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Every time I walk through the city I love, I am saddened at the disappearance of the icons that shape Austin. Only a ghost is left of the famous Snow Beach in my memory as I watch the skeleton of a building replace it. The loving outstretched arms of Maria’s Taco Xpress on South Lamar will be officially closed on April 1 because of how high the property taxes became. From 1989 to 2010 the Pots and Plants Garden Center had pink flamingos “grazing” in front of the road just off Bee Caves and 360, but this distinguished trademark disappeared since Hat Creek Burger Company replaced the old garden store.
East Cesar Chavez is also experiencing a lot of development — it was originally a Latino neighborhood, with popular restaurants such as Juan in a Million and El Sol Y La Luna. The local Jumpolin Piñata store got bulldozed in 2015 without prior warning to the owners to make the parking lot for the Blue Cat Cafe.
Even the live music scene has been affected. Some bars and music venues have disappeared, such as Liberty Lunch, which closed their doors in 1999. Some, had to shut down and open up in less expensive locations like Antone’s and Emo’s. Mean Eyed Cat and The Broken Spoke are long-standing venues . Many of the bars are being torn down and replaced by parking garages and apartment buildings. And the few remaining are usually enclosed by these modern buildings.
The culture of the eccentric Austin is also vanishing. What used to be a moderately busy city has turned into a traffic-clogged and condo-crammed city with the eccentricity rapidly disappearing. Who knows what will be left in the next five to 10 years — maybe just a concrete city filled with foreigners from other states.
Many people are blaming the loss of Austin’s important icons on the people moving here from places like California who are modernizing the city.
Whatever reason for the change, the change is still happening and Austin must find a way to mix it’s old culture in with the new. There have also been positive aspects of the modernization: new restaurants such as Spokesman, a bike-friendly cafe on 440 East St. Elmo Road that just opened, and Snooze, a delicious, environmentally responsible pancake restaurant that just opened on South Lamar. As locals we should try to keep the diversity for our culture-filled city alive and preserve our much-loved icons we can only find here in Austin as well as embracing new ones.