James Stewart in the East Austin barbershop, Nov. 1999 Photo: Maria Sweeny
African American Neighborhoods in East Austin
At the end of the 20th century, Austin, Texas, is a
boomtown, among the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. However, on
the other side of I-35, within sight of the downtown, several
predominantly African-American neighborhoods remain in disrepair,
and the residents there have not benefited from the city's
economic growth. Though residents have been trying for over two
decades to follow through on plans to revitalize the area, the
neighborhoods are marred by empty lots, boarded-up houses, and
But residents of the area have mixed views on the
prospect of economic development, fearing that increased taxes,
property values, and gentrification will squeeze them out of their
homes. Using photocopies of historic photographs, contemporary
photographs and text, this project looks at the historic
neighborhoods of Gregorytown, Robertson Hill, and Kealing, some of
the first areas of Austin settled by African Americans following
the Civil War. Austin's history, urban renewal and its effect on
the residents, the legacy of segregation, and the continuity of the
generations are examined. Austin is still divided by race,
separated in white, Hispanic, and African American neighborhoods.
Although in theory forbidden by law, segregation is still a
day-to-day reality for East Austin's black residents.
Originally submitted by: Lloyd Doggett,Representative (10th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.