Archive for February, 2015

Sixth Street Gets a Historical Makeover

February 2nd, 2015, Posted By Austin Housemates

West-6th-Street-Bridge-over-Shoal-Creek--south-side--Austin-Te

West Sixth Street is getting a historical makeover! Well, at least the bridge is. The bridge that crosses over Shoal Creek – informally known as Pecan Street Bridge – was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places at the beginning of this year. This bridge is driven, biked, and walked across by thousands of people on a daily basis, but what many don’t realize is that the bridge is the oldest in the city of Austin.

The Shoal Creek bridge, which is near Hut’s Hamburgers on 6th Street, is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by the U.S. Parks Service, making it eligible for restoration and maintenance funds if the situation should ever call for it. A simple stone bridge may not seem like a big deal, but protecting our history, especially along our famous Sixth Street district, is vital to the preservation of a city that is consistently growing at nearly 3% per year. It’s not as if the bridge will be a tourist destination. Rather, the city wants to maintain the convenient bridge for commuters – both local and visiting – while preserving the hard work that was put it into the bridge over 100 years ago by local masonworkers.

The month of February is predicted to be a warm one, so take advantage of the weather and visit this historic landmark. There’s no shame in rolling up your pant cuffs and wading through Shoal Creek, although be careful after one of our infamous Austin rainstorms. The water can get pretty erratic. But West Sixth Street is full of bars and restaurants worth stepping into before or after you absorb the history of Austin. Personally, here at Austin Housemates, one of our favorites is Kung Fu Saloon.

Literally a block away from the bridge, Kung Fu Saloon sits inbetween 5th and 6th streets on Rio Grande. You can enjoy the quiet history of the 19th century at Shoal Creek, then make your way over to the modernity of an arcade with a full bar. Yes, an arcade – with free skeeball, a life-size Mario Kart, and fabulous drink prices (including their famous sake bombs if you’re feeling particularly frisky on a Friday night). And because it’s toward the end of Sixth Street, you can avoid a lot of the shenanigans and pedestrian traffic that can clog the drag near UT. But if you’re into the crowds, a pub crawl from the bridge and down Sixth is always an option.

That’s what makes Austin such a great place to live. The 19th century parallels the 21st in such a simple and obvious way that many people will overlook it. You may not realize that the bridge you’re crossing on your way to cocktails was built by hand over 100 years ago, but the city is doing its best to preserve its history and remind its residents that without that skilled labor and hard work, there would be no Sixth Street to party on. As the city continues to grow, remembering our roots will be essential. Acknowledging the past is the best way to recognize our future potential. The early Austinites laid down the foundation for us to maintain our quirkiness that keeps this city posted at the top spot, and it’s our responsibility to protect it.