Congress Avenue Walking Tour, Austin

Congress Avenue Walking Tour (Self Guided), Austin

Congress Avenue is the main street in Austin and historically the first one. Since the city's establishment, the street has evolved, and now bears the mark of Austin’s historical and cultural development from the 19th century to today. From the State Capitol grounds to Lady Bird Lake, modern skyscrapers stand next to the old two- and three story buildings, making for an interesting sightseeing walk.
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Congress Avenue Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Congress Avenue Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Austin (See other walking tours in Austin)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: christine
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Texas State Capitol
  • Lundberg Bakery
  • Jacob Lamour Block
  • Walter Tips Building
  • Paramount Theatre
  • Angelina Eberly Statue
  • Littlefield Building
  • Scarborough Building
  • Robinson-Rosner Building
  • Mexic-Arte Museum
  • Koppel Building
  • Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
  • One Congress Plaza
  • Congress Avenue Bridge /Austin Bats
Texas State Capitol

1) Texas State Capitol (must see)

The Texas State Capitol in Austin is the fourth local building to house Texas state government. Altogether it houses the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the office of the governor of Texas. It was originally designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, and was constructed from 1882 to 1888 under the direction of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker. A $75 million underground extension was completed in 1993. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The Texas State Capitol building stands 308 ft (94 m) tall.

The capitol rotunda features portraits of every person who has served as president of the Republic of Texas or governor of the State of Texas. The south foyer features sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin made by Elisabeth Ney. The rotunda is also a whispering gallery. The capitol has 360,000 square feet (33,000 square meters) of floor space, more than any other state capitol building, and occupies 2.25 acres of land. The building has nearly 400 rooms and more than 900 windows.

Why You Should Visit:
Once the tallest capitol building in the nation, it shows off many of the natural resources, such as limestone and the landscapes, which are so prevalent in Texas. Lots of statues, memorials, great history and fun architecture to look at.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Lundberg Bakery

2) Lundberg Bakery

The Lundberg Bakery, also known as the Old Bakery and Emporium, is a historic sight currently serving as a gift shop in downtown Austin, Texas. The building was completed in 1876. At the time the bakery began operations, bread was not sold wrapped or packaged. People would wait in line with cloth lined baskets to place the bread in after buying it.

The building served as a bakery until its owner, Swedish immigrant Charles Lundberg, died in 1895. It changed hands frequently until being bought and refurbished by the Austin Heritage Society in 1962. It was threatened with demolition in 1970, when a new building was planned for the Texas Department of Transportation, but was saved when excavations next door uncovered the foundations of the previous state capitol building. Following the discovery, the foundations were converted to a historical plaza, and the bakery was spared.

The building is constructed of limestone with a brick facade, and features a large cast-iron eagle at the peak of the gabled roof overlooking Congress Avenue. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 17, 1969.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Jacob Lamour Block

3) Jacob Lamour Block

The Jacob Lamour Block is a row of two-story commercial buildings designed and built by architect Jacob Lamour in 1876, who also designed other personal and administrative buildings in Austin. The facades bear Italian features, each distinctive, yet style-friendly to its neighbors. The buildings are still used as commercial spaces for stores and cafes.
Walter Tips Building

4) Walter Tips Building

The Walter Tips Building is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture to be found on Austin's Congress Avenue. Built in 1876, this three-story stone building masterfully blends Venetian Gothic and Italianate Renaissance Revival styles, and is one of several properties constructed by architect Jasper Newton Preston for the Tips Foundry & Machine Company. The eastern facade on the second and third floors bear prominent Venetian Gothic features, with a row of five richly decorated bay windows framed by fluted and banded pilasters with Corinthian and foliated capitals.

On the inside, large open spaces have been maintained by means of a cast-iron colonnade spanned by cast-iron arches running the length of the building down the center at the first level and by a similar colonnade of wood members at the second level. The construction has two skylights. The Tips Building is a City of Austin Landmark and a contributing building to the National Register-listed Congress Avenue Historic District.

Today, it is still used as a commercial space.
Paramount Theatre

5) Paramount Theatre

The Paramount Theatre is a live theater and cinema located in downtown Austin. The Classical Revival style edifice was built in 1915. Throughout its more than a century-long history, the Paramount has played host to a wide variety of acts, ranging from vaudeville to the premieres of numerous films, both silent and "talkies," including 1966's Batman and 2005's Sin City, plus a number of music, dance, and Broadway shows.

Over the course of decades, a cast of superstars has graced the theater's stage, such as Houdini, the Marx Brothers, Helen Hayes, Orson Welles, Sarah Bernhardt, the Ziegfeld Follies, the Metropolitan Opera, Lillian Russell, and George M. Cohan. Among the modern-day favorites have been Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Sarah Vaughan, and Mandy Patinkin.

The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 23, 1976.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Angelina Eberly Statue

6) Angelina Eberly Statue

Angelina Belle Peyton Eberly (July 2, 1798 – August 15, 1860) was an innkeeper and a hero of Austin, Texas in the Texas Archive War. In 1836 she met and married Captain Jacob Eberly, a widower. They moved to Austin in 1839, opening the Eberly House. On October 18, 1839, President Mirabeau B. Lamar and his cabinet dined in her tavern and his successor, Sam Houston, resided at Eberly House rather than the presidential mansion.

In December 1842, Houston ordered the secret removal of the archives of the Republic to safekeeping in Washington-on-the-Brazos. Mrs. Eberly, realizing that the symbols of national government were being removed from the city, fired a six-pound cannon into the General Land Office Building, arousing the town to what they considered theft. The ensuing conflict became known as the Archive War, which was won by the Austinites, preserving Austin as capital of Texas and keeper of the archives.

A bronze statue of Angelina Eberly, created by Pat Oliphant, stands near the place where Eberly helped preserve Austin as Texas' capital city.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Littlefield Building

7) Littlefield Building

The Littlefield Building is one of the most elegant office complexes in downtown Austin. Built in 1910, this nine-story Beaux Arts edifice was designed for commercial and residential use. Initially conceived as an eight-story building, a ninth floor was added to exceed the height of the nearby Scarborough Building, making it the tallest until 1929. The upper floor used to contain an enclosed garden.
Scarborough Building

8) Scarborough Building

The Scarborough Building highly resembles early Chicago skyscrapers. Built in 1910, it was the first steel and concrete structure in Austin. The first two floors were intended for fine shops and the rest for office spaces. The name comes from the popular department store, Scarborough’s, which was located in the building. The interior is decorated in Italian marble, as well as the lobby's main stairway.
Robinson-Rosner Building

9) Robinson-Rosner Building

The Robinson-Rosner Building is Congress Avenue’s oldest standing edifice. Built in 1856 out of limestone and brick, bearing Gothic Revival features, it was a commercial facility containing a bakery and a dry goods store. “Robinson-Rosner” is engraved on its facade. The original iron columns have been restored in recent years.
Mexic-Arte Museum

10) Mexic-Arte Museum

The Mexic-Arte Museum is dedicated to Mexican art, culture, traditions and artistic innovations. Founded in 1984 by three Mexican artists, the museum displays a wide range of items, from Naïve art and pottery to multimedia installations and abstract art. The open space of the museum’s gallery gives a unique perspective to the art featured. The museum also hosts various cultural events.

Operation hours: Monday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Friday - Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Sunday: 12:00 – 5:00 pm
Koppel Building

11) Koppel Building

Erected in 1888, the two-story Koppel Building was designed by B. McDonald for Prussian immigrant, William Radam. It has survived without substantial renovations since the original construction and, over the years, has served as a hotel, a store and even a brothel.
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

12) Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que restaurant, honored to be the "Best Of The Best" in the barbecue business, known for its two-inch-thick pork "Big Chop" much as for being former US President George W. Bush's favorite barbecue joint, celebrated the history of Congress Avenue in the early 20th century by setting themselves up in a historic building on Congress.

Over the years, the 200 block of Congress has been the home to several pubs, saloons, cafes and restaurants. Now it has been brought back to life thanks to renovation. Back in the day, across the street was home to the International and Great Northern Rail Road Depot, built in 1888. And the upstairs space at 217 was once the Travis Hotel, rumored to have been a cat house!
One Congress Plaza

13) One Congress Plaza

One Congress Plaza is a skyscraper in Downtown Austin. Standing 390 feet (119 meters) high and containing 30 floors, it is the eighth tallest building in Austin. One of its most famous features has been the sunken plaza, which includes trees and park benches, as well as the location for the AMOA Art Show.

Built in 1987, One Congress Plaza was one of the skyscrapers erected during the 1970s-80s construction boom in Austin, and is still one of the city's most famous buildings. Norwest Plaza and Franklin Federal Plaza are the other two names for this high-riser.

One Congress Plaza stair-steps back from Congress Avenue as part of a 1931 height restriction. One Congress Plaza has 548,823 square feet (50,987.3 m2) of space and is one of Austin's waterfront skyscrapers.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Congress Avenue Bridge /Austin Bats

14) Congress Avenue Bridge /Austin Bats (must see)

The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge (formerly known simply as the Congress Avenue Bridge) crosses over Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. Before construction of the Longhorn Dam was completed in 1960, the bridge crossed the Colorado River from which Lady Bird Lake is impounded. The bridge was known as the Congress Avenue Bridge from the construction of the first span across the Colorado River at that location in the late 19th century until November 16, 2006, when the Austin City Council renamed the current bridge in honor of Ann W. Richards, the 45th Governor of Texas and a long-term resident of Austin. The bridge is a concrete arch structure with three southbound and three northbound vehicle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of it.

Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is home to the world's largest urban bat colony, which is composed of Mexican free-tailed bats. The bats reside beneath the road deck in gaps between the concrete component structures. They are migratory, spending their summers in Austin and the winters in Mexico.

The nightly emergence of the bats from underneath the bridge at dusk, and their flight across Lady Bird Lake primarily to the east, to feed themselves, attract as many as 100,000 tourists annually. Tourists can see the bats from the bridge, from the sides of the river and from boats.

The Austin Ice Bats minor-league hockey team was named after the bridge's bats.

The song "Bats" by Kimya Dawson and rapper Aesop Rock was inspired by the immense number of bats that reside under the bridge.[
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Austin, Texas

Create Your Own Walk in Austin

Create Your Own Walk in Austin

Creating your own self-guided walk in Austin is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Austin Street Art Walk

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles