Burnet Road at Night: Small town underpinnings amidst transition

Lucy's Neon, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas

Lucy’s Neon, Burnet Road – Austin, Texas

There’s a lot of neon going up on Burnet Road. I call it mid-town Austin, well within the still incomplete inner loop and north of downtown and the University of Texas. As Austin’s boom continues, the once sleepy, forgotten places have been injected with new life. New multi-story apartment buildings and restaurants highlight changes that’s been happening here for the last few years.

Lit Window at Blue Hour, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas
JLonely Car, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas

While still an atypical place for a photowalk, last Thursday Tony, Mike and I explored Burnet Road along with the neighboring North Lamar area. Unlike my usual Austin locations, these places challenge one’s observational powers. They are not filled with tourist destinations or obvious photography targets — visual interest needs to be pried out.

In many ways, we’ve been forced here. Despite the many years of growth and favorable press reports, Austin is not a big city. With years of exploration of the obvious Austin spots, we’re hungry for something new. We’re up for new challenges I guess.

Little Longhorn Saloon at Blue Hour, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas
Arbor Sign and Tangled Telephone Pole, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas
Basic Structures, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas

What became evident as I shot here, was the small town, Texas underpinnings. The modest structures and visually scarring telephone poles still dominate. The successive layers of low-end development are finally giving way to more substantial structures. But unlike downtown, which is rapid transforming into a 21st century city, Burnet Road is still in its infancy.

Three Windows at Blue Hour, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas
DSinger at Blue Hour, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas
Neon Texas, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas

Tony and I talked, wondering if this place will become the next SoCo (South Congress Avenue south of downtown). I’ve been to SoCo often and have talked about it here. 15 to 20 years ago, SoCo was low-end and dangerous with prostitutes and less reputable businesses. Now it’s one of Austin’s most visited and trendy neighborhoods. Burnet Road lacks the downtown access but might become a vibrant place to live — away from the crowded and super expensive downtown but with good access to night life and restaurants. One can argue this is already happening.

Swift Blur, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas
Blue Hour Alleyway, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas

And if this building trend is indeed the start of something significant, all the more reason to document its change, photographically. I’ve moved to Austin before SoCo was “In”, though I took no pictures — photography was not significant for me back then. Perhaps in 20 years, I can look at these images and wonder what happened to that small town that I saw on Burnet road back in 2015.

Stranger in the Dark, Burnet Road - Austin, Texas

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11 thoughts on “Burnet Road at Night: Small town underpinnings amidst transition

    1. Thanks Mike. I knew Burnet Road had potential, it was North Lamar that I had doubts. Turns out North Lamar was neat too, in a different way.

  1. City neighborhoods have cycles. When we moved into Roxbury, it was considered drive-by shooting and gang territory. Yet during 10 years, we never had so much as a car break-in — unlike when we lived on Beacon Hill which is and was a snazzy address. I love those old, gritty city areas. There’s a lot of stuff going on, though it doesn’t look architecturally interesting.

    I got the new PL-6 (PEN Lite). Nifty camera with some great features. I thought it was going to be a new version of the PM-2, but it has a lot more features and it’s a solid camera. I love the focus & shoot via LCD screen. I can finally override auto-focus’s determination to focus on the foreground and the center of the picture. It’s a remarkable camera — especially at such a low price.

  2. As someone who is “location” challenged, I’m inspired by your Burnet Road images. Your photography and blog are telling more interesting stories with every post–nice job!

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