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Congress Avenue Historic District

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1880s–present. 300–1000 blocks of Congress Ave.

Texas's main street is Congress Avenue, beginning at the State Capitol ( AU1) and running south. The city's finest one-and two-story commercial buildings are at the northern and southernmost ends. In between, the city has encouraged much taller development during boom cycles that sometimes overshadows the humble beginnings of the street and competes with views of the capitol dome.

The 300 and 400 blocks of lower Congress Avenue are mostly intact (the 200 block was demolished in 2009) and include the Koppel Building at 320 Congress Avenue (c. 1888); the McKean-Eilers Building at number 323 (1897, J. Riely Gordon and Burt McDonald; 1983 restoration, Bell, Klein and Hoffman); the building at number 410 (1886, 1900); and, at number 416, the James H. Robertson Building (1893) attributed to Gordon, with a 1985 restoration by Robert Jackson Architects.

The insertion of high-rise office buildings, starting in 1975, drastically changed the scale and perspective of Congress Avenue. Where the broad street formerly lined with two-story buildings gave a monumental sweep and prominent focus to the capitol beyond, the tall buildings, albeit stepped back slightly, foreshorten the perspective, making the capitol seem diminutive in contrast. The fifty-six-story Austonian (2010) by Ziegler Cooper at 200 Congress Avenue is the tallest of the new condominium towers rising west of Congress, virtually overshadowing the historic two-story buildings on the blocks to the north.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Gerald Moorhead et al.
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Data

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Citation

Gerald Moorhead et al., "Congress Avenue Historic District", [Austin, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/TX-01-AU12.

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