Built in 1929 by J.J. Hegman, the Ritz theater was the first theater in Austin built to show the new talking pictures that were all the rage. By the 50’s the theater had changed ownership a number of times and had started showing Westerns almost exclusively. As television began to grow in popularity across the USA, and the proliferation of Western themed TV shows, the theater began to lose business and was eventually closed in 1964.
During the rest of the 1960s and all the way through the 1970s the theater fell on hard times, with a revolving door of ventures from niche film offerings to live music venue attempts. It wasn’t until 1981 that the theater saw a consistent theme when punk rock was officially introduced to Austin. Over the next decade bands like Black Flag, The Misfits, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers played The Ritz, making it the best place for Punk Rock in the city.
The Ritz continued on as a music venue and bar until 2007, when local theater chain Alamo Drafthouse stepped in. The Drafthouse has grown from just a few theaters in 1997 to having dozens of theaters from coast to coast in 20 major cities. Being the film enthusiasts that they are, they began renovating the Ritz to turn it back into the theater that it once was. On November 2, 2007 The Ritz once again opened its doors as a movie theater.
To see more photos of the Ritz, please visit our Austin Stock Photo Gallery here.
Spread out over two buildings on West Cesar Chavez, the Silicon Labs buildings are distinct multi-story buildings tucked in between numerous skyscrapers. Workers at the building who are fortunate enough to have a South wall office gets to look out over the beautiful Town Lake.
For years the 20 year old company had been leasing these twin six-story buildings, but back in 2012 they made them their permanent home by purchasing them. This has not only helped solidify Austin as a hotbed for technology, but also ensured that the Austin skyline won’t entirely be dominated by giant buildings for the foreseeable future.
If you would like to see more of the Silicon Labs building and how it fits into the Austin Skyline please visit our Austin Stock Photo Gallery here.
The staircase design of the building makes it stand out as one of the most unique buildings in the city. The stair step design wasn’t just an aesthetic decision, rather it was done in order to comply with a longstanding height restriction with Congress Avenue. By doing this the builders were able to create the tallest building yet still have their front door on Congress Ave.
Standing on the East side of Congress Avenue, One Congress Plaza is the first building that greets people as they cross over the Bat Bridge into the downtown area. This location also places it right in the middle of virtually every skyline photo of Austin, making it one of the most identifiable buildings in the city
Want to see more of our photos of One Congress Plaza? Visit our extensive Austin Texas Stock Photo Gallery here.
Austin has some of the worst traffic in the nation, consistently ranking in the top ten most congested cities. Thanks to Austin being one of the fastest growing cities in the country, the traffic problems are only getting worse. A number of projects have been started around the city, such as the expansion of the Mopac Expressway, in an attempt to alleviate congestion. Another such project is the MetroRail system, which after experiencing a long list of setbacks finally started accepting passengers in March of 2010.
There has been talk in Austin about building an urban rail system since the 1990s, however there was little progress until 1997 when the Texas Legislature ordered Capital Metro to hold an up or down referendum on the project. The initial plan consisted of a 52-mile system that interconnected via North-South and East-West line. Unfortunately for the project it was voted down by a mere 2,000 votes. After a lengthy trip back to the drawing board a significantly less-ambitious plan was put before the voters in 2004, where it was approved by 62% of the population.
Originally slated to open for business in 2008, the MetroRail line was plagued with cost overruns, construction issues, and a whole host of other problems. This delayed opening until 2010, nearly two decades after the initial plans were put into place. To put into perspective just how long that is for a project to get completed, the population of Austin nearly doubled in that stretch.
If you are interested in checking out the MetroRail for yourself, the line runs from the downtown convention center all the way up to the North-West of the city towards Cedar Park. If you want to see more of our photos of the MetroRail and of downtown Austin, check out our stock gallery here.
Every city has bridges leading into it, and for the most part they are completely un-newsworthy. Sure you have some that are tourist destinations due to their fame, like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC, but none of them have what the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin has - bats! Lots of them.
In 1980, the bridge underwent a series of renovations to strengthen it. The biggest change was underneath the bridge which carved out a series of narrow deep openings, creating an ideal resting place for bats. Shortly after renovation, a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats moved in. The colony population fluctuates year to year, but is estimated by the Bat Conservation International group to be between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats. This makes it the largest urban bat colony in the world.
The bats are migratory, spending their Summers in Austin and Winters in Mexico. While they are here, they do a great job of keeping the insect population down, consuming tens of thousands of pounds of them each year. In addition to being a benefit to the outdoor loving community, they are also a boon to local businesses as they attract as many as a hundred thousand tourists annually, generating millions in revenue for the city.
Each night during the warmer part of the year, which can start as early as March for Austin, the bats will begin to exit the bridge around dusk. It can take upwards of an hour for the bridge to be emptied, with a constant stream of bats flying out. There are numerous places to watch along the bank of Lady Bird Lake and on the bridge itself. For those looking for a more unique view, there are numerous bat watching cruises that can be taken ( http://lonestarriverboat.com )
The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is located at the Southern end of the city, and is within walking distance of both the Capitol and the South Congress shopping district.
The Austin skyline has grown dramatically in recent years, and The Austonian Condominiums are without a doubt one of the highlights of the new skyscrapers. Owned by Moreland Properties, this 56 floor building is not only the tallest residential building in Texas, but also one of the tallest residential buildings west of the Mississippi River.
Construction began on August 31, 2007 by Benchmark Land Development and was opened to the public in June of 2010. The building received a four star rating from the Austin Energy Green Building group, making it the only high rise residential building in the city to receive such a designation.
High end residences aren’t the only features of The Austonian. The ground level boasts some of the best retail and restaurants in the 2nd Street District. Bar Congress is an an artisan cocktail lounge, while Second Bar & Kitchen is the more laid back counterpart. Caffe Medici has a wide variety of espresso drinks, and for those in need of some dessert, Berry Austin is a top quality self serve yogurt shop.
Located within the heart of downtown Austin, The Austonian is within walking distance of everything from Lady Bird Lake, to the bars and music venues on 6th Street, to the State Capitol. Convenience and luxury comes at a price however, as units start at the $1.5 Million dollar level.
To see our most recent photos of The Austonian, please visit our Austin Stock Gallery Here
While Austin is primarily known as a music town, it does have a venue that hosts more upscale events. The Long Center for the Performing Arts was originally opened in 1959 as the Lester E Palmer Auditorium. In the late 1990’s, the building began raising funds for a major renovation; however in the early 2000’s, thanks to a slowing economy, fundraising hit a snag. Nearly a decade later, the renovations were completed and the new Long Center was opened to the public in 2008.
There are three main theaters at the venue, which gives performances both large and small a place to perform. The Michael and Susan Dell Hall is the largest, seating 2,400 in its grand concert hall complete with parterre, mezzanine and balcony levels. the Debra and Kevin Rollins Studio Theater is a smaller adaptable theater that can hold anywhere from 80-229.
There is also an outdoor space, the City Terrace and Hartman Concert Park. The construction integrated the ring beam from the old Palmer Auditorium and gives visitors a panoramic view of the Austin Skyline as they listen to artist perform.
In addition to hosting the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Austin, and the Austin Lyric Opera, the Long Center has a wide range of traveling acts grace its stage. Everything from The Blue Man Group, to the Tony Award Winning Broadway hit The Book of Mormon, to lesser known shows like Evil Dead the Musical. All have a home with the Long Center.
To see the upcoming shows their website can be found at http://thelongcenter.org
The West side of Austin is growing at an incredible rate, with numerous large cranes laying the foundation for what will be another skyscraper. In recent years a number of high end condos and office buildings have sprung up, offering up a nice counterpart to the more traditional home, artist centered East side of town.
One of the highlights of West Austin is the direct feeder into the Austin green belt that goes around Lady Bird Lake. There is a gigantic pedestrian bridge with running and bike lanes that will take you over the water, and also gives you one of the best views of the city skyline. For those in need of gear to get your workout routine underway, there is a variety of running and biking shops within walking (or running) distance of the bridge.
Being that this is Austin, it is impossible not to have a touch of the weirdness that makes Austin the city that it is. As you look at the skyline you will have a great view of one of the most famous pieces of graffiti in the city. On the train bridge it reads “I’ve Got Ninja Style KungFu Grip”, which given that it is a good 40 feet above the water, it’s safe to assume this boast is accurate.
While the West side of town isn’t quite the popular tourist spot that 6th Street, South Congress, or East Austin is, it is an up and coming area of town and has some fantastic views of the city.
Starr Plaza is located in the small South Texas town of Rio Grande City, which is right on the Mexican border (which isn’t an exaggeration - the border crossing can be seen from the parking lot). With the centerpiece being an HEB Plus!, it is a driving economic force in this small community of 14,000. On the day of our shoot, there was an abundance of traffic, both via foot and vehicle, visiting the wide range of stores.
This was a tricky site to photograph as the main buildings face north, which we covered in a previous blog entry. With our photographer getting on site at a brisk 6:15am, he was able to capture the building just as the sun was rising, giving them a nice even light. While these are nice looking images, they pale in comparison to what we were able to capture at dusk.
Every now and then Mother Nature cooperates with you and provides some incredible sunsets. This was one of those nights. Even though there were clouds in the sky, they broke up enough to not only allow color through, but to also broke up just enough to create a nifty pattern in the sky. This allowed us to take some dramatic photographs as a result.
Check out the rest of the gallery here.
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Located in Frisco, TX (which is on the North side of Dallas), La Valencia at Starwood is one of the premier apartment complexes in the region. This complex is among the first in North Texas to be a certified ENERGY STAR community. La Valencia also was the recipient of two Green Building Project of the Year Awards.
In addition to being an energy efficient community, La Valencia is breathtakingly beautiful. The pool area is a sight to behold, with its spacious design and fountain area. There is also an ample amount of seating for those wishing to work on their tans. The outdoor fire pit is perfect for those crisp autumn nights, allowing for a comfortable outdoor social gathering.
Outside of the pool area, there are plenty of gathering sites, such as this four section gazebo area. In addition to the outdoor seating, there is plenty of green space around to enjoy, whether it be for yourself, your kids, or your four legged friends.
As you can see from our photos, the apartments match the high quality of the community amenities. In addition to spacious floor plans, the kitchen area must be seen to be believed. The counter space alone is impressive, with the ability to comfortably seat four on just one side. If you plan on hosting parties, you’d be hard pressed to find a better space.
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