Austin doesn't have much in its built environment that can be considered "urban" in the Northeastern or Midwestern sense. As Austin became "weirder", hippies, creatives and hipsters worked with what they got, and retrofitted the many suburban-style commercial strips anchoring the neighborhoods surrounding the central city.
North Loop is a quintessential Austin neighborhood; in-your-face alternative, yet in a suburban context - beat-up strip plazas, and small tract houses dating from the 1920s through the 1950s sited on large lots. There's few sidewalks, but lots of cyclists and scooters. In North Loop, you'll find vintage resale shops, a 1960s-style radical bookstore, a BDSM boutique, and tattoos on the bodies of what seems like every resident and visitor. The yuppies are making inroads, scraping off land for their corrugated metal and dryvit-sided po-mo habitats. Will they bring their yoga studios, day spas, baby boutiqies and organic bistros with them? Time will tell, but the Magic 8-Ball says "ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES".
North Loop is a funky little neighborhood, but make no mistake: it's not what this Yankee would call "urban".