See it now while you can

Capitol view corridors are in contention. These are the “official” ones. Unofficial views are also fast disappearing. The dome and the tower once seemed to be visible from nearly everywhere. From my front porch we could see whether the tower was lit orange and everything from the triangular pediment to the star in the statue’s hand was visible. Of that view, only the tempietto and the statue remain. One of my favorite presents ever is a Reagan Bradshaw photograph looking toward downtown from near a railroad embankment south of the river at night during a thunderstorm. Nothing depicted is the same, and neither the Capitol nor the tower is any longer visible from that particular vantage point. The Heritage Society of Austin Web site comprises a trove of information on this issue, with many useful links, including to the Downtown Commission report and the HSA response to it. The best Capitol views these days seem to be from Wooldridge Square, from St. Edward’s, from Huston-Tillotson and various other close-in East Austin spots, and along parts of East Riverside. How long will they last?

8 Comments so far

  1. M1EK (unregistered) on May 8th, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

    I’m only a couple pages in, and already gagging at the HSA response. The no-brainers are just amazing: for instance, because, so far, no big private development has announced that they weren’t going to build because of a view corridor, the HSA thinks the Downtown Commission and the City Council shouldn’t consider the shrinking supply of developeable downtown land at all. Duh duh duh duh duh.

    I expect pretty lame stuff from no-growthers, but this fails to meet even that low bar.

  2. M1EK (unregistered) on May 8th, 2007 @ 3:37 pm

    As for Wooldridge Square’s great view – it’s great if you can stand the bums. And the bums infest this park precisely because of the CVC – the surrounding blocks can’t be developed because the CVC is so low here – meaning that there’s no economic activity nearby to bring anybody BUT the bums to the park – and giving the cops little rationale to roust them.

  3. Rantor (unregistered) on May 8th, 2007 @ 4:14 pm

    On Sunday afternoons, there are people waiting for Loaves and Fishes and there are often tourists and usually library patrons; on weekdays there are courthouse and other nearby workers and jury-members at Wooldridge; on many a Saturday and even sometimes on a Sunday there’s a wedding in the pavilion. As to development, I do think that most of the nearby land, except for the wasteful bank drive-ups and the old gas station turned offices, is publicly owned or owned by non-profit organizations (Stokes, old county tax offices, constable’s, courthouse, old credit union commission, Hirschfeld house, Bremond block, etc.). The waste is in all those acres of parking lots. It’s a shame that the A&M alum people took away the benches that made such great spots to eat lunch in the shade. One aspect of the official Capitol view corridors, no matter under what scheme established, that’s so odd is that there are many much better views with no official attention at all.

  4. M1EK (unregistered) on May 8th, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

    Sorry, but I stand by the bum comment. I go by this park a few times a week at various times – as well as enjoying the concerts in the park during the summer – and outside said concerts, it’s Bum City. Very unpleasant, even by the standards of downtown (Republic Square, as a contrast, is rarely unpleasant to visit).

    And, yes, a lot of the development nearby is public – but the most important of said public entities has indicated that they want to build up, and either we let them do so on those tracts (with accompanying increases in public use – and the safer park that results) or they have to do so somewhere else (with accompanying additional loss of tax revenue and commercial vitality).

  5. Rantor (unregistered) on May 8th, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

    I don’t personally know anyone who thinks of Wooldridge as being unsafe or even unpleasant. It’s open and in use and visible from all points. I forgot to mention the music and also all those political rallies. Republic Square with those berms hasn’t always been visible from all points and has gone through periods when it’s too little used, but the farmers’ market has taken care of that. I just don’t think that the fact that some sleep under the shade makes a place unpleasant. There are police and sheriff’s people walking by all the time, in addition to workers and users of the library and history center.

  6. mss (unregistered) on May 8th, 2007 @ 9:19 pm

    I remember the first year I was at St. Ed’s that the capitol view was severely compromised. Used to be that you could see it from the front steps of the main building and from Bro. Simon’s office above the front steps. But in the early 1970s those tall black bank towers on Congress blocked that view.

    My house once had a capitol view, too, from my living room. Then it was just the top of the door from the edge of the driveway. Now even that’s gone.

  7. Pat Offender (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 10:07 am

    Why this is still an issue? There was once a time when the Capitol and UT were Austin’s only vistor attractions. That time is long since passed. The only view that needs to be preserved is the view from Congress Avenue. It is petty crap like this that stunts our natural evolution as a city.

  8. M1EK (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 10:19 am

    “I don’t personally know anyone who thinks of Wooldridge as being unsafe or even unpleasant.”

    Pauline Kael, is that you?

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