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Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Sixth Street began more than 170 years ago as the only level pathway into the town of Austin from the east. Originally called Pecan Street, throughout its history the street was also a level playing field for merchants and minorities, for moneyed dynasties and little mom-and-pop places. When Austin was a segregated society, Sixth Street was a standout exception where people of all races lived and worked. By 1871, the arrival of the railroad kindled the explosive development of Pecan Street into Austin's first mercantile center. It was home to Austin's first hotel, Bullock's at Congress Avenue and Pecan Street; the first fight with the government of the new Republic of Texas; and the first brothel. In the 1970s, the commercial district suffered some deterioration. Then, as it has done before, Sixth Street was reborn, this time as the Sixth Street Historic Entertainment District. Loved by Austin residents and visitors alike, Sixth Street is Texas's most famous thoroughfare.
ON THE COVER: Foot traffic flows across Sixth Street at Congress Avenue: is it Easter? Every lady carries an umbrella, and a stylish hat adorns her head. The gentlemen wear nifty bowlers. Seen at left, the sign for the Crystal Saloon beckons the thirsty, as did that corner’s San Antonio Saloon in the 1860s. Michael Ziller had built this first stone building in Austin in 1849. Home to a series of gambling parlors and the Iron Front and Two Brothers Saloons, it anchored Sixth and Congress for 60
rowdiness, but don’t the boots with the orange and white seem just right? (Courtesy of James Haddox.) Outside Brackenridge Hospital one night in 2009, a candlelight vigil was attended by many to offer spiritual support to Leslie Cochran. Something of a political activist, he once ran for mayor. A bikini with a beard—that was his trademark as he paraded about Sixth for more than a decade. Bar owners on the street, all 55 of them, have banned him for his exuberant behavior, and the cops have grown
Jr. and Monsignor Don Sawyer. Josh Allen, executive director of the Sixth Street Austin Association, provided rich detail of the reborn Historic Entertainment District. My son-in-law, Ozgur Cakar, took compelling photographs of an hour on Sixth Street today, and old friend Jim Kruger did the same with historical structures. Dub King’s Al Bohne, a former air force intelligence imaging specialist, was able to turn the vaguest images into works of art. He warned me of what he called the urgency
today, if one drives east on Sixth Street, past Cisco’s at Chicon all the way to Govalle, you can clearly see 2 miles to One America Center at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue. Sixth Street is a registered landmark with the National Register of Historic Places. For over half a century, Sixth was known as Pecan Street since the first maps of the capital city of the new Republic of Texas were drawn up in 1839. Streets were named before there were streets, at least not ones you could turn your
Lung holds the next generation, Joe, beside the family car. Note the running boards on this early postwar model. (Courtesy of Joe Lung.) The child studying the airplane would go on to study medicine, becoming Austin ophthalmologist Mitchell Wong, M.D. The expansive one, charming the world with a smile that would be characteristic of him all his life, is the third generation of the Lung dynasty. Joe, also a restaurant owner, is named after his grandfather. (Courtesy of Joe Lung.) Above, Sam