Austin Stock – Alamo Ritz

Austin Downtown 751Located on the world famous 6th Street, the Ritz theater is one of the oldest theaters in the nation


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.


Austin Stock – Silicon Labs

Austin  Downtown 370While Austin is known around the world as the live music capitol of the world, it also has one of the largest tech communities in the country.  Companies like video game maker Blizzard, Semiconductor maker Freescale and Google all have major offices in Austin.  Unlike the rest of those companies, Silicon Labs not only has their headquarters here, but have it right in the heart of downtown.


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.


Austin Stock – One Congress Plaza

Austin  Downtown 322When One Congress Plaza opened its doors back in 1987 it took its place on the Austin Skyline as the tallest building.  It continued this run as the tallest building until 2004 when the Frost Bank Tower opened up.  Outside of the Texas State Capitol, which stood as the tallest building for an astonishing 86 years, One Congress Plaza has had the longest stretch at king of the Austin skyline at 17 years.


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 Stock – MetroRail




Austin Downtown 639Austin 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.


Bat Bridge



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  (   )


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.