Commentary on Cranes and Their Creations

Vanishing Austin / Dueling Threats by Jann Alexander © 2013
Dueling Threats by Jann Alexander © 2013

In 2008, as today, the building cranes loomed everywhere in Austin, giving us an unusual skyline. It was hard to avoid casting them as characters in my Vanishing Austin photographs—a series I began in 2004 that lent itself to a juxtaposition of old and new Austin. So when the snake that graced the east side of Ranch 616 (above) appeared to have a visceral reaction to the cranes, the image embodied my concept for my visual journey through Austin’s transition. I called the photo Dueling Threats. Even then, I wondered who was winning.

Then, as now, it’s the tall towers that mock the scale of the architectural ambiance thriving so far beneath them. Still, I’m rootin’ for the little guy—like the Tiniest Bar in Texas. Whose owners claim they’re makin’ a stand, right there amidst all the high-rise action on West 5th Street, in the shadow of the Monarch.

Left, Tiny Bar, Tall Tower. Right, Until the Bitter End by Jann Alexander ©2010

In the Warehouse District, cranes were once reflected back in the existing (and modestly tall) high-rises, which have themselves been overtaken by newer and taller skyscrapers further to the east. Do they provide an artsy backdrop to an older block that still stands? I’m not so sure. Then, I would have said, here’s to a fight until the Bitter End. 

These days, I merely sigh—and perhaps like you—admit, that Austin is what it is. Tall.  

Condos and Cranes by Jann Alexander ©2014
Condos and Cranes by Jann Alexander ©2014

What’s your take on Austin’s tall towers?

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

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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Updated from the original post, May 1, 2008.

10 thoughts on “Commentary on Cranes and Their Creations

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  1. Wonderful but sad thoughts fill my head when I see the term “Vanishing Austin”. Memories of The Amarillo World Headquarters, Mother Earth on S.Lamar, The Boonsdock Club downtown before there was even a 6th street or a trendy yuppy warehouse district are but a few of the local haunts that are gone forever. The Austin I love is the Austin where UT had 48,000 students in a town of 150,000, where you could go anyehere in town in 30 minutes or less. Those days are gone and many of the landmarks associated with Austin’s golden times aew gone too. Thank you Jann for keeping immortalizing the memories

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thanks for your comments and if I had a photo of Liberty Lunch I could be a millionaire . . . seriously, who knew when I started photographing the eye candy I love here in Austin that it would strike such a chord. I’m glad to hear my work is appreciated! now wouldn’t it be great if we somehow made way for BOTH development AND our heritage–Jann


  3. Your blog is very much like the way you think about Austin. Your photographs are wonderful! I think Barton Springs will be there for all eternity — but I certainly think it’s worth a Jann photo or two. It’s my favorite place in Austin. Check out the bathhouse before they remodel.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GREAT suggestion. thanks. I agree, the bathhouse of old deserves a photo. I hope Barton Springs survives eternally, too, and in its more uncloudied state from the recent past too–since unchecked development threatens not just Austin’s urban identity but the health of its waterways too. I appreciate your feedback–Jann


  5. or another condo, and though they’re handsome in their modern styling, they often come at the expense of what’s unique in Austin.


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