Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Austin's downtown

A big thank you to Pink Dogwood of Wandering Mind for giving me an award. Thanks, Pink Dogwood - your comments have always been encouraging and I'm glad to have found you in blog land!

Today's post has a few pictures and some history from Austin's downtown area. The best thing about Austin (I think), is Ladybird Lake, which lies in the middle of downtown and offers greenery and pleasant walks in the midst of chaos.

As a result, high-rise condos and apartment buildings are sprouting up all over, offering views of the lake, and proximity to the trails around it. I don't know the name of this building, but it's a new one, and gave me a good sunset picture one evening.

There is constant construction in Austin, as in most metro areas, and taller and taller buildings are coming up everywhere, with gleaming glass panels and geometrically precise shapes.

The Frost Bank Tower is one of the most recognizable buildings in Austin today. It was completed in 2003, and stands 515 feet tall.

This one is the Bank of America Center, a 26-story office building that was built in 1975.

What was more interesting to me about the Bank of America Center, was this lovely little building from across the street that was reflected on its polished glass exterior!

This is the 8-story tall Scarbrough Building, which was built in 1910. This building was Austin's first steel and concrete structure. It was originally the Emerson Monroe Scarbrough's dry goods store. Locally known then as Scarbrough's, it was the finest department store in central Texas. It is now dwarfed by tall sky scrapers all around, but still holds its place in Austin's downtown.

Many such beautiful, ornate buildings stand literally buried among the tall matchbox-like newer structures all around. One has to look carefully to see these fine buildings, but they are still there.

The picture below is of a statue of Mrs. Angelina Eberly (1798 - 1860) on Congress Avenue. She was an inn keeper and is remembered as a hero of Austin.

The story goes that Sam Houston, the President of the Republic of Texas in the mid-1800s, thought that Austin was an inappropriate location for the capital, and campaigned to have it moved to Houston instead. When the congress disagreed, Houston sent a delegation of Texas Rangers to steal the government archives.

In December 1842, when the rangers were loading their wagons in the middle of the night with the documents, Mrs. Eberly, an innkeeper, heard the sounds and ran down the road to fire off the town cannon to alert everyone. She missed the Rangers but blasted a hole in the General Land Office building a few blocks away!

The cannon fire woke everyone up, and they stopped the Rangers from stealing the documents. Houston would now be the capital of Texas, if Angelina Eberly hadn't fired the cannon! This statue by Pat Oliphant stands on the sidewalk near where Eberly helped preserve Austin as Texas' capital city.

I took these pictures on a downtown field trip that our photography class took a few months ago. I am usually not too interested in taking photos of buildings, but was pleasantly surprised at how interesting this trip was.

I had to wake up early in the morning for this (which I don't usually do :)), and as a result, got to capture the early morning light and shadows that all disappear by the time I usually am up and about!

Have a good week.


Kalyan said...

Nice Pictures there - Bindu. I'm in Austin these days and can perfectly relate to the pictures. SXSW just passed by and we had loads of fun here - with Music playing till wee hours. Were you in Austin during SXSW?

LadyFi said...

Gorgeous pictures - especially that last one! And what a contrast between the old and the new in Austin.

The 19th Wife is a book that gives a historically fictive look at polygamy among the Mormons and the Firsts... it's actually two or more stories weaved together... one of the stories is based on a real story and character who was a plural wife... Fascinating book!

Sydney said...

I think I might have walked or driven past that last bench...

I have only been there twice or so... have 2 stepsons in the vicinity. All your pictures are so good, AS USUAL!!!!


dolphin said...

nice pictures bindu!
my friends told me that it is a nice place to visit. hope to visit the city sometime.

~ ॐ ~ said...

some very interesting pictures and text here !!!

thanks Bindu !

Anonymous said...

Great photos and story Bindu!!
You have a nice eye for the shots your take, and seeing what is around you. I love the shadowed picture very much, the person sitting on the seat. Very nice!!!
Have a lovely week

Chris said...

Wonderful pictures. I can tell they were taken with an artist's eye.

Shalini said...

Love the last photo...what great shadows!

I've heard so much about Austin and its vibrant art scene. I'm also fascinated about how the river flows through the town and has lots of cafes etc.

Henry the Dog's Mum said...

Reading your blog always makes me realise how totally ignorant I am. I knew nothing about Austin. Of course, had heard of it in passing. Although I wouldn't have been able to tell anyone where it was in the US, so thank you for educating me. Once again, wonderful photos - are you a professional photographer?
PS: Ladybird Lake looks delightful

Henry the Dog said...

Cool photos Bindu:)

Blu said...

I enjoy learning about places, and find your posts full of interest. Cool refelection in the modern glass block.

painter girl said...

Thanks for the tour Bindu. I have always wanted to visit Austin and this just makes me want to come by more.
Love the tale of the Mrs. Eberly.

Shayla said...

The bench gave a particularly interesting shadow. I love that your city left the older building in with the new instead of demolishing them. That was smart planning and I'm sure gives your city a special character.

Indrani said...

Nice read!
The photos are superb! I liked the canon shot very much.

3rdEyeMuse said...

what a great post! I really love the photo with the reflection of the smaller, more ornate building - the lighting is perfect! and what a great story about Austin's hero ... makes me smile.

Mridula said...

The last picture, the chair's reflection with the man is what I like best.

david mcmahon said...

Congratulations on the award, I've been enjoying your photography on this, my first visit.

bb mcclain said...

You take such good photos Bindu.

~vagabond~ said...

The last photo is my favorite.
Thanks for the tour of Austin. :)