk, the Mean-Eyed Cat, Jaime’s Spanish Village, Katz’s Deli, Lucy’s Boatyard, Antone’s (for the sixth? seventh? time), Starlite Lounge, the original Alamo Drafthouse. (About half of Austin’s endangered species shown above are now extinct.)
But short-term losses really increased in 2013. The wrecking ball’s pace got more fevered in 2013, with the loss of:
- South Lamar Plaza (and all the small businesses that went down with it)
- the SoCo Food Trailer Court
- Artz Rib House
- Freewheeling Bicycles
- Club de Ville
- Poodle Dog Lounge
To be sure, many of Austin’s lost landmarks just didn’t thrive in our city’s new business climate, and the giant wrecking ball wasn’t always to blame for closures. Bad business decisions and debts contributed to many once cherished and now closed spots. But our changing demographic and our changing attitudes towards upscale development have been the dominant theme in Austin for some time.
Our losses include those that have gone missing: A beaten-down old bus that had long been the unofficial mascot for Austin’s beloved Broken Spoke went missing this year. You can’t blame its disappearance on a wrecking ball, though. The manager of the Texas Top Hands finally came to reclaim its 1948 Flxible Clipper tour bus, busted windows and all.
Another Austin icon that’s permanently MIA: The Joseph’s and Wrigley’s murals along the south-facing side of Congress Avenue’s historic building are officially still there. But they’re really missing in action, because Marriott left a small gap between its massive new north wall and the humble historic building that once housed an Austin haberdasher and advertised its wares, mural-style. Downtown rats now have the best chance of seeing the former Joseph’s Mens Store mural.
And then there’s the case of gone, but not forgotten: Blue sky and a dusty gravel parking lot once surrounded the Broken Spoke. Still, victory rises higher than the new towers that now crowd The Spoke, Austin’s legendary dance hall celebrates its 50th New Year’s Eve party tonight, regardless.
The big question is, of course, for whom will Austin’s short-term losses become long-term gains? ♦
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- How the Vanishing Austin project began
- The 99+ photographs in the Vanishing Austin series
- More articles in Vanishing Austin blog series
- The Endangered Species of Austin