Sunday, April 15, 2012

East Austin History Walk and Talk

Thanks to all who joined us on the East Austin History Walk and Talk tour (aka Jane's Walk Tour). There was an excellent turn out, even with the mid-day thunderstorm. The tour was an epic 6 hours with a delicious stop at Casa Colombia.

Our tour guides were Dr. Eliot Tretter and Dr. Fred McGhee. We benefited from their deep knowledge, including Dr. McGhee's expertise as an anthropologist and historian of public housing and Dr. Tretter's research on the history and geography of segregation and neighborhood change. They shared important insights into the history of East Austin, from its early development to the public housing, urban renewal, and planning initiatives that shaped it at the mid-twentieth century and into the recent past. Here is a link to the hefty and in-depth tour packet [pdf] provided by Dr. Tretter. This is the tour map [jpg], which shows stops along our walking route.

The tour was in conjunction with the national network of tours that honor the memory of Jane Jacobs and her fight to preserve the vital neighborhoods of New York City from the ravages of planning efforts that failed to take into account the real lives of the people they claimed to help. On our tour we learned about the complex history of planning in Austin, from progressive efforts to genuinely help low income communities to blatant acts of racism and segregation.

Thank you to Dr. Eliot Tretter, Dr. Fred McGhee, Andrea Roberts (lead tour organizer), Josh Conrad (tour cartographer), and everyone who came on the tour for making this tour a success.

One of the attendees beat us to posting a blog entry. See more on Ryan Pollack's blog entry and Andrea Robert's blog.

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