Welcome to East Austin!

I live in East Austin.
Like many east sides of cities, the neighborhood is a cultural and artistic melting pot.
And like many east sides, holds a dense history of segregation and gentrification.

When I began working on the east side over a year and a half ago, I became fascinated with the story told in each building and person I walked or drove by. Like many items that fascinate me, I began researching the area and was surprised to discover the narrative behind the surface.

During the time of Jim Crow laws, the city of Austin passed a 1928 City Plan that designated a black-only district east of what is now I-35. African Americans relocated to this area and had their own designated schools, churches, and other public facilities. During this time, a rich jazz scene blossomed in the area which helped to cultivate Austin as the music-centric city it is today. Also, during this time, Hispanic Americans were pushed East as well (the logistics of this are frequently discussed and I need to do more research on it). Though Lyndon Johnson signed off on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the building of I-35 around the same time didn’t help to bridge the already decades old segregation within Austin. The city took little notice of East Austin, letting the area become a playground for rampant industrial endeavors and crime. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the city took an interest in revitalizing the east side and ever since, the sentiment has caught fire.

The pics below are only a two block area of East Austin that make up my neighborhood. The rest of East Austin is a photographer’s dream. Perfect example is in Rama Tiru’s book, “Austin East of I-35“. I highly recommend this beautiful and informative book. Just when you think you know everything about East Austin…

Another excellent resource is UT’s “East Austin Stories” series. Every year, film students create two documentaries about the east side. I attended this year’s screening and was thoroughly impressed not only at the quality of the students’ films, but the fascinating stories that exist in every nook and cranny of this wonderful part of Austin.

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  • Reply Emily July 13, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I think you're very right about the east side of cities. I live in north London but I've always wanted to move to east London, it's full of gorgeous thrift stores, art studios and beautiful little pubs.

  • Reply WILDasaMINK July 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I love this kinda stuff…and it makes me so intrigued to know the history and what went on before my time in places like this. And if i don't know what went on, i take it upon myself to make up a life for the people that lived inside that little shack, or the person that resides in that awesome trailer. Don't even get me started on the life of those cute kittens.
    You're completely right about neighborhoods with "East" in their name, I never thought about it until you brought it to our attention. Funny, all these hipster white kids are moving to "East Williamsburgh" I mean Bushwick (they just call it East Williamsburg to get the white kids to rent there.)
    Oh but back to the history of Austin, i'm a total goon and a ghost freak–do you guys have ghost tours in your town?

  • Reply Madeleine July 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Completely unrelated, but I thought you might like this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2010/jul/12/jeff-goldblum-prisoner-second-avenue

  • Reply Peaches and Cream July 13, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I love the grit of areas like this. I've always lived places that have a bit more 'character'. I also love learning about the history of the area I live in – I work in my local area too so I get to hear heaps of stories from all the people I meet everyday, about the war & the blitz, the gangsters, the film studios…I guess it makes me feel a bit more a part of the community.

  • Reply Big Mark 243 July 13, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    You do have a story in you, somewhere. Hope it erupts and gets told.

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