The inimitable Eddie Wilson (World Armadillo Headquarters, Threadgill’s) and author Richard Zelade (“Guy Town by Gaslight,” “Austin in the Jazz Age”) turned us on to a glorious website, austinpostcard.com.
Casey M. Weaver, who put together the site, owns more than 1,000 Austin postcards, plus 200 to 300 more related historical images of our city.
“I really enjoy the view of the new Congress Avenue Bridge with the old iron bridge — of which some spans are now in Richard Moya Park — in the background,” Weaver says. “Also, all the Great Granite Dam views, including the Ben Hur steamer and flood cards, including the ones of toppled street cars. Also the views of the State Insane Asylum grounds.”
At the time, asylum directors believed that serene surroundings helped to cure or at least calm patients.
“Soothe the savage beast as it were,” Weaver says. “So, to this end, they built elaborate gardens, ponds and even a lake. In the late 1800s, these beautiful grounds were the preferred spot to picnic and/or court your sweetheart.”
He says readers dote on the visible contrasts between Old Austin and New Austin.
“I know that whenever I see the Capitol, in my mind, I always think back to the May 1888 view of the building where, if you look closely, you can see all the way through the windows and unfinished interior spaces,” he says. “Whenever I am close to the building and I see the feather and wedge marks on the granite blocks I think about the pictures of convict laborers — essentially slave labor — used to quarry those stones.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the name of Richard Moya Park.
You can’t understand New Austin without delving into Old Austin. One digital avenue for that quest is Austin Found, a series of historic images of Austin and Texas published at statesman.com/austinfound. We’ll share samples here regularly.