Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 52

Thread: Austin, TX without the rose-colored glasses (split from worst places you have lived)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma City
    Posts
    2,904

    Austin, TX without the rose-colored glasses (split from worst places you have lived)

    Austin. For a laundry list of reasons:

    1. No sense of community. It's one of those places that touts how great it is and claims being friendly when it really is all superficial and exterior. It is so hard to build a social support network in this town centered on something besides amateur music and cannabis. I work for a suburb 16 miles from downtown and I've come across way too many people in central Austin who have no idea where it is. This sort of lack of knowledge/shared sense of place I don't think can be found very many places. To top it off, they're snooty about it in a way you don't really see outside of New Yorkers never leaving Manhattan, Clevelanders never crossing the Cuyahoga, suburban Detroiters never setting foot anywhere between 8 Mile and downtown.

    2. There are two freeways to get downtown, I-35 and Loop 1 ("Mopac") and both bottleneck (shortly) after being intersected by US 290 and US 183. Traffic is a nightmare for so small (relatively) a metro area (~1.6 mil). It has taken me 3 hours to get across town (from TX-45 to Kyle) before.

    3. U of Texas students, as a whole, are dumb. Like don't-know-how-to-order-off-of-a-menu dumb. That being said, I've met a lot of nice, intelligent people who have gone to school there and who are current students. As a whole, the description applies. And, outside of the state history museum and mediocre art museums and symphony, there's no culture in Austin outside of UT, unless you're thinking of pot and/or amateur music. Once you're out of your youth, Austin doesn't have much to offer.

    4. Upward economic mobility is practically non-existent. You'll progress to a certain point and then hit a ceiling. Some friends have expressed comments akin to "Austin is where dreams go to die." It also traps you in town and makes it hard to get out. Very few employers seem to respect work experience received here unless you're state government employees, and even then... it's Texas.

    5. There is no good urbanism here. I realize this is not an Austin-specific problem. I just find it that much more aggravating when people adamantly claim non-NIMBY status then kill any good project in their neighborhoods.

    6. Incredibly pretentious. I'm talking rivaling the Bay Area, here. Combine the uptight liberal attitudes seen in San Francisco (nothing personal, Bay Area residents and natives) and combine it with the Texan arrogance.

    7. The primary culture here is a mixture of "Stuff White People Like" hipsters, hippies, and cowboys. It might sound intriguing, but really just amounts to activist hippies with western clothing and accents.

    There are good things about Austin, too. It's pretty well integrated, racially (I wish I could say the same socio-economically), the area around the city is one of the few truly pretty scenic regions of Texas, the weather is generally pleasant 10 months of the year and sunny all year, an active downtown, the cost of living is relatively low compared to the rest of the country (but not Texas, unfortunately), you're within 3 hours of 3 of the biggest cities in the US and two of the largest metro areas, so whatever your sports/music/culture interests, if there's nothing in Austin you're pretty close to just anything you might want. But still... if I wind up here for the rest of my life, I'll probably wind up pretty miserable. I just want everyone to know that Austin doesn't fall anywhere near all the hype surrounding it. It'd probably be a fair college town, where you live for 4-5 years for undergrad, but afterward leave for bigger and better things. But as an end destination unto itself, it's falls way below the bar they've set and paid for others to set for themselves.

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,608
    Blog entries
    3
    I can't say that I've lived in any truly bad places, but I do think Austin is overrated. I like the "weirdness" (it seems like an oddball like me can fit in, even though I do feel out of place sometimes), energy that comes from being one of the nation's leading destinations for the creative class, "live and let live" mindset, and flavor of Texas culture that isn't overbearing.

    However, like TexanOkie, I agree that Austin has TERRIBLE urbanism. The population of Austin was about 135,000 in 1950. Most of the city developed in the automotive era. Neighborhoods that are considered "urban" by Austin standards, like Hyde Park, seem to have the same density and feel of a 1920s-1950s inner ring suburb anywhere else. Small houses (800'2) in Hyde Park sell for $300K and up only because they're close to an intersection with a coffee house, a few restaurants, a hipster gelateria, and an indie grocery store; the extent of commercial development for the neighborhood.

    In Austin, areas like this are considered "urban living".

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...126.81,,0,2.43
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,66.89,,0,5.16
    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=barton...08.69,,0,14.81

    In those "urban" areas, sidewalks are the rare exception on side streets, not the norm. I never lived in another city where sidewalks were so uncommon.

    The Drag, cross the street from UT (featured in an earlier thread), is about as urban as it gets in Austin outside of downtown.

    I think the lack of urbanity, and the high cost of the areas that pass for "urban", could be Austin's downfall. Nobody moves to Austin intending to live in a cul-de-sac in Cedar Park or Round Rock, 15 miles from the nearest live music venue or organic free-range fair-trade coffeehouse, but if you don't have the dough, that's going to be your Austin experience. You might as well live in suburban Dallas. Young creatives and professionals increasingly want to live in walkable urban environments, and if they can't do it in Austin, they'll go to someplace that has it.

    I do lead a bit of the "Stuff White People Like" lifestyle. Here, though, you get the feeling that people follow SWPL as a guide for living, not as a field guide for spotting middle to upper-middle class liberal educated professionals. The hipsters here make those in Williamsburg seem like amateurs; they're dominated by Dov Charney/American Apparel model types and Suicide Girl wannabes. Seriously, it seems like half of Austin has more ink than the Sunday Times. Hey, live and let live; I guess I'd take hipsters over guidos.

    There seems to be a strong "planning culture" in Austin -- people talk about the built environment quite a bit, and planning-related issues get extensive coverage in the weekly alternative newspaper. Still, the passion many Austinites have for good planning isn't reflected in the built environment.

    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    I work for a suburb 16 miles from downtown and I've come across way too many people in central Austin who have no idea where it is. This sort of lack of knowledge/shared sense of place I don't think can be found very many places. To top it off, they're snooty about it in a way you don't really see outside of New Yorkers never leaving Manhattan, Clevelanders never crossing the Cuyahoga, suburban Detroiters never setting foot anywhere between 8 Mile and downtown.
    I shared the same thing with TO in a conversation this weekend. Not only is there the North Austin/South Austin rivalry, but there's the widespread belief that you're not a REAL Autinite if you live or regularly travel north of Anderson Lane, south of US 290, west of Mopac or east of I-35. It reminds me of the "I never step foot off of Manhattan, and I'm proud of it!" mindset portrayed on Sex and the City and practiced in reality by so many from New York City.

    At my high school reunion, I heard a lot of "You live in AUSTIN?" comments from classmates, as if I told them I lived in Paris or London. If only they knew. Again, I'm not saying that Austin is a terrible place. Just overrated.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,872
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    There seems to be a strong "planning culture" in Austin -- people talk about the built environment quite a bit, and planning-related issues get extensive coverage in the weekly alternative newspaper. Still, the passion many Austinites have for good planning isn't reflected in the built environment.
    Well said! and describes Albuquerque and maybe a lot of western cities as well. I find people here to be pretty darn well informed about planning related issues, but somehow this does not seem to have any notable impact on what actually gets built by developers. What's the deal with that?

    I lived in Austin last in 1994. I visited last in 2004. Wow! what a difference. And I did get the impression that every new housing development built since I left fit your description perfectly:

    You might as well live in suburban Dallas.
    Ouch! But so true. I found this surprising for exactly the reasons you describe. Austin established a lot of cache with a particular young, hip demographic willing and enthused about spending disposable income and communing with their fellow residents. And I'm not just talking about the college students (though they are a large part of it). Why, then, is there so much development that seems to appeal to a totally different demographic (not urbane, suburban, not socially oriented or desiring of common space/town centers/congregating)? I find it a little perplexing as I think you are correct - people desiring the lifestyle that Austin has gained a reputation for are now going to be attracted to a different center and will bypass Austin altogether.

    Another way of looking at it relates to TexanOkie's observations:
    Once you're out of your youth, Austin doesn't have much to offer.
    Its no surprise that college kids age. And its also no surprise that a lot grads stay in Austin afterwards (at least it used to be). In fact, my little cadre of friends are largely still there, but have families and own homes. So, could there have been a way for Austin to build out in a way that embraced the interests and needs of these aging folks (who were already sold on living there) to provide for their next stage of life? ie. Not isolationist suburban style developments?

    OT: my wife orders off a menu pretty well for a UT grad...

    And that does raise the issue of one thing Austin does (or at least used to do) very well - restaurants. There is a LOT of great food to eat in Austin! At least there used to be...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,608
    Blog entries
    3
    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    And that does raise the issue of one thing Austin does (or at least used to do) very well - restaurants. There is a LOT of great food to eat in Austin! At least there used to be...
    Austin has plenty of great restaurants ... east of Mopac, south of Anderson Lane, west of I-35 (and a bit to the east), and north of US 290. Outside of that area, it's dominated by chains, and mom-and-pop Mexican and barbecue. That's not to say there's nothing outside of what so many consider to be the REAL Austin, but the diversity seems to drop off dramatically past a certain boundary. The Peruvian-French fusion and organic free range fair trade restaurants gives way to Cheddar's, Chili's, Happy Lucky Jade China Panda Dragon Star, and La Chingadera #2 like that (snaps fingers).

    Back to the worst place I ever lived, though. Orlando. (Sorry ZG.) It wasn't horrible, but there was absolutely no sense of community, it seemed so much more transitory than anyplace else I've lived, it was hard to meet people, and it seemed to offer all of the disadvantages of Florida (humidity, no topography, dysfunctionality, placeless sprawl, rednecks) with none of the advantages (ocean, beaches, tropical feel, availability of international/Latin flavored culture). I lived in a part of town that was middle-class but where it seemed like everybody worked in construction, and I'd hear Nextel beeps more time in one day then I'd hear in three or four months anywhere else.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Dave F's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Hype capital of the world
    Posts
    87
    In Austin, areas like this are considered "urban living".

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...126.81,,0,2.43
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,66.89,,0,5.16
    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=barton...08.69,,0,14.81



    Hilarious! While I really do like the independent business culture in those areas and other parts of central Austin, the fact that those are considered major neighborhood commercial centers is really funny. Too bad very few locals (including transplants) are in on the joke!




    Hey, live and let live; I guess I'd take hipsters over guidos.


    Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing a guido or two in Austin. Maybe they would bring some decent Italian food with them!

    As usual, great post, Dan

  6. #6
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Posts
    3,741
    The hipster culture on the whole really aggravates me, I can totally relate to TO's sentiments about them. I can dig the whole "live-and-let-live" vibe and would much prefer hipsters as neighbors as opposed to say, a bunch of meathead guidos, but the pretentiousness at the "look at me and my tats attitude" wears thin with me. Basically, it's a bunch of twenty-somethings from upper and middle class upbringings all trying to appear as edgy and bohemian as possible, but with this totally cynical attitude about life in general (i.e. "work sucks, we're too cool for that so we just drink 40s on our stoop and chill all day").

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,608
    Blog entries
    3
    Quote Originally posted by Dave F View post
    Hilarious! While I really do like the independent business culture in those areas and other parts of central Austin, the fact that those are considered major neighborhood commercial centers is really funny.

    So true. Austin has more than its fair share of "funky", but it seems that Austinites genuinely believe that funky suburban is equivalent to urban.

    Hate to break the bad news, but ...

    Manor Road isn't urban.

    North Loop isn't urban.

    Hyde Park isn't urban.

    North Lamar isn't urban
    .

    North Lamar by 6th Street is barely urban. (6th Street west of downtown is getting there, but still ...)

    South Lamar isn't urban.

    Clarksville/West End isn't urban.

    Burnet Road isn't urban.

    West 35th St/Kerbey Lane isn't urban
    .

    South 1st St isn't urban.

    Barton Springs Road isn't urban.

    South Congress is barely urban.

    These are considered major commercial centers in what many believe is the "real" Austin.

    What's urban in Austin? Downtown, the 6th Street entertainment district (really, part of downtown) and The Drag. Maybe The Triangle, if you include a heavily NU-influenced lifestyle center. That's it. Mueller is a NU development, but its retail component is what I call "kinder, gentler sprawl": solidly vehicle-oriented with decent architecture and site planning for such a project.

    Again, Austinites ... funky suburban ≠ urban. Indie record stores, coffeehouses, organic ethnic restaurants, consignment stores, mid-century home furnishing stores and tattoo parlors in aging shopping plazas and strip malls with hip or retro signage surrounded by tract houses with funky and ironic lawn art are still suburban in their form. Maybe Austin's built environment is the ultimate ironic hipster statement; drink some ironic PBR or Lone Star, get some ironic tat sleeves and chest pieces, and park your Scion XB in the driveway of your ironic ranch house in your ironic suburban neighborhood. Old hippies also like to have space for a productive garden.

    Also again, Austin's not a terrible place. It just isn't everything people believe it to be.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  8. #8
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,402
    Moderator note:


    Looks like there is enough discussion of Austin to warrant its own thread.

    Split from Worst Places You have Lived

    SR

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  9. #9
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,872
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Austin has plenty of great restaurants ... east of Mopac, south of Anderson Lane, west of I-35 (and a bit to the east), and north of US 290. Outside of that area, it's dominated by chains, and mom-and-pop Mexican and barbecue.
    I can see how long its been and how much has changed. Back in the early 1990's, this pretty much WAS Austin

    Interestingly, the place I lived last is in the aerial you posted of Hyde Park. If you look in the lower right hand corner, there is a white house with a white car parked next to a garage behind it (right across from Hyde Park Grill and right behind Mothers Cafe). I lived in the garage. Ah, memories...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  10. #10
    This thread is all dealing with personal opinions, of course. I agree with a lot of things you say TexanOkie. But it's not fair to call UT students dumb. Trust me, I have MANY issues with that university, but 50,000+ students shouldn't simply be classified as "dumb". Doing so is arrogant and pretentious in itself, as you criticized Austin for being . I've met some UT airheads as well, but no more than any other university. I know some really dense people that went to Stanford and Purdue, for instance.

    TexanOkie, (and I'm not trying to be a smartass here; this is a legit question) if you hate Austin so much why don't you just move? If my wife and I were unhappy solely because of the city we lived in, we'd pack our things and leave in a heartbeat, regardless of the job market. Happiness is too important, and life is too short.

    I'll counter the thread topic and say, from my personal experience, I love the place. My wife does as well. It's not in any way perfect, and yes, it is overhyped in many ways, and I've seen plenty of the pretentiousness you mentioned (though I've been to other places where there's more of this element than in Austin). But to many people, such as my wife and myself now, it is home. And I think any place can be criticized and loved the same way. Some people like to poke fun at Oklahoma, but to you and your wife, that is home, and it's ok to be proud of the place you call home, despite all its imperfections.

    Alright, I'll get off my soap box now .

    From a planning aspect, Austin basically grew much faster than it had anticipated. Austin had a pretty solid comprehensive plan in the 70's and 80's, but political pressure allowed a lot of development to go on the west side of town, which was supposed to be largely protected. This made traffic congestion much worse. The infrastructure just couldn't handle the growth..it still can't. Austin is WAY behind the rest of the U.S. in public transportation. The bus system is ok, but we're just now getting a rail line, and they STILL can't get their s**t together to get it running. I think it will end up being many more years before we see that rail connecting Austin and San Antonio.

  11. #11
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,635
    Moderator note:
    Moved the thread to the Cities and Places forum because this is a more appropriate location than the FAC
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,558
    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    7. The primary culture here is a mixture of "Stuff White People Like" hipsters, hippies, and cowboys.
    The firs time I read this I got a mental image of a bunch of real cowboys beating up a bunch of hipsters and hippies...
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  13. #13
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma City
    Posts
    2,904
    Quote Originally posted by bobcatplanner View post
    TexanOkie, (and I'm not trying to be a smartass here; this is a legit question) if you hate Austin so much why don't you just move? If my wife and I were unhappy solely because of the city we lived in, we'd pack our things and leave in a heartbeat, regardless of the job market. Happiness is too important, and life is too short.
    To be honest, if we didn't have any student loans, we probably would have left a while ago. Life is also too short to be in as much debt as we're in (my wife and I both have significant college loans in repayment), so short of any job offers with comparable or better pay/cost of living ratios, we'll be staying here (where we can pay the bills) for the time being.

    Also, I was born and raised in Dallas-Fort Worth. I only moved to Oklahoma for school, and while I did enjoy my time there and grew to like the place, it is not my first home, nor my ideal location. My ideal location is somewhere out west or down south like Arizona, Nevada or parts of California and Florida. The primary motive for going back to Oklahoma would be to make my wife happy.

    Off-topic:
    I did not start this thread - I didn't deliberately set out to start a fight or anything. The first post was initially in the "Worst Places You've Lived" thread. It's based purely on my own admittedly limited residential history. That being said, Austin is not merely the least of the 4 cities I've lived in. I honestly do not like the place for the reasons mentioned. As bobcatplanner stated, these are my personal opinions and rationale. If some people like Austin, then by all means more power to them and I honestly wish them well.
    Last edited by TexanOkie; 28 Jul 2009 at 6:43 PM.

  14. #14
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,608
    Blog entries
    3
    Austin as seen by The Onion:



    Teen Humiliated By Activist Mom: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/27722

    Drugs Now Legal If User Is Employed: http://www.theonion.com/content/news...gal_if_user_is

    "Legal weed versus jail?" asked Cory Everly, 23, an unemployed Austin, TX, singer-songwriter. "I am so totally going down to the sub shop today to ask Rudy for my job back."

    Added Everly: "Rudy's my boss... at the sub shop."


    Everyone Involved In Pizza's Preparation, Delivery, Purchase Extremely High: http://www.theonion.com/content/news...lved_in_pizzas

    Coffeehouse Encounter Results In Conversation, Cunnilingus: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30152

    Experts agreed that Java Europa, with its unique atmosphere of comfortable, easy-going lounging and vaguely left-leaning political and cultural sensibilities, was instrumental in the success of the coupling.

    Hippie Very Involved In Hippie Non-Sports: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/31145

    Drug Addict Looking For More Enabling Girlfriend: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/31393

    Ironic-Kitsch-Appreciation Subculture Excited About New Britney Spears Novel: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/31709

    Record-Store Clerk Gazes Down From On High In Aloof Indifference: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/32310

    AUSTIN, TX—Lording a full 14 inches over the miserable, vulgar wretches who roam the aisles of Dave's Discs, record-store clerk Bryce Lukas surveyed the teeming masses from his position at the front counter with a mixture of indifference and scorn Tuesday. "See them scurry for their precious Bob Marley and Metallica CDs," Lukas said. "One almost pities them, these corporate sheep who have never even heard of The High Llamas or Future Bible Heroes, much less Tortoise. Yet they are content, are they not, to inhabit their Sony-Elektra world, fulfilling their tedious R.E.M.-consumption duties?" Lukas then lowered himself to the level of a customer to direct her to the latest Sarah McLachlan release. "Aisle four, just past soundtracks," he muttered, eyes half-closed, with a dismissive, irritated wave.

    Bathroom Too Disgusting To Shit In: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/32842

    Texas Environmentalists Lobby For Solar-Powered Electric Chair: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/32860

    Alternative Theater Waits Three Hours For Stragglers: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/32981

    Stoner Uncle All The Kids' Favorite: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38567

    Area Stoner Has Mind-Blowing Out-Of-Cheetos Experience: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38955

    Two Hipsters Angrily Call Each Other 'Hipster': http://www.theonion.com/content/node/46691

    Texas Constructs U.S. Border Wall To Keep Out Unwanted Americans: http://www.theonion.com/content/news..._s_border_wall

    The final section of the barricade, a reinforced concrete enclosure containing the city of Austin, will be finished by August 2009.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Dave F's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Hype capital of the world
    Posts
    87
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    So true. Austin has more than its fair share of "funky", but it seems that Austinites genuinely believe that funky suburban is equivalent to urban.

    Hate to break the bad news, but ...

    Manor Road isn't urban.

    North Loop isn't urban.

    Hyde Park isn't urban.

    North Lamar isn't urban
    .

    North Lamar by 6th Street is barely urban. (6th Street west of downtown is getting there, but still ...)

    South Lamar isn't urban.

    Clarksville/West End isn't urban.

    Burnet Road isn't urban.

    West 35th St/Kerbey Lane isn't urban
    .

    South 1st St isn't urban.

    Barton Springs Road isn't urban.

    South Congress is barely urban.

    These are considered major commercial centers in what many believe is the "real" Austin.

    What's urban in Austin? Downtown, the 6th Street entertainment district (really, part of downtown) and The Drag. Maybe The Triangle, if you include a heavily NU-influenced lifestyle center. That's it. Mueller is a NU development, but its retail component is what I call "kinder, gentler sprawl": solidly vehicle-oriented with decent architecture and site planning for such a project.

    Again, Austinites ... funky suburban ≠ urban. Indie record stores, coffeehouses, organic ethnic restaurants, consignment stores, mid-century home furnishing stores and tattoo parlors in aging shopping plazas and strip malls with hip or retro signage surrounded by tract houses with funky and ironic lawn art are still suburban in their form. Maybe Austin's built environment is the ultimate ironic hipster statement; drink some ironic PBR or Lone Star, get some ironic tats, and park your Scion XB in the driveway of your ironic ranch house in your ironic suburban neighborhood. Old hippies also like to have space for a productive garden.

    Also again, Austin's not a terrible place. It just isn't everything people believe it to be.
    Daaaaaaaamn!!!!

    You're really bringing the heat on this thread.

    As an added data point, when my wife had several of her friends come to town, one of the friends, who had spent the last 12 years living in either Brooklyn or Baltimore, described South Congress as "suburban" without batting an eye upon spending an evening walking around there.

    One positive thing I would note is that it seems like with some of the new mixed-use developments underway or planned near the river, there is a possibility that some of the barely urban areas you showed will become interconnected, creating a large, walkable urban core (or, at least it will be walkable once the temperature goes down 30 degrees!). Be that as it may, the problem you noted of housing in downtown and the immediate vicinity being unaffordable seems like it will continue.

    Anyway, this thread has been a great antidote to the boosterism that is about as constant as breathing down here.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian eightiesfan's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    110
    This thread brings up many good points. I think one thing everybody can agree on is by the time a place is known as a "happening hipster town" you may as well right it off. It's either on the way or already has lost it's character and soul. I've felt this way about a few places I've lived. Seattle and Portland are also perfect examples to me as overrated. San Francisco is getting there, if it wasn't for the scenery and the density I'd be outta here.
    Regrets, I've had a few; But then again, too many to mention.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Dave F's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Hype capital of the world
    Posts
    87
    Quote Originally posted by eightiesfan View post
    This thread brings up many good points. I think one thing everybody can agree on is by the time a place is known as a "happening hipster town" you may as well right it off. It's either on the way or already has lost it's character and soul. I've felt this way about a few places I've lived. Seattle and Portland are also perfect examples to me as overrated. San Francisco is getting there, if it wasn't for the scenery and the density I'd be outta here.
    That's why I recommend my hometown of Omaha to anyone who will listen. It's getting national attention in NY Times articles (check the archives) and other, more trendy, publications. Omaha's music scene has garnered attention for at least 15 years, yet it's still on the way up, hipness wise. And it's very cheap for a big city, to boot. So, move to Omaha and watch it peak over the next few years! Then, you can move on to the next-up-and-coming place after Omaha is "over."

  18. #18
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,608
    Blog entries
    3
    Quote Originally posted by Dave F View post
    Omaha's music scene has garnered attention for at least 15 years, yet it's still on the way up, hipness wise. And it's very cheap for a big city, to boot. So, move to Omaha and watch it peak over the next few years! Then, you can move on to the next-up-and-coming place after Omaha is "over."
    It's not just the "scene" that matters, IMHO. I mean, Austin has a terrific "scene", but the built environment really takes the edge off of it, and limits its access. This picture comes to mind, for some reason ...



    How's the urbanism in Omaha? Are we talking about used record stores with smug tattooed clerks in decaying strip centers, or walkable neighborhoods?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,796
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    It's not just the "scene" that matters, IMHO. I mean, Austin has a terrific "scene", but the built environment really takes the edge off of it, and limits its access. This picture comes to mind, for some reason ...



    How's the urbanism in Omaha? Are we talking about used record stores with smug tattooed clerks in decaying strip centers, or walkable neighborhoods?
    At some point you're just gonna have to admit that if you're not in Cleveland or Bufflao you're in a living hell. I don't know why you think that. But you do.

    I guess it's best for all involved that you're not currently suffering in my hometown agian.

    p.s. Planners usually go new places and look for the good and interesting. All you do is compare everything to Buffalo. Which is kinda sick.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma City
    Posts
    2,904
    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess View post
    At some point you're just gonna have to admit that if you're not in Cleveland or Bufflao you're in a living hell. I don't know why you think that. But you do.

    I guess it's best for all involved that you're not currently suffering in my hometown agian.

    p.s. Planners usually go new places and look for the good and interesting. All you do is compare everything to Buffalo. Which is kinda sick.
    In Fearless Leader's defence, I'm the one who started this thread, and while I may not be from Austin, I am from Texas. I can, have, and will make similar arguments against the places where I am from (Dallas-Fort Worth). Texas and I just don't jive, and the only thing that makes it acceptable is it's home. That being said, I still kinda want to leave if/when I get the opportunity...

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Dave F's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Hype capital of the world
    Posts
    87
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    It's not just the "scene" that matters, IMHO. I mean, Austin has a terrific "scene", but the built environment really takes the edge off of it, and limits its access. This picture comes to mind, for some reason ...



    How's the urbanism in Omaha? Are we talking about used record stores with smug tattooed clerks in decaying strip centers, or walkable neighborhoods?
    Dan,
    Believe it or not, the cool record stores are mostly located downtown, in an old warehouse district called the Old Market. The Market has a decent number of “urban living” loft-style developments as well as some more standard apartment buildings. As would be expected, it is home to a lot of "destination" businesses and restaurants/bars. This area even has an old warehouse where artists can live, produce their work and put on exhibits or performances in one place. On the opposite side of downtown, the Saddle Creek Records (an independent label of some renown) people have started a performance space that is adjacent to the city's newest independent-oriented movie house (there's more than one!) and a gallery that has frequent installations. The urban core of Omaha is pretty walkable with affordable apartments near downtown or the neighborhood commercial areas. This core extends for about 5 miles, until the city dissolves into a more typical suburban area. Surprisingly, the core area’s street grid pattern extends into the newer parts of town, with few exceptions. This aspect makes Omaha much easier to serve by bus than “spaghetti” pattern cities like Austin.

    The urbanism? It’s a mixed bag. As is true with any Midwestern city other than Chicago, it’s not terribly urban as one moves away from the pre-WWI core. However, the core is augmented by a few small town downtown-like areas that were once independent towns before Omaha annexed them. These often have independent restaurants and other trendier businesses next door to dowdy 60 year old family businesses, making for some interesting contrasts. These areas, such as Dundee and Benson, have done well at attracting younger people while still remaining affordable.

    The overall point I was trying to make is the while Omaha is not “there” yet, that means it can still rise to hipper heights in the future. It also has an interesting sort of mid-level urban fabric that could provide raw material for future renovation or re-use. Unlike other cities that have already made it, Omaha is still affordable, which makes it an ideal place for the next generation of creatives to use as an incubator. This has already worked to an extent as artists such as Bright Eyes, Cursive and several smaller indie acts as well a as a handful of visual artists have used Omaha as a springboard to something bigger.

    BTW, have we ever had a photo thread on Omaha yet?

  22. #22
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma City
    Posts
    2,904
    Update: this article is very plausible concerning Austin and the sociology of the place. You can pick up on the mentality prevalent amongst many persons, and the subsequent effect it could have on it's culture.

    http://www.imaginaryplanet.net/essay...obaressay1.php

  23. #23
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,608
    Blog entries
    3

    I think I got it ...

    A couple of nights ago, I went to watch the bats emerge from underneath the Congress Street Bridge at sundown. It's a spectacular sight; the Congress Street Bridge houses the largest urban bat colony in the world.

    I drove to the area a couple of hours earlier, walked around for a bit, and grabbed something to eat. The South Congress area (SoCo) was packed with hipsters, the majority with a good portion of thier bodies covered in ink. The crushed rock trail along the Colorado river was also packed, with runners that had bodies approaching zero body fat. Many weren't just jogging, but running. They were competing with serious Lance Armstrong wannabees, decked out in the gear of whatever racing team they were on. It was a beautiful night, clear skies, about a million bats flying overhead, and people are sprinting and racing by without even slowing down to take in this wonderful spectacle of nature.

    It was then that I put my finger on the major reason I find Austin to be a city that is often so grating. Austinites are too hardcore. The hipsters aren't just sad emo kids or even Williamsburg-ish; they're full-on ironic rockabilly types. (I think this accounts for all the mid-century vintage stores in town, and businesses with 1950s retro signage and design themes.) When people get tattoos, it's not going to be a star or Chinese symbol on the ankle, but rather they're going to look to Maori warriors and Attica inmates for inspiration; they get full sleeves, chest pieces, neck tats, and other highly visible displays. People that are fitness-oriented don't just have gym memberships, but also run and/or bike all the time, slap 26.2 stickers on their cars to brag about their marathoning prowess, and collect expensive sneakers and bikes. (Austin has an unreal number of high-end bicycle and runner's supply stores.) Those into the live music scene live, breathe, eat, sleep and drink music, even if they don't play it; they're scenesters of the extreme kindd.

    I won't mention UT and Texas A&M fans whose identities are their alma maters, who cannot have a conversation without mentioning their schools. Especially Aggies. Yeah, I see your ring; you don't have to drop a Texas A&M reference every three minutes. Worse than Harvard alumni and Buffalonians. I get it. (Okay, so I mentioned it.)

    No, I'm not saying everybody in Austin and the surrounding suburbs are like this. However, the proportion of those who are is much higher than in any other metropolitan area of comparable size. I shrugged at the uber-outdoorsy types in Denver whose goal in life is to bag every fourteener in the state and acheive a pulse under 50 BPM when biking over Independence Pass, and the uber-mommies in Cleveland whose topics of conversation are limited to parenting and school districts. In Austin, though, it seems like so many more people are uber-something. I find Austinites just aren't as well-rounded as one might expect in a city with a reputedly well-educated and informed population.

    I have a "Keep Austin Weird" sticker on my car. I like weird. Thing is, I don't let weirdness dominate my life; it's just something I appreciate in the urban environment that provides some color and makes me smile. When you let one narrow interest define you as a person, what kind of life is that? It's a life of black and white, with little or no color. Bike, bike, bike, bike, bike. Run, run, run, run, run. Listen to Explosions in the Sky, listen to Venison Whirled, listen to Public Offenders, listen to Scorpion Child, listen to The Lovely Sparrows, but don't listen to Okkervil River because I heard them on KGSR so they must have sold out, man! Get a tramp stamp, get ironic old school ink, get a chest piece, get a sleeve, get your favorite poem in a spiral around one of your legs. You get the idea.

    Other cities have their subcultures, too, just like Austin. However, it seems like there's overlap to varying degrees among those different subcultures. In Austin, there's almost no overlap; I think it's because people are so entrenched into the subcultures they identify with.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935
    In case I didn't mention it, I still hate Texas.

  25. #25
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,608
    Blog entries
    3
    Quote Originally posted by Chet View post
    In case I didn't mention it, I still hate Texas.
    Had a run in with some Aggies, I take it?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 75
    Last post: 08 May 2010, 2:06 AM
  2. Replies: 19
    Last post: 23 Jul 2008, 10:09 AM
  3. Replies: 38
    Last post: 04 Dec 2006, 6:23 PM
  4. Worst places to meet women
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 26
    Last post: 02 Sep 2005, 2:43 PM
  5. Replies: 30
    Last post: 25 Jan 2002, 10:15 AM