The stretch of Congress Avenue running from the Colorado River to the Texas State Capitol is Austin’s most important thoroughfare and the address of many of the city’s most architecturally and culturally significant places. From basement-level music joints to soaring skyscrapers, this 25-stop walking tour provides an introduction to the many places and spaces that make our city unique.
Congress Avenue has existed since 1839, when Edwin Waller laid out his plan for a capital composed of a 14×14 grid of streets bisected by a 120-foot-wide boulevard. From then until now, the city’s main street has been traversed by people, horses, cable cars, railroads, bicycles, and automobiles. Throughout its 180-year history, Congress Avenue has been the place where Austinites come together for celebrations, vigils, parades, and protests. The spaces that line both sides of Austin’s main street exhibit a wide variety of architectural styles, preserving in physical form how ideas about buildings, cities, and people have evolved over time.
To begin the tour, head to the sidewalk on the east side of the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge and walk to the center of the river’s crossing.