Don’t Worry, Austin Is Still Weird: Part II
Welcome to Part Two of a three-part series for StreetCred Labs that takes us to the heart of Texas.
StreetCred is changing the world of mapping by encouraging regular people like you and I to get out on foot and map points of interests in a competition format. Map more places, earn more points. Some activities are worth more than others, but in any case, the winners get real money in the form of Bitcoin.
After a highly successful run in New York, StreetCred is back at it again and this time in “The Live Musical Capital of the World”. To give readers a sneak peek of what’s out there waiting to be mapped, I went to Texas ahead of time and did what I always do: explored the streets! And if you thought this was some petty app that will just win you a few bucks, think again. We’re not just talking a couple bread crumbs here: the prize pool for Map Austin is 15 Bitcoin, currently worth over $57K! You can learn more about what Streetcred is up to and how I ended up partnering with them for these articles in the first post of this series here.
Our last article had me exploring East Austin, a rapidly growing and eclectic neighborhood where street art reigns king and a rough-around-the-edges feel is often juxtaposed against newer buildings that inevitably follow any heavy influx of residents. I loved East Austin the second I stepped out of the car, likening it to a Texan version of Bushwick in Brooklyn or RiNo in Denver in my last post that I frankly liked far more than either of the two comparisons just mentioned. It’s a uniquely Austin place, where those willing to look will find epic music, incredible food and down-to-Earth Texans to match.
If East Austin is the rambunctious and wild younger brother of Austin who’s not afraid to play in the mud and be itself, Bouldin (formally known as Bouldin Creek) is the older, quieter, and more polished brother. A family is not a family without all its members, however, just as a city is not a city without every neighborhood within its bounds. I came to find that I loved both equally and for different reasons.
Bouldin is significantly sleeper than East Austin, very lush (especially compared to the East Coast in February!), and from what I could gather, more family oriented. Restored bungalows can be found all over the place and most yards are packed with trees and succulents. My good friend Rob lives here (a native Austinite who I featured in the other two articles in this series), and after just a few blocks I found myself wanting to live there too. It’s an absolutely stunning, somehow walking the fine line of being attractive without being ostentatious.
I’d expected it to be…
well, actually, I’m not sure what I’d expected! I intentionally flew to Austin with minimal research beforehand, hoping to take in the city with fresh eyes.
And Bouldin really, really delivered.
As a Californian living in New York I can’t help but make comparisons involving at least one of them when visiting somewhere new. For me, Bouldin evokes the same feeling that famed Laurel Canyon in LA and Topanga Canyon in Malibu do, likely in part due to all three of those areas having a high density of oak trees. The home stock, too, reminded me of California in some respects. And yet it wasn’t California...it was, dare I say it,
...better because Bouldin, like East Austin, doesn’t shed its innate Texan-ness.
It exudes it.
This fact is felt nowhere more clearly in the neighborhood than along its main commercial artery, South 1st Street. After a half hour of sauntering in the balmy weather we finally emerged from the residential backstreets that could be fairly mistaken for Pasadena if it weren’t for the countless Texas flags and Peacocks Welcome Here signs (I implore you to click the previous link to learn about the Peacock Liberation Front, an extraordinarily active and vocal faction of Bouldin fighting for the liberty of its local cage free and unrestrained avian residents, not kidding).
We it made onto South 1st Street and my inner photographer was over-exposed with joy.
This is a street-sign-lovers paradise. Austin in general has done a fantastic job of maintaining neon signs and encouraging new businesses to stick with the tradition, and here on 1st Street some of the city’s best examples stand loud and proud.
Perhaps nowhere else in city was the temptation to map locations in the StreetCred app ahead of schedule for Map Austin so strong. Instead, I held on to my pants and relegated myself to shooting photos of them, eagerly wishing to see the results and having to wait (I shot the whole project in film).
None of these spots have been added to Map Austin yet…
Who out there among you will be the first?
The amalgamation of culture that is Texas lies in plain sight in Bouldin. The Spanish, the Mexican Republic, Texas itself (let in never be forgotten that it was its own country for almost a decade), Americans, countless more immigrants and now hipsters who push sustainably made strollers (in that rough historical order) have all added to the mix here, and it’s a mix that must be felt to be understood. Incredible food for prices that would make any New Yorker drool, incredible coffee, classic institutions like boot repair shops and vintage car mechanics…
Bouldin’s got it all.
It’s no wonder that people are moving here in hoards.
And when New York inevitably floods,
I just might move there too (sorry Austin).
To learn more about Map Austin and how you win Bitcoin by mapping out the city with StreetCred, visit their MapAustin site today.