- Historic Status:
- National Register of Historic Places, National Recreation Trail
The Tejano Trails network highlights numerous historical and cultural sites between Waller Creek and Pleasant Valley Road in East Austin. Witnessing and weathering history throughout its streets, The Tejano Trails tell the history of this traditionally Hispanic neighborhood through 24 unique sites spread out along the 4.9-mile Tejano Healthy Walking Trail and another seven sites comprising the 5.6-mile Tejano Music Legends Trail.
“Keep Austin Weird” is Austin’s slogan, but it’s easier said than done. As gentrification and rising costs continue to uproot longstanding Hispanic communities near the city center, documenting the history of the people and places that have shaped Austin—even if they no longer remain—remains one way to maintain their authenticity, charm, and spark. The Tejano Trails do just that: located in the heart of East Austin, this network of trails consists of pedestrian- and bike-friendly routes that highlight the character, heritage, and history of places that have been, or are at risk of, disappearing.
The Tejano Trails are the result of an effort launched by members of the local Hispanic community who are fighting to preserve and celebrate East Austin’s heritage. Now known as the East Cesar Chavez and Holly neighborhoods, the area was one of Austin’s first platted districts. Originally home to Masontown—a neighborhood settled by freed slaves from Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia—this part of town has witnessed several grassroots movements to preserve communities in the face of outside pressure (perhaps never greater than now). Winding through this region, the Tejano Healthy Walking Trail is home to historical and cultural landmarks such as the historic Scoot Inn; site of the former National Fish Hatchery; several churches, schools, and residences; and the Willow-Spence Streets Historic District.
On a more musical note, the Tejano Music Legends Trail, which starts on the grounds of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, helps Austin stay true to its title as the Live Music Capital of the World. Boasting its own music lane, the trail recognizes and honors local musicians from the 20th century that pioneered the Tejano musical style, which combines American and Mexican influences.
To learn more about The Tejano Trails, attend one of their free tours every third Wednesday of the month, departing from the CommUnityCare center at East Second and Comal Street. – Miren Urena
Chris Ferguson, AIA