Austin's Atlas

Tillery Street and the Guthrie

Development, Growthann armstrongComment

As Austin's Atlas continues to turn its eyes towards Tillery St, this article from Austin Towers seemed appropriate to post. 

The abundant trees on the un-and-underdeveloped lots at the intersection of Gonzales and Tillery Streets lend the block an oddly rural stillness, which helps to circumvent its actual geography barely more than two miles from downtown.
— Austin Towers, James Rambin

A changing sense of place is inevitable, we know cities are living creatures in a constant state of evolution, constructed by people with varied and conflicting agendas. Unfortunately, no matter what your agenda, I don't think anyone can immediately and single handedly construct a meaningful sense of place. Something like that takes years to evolve. And you can't buy time, you have to be patient and wait for it. So when it comes time to demolish and re-envision matter what its proposed aesthetic or use, the place won't feel the same. In some rare instances, a new project may somewhat underscore and augment the feeling that is already there, but in my experience that is a rare occurrence.

I can't remember how soon I stumbled on Tillery Street after I moved here...but I remember the faraway feeling it had...and still has. Guthrie Lumber, @ TIllery and Gonzales, helped to contribute to that feeling-- it was an older complex, filled with a lot of ambiguous open space, rough around the edges metal buildings, creaky wood sheds, and wrapped in a vine covered cyclone fence. I wasn't a regular patron since it was wholesale, but I briefly rented some warehouse space there in 2012, and would on occasion pick up lumber for work projects. Business was booming as of late, and it was filled to the gills with palettes of wood stacked high (it wasn't filled to the gills back in 2012). I loved the fact that they still had a lot of wood delivered via train (it backs up to the old Missouri Pacific line and has its own spur) and that you could count on catching a good whiff of cedar when you drove/rode/walked by. 

As East Austin continues to loose its light industrial spaces, associated jobs, and convenient (raw) material access, I mourn their loss and let my appreciation grow for the places/businesses that continue to remain. I don't really know what else there is to say--or more importantly--do. Regardless, I recommend taking a moment to savor the things around you for the way they are, because in the current economic boom, it seems they won't be that way for long.