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Austin, Texas: North Loop - what happens when hipsters colonize the suburbs

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
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17,246
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51
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".















































































































 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Messages
26,275
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51
I've never seen anything quite like this before. A four-square with mod looking carports? :-|

It's taken a lot of images to get it across, but after a few Austin threads I am beginning to get a 'feel' for the built environment around there. It is different.
 

hilldweller

Cyburbian
Messages
3,866
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23
What's with all the trash bins out in front of the businesses, do they always leave them out like that or was it trash day? Why not a shared dumpster (or would that not fit with the whole "keep Austin weird" vibe they're after)?
 

FueledByRamen

Cyburbian
Messages
449
Points
13
Wow, I never considered the North Loop area to really be suburban. Glad to see things are picking up there. Just a couple of years ago, that retail area (between Ave G and Ave F, I think?) was lifeless.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,246
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What's with all the trash bins out in front of the businesses, do they always leave them out like that or was it trash day? Why not a shared dumpster (or would that not fit with the whole "keep Austin weird" vibe they're after)?
I don't think separate trash bins are a deliberate attempt to "keep Austin weird", but I don't think anybody's in a hurry to clean up the appearance of the area either. There's one thing Austin and my hometown of Buffalo have in common, I've noticed: a predominant school of thought that disheveled and gritty places are "authentic" and "real", and therefore good; while areas that are too neat or clean are "sterile" and "soulless", and therefore bad.

Another similarity between Austin and Buffalo, very much in evidence in North Loop: weeds growing from curbs, sidewalk cracks, and the like are everywhere, and usually left untrimmed. Austin is a very "weedy" city in more than one way. For a city that is so environmentally conscious, Austin can often feel dirtier than other large cities in Texas.
 

Rygor

Cyburbian
Messages
2,718
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17
There seems to be a preponderance of Volvos, Priuses, and other small compacts. Also a good mixture of ex-hippie looking housing and yuppie modern homes and townhouses. The types of stores, cyclists, and general vibe scream of a "Stuff White People Like" atmosphere.
 

TexanOkie

Cyburbian
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2,903
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Wow, I never considered the North Loop area to really be suburban.
I think Dan was saying it's a suburban development pattern. Really, North Loop (and a majority of Austin between 183/Research, 290/Ben White, and Lake Austin) is really only considered urban due to it's location in proximity to the rest of the Austin metro.
 

jmello

Cyburbian
Messages
2,583
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21
Looks like a hipster slum. Also looks alot like Charlotte and Durham, NC.
 

clint

Member
Messages
8
Points
0
@TexanOkie - There's also lots of urban growth in Cedar Park and Round Rock. This is causing serious traffic clogging up Mopac.

Bill - Austin is quite different than most other cities in Texas. It's almost a little island inside of Texas. Do you live in Austin?

-Clint
Moderator note:

(Dan) URL deleted.
 

GButler

Member
Messages
24
Points
2
"Austin doesn't have much in its built environment that can be considered "urban" in the Northeastern or Midwestern sense."

One of the things I noticed right away when I moved from Buffalo to Texas was the differing concept of "urban" and standards on density. My house in N.Buffalo is a stacked duplex situated on a 35' by 100' lot, among several others and the relatively compact Hertel. I always thought of that as suburban-like compared with parts of the city closer to downtown. In Houston, the inner city neighborhoods have a form similar to the pictures of Austin you posted (1 story bungalows on 50+' wide lots and small strip plazas). Down here, that is "urban."

Not sure about Austin but some of the really cool "urban" areas (IMO) are in some of the newer postwar communities outside the 610 loop, especially those that have filtered down to the lower end of the housing market. These edge city-like neighborhoods include Sharpstown, Fondren SW, Alief and are inhabited by an incredibly diverse group of people (Houston's Chinatown is located here). It is an exotic collection of golf courses, mid-century modern homes, skyscrapers, freeway feeder roads, vast multi-acre apartment complexes, and lots of palm trees. I've always felt the "hipster" element would eventually come to places like this as they get priced out of the more traditional "urban" areas like Houston Heights and Montrose.
 

GButler

Member
Messages
24
Points
2
There's one thing Austin and my hometown of Buffalo have in common, I've noticed: a predominant school of thought that disheveled and gritty places are "authentic" and "real", and therefore good; while areas that are too neat or clean are "sterile" and "soulless", and therefore bad.

I think that sort of organic minimalism is a trend that goes beyond Austin and Buffalo, perhaps nationwide. The CVB people in Houston have embraced a similar concept with their "Houston is Hip" slogan.

http://newsfixnow.com/2013/01/30/houston-is-hip-you-didnt-know6/

Scenes like this mural are increasingly common in city that hasn't always embraced its touchy feely side.

Houston Mural.jpg
 

GButler

Member
Messages
24
Points
2
There's one thing Austin and my hometown of Buffalo have in common, I've noticed: a predominant school of thought that disheveled and gritty places are "authentic" and "real", and therefore good; while areas that are too neat or clean are "sterile" and "soulless", and therefore bad.

I think that sort of organic minimalism is a trend that goes beyond Austin and Buffalo, perhaps nationwide. The CVB people in Houston have embraced a similar concept with their "Houston is Hip" slogan.

http://newsfixnow.com/2013/01/30/houston-is-hip-you-didnt-know6/

Scenes like this mural are increasingly common in city that hasn't always embraced its touchy feely side.

View attachment 5180

Also, is there any way to post pictures that don't come out so tiny? I uploaded them from my computer, but maybe that isn't the best way to do it.
 
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