Alumni Research: Andrew Busch publishes piece on gentrification in Austin

UT AMS grad Andrew Busch passed along an article that he published in the journal Southern Spaces at the end of the summer. Although sometimes our research can seem a little distant from us, Dr. Busch’s essay, “Crossing Over: Sustainability, New Urbanism, and Gentrification in Austin, Texas” is one that, quite literally, deals with what’s happening on the homefront. We’ve excerpted a section below:

In July of 2011 Bon Appétit named Franklin Barbecue of Austin, Texas, the best barbecue restaurant in America. As one of the flagship businesses in an area of the city undergoing significant redevelopment Franklin (which began as a food truck three years earlier) had recently moved into a building on East Eleventh Street, adjacent to downtown across Interstate 35. Franklin Barbecue helped enhance the city’s wider reputation while locally it helped the reputation of the central Eastside. The white-owned Franklin took the former space of Ben’s Long Branch Barbecue, an African American–owned business operating since the 1980s; African Americans had served barbecue at this site since at least the early 1960s. The corridor, formerly the hub of black commerce and social life during the era of segregation, fell into blight and disrepair in the 1970s and sunk into deeper trouble by the 1980s as residents of means and local businesses fled. In the 1990s the Austin Revitalization Authority (ARA) was formed as a non-profit to assist in the commercial development of the neglected neighborhood as well as to renew historic buildings and homes to maintain architecture consistent with the area’s heritage. In 1997 the ARA declared the area a slum, making it eligible for Section 108 Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After completing the Central East Austin Master Plan, which called for 140,000 square feet of mixed-use development, the ARA and the city acquired over $9 million in CDBGs to initiate revitalization. Almost all development took place along the Eleventh Street corridor.

Although development in the East Eleventh Street corridor began slowly, by the mid-2000s the area’s importance to the city’s Eastside efforts and to the downtown was apparent. Eleventh Street is one of only two downtown streets that bridge I-35, the physical barrier between minority and Anglo neighborhoods since its completion in 1962. People coming from downtown to East Eleventh do not have to pass underneath the highway. Signs displaying the East End slogan “Local Spoken Here” invite consumption along the corridor. A gateway arch laden with the Texas Star welcomes traffic from downtown. The cityscape here appears more modern, newer, and cleaner than much on the Eastside. Multiple use zoning allows for architecture consistent with New Urbanism: higher density, mixed use, better public transport and bike lanes, historic districts, and heritage-based public spaces. The area has undergone significant demographic change as middle class whites and upscale businesses have moved in.

The End of Austin Issue 5 Launches

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We are pleased to announce that issue 5 of The End of Austin is now published.

Featuring the work of current UT American Studies Ph.D. candidates Brendan Gaughen and Jeannette Vaught, as well as Adam Tallman, David Villarreal, Megan Coxe, Andres Lombana Bermudez, Jack Murphy, Derek Sayer, Riley Triggs, Jonathan Silverman, Adrian Mesko, Monty Jones, Álvaro Torres, Daniel Perera, Jonathan Lowell, Emily Mixon, and Joy Luther, this issue addresses topics like Slacker 25 years later, shared services at UT, flooding in Onion Creek, the F-1 track, weirdness in Austin, cedar fever, and more.

2014 has been an exciting year already for the project. Having surpassed 50,000 unique page views, the site continues to gain momentum as an invaluable source for conversations about Austin’s changing identity. This year, we’ve been featured in a variety of national and international press outlets, including British Airways’s High Life Magazine and Bavarian Public Radio’s Bayern 2 for an hour-long feature about Austin – not to mention UT’s own The Daily Texan.

Members of the The End of Austin editorial board were also asked by the University of Texas to speak at the UT Chancellor’s Council Annual Meeting on May 2. Randy Lewis, Sean Cashbaugh, and Carrie Andersen gave a well-received lecture to nearly 200 donors about the project, the field of American Studies, and what they anticipate of Austin’s future.

We hope you enjoy this issue, available here – and please share it with anyone you know who may be interested in Austin’s metamorphosis.

AMS department members speak about The End of Austin at UT Chancellor’s Council Annual Meeting

Exciting news: earlier this May, three members of the American Studies department were asked to speak at the UT Chancellor’s Council Annual Meeting, held at the Frank Erwin Center. Dr. Randy Lewis, editor and founder of the project, and two of its editorial board members Carrie Andersen and Sean Cashbaugh discussed the website and engaged in a Q&A after their talk.

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See Dr. Lewis’s recap here:

Last week, Sean, Carrie and I had a remarkable opportunity to share our work on EndofAustin.com with the Chancellor’s Council, several hundred of the most generous donors to the UT system. We spoke for an hour about the website, describing how it grew out of an American Studies graduate seminar to become a digital humanities project with almost 50,000 page views for its first four issues. We celebrated TEOA as an example of doing more with less: as resources shrink at UT, faculty and grad students have scrambled to create low-cost, high impact projects that reach beyond the confines of the campus to engage a larger public. We had a great response from Chancellor’s Council, in part because so many people in the audience have the same hopes and fears about Austin that Sean and Carrie presented so effectively. It was great exposure for our project, the American Studies Department, and COLA generally, and we’re hopeful that it will lead to greater support for our project, which has so far existed with an annual budget of $100.

Submit to The End of Austin – Deadline May 15

For those of you who have some thoughts or feelings about Austin’s changing identity over the past several years, we encourage you to consider submitting a piece to The End of Austin, one of our department’s flagship digital humanities projects. See the call-for-submissions below.

We are pleased to invite your submissions to the fifth issue of The End of Austin, a digital humanities project housed in the Department of American Studies that explores Austin’s changing urban identity.

Our goal is to bring together different kinds of voices—academic, artistic, activist—to start an interdisciplinary conversation about life in the fastest growing city in the US. We are interested in original writing, photos, video, art, music—anything that illuminates how things are changing, ending, expiring, or collapsing in the midst of our growth-obsessed sunbelt burg. For additional information about the project, please see our press page.

We encourage submissions from all disciplines on the following topics (and welcome other proposals):

  • Traffic and transportation infrastructures (bus, urban rail, etc.)
  • Cedar fever and air quality
  • Droughts, floods, freezes, and weather issues
  • The proliferation of festivals of various kinds (e.g. SXSW, ACL, FunFunFunFest, PsychFest, Ice Cream Fest, Eeyore’s Birthday)
  • The Formula One track
  • The turnover of businesses and concerns about chains versus local businesses
  • Race, class, and gentrification
  • Cultures of leisure
  • Food culture and food trucks
  • The “Live Music Capital of the World” moniker
  • Weird anxiety and anxiety over weirdness
  • The rapidly changing cityscape, skyline, and exurban sprawl
  • The [administrative, pedagogical] future of the University of Texas
  • Representations of Austin in film, television, and other forms of popular expression
  • Drunk driving

Deadline for completed submissions is May 15, 2014. Please email inquiries and submissions to endofaustin@gmail.com.