In 2011, It Became Official: Austin’s Vanishing

Austin Business Journal made it “official” four years ago, in its year-end issue: Austin’s Been Vanishing Over the Last 30 Years.

As 2011 came to an endAustin Business Journal looked back over its three decades of publishing in Austin, and found Austin vanishing.

In a special issue examining 30 years of business trends in Austin, Austin Business Journal devoted a two-page spread to my Vanishing Austin series—showing “some of the landmarks that have been lost, mostly due to redevelopment.”

Austin Business Journal graphic, December 23, 2011  Photos © 2011 Jann Alexander

Long-time Austin residents understand why my tongue is somewhat tucked in my cheek, and also recall some of their favorite haunts wistfully.

In just the most recent decade, Austin has seen some notable losses and relocations: the Frisco Shop, Las Manitas, Little City, Jaime’s Spanish Village, the Bitter End, Lucy’s Boatyard, Katz’s Deli, Forbidden Fruit, Emo’s, MoMo’s, Art’s Ribs, the Spaghetti Warehouse, the Poodle Lounge, most of the shops at South Lamar Plaza, and so many more. Some of Austin’s iconic businesses have relocated and reopened, but many have been permanently lost.

I got interested in photographing Austin on my first visit to The Live Music Capital Of The World, in May 2004. In fact, a better description would be that I became smitten with Austin’s funky charm. And I began photographing it at that moment, just as the handwriting would appear on the wall.

Some images from my first encounter in Austin

With Austin’s artistic presence, was it any wonder I kept shooting the landmarks, their creative signage and their unique architecture, until I’d bagged more than 100 of them? It wasn’t long until I began noticing some  struggling for existence, as our city grew up—literally.

There’s a permanent photographic record of those landmarks that still thrive, and those that didn’t make it out alive, at my Vanishing Austin photography series, begun that day in 2004. The series includes some 99+ prints, and the (sadly prophetic) Endangered Species of Austin poster.

It didn’t take me long after my first-ever visit to Austin to relocate here, from the DC area. My first footsteps in Austin were in May 2004, and by August, I was living here—after a lifetime spent on the East Coast. Hey! I got here as quick as I could! 

Which Vanishing Austin landmark do you miss most?

Endangered Species of Austin, poster by Jann Alexander © 2009
Endangered Species of Austin poster

More about my Vanishing Austin series: While many Austin landmarks are lost, many are survivors still. Admire them all in a slideshow, HERE. Prints start at $35.

You can marvel at what’s lost and what’s survived in my Endangered Species of Austin poster, featuring 16 Austin icons, and sized at a handsomely large 24 x 36,” available for $25, HERE.

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14 thoughts on “In 2011, It Became Official: Austin’s Vanishing

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  1. Thanks for reminding us to make the most of what we have while it’s still around. Your photos are really wonderful looks at the colorful past. I need to get to visit Austin while there’s still some left.

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