You Mean Austin Keeps on Vanishing?

Yes, it does. As noted in What’s Vanished Since 2004, some of Austin’s best treasures have gone missing since I began my Vanishing Austin photo series that spring.

Vanishing Austin_Overtaken by Jann Alexander 2013
Avenue Cafe begat Las Manitas begat Marriott: Overtaken by Jann Alexander © 2006

It was Las Manitas on Congress Avenue that vanished in a truly public way, and marked the first time Austin’s sleepy citizens roused themselves to fight a corporate invasion that threatened our city’s long-time small-town feel. Though the fight was lost before it began, the very public dismay over its demise inspired me to keep photographing the Austin gems I found charming, eccentric, invaluable.

Tall towers are everywhere downtown now, with more in the pipeline, and it doesn’t take a visionary to imagine which small businesses will vanish as developers’ cranes move in. So I’ve been photographing what I’d hate to see vanish, and with over 99 images now, Vanishing Austin is as much an unnerving record of our growth as it is a nostalgic collection of old favorites. Either way, the series has its admirers.

Our iconic businesses aren’t always shut out by development. Some lose their leases, or relocate for cheaper rents, some lose a long-time customer base, or gentrification overtakes their neighborhoods; in some cases, owners are just plain tired and cash out while the market is white hot.

There are about 30 Austin landmarks in my photography series that live on only in memories, and in print. (That’s an amazing one third of the entire collection.) In What’s Vanished Since 2004, I showed you about half of those. Here are the rest from my collection:

Gallery | Since 2004: Austin’s Vanishing Act, Take Two

Austin remains a funky, creative, all-embracing, vibrant, imaginative, come-one-come-all style city with good looks and charm—even as its neighborhoods lose the threads of community with the new urbanism encroaching. And it’s still hard to take, each time another little piece of old Austin’s creative soul vanishes.

How much of this goes on elsewhere? I watched this process unfold a few decades ago in my former neighborhood, in North Arlington, Virgina, as the underground Metro system arrived and changed everything. It’s a thriving area now, as it was then, but expensive condos, apartments  and the big chains have moved in alongside some of the new, hipper businesses. Some of the most creative long-timers survived, through sheer willpower and supportive zoning. 

Are you witnessing this in your city or elsewhere? How do you feel about these lost landmarks and their newer replacements?

Endangered Species of Austin poster by Jann Alexander © 2013
Endangered Species of Austin poster

BUY THE POSTER of some 16 of Austin’s then-revered icons, created in 2006 and somewhat fliply called the Endangered Species of Austin, which became prophetic when half of them actually did vanish.

SHOP FOR PRINTS of 99+ images from the Vanishing Austin photo series by Jann Alexander at

8 thoughts on “You Mean Austin Keeps on Vanishing?

Add yours

    1. You’re right, Genie is NOT gone. (Nor is Enfield Drug.) But their signs were replaced and “gentrified” (my term) to look contempo. As traditional, original neon, that’s a loss in my (admittedly very personal) book.

      35 buildings planned–what a stat that is! let me know if you have a web source I can look at (the “Vanishing” eightball would get a boost from that).

      thanks for your comments!


I'd love to hear what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: