Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

Op-Ed: Austin a Shadow of its Former Self

An op-ed by David Heymann produces an elaborate, protracted metaphor of Austin as a former youthful "golden child" now showing the least attractive possible traits of middle age.
March 21, 2015, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

(Updated 04/06/15) "Since the biological paradigm that explains cities as entities remains in vogue, here is my biological analogy for the city of Austin. Get ready for hyperbolic overstatement," writes David Heymann at the beginning of the op-ed in warning about the withering critique that follows.

The next paragraph reads as follows:

"Once blessed with a golden youth, and since then — having had that youthful image reinforced often enough by its many admirers — spared the crisis of having to figure out how that charm might continue once the blush wore off, Austin has grown into a somewhat lazy and troubling adult, with unpromising habits (Yeah, I'm thinking I really want to be an Event City...)."

Much of Heymann's critique centers on issues of planning and development. For instance the following paragraph, full of references that will be familiar to anyone well versed in the history of the city's land use regulations:

"Though little aging in the sense of decline has taken place, a pudgy truth is evident. There is a noticeable widening (Wait, I'm the 11th largest WHAT in America?); an uneven densening of the middle (Some of that is new core muscle, dude!); sudden unwanted hair in problematic locations (Not my fault! Those oddly sprouting towers are a side effect of my capitol view corridor inoculation!); a marked hardening of the arteries slowing the circulatory metabolism (Not fair; that's genetic! And I'm getting a stent in my MoPac.); and the beginnings of a patchy, beige blemishing (Okay, I got that from going to a lot of cheap hotels.)."

Eventually Heymann ceases with the metaphor and voices concern that Austin is becoming a place of more cynicism than hope and bereft the inherent optimism of its neighbors, Dallas and Houston.

Article link has been updated to provide access without a paywall.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, March 19, 2015 in Houston Chronicle
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email