Texas over Time: Congress Avenue, Austin

August 12, 2015 Amanda Norman

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Austin-NorthCongressA few notable superlatives centered around Austin’s Congress Avenue…

  • The Bosche-Hogg building was the site of the first steam laundry west of the Mississippi, circa late 1890s.
  • At nine stories, the Littlefield building (c. 1912) was briefly the second tallest building west of the Mississippi behind the ALICO, which was completed the year before, in 1911. (Many Austin sources state it as being the tallest, despite it being shorter than and built later than the ALICO.)
  • The street was home to a mule powered streetcar line starting in 1875. It was later upgraded to an electric line. The street was the first in Austin to be paved, in 1905, reportedly causing horses and buggies to fall whenever it rained, as they weren’t used to making fast turns on the pavement.
  • The Angelina Eberly/Texas Archives War statue (between Sixth and Seventh Streets) is one of the only public sculptures celebrating archives. Eberly is depicted firing a cannon to alert the people of Austin (in 1842) that Sam Houston’s men were stealing the Republic of Texas’ archives, part of President Houston’s efforts to relocate the capitol to Houston. Eberly, who ran a boarding house, fired off a grapeshot load from a cannon, sending soldiers on their way to head off the records thieves and ultimately, preserve Austin as the state capitol.

Sources:

Castle, Melissa Allen. Austin Through a Century: Know Your Capitol. Austin: S.n., 1939. Print.

Historic Walking Tours: Congress Ave. & E. 6th St. Austin, TX: Visitor Information Center, 1995. Print.

Hodges, Rob. “Angelina (Peyton) Eberly—A Pioneering Spirit.” Texas Historical Commission, 2013. http://www.thc.state.tx.us/blog/angelina-peyton-eberly-pioneering-spirit. Web.

Humphrey, David C. Austin: A History of the Capital City. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1997. Print.

Jackson, Pearl Cashell. Austin Yesterday and Today: A Glance at Her History, a Word about Her Enterprises, a Description of Her Big Banking Establishment. Austin, TX: E.L. Steck, 1915. Print.

Shelton, Emmett. My Austin: Remembering the Teens and Twenties. Boston, MA: American, 1994. Print.

See all of the images in our Flickr set. GIF and factoids by Braxton Ray, archives student assistant.

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