Meanwhile, in Small Town Texas
Texas still tends to think of itself as a rural state — even though more than three quarters of Texans live in urban areas.
Stories from KUT's 'Meanwhile, in Small Town Texas' series are available here.
Since World War II, Texas has urbanized rapidly. And in recent years, cities like Austin have experienced explosive growth. That’s led to problems with traffic, housing supplies and affordability in general.
But what do urbanization and fast-growing cities mean for the small towns in Texas?
To find out, KUT News went to five towns (mostly) in Central Texas to find out how small towns are changing, what people there see as their biggest challenges – and why small towns are still a vibrant part of living in Texas. You can find more about all the towns all this week here on the series website.
Reporter Mose Buchele traveled to Cotulla. It's a town of about 4,000 that bet big on the oil boom and built about 25 hotels, which now sit mostly empty.
- Why is Cotulla full of empty hotels?
- Meet Fred, the Mobile Barber.
- Days of Trains and Onions, a history of Cotulla from its days as a railroad hub.
Veronica Zaragovia was in Blanco, a very small town that's seen explosive population growth in recent years. Locals are trying to maintain the town's equilibrium while capitalizing on the growth. There's also a taxidermist, and a 16-year-old bowling pin-setter.
- As Blanco Changes, Can it Stay the Same?
- Meet Joaquin, a pin-setter at the bowling alley
- Meet Jerry, a local taxidermist
Ben Philpott took us to Horseshoe Bay, a town where the majority of residents are over 60 and the median home price is over $500,000. But a new construction project coming to the area might bring some changes to town with it.
- Will Regional Growth Wake Up Sleepy Horseshoe Bay?
- Meet Bill Lane, Horseshoe Bay Chief of Police.
- Hear from Suzette and Clay, both of whom chose to move to Horseshoe Bay for different reasons.
Joy Diaz reported from Florence, Texas. The town is home to just over 1,000 people, and it's been undergoing some changes lately as well.
- Florence hopes to draw musicians and artists to downtown.
- Meet Pancho & Kambrah, a couple who met in Florence with a love story so romantic you can practically see it on the big screen.
- And meet the Mayor of Florence, who's excited for the future of her small-town community.
Education reporter Kate McGee looked at Giddings, Texas, a town of about 5,000 people right off the U.S. 290 between Austin and Houston that's recently seen both an increase in street traffic and a shift in demographics. Check out her stories from Giddings below.
- As demographics shift in Giddings, the need for bilingual teachers is on the rise.
- What's it like to live in Giddings? In what ways has it changed, and how has it stayed the same?
- And, for decades, peanut farming thrived in the area. Meet Peanut Company owner Jonathan Socha.
See the entire series, which includes videos, slideshows, audio postcards, and more, at smalltowntexas.kut.org.