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What Draws People to Austin: Readers Respond

Reaction to KUT News’ post about what draws new residents to Austin has been great. While the 26 comments readers left on the blog are shy of the 85 now in the original Reddit thread that inspired the post, they’re no less illustrative or provocative in their assesment of the changing face of Austin. (And that doesn't even count the 58 comments left on the Facebook thread NPR started.)

Let’s start with the highest-rated comment, a joke from Jessica Ellison:

My favorite Austin joke: How many Austinites does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but 25 to talk about how great the old light bulb was.

Commenters seem divided on what change means for Austin. Commenter tee vee dee writes:

Austin is certainly suffering the "Best City" curse. Mass waves of people all trying to escape the dregs of their life, yet unwilling to let it go completely and fully embrace what's here. They're drawn to the vibe without ever really experiencing it or adding to it before giving it a white wash of familiar chain stores and restaurants. I'm all for inner city development, but much of the growth of the past few years has been decidedly un-weird.

Lance Rosenfield concurs, noting the paradox of new transplants changing what drew them to Austin in the first place:

The squeeze has been in full effect for some time now. People come for the 'cool' of it then demand what they ran away from. If you hit 2nd Street or 'West 6th' then you just missed Austin completely. Come catch the last remaining glimpse of what made it great, and be a participant with your sense of openness and authenticity.

But sticking around writes that change has been a positive for Austin:

I hate to be like this, but Austin has done nothing but improve for the last 20 years. The food scene is 100x better than it was when I arrived 20yrs ago. The variety, the quality, the diversity... The economy is so much better than it was 20yrs ago as well. And it is hard to say we're not the live music capital - when i can still see live music 7days a week, and we have the ACL Moody Theater, ACL Fest, and SXSW is bigger than ever. And yep, traffic sorta sucks. Advice: move closer to where you work. You'll love the city more if you do, and help cut down on congestion at the same time (people who cross the river to get to work, i'm looking at you ;)

And another commenter takes issue not with the rapid growth that’s characterized Austin of late, but the concept of “Austin exceptionalism” professor Joshua Long described in our original post.

This article captured that idea of exceptionalism that made me leave, or rather FLEE. That small-mindedness got old after a while. It will always be the place of many memories: I went to Fulmore Middle School on Congress and Johnston High School (rest in peace), but I craved a real city that didn't go on and on (and on) about how different it was, when it wasn't, and paid its people like shit, and was just as pretentious as (dare I say it), DALLAS, just in a different way.

KUT News still wants to hear your perspective on the changing nature of Austin. Leave a comment and let us know about the best and worst aspects of Austin, and whether it’s changing for better or worse.

And if you want to help KUT News report on future stories, please sign up at to become a Public Insight Network source for stories that impact Austin. 

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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