Prentiss Riddle: Austin

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Head EAST May 1

I'm psyched about the East Austin Studio Tour coming up on May 1. I love art and architecture crawls (I try not to miss the AIA Austin tour each October) but I've never made it to E.A.S.T. before. 45 studios and galleries are participating! I can't wait.

East Austin Studio Tour (EAST)

But this year there's a personal note in my interest. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to afford to buy a house in "Old West/Near North Central" Austin where I've always lived. I sure don't want to move to the 'burbs nor (my worst-case scenario) to a trailer out in the county somewhere. Near South Austin is attractive but with Austin's traffic situation I don't want to be across a bridge from my daughters' schools, and besides I'm not sure it's any cheaper than where I am now. There are some neighborhoods slightly further north that may be within reach, and then there's the other obvious candidate: East Austin.

Gentrification is an ugly thing but at this point it seems too far along to be stopped. Gentrification, insidiously, can also be a beautiful thing: between the art galleries on the EAST tour, hipster outposts like Big Red Sun, Cafe Mundi and Church of the Friendly Ghost, the historic houses that the yuppie pioneers have been quietly restoring for a couple of decades now, and official city efforts like the Rhapsody mural at Urdy Plaza and Plaza Saltillo, East Austin is looking great these days. Old funk and new funk in a delicious blend: like it or not, East Austin is the new South Austin.

There remain a few quality of life issues. Is crime really any higher there than in the rest of the city or is that just white folks' paranoia? And can one find enough pockets of excellence in the eastside schools' magnet programs, etc., to make up for their historic neglect (and the self-fulfilling prophecy that makes academically-minded parents flock like so many grackles to a few blue-ribbon schools)? Still, the bottom line may turn out to be: has the gentrification train already left the station so in fact all the bargains are already gone?

I'll have all that swimming around in my head next weekend as I look at the art.

austin 2004.04.21 link


You may not be too late.

I suggest looking at the area off Parker between Oltorf and Riverside or off Burleson between Oltorf and Ben White. We bought a place over there about 5 years ago and have been really happy. We've also got kids close to the same age as yours.

E-mail me if you'd like to discuss in more detail.

ttrentham [todo cxe thechunk punkto com] • 2004.04.22
Thanks for the tip. I should take a look at that area. But I'm trying to stay north of the river. Coping with bridges at rush hour seems like more aggravation than I want in my life, especially as traffic mounts in the coming years.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.04.22
Actually, the traffic isn't too bad depending on the time of day. I work at Steck and Mopac, soon to be Braker and 183. Most days, I can get between work and home in 30 minutes or less either direction, some days as few as 15 minutes. It does slow down in the morning between Oltorf and downtown, but it's pretty much clear sailing after that. The cool thing about living on the east side is that you have 183, Airport and Pleasant Valley as alternate north-south routes.

ttrentham [todo cxe thechunk punkto com] • 2004.04.22
What about Crestview? My sister-in-law lives there. She can and will tell you all about it unless you give her explicit instructions otherwise.

bruce [bmccands1 cxe aol punkto com] • 2004.04.23
I live in the Cherrywood/French Place area in East Austin. Even though its pretty gentrified, I hear gunshots at night with a degree of regularity, so I can't vouch for its safety. Its worth noting that the Eastside is far from a monolithic neighborhood. I know a few people who live in the Berkman area north of the old airport, which seems like a nice place to live. French Place is nice, but the houses are already in the neighborhood of $250K. Bus coverage here is pretty lousy, at least if you want to go to UT. I moved here from West Philly, so I'm comfortable and happy here, but Its not for everyone.

McChris [chris cxe infobong punkto com] • 2004.04.24
I'm an artist participating in the East Austin Studio tour next Saturday, and I live in Crestview.

I'm glad you are excited about it and thanks for for posting that big colorful link...
I hope you make it by Blue Genie

chappell [chrischappell cxe grandecom punkto net] • 2004.04.24
Hey, ChrisC, thanks for stopping by! I saw some of your work at one of Blue Genie's December shows -- the food paintings in particular ring a bell. Maybe I'll see you there.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.04.24
i'm so hip to the e.a.s.t. beats the crap outta soco!!!!!!!!!!! i helped gentrify and electrify the last affordable place in austin with character! viva the eastside!

linda bagwell [lbagwell cxe grandecom punkto net] • 2004.04.26
So much for the flavor and history of East Austin. Anglos will be coming in with their expresso bars and "we are down with the people we are displacing" b.s. Manifest Destiny going East this time and bringing with it a lot of pain and loss for Chicanos living on the East side all in the name of cheaper housing for white's. In the next ten years we will be seeing white people who want to be Latino/Hispanic/Chicano like we see them trying to be Cherokee now.

Alicia Ledezma [mediafolk cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2005.12.05
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