Nothing reveals the radical transformation of this once-sleepy college town like looking north, up Congress Avenue. This once low-rise collection of hardware stores, ice cream parlors and department stores in the shadow of the Capitol dome now mimics New York’s Madison Avenue nicely.
Alamo City was the largest metropolitan area in Texas until oil boosted the wealth of Dallas and Houston. Development has picked up lately, thanks to tourism, the healthcare sector and the Eagle Ford shale, but San Antonio still boasts far fewer tall buildings than Austin, its smaller neighbor to the north.
Few cities were so eager to erect a building, tear it down and build something taller. As a result, while Dallas’ night skyline gleams spellbindingly in the distance, downtown can often seem like a province without a past that retains little of its 181-year history.
Bayou City began as a port city but repositioned itself as the world’s energy capital after nearby Spindletop gushed forth in 1901. diversified economy.
This article first appeared in the February 2023 issue of the magazine. Texas Monthly with the title “Our Changing Horizons”. Subscribe today.
Image credits: Dallas then, Houston then, San Antonio then: WBAP-TV/NBC5/KXAS-TV/University of North Texas Libraries/Portal to Texas History; Dallas Now: Art Wager/Getty; Houston now: John Bilous/Alami; San Antonio Now: Joe Som/Visions of America/Getty; Austin Next: Scott Newton; Austin now: Al Argueta/Alami