In 1905, 110 years ago this week, the City of Austin began paving the city’s main street: Congress Avenue. The paving was meted out in segments – the stretch of Sixth Street to what’s now Cesar Chavez getting the rollout first.
While the pavement signaled a new era in Austin, it also meant the beginning of the end for Austin’s streetcar system, Austin Electric Railway – the latest corporate iteration in a revolving door of companies with Congress Avenue right-of-way – which had been operating at a loss since 1891 and, at the city’s insistence, had to pay for and implement a good portion of the buildout.
The dog days of summer are nipping at Austin’s collective heel and – though the shuttered city pools and recent gloomy weather in Austin may tell you differently – it’s pool season. And, while you may not be able to bring a beer or even your dog to a city pool, at least the city’s not still regulating the attire of every single swimmer, like it did when it passed the 1919 bathing suit ordinance.
Austin’s in a new era of ridesharing. In the exhaust of Uber and Lyft’s departures, a salvo of ride-hailing providers (some app-based and others not) are vying to fill the pothole left by their industry standard-bearing predecessors. Some of those providers and their practices have been questioned, with some calling current options “gypsy cabs” – like the proto-ride-hailer SideCar was in 2013. But in the early 20th century, the unlicensed ride-hailers were called bootleg cabs and the city’s 14-year fight with them helped galvanize its extensive taxi regulations.
Today's Wayback Wednesday looks back at Austin's onetime Victorian-era literary magazine, The Rolling Stone. The DIY-minded rag published short stories, cartoons and other Onion-esque items, but it is largely known as the first creative sandbox for its publisher, William Sydney Porter.
Porter, a North Carolina transplant who moved to Austin in the late 1880s, worked as a druggist and as a clerk at the General Land Office before he took a job at the First National Bank as a teller. It was during his time as a teller that he started The Rolling Stone in 1894.