Can Austin’s music scene survive in a ‘family friendly’ Entertainment District?

Keep Austin Austin (Gentrification makes Stevie Ray cry)

Progress is inevitable and it’s better than decay. I guess… But I can’t help but feel a bit of melancholy after walking around Austin’s entertainment district last night. Everything is starting to look way too nice.

My brother and I spent a couple of hours looking around for some hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in the Warehouse district around 4th Street and instead we found upscale steakhouses and whatnot, places with valets standing in front. We passed “rustic” looking restaurants with outdoor seating and fans with mist-sprayers, blaring awful pop punk music, full of frat boy types, the kind of places you find on Padre Island during Spring Break. We passed a family with small children and had to interrupt our conversation because we were afraid they might get offended. That’s when it really sunk in how much Austin is changing.

I understand the city of Austin is planning a facelift on part of 6th Street. They refer to the section as East Sixth, but locals refer to it as “Dirty Sixth.” To me East Sixth starts on the east side of I-35. They’re going to take away one lane of traffic, expand the sidewalk and take away a bunch of parking spaces, leaving a few for valet parking. It’s part of an effort by downtown businesses to make 6th Street more of an “all ages” area.

Anytime I hear terms like “all ages” and “family friendly” associated with 6th Street, my heart sinks a little.  I would rather play around in the dirt and mess than have a bunch of “family” types wandering around down there, pressuring the city to get rid of the noise (music) and riff raff (freaks, hippies, etc.).

I like families and I like kids, but Austin is supposedly the Live Music Capital of the World. That requires a lot of venues and most of those venues are bars. Not a kid-friendly environment. I’m afraid they’re going to “clean up” the Entertainment District and kill the proverbial Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.

I don’t know why we have to turn the place into Disneyland. That’s boring boring boring!


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