Historic Photos of the Austin Area

Last updated 1-March-2002, created December 25, 2000

For a good collection of old photographs of Austin, Texas, (not road-related), see www.austinpostcard.com

Interstate 35 (Photos added 28-November-2001)

US 81 (predecessor of IH-35)
Undated, 1950's Original 2-lane highway south of Austin (144 kB)
This is how it all started, with a modest 2-lane highway. This undated photo is identified as "south of Austin".
Undated, 1950's Original 2-lane highway south of Round Rock (139 kB) (Added 25-May-2001)
The original 2-lane highway between Austin and Round Rock.

IH-35 through Austin, mostly before and during construction
(photos added 28-November-2001)
Undated, 1950's Aerial view of East Avenue before Interstate 35
View 1 (243 kB)
View 2, wider (467 kB)
View 3, close to ground (288 kB)
These absolutely fascinating photos show the IH-35 corridor before IH-35 was constructed. At that time, the corridor was East Avenue, a house-lined street with a wide, park-like median. This photo looks south in the vicinity of Martin Luther King road, formerly 19th street. The large structure on the right is the Brackenridge Hospital at 15th Street. A texasfreeway.com reader reports that the hospital building shown was demolished in the late 1970's.
c1954 Freeway construction, looking south at Airport Blvd (101 kB)
The men in the photo are working on the Southern Pacific railroad grade crossing. Yes, Austin's I-35 freeway had an active railroad grade crossing until about 1970 since, in the 1950's, the Southern Pacific had been making noise about abandoning the line to Llano and the highway department didn't want to spend money on a bridge. The railroad is still in place today and is owned by the Capital Metro transit agency. The 38th & 1/2 Street overpass is in the distance. Today, Hancock Center shopping center is in the grassy area to right. (Thanks to a TexasFreeway.com reader for this information.)
Date and location are not identified in this photo, but I think it is south of Airport Boulevard.
Undated, 1950's? Freeway construction (101 kB)
Date and location are not identified in this photo, but I think it is in the section around 38th Street.
1959 Freeway construction at McNeil Road in Round Rock (232 kB)
December 1959 Looking south along the IH-35 corridor in downtown (199 kB)
March 1960 Looking south from just north of 1st Street (160 kB)
At the time, the El Matamoros restaurant was located at the point from which the photo was taken.
May 1960 Looking north near 15th Street, with Brackenridge Hospital on the left (272 kB)
June 1960 Looking south from 12th Street (222 kB)
August 24, 1960 Construction of the elevated structure over 6th and 7th streets (179 kB)
December 13, 1960 East avenue (184 kB)
This view looks north from 15th Street. The overpass in the background is Martin Luther King, formerly 19th street. The MLK overpass no longer exists; it was replaced by a more modern structure in the early 1970's.
May 29, 1962 Opening ceremony (207 kB)
The dedication ceremony appears to be on the elevated section near Sixth Street.
November 11, 1966 Aerial view at Loop 275/Parmer (north Austin) (242 kB)
This view of the completed freeway looks southeast over an undeveloped landscape.
July 1972 At 15th Street Low resolution (112 kB) High resolution (410 kB)
Photo courtesy of Chuck Fuhs at Parsons Brinkerhof.
This view shows the original freeway at 15th Street, prior to the expansion to 8 lanes. The old Brackenridge hospital is clearly visible on the right. It was demolished in the late 1970's.

IH35 at US290 (north Austin)
Undated (early 50's?) 290 just west of IH-35 (179 kB)
This is the original 290, in a view that was taken from the US 81 (IH-35) overpass, prior to urbanization. Wow!
1953 Looking North
High resolution (519 kB)
Medium resolution (135 kB)
December 1959 Looking southeast (284 kB)

Here is some interesting information on IH35 north of Austin, taken from the 1957 publication that included the 1953 photo:

"This section of roadway was not originally constructed as part of the of the Federal Interstate System. The section near Austin was planned and constructed as a relocated four-lane divided expressway-type highway, designed to facilitate the movement of north-south traffic into and through the city. Its new location was considerably east of the old highway.

Purchases of right-of-way for the new facility were begun in late 1948, and were largely completed in 1951. The City of Austin furnished all rights-of-way within the city limits, and Travis County furnished those outside the city. The 300 foot, minimum-width right-of-way was acquired at an estimated cost of $500,000 for the 5-mile section included in this study.

Construction was begun in late 1951, and the entire section was officially completed in June, 1954. The completed facility consists of four traffic lanes divided by a median strip, with two-lane frontage roads along either side. Full control of access has not yet been acheived, since several crossovers and at-grade crossings are still in use. Complete control of access will be achieved, however, as this section is brought to Interstate standards."

From 1971-1975, the intersection in this photo was fully reconstructed into a three-level interchange with the US290 main lanes depressed below grade. In 1999, construction began on four direct connectors, making this a five-level interchange.

Double Deck Freeway Construction
April 23, 1971 38th Street, looking north (187k)
The first piers for the upper deck are in place.
April 23, 1971 Airport Boulevard, looking south (199k)
This is how it looked before the upper levels were constructed.
August 1973 Upper Deck under construction (83k) (Added 10-March-2001)
Undated, circa 1973 Upper Deck under construction south of Airport (170k) (Added 10-March-2001)
It's interesting to note that the Academy Surplus store was in business in 1973.

IH-35 at Riverside Drive (updated 31-October-2001)
May 1957 Looking north from just south of Riverside (147 kB)
1970 Looking north at Riverside Drive (84 kB) Image contributed by Robert Miller of Austin. Thanks!
This view has some interesting features. The original Riverside overpass was still in place, and there were only two northbound lanes on IH-35. The feeder roads did not extend over Towne Lake.

IH-35 Construction, near Georgetown (photos added 8-May-2001)
January 1965 Aerial view of San Gabriel River bridge under construction (238 kB)
January 15, 1965 Georgetown, San Gabriel River bridge construction (167 kB)
This bridge was widened in 2001.
January 15, 1965 Georgetown, construction of overpass (131 kB)
1963 Discovery of Inner Space Cavern during construction (124 kB)
During drilling, the construction crew punched through the roof of the cavern. This photo shows an engineer being lowered into the cave with the drill. Today, Inner Space Cavern is a tourist trap along IH-35. You can tour the cave for $13.
1963 Workers being lowered into the cave (172 kB)
This view inside the cave shows the opening at the top of the cave, and workers taking a ride on the drillbit to the cave floor.
1963 Inside the cave (117 kB)
This view shows a worker inside the cave.
2001 See the Inner Space sign beckoning tourists and historical marker (170 kB)

Loop 360
For views of today's roadway see Loop 360 photo gallery.
August 1978 Lake Austin prior to bridge construction High resolution (168k) Low resolution (87k)
August 1978 Bridge location prior to bridge construction High resolution (703k) Low resolution (184k)
At this time, excavation had been largely completed on the north side of the bridge, but bridge construction was not yet underway.
August 1978 Roadway construction south of Westlake Road Low resolution (107k)
August 1978 Roadway construction north of 2244 Low resolution (149k)
August 1978 Limestone Cut Low resolution (132k)
This view looks south along Loop 360, just north of 2244 (Bee Caves Road). This sheer wall from the rock cut no longer exists. It was benched (cut back in a terraced manner) around 1989 due to regular problems with falling rock.
January 1979 2244 intersection, looking south High resolution (597k) Low resolution (154k)
Overpass construction had not yet begun.
November 1979 2244 intersection, aerial view looking north High resolution (667k) Low resolution (201k)
July 1980 End of road, south of Lake Austin High resolution (703k) Low resolution (184k)
This shows the end of the roadway south of Lake Austin. Traffic was forced to turn west onto Cedar Street.
July 1980 Construction of south approach High resolution (538k) Low resolution (151k)
This shows construction of the approach underway. Work on the main span had not yet begun.
July 1980 Construction of south approach High resolution (610k) Low resolution (160k)
September 1981 South approach High resolution (432k) Low resolution (112k)
This view shows several of the main span steel sections stacked together on top of each other, and one section in the process of being moved.
November 1981 Placement of end of main span, north side High resolution (671k) Low resolution (152k)
February 1982 Construction of arch High resolution (550k) Low resolution (127k)
This view shows the main arched span taking shape. Notice the temporary truss structure that was used to hold the arch in place.
February 1982 Construction of arch , looking northeast High resolution (476k) Low resolution (129k)
This is another view of the arch under construction.
February 1982 Placing and arched segment into position Low resolution (141k)
July 1982 Construction of deck , looking southeast High resolution (550k) Low resolution (127k)
In July 1982, the full arch is in place and deck construction is in progress. In the background, the Austin Country Club golf course appears to be under construction. The bridge was opened on December 3, 1982.

Loop 1 (Mopac Boulevard) Photos (aerial views added 25-May-2001)

Also see the Austin historic freeway planning page for a model view of the planned interchange at the cancelled Crosstown Freeway.
May 1964 At 35th Street, before freeway construction, looking northeast (662k)
May 1964 At 35th Street, before freeway construction, looking south (492k)
November 16, 1966 Balcones Road at 183 (297k) (Added 10-March-2001)
This view looks east along 183. The intersection in the foreground is Balcones Road, which would later become the Loop 1 Mopac Boulevard Freeway. For a view of this interchange today, see stack photo.
January 1971 Texas Highways Magazine "A Grass for All Seasons"     Page 1 (325K) 2 (278K)
This hilarious article details the use of AstroTurf landscaping at the intersection of RM 2222 and Mopac Boulevard. Check out the green uniforms of the installation crew in the cover image (page 1), especially the guy with the green plaid slacks! It turns out the this experiment was a bust. The AstroTurf accumulated dirt and oil, garbage stuck to its oily surface, and the bright green rapidly became a nasty gray color.
April 23, 1971 2222, looking south (191k)
April 23, 1971 45th Street, looking east (180k)
April 23, 1971 At Windsor Road, looking east (221k)
May 1971 Texas Highways Magazine "MoPac: A Dream Coming True"     Page 1 (366K) 2 (237K)
This article features the construction of the first segment of Loop 1 (MoPac Blvd). But I don't think the neighborhoods along this freeway consider it a "Dream", judging by the storm of opposition to the facility at an April 2001 public meeting about plans for improvements.
June 1974 At 1st and 5th Streets downtown, looking west (152k)
April 16, 1971 Town Lake Bridge Construction (161k)
June 1974 Completed Towne Lake Bridge and south freeway terminus (132k)
1975 Original design for Loop 1/US 183 interchange (127k)
This design appeared in the 1975 final environmental impact statement for the section of Loop 1 from 2222 northward to FM 1325. The 1975 design was a 2-level interchange and included two cloverleafs.

Aerial Views (section added 25-May-2001)
December 7, 1984 Aerial view at 183 (1078k)
This view shows the area of the intersection with 183 before Loop 1 was constructed. 183 was still a six-lane highway at that time, and of course the stack at 183 was not there.
December 7, 1984 Aerial view at Loop 360 south (1027k)
This view shows the construction of Loop 1 south of Loop 360. The piers of the Barton Creek crossing were in place.
1989 Aerial view at US290/TX 71 (369k)
This view shows Loop 1 complete to US 290/TX 71. The feeder roads were under construction south of US 290.

TX71 / US 290 (Ben White Boulevard)
For views of today's freeway see 71/290 photo gallery.
April 1977 Just east of Manchaca, looking west (146k)
This section of roadway is now an 8-lane freeway. At this location today, the freeway transitions from a trenched facility on the east to an elevated structure on the west.
April 1977 View looking west (148k)
This view looks west from a point about a few hundred yards west of South First Street. This section of roadway is now a freeway.
December 7, 1984 Aerial view at Loop 360 south (1027k)
This view shows the configuration of 290/71 before improvements began, including the cloverleaf at Loop 360/Lamar.
December 7, 1984 Aerial view of freeway near Oak Hill (607k)
This view shows the configuration of 290/71 west of Loop 1 before improvements began.
US 183 (Research Boulevard)
For views of today's freeway see 183 photo gallery.
1954 Original construction of 183 north of Austin (194k)
Unfortunately, the location was not precisely identified in this photo. The right-of-way appears to be narrower than the right-of-way that existed before the freeway constructed. In other words, it appears that that right-of-way was expanded twice: once for the six-lane highway, and then again for today's freeway.
1954 183 north of Colorodo River (165k)
This view appears to be at the intersection with 1st, 5th, and 7th Streets, looking north along 183. At the time of this photo, the route that is now designated as 183 was Loop 250.
1975 Original design for Loop 1/US 183 interchange (127k)
This design appeared in the 1975 final environmental impact statement for the section of Loop 1 from 2222 northward to FM 1325. The 1975 design was a 2-level interchange and included two cloverleafs.
April 1977 Just east of Lamar, looking east (143k)
This section of roadway is now an elevated 6-lane freeway. (At this particular point, the freeway is on embankment and is not a viaduct.)
November 2, 1981 Aerial view at Loop 360. Wide view, including Mopac (619k) View showing just the Arboretum area (101k) (Images added 25-June-2001)
This view shows the Arboretum area before the Arboretum was constructed. Jollyville road was still continuous through this area and cut through the property which would become the Arboretum retail complex. Up to the late 1950's, the two-lane Jollyville Road served as Highway 183.
December 7, 1984 Aerial view at Loop 1 and Loop 360 (1078k)
This view shows the area of the intersection with 183 before Loop 1 was constructed. 183 was still a six-lane highway at that time, and of course the stack at 183 was not there.
The following 3 photos were contributed by Robert M. of Austin. Thanks!
1988 Looking north at Loop 1 (48k)
This view shows 183 during construction of the stack at Loop 1.
1993 Looking north at Ohlen (76k)
This view shows the facility before the elevated viaduct was constructed. To see the viaduct today, click here.
1993 Looking north at Braker (56k)
This view shows 183 at Braker during construction of the freeway. At the time of this photo, the old 183 main lanes were still being used and the new feeders were under construction..

US 183 Colorado River Crossing
Source: TxDOT archive library
This bridge near the new Bergstrom-International Airport in southeast Austin was referred to as the Montopolis Bridge in the 1950's and 1960's.
November 1959 Original Truss bridge (266 kB)
This bridge is still in use today (2001)
March 1963 Construction of the second span (211 kB)
March 1963 View of the old and new spans (140 kB)

183 (Bluestein Blvd.) and 71 (Ben White) Interchange
Source: TxDOT archive library
These photos from 1960 are identified as Loop 295. It appears to be what is now 183 at SH71 (Ben White Blvd.) at the northwest corner of the new Austin airport in southeast Austin.
January 1960 71/183 interchange (154 kB)
January 1960 71/183 interchange (228 kB)
January 1960 71/183 interchange (295 kB)

RM 2222, Bull Creek Road
(added 7-July-2001)
Source: Texas Highways Magazine
August 1963 2222 east of Loop 360 (310 kB)
This article is about trash along Texas highways, but what is really interesting is the view of 2222. This view shows 2222 as a two-lane roadway on the grade just east of today's Loop 360, near the County Line restaurant.

Austin City Streets (photo added 25-May-2001)

Undated, circa 1960 Lamar at Guadalupe (209 kB)
The roadway configuration remains the same today. A state office building was constructed where the stadium existed. A texasfreeway.com reader reports that this stadium was actually a rodeo arena, which was used by UT's Silver Spurs organization for an annual rodeo. The reader also noticed that it looks much like the Travis County Sheriff's Posse arena which now stands off US 183 south of town. (Perhaps the Silver Spurs arena was relocated?) The area to the right of the road fork remains vacant as of May 2001 and has been the source of unending controversy about development, but will probably be urbanized in the near future.
1959 Lamar railroad underpass, aerial view (299 kB)
The view shows the construction of the railroad underpass just north of Town Lake.
November 1959 Lamar railroad underpass, ground view (208 kB)

 
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