It may not be Hollywood but Austin has made a name for itself on the silver screen with its fair share of movies that all display the diversity the city has to offer.
These movies will have you pointing at the screen, shouting "I've been there!"
Directed by quintessential Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater, who started the Austin Film Society, "Boyhood" takes place in a small town in Texas and follows the life of Mason Jr. and his childhood in its entirety. The movie was filmed over the course of 12 years, using the same actors throughout. "Boyhood" has been credited with putting several Texas locations on the map. This movie is truly an Austin showcase—putting Texas at the forefront tends to be Linklater's niche—and there are plenty of icons to choose from.
"Boyhood" showcased Dart Bowl Cafe, formerly located on 5700 Grover Avenue, when Mason's father, played by Austin native Ethan Hawk, took him and his sister bowling after an untimely divorce. The institution closed in July due to the pandemic. The hybrid bowling alley and eatery had been open for 60 years.
Next, Mason heads to Pedernales Falls State Park, in Blanco County, where he and his father spend a few days camping together in the Hill Country.
Though it is certainly not the end of the Austin references in the film, Mason and his girlfriend Sheena also visit the Continental Club, at 1315 South Congress Avenue, which is widely renowned for cultivating South Congress and the live music scene in Austin.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Another Linklater classic, "Dazed and Confused" is a retroactive Austin A-list film. From the movie that brought you Matthew McConaughey's first feature film and his iconic line, "Alright, alright, alright," this classic is yet another that is full of Austin landmarks.
The immediately recognizable Top Notch Hamburgers, at 7525 Burnet Road, serves as the film's local burger joint. And to wash it down, you might want to run over to the Centennial Liquor, long closed but formerly on 6534 N. Lamar Blvd., and pick up a "sixer." After that, we heard there's a party at the moon tower going on at West Enfield Park, 2008 Enfield Road.
Heartbreak Hotel (1988)
This 1988 comedy, written by Chris Columbus, was filmed entirely in Austin. Sharing the same name as the famous Elvis Presley song, the film follows Johnny Wolfe's kidnapping of the singer to send him on a date with his mother. Though everything you see in the movie came from either Austin or Taylor, Texas, as the end credits state, the movie was filmed at Green Pastures, a historic Victorian house and restaurant located at 811 W Live Oak St.
Office Space (1999)
From soul-crushing job to revenge plan adventure, "Office Space" is a new age classic. The Initech Office is real, though it goes by a different name, and it's right here in Austin, located at 4120 Freidrich Lane. That isn't all, in fact, many of the mundane scenes you see in the movie are in Austin. Watch closely as Peter drives to work and you might see a few familiar sights along Braker Lane, stop by Chase Bank on 9739 Great Hills Trail to see the exterior of Chotchkie's, where Jennifer Aniston was forced to wear her "flair," or head home to the Morningwood Apartments, actually called the Trails at Walnut Creek, located on 11511 Metric Blvd.
Temple Grandin (2010)
This moving biopic recounts a girl who overcomes the challenges of autism during a time when the disorder was very misunderstood. Out of several filming locations in the running, including Arizona and New Mexico, Austin won out for the production of "Temple Grandin," a true story revolving around a girl of the same name, who was born autistic and non-communicative. The film started production at Austin studios in 2008 and ended the movie with a scene at the Austin Convention Center.
True Grit (2010)
Following teenager Mattie, with help from U.S. Marshal Reuben Cogburn, tracking down her father's murderer in a trek across the Texan frontier, "True Grit" was filmed all over Texas. Even though the movie takes place in Texas, the scene filmed in Austin passes as Memphis, Tennessee in the film. Stop by 110 East 9th St. and look for the Austin Club, formerly the Millett Opera House, to see where the film closes off. The filming was very careful—not a high rise in sight!
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Following a family in an Iowa small town just trying to get by, the oldest brother, Gilbert, must take charge of his severely overweight mother and mentally impaired brother. Although this drama, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp, wasn't technically filmed within Austin city limits, head just 16 miles east to Manor and you'll see a lot of familiar Endora landmarks. Just about everything was filmed in Manor: the water tower, downtown, the Carver house and Becky's campsite. The one thing that wasn't filmed there was the Grape house, which stood on Hodde Lane outside Pflugerville. It isn't there anymore but fans of the movie know why—if it still was, there would be no ending.
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Live Music Capital of the World. Mecca of all things "weird." City of hippies, slackers and honky tonks—Austin's reputation was once synonymous with all things "cool."
But after three years as the top city to live in the U.S., Austin fell to No. 13 in the U.S. News & World Report's ranking this year.
For over a hundred years, Austinites have lamented that their city's charm is gone, and some continue to worry that the city has swapped too many of its grittier live music venues for gleaming corporate towers.
Has Austin's coolness taken a fall from grace? Here's a look at what could be affecting Austin's reputation.
Migration and affordability—not so cool
3. The median priced home costs $635K, while the median Austin resident can only afford a $438K home.— Nik Shah 🏡 (@NikhaarShah) June 16, 2022
This affordability gap of $187K is 3x higher than at the national level! pic.twitter.com/CH036nj8Nn
There can always be too much of a good thing–including dating profiles bragging about packing up and moving to Austin.
Austin saw a higher growth rate than any other U.S. city from 2010-2020 as the metro attracted 171,465 newcomers in a decade.
With highly publicized move-ins including billionaire Elon Musk, podcaster Joe Rogan and tech HQs, came a gaggle of Californians eager to eke out a living in the burgeoning "boomtown" paradise.
An affordability crisis ensued.
Young people, who often serve as the drumbeat of a city's "coolness," are quickly being priced out amid skyrocketing rent. While a Rent.com study ranked Austin as one of the best cities for young professionals in 2022, the city's share of 20-24-year-old residents was 7.5% of the population in 2019—down from 8.6% in 2010.
And the so-called "slackers" that helped make Austin famous are now struggling to survive in a city where the median price for a home is now $550,000, especially as many in the city's creative class make well below a living wage.
Live music and things to do—still cool
The outside, Zilker, Towne Lake, Barton Springs, dozens of decent hiking within the area. This is the advantage, do the free outside stuff (Austin has wonderful patio restaurants, etc but then the 💵 goes) More time inside less advantage to living here.— Trust_w/o_Journey_Is_Compliance (@runningman902) June 7, 2022
Austin was famously dubbed the "Live Music Capital of the World" in 1991 when officials discovered that the city had more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the U.S. And with 46.4 venues per 100,000 residents in 2018, that mantra remained largely true for years.
After the worst of the COVID pandemic, which was estimated to shutter up to 70% of music venues in the Red River Cultural District alone, the city's live music scene has worked hard to bounce back. The city now has the fifth-highest number of small music venues per capita in the nation and comes in at No. 4 among the best live music cities in the U.S., per a 2022 Clever.com study.
And many of Austin's unique attractions remain timeless. While paddle boarding on Town Lake has become overcrowded and even caused swimmer's itch for some, outdoor attractions like Barton Springs Pool, the Barton Creek Greenbelt and other Hill Country swimming holes remain a popular pastime.
And while the coolness of Sixth Street has become riddled with violence and safety concerns, the city still boasts plenty of nightlife districts.
Instead of the Armadillo Den of Austin yore, the new Austin boasts bachelorette party entertainment on West Sixth Street, intimate concerts in East Austin and a refuge for tech professionals on booming Rainey Street.
Keeping Austin Weird—barely hanging on
If you know...you know pic.twitter.com/auDQyVurUy— Evil MoPac (@EvilMopacATX) September 3, 2021
Leslie Cochran, the high-heel-wearing homeless man who personified the "Keep Austin Weird" movement, is long gone. In his place are controversial attempts at keeping that mindset alive, including an Instagrammable sculpture of the mantra approved by the city's Historic Landmark Commission in February.
But pockets of that signature Austin feel still exist. It's not uncommon to see Sam Greyhorse riding on his horse on South Congress.
And while South Congress is losing longtime businesses and gaining luxury retailers in its new Music Lane development, other areas—like Barton Springs—still retain their carefree, old Austin feel.
New "weird" strongholds have cropped up as well, like Austin FC's Q2 Stadium, where 20,500 soccer fans gather to chant Austin's mantras, lift up inflatable chickens and celebrate their community.
"Cooler" alternatives emerge
Moving out of Austin is so good for your mental health.— 𝒟𝑜𝓁𝓁𝓎 𝒷𝒶𝒷𝓎 🥂 (@adeeoxox) July 30, 2021
Still, Austin's residents are facing the second-most overvalued housing market in the nation, and many are looking for greener—and cooler—pastures.
Instead of cross-continent moves, some new move-ins are now relocating to nearby cities, according to a Placer.ai study. The study found that Austin's "boomtown" status could already be overshadowed by new tech markets like Philadelphia, Phoenix and Raleigh, North Carolina.
And even within the state, Austin fell behind Dallas, Houston and San Antonio as Texas' most sought-after city.
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Austin has been in the national spotlight for more than extreme growth—the last two years have brought a handful of violent crimes, missing persons cases and shootings.
Some of the most heartbreaking cases have yet to be solved. Here's a small update on some ongoing, high-profile cases in Austin.
Moriah Wilson | Suspect still on the run
Star biker Moriah Wilson was found dead in her East Austin home.
Professional cyclist Moriah “Mo” Wilson’s alleged killer, Kaitlin Armstrong, is still on the run and was last spotted leaving LaGuardia Airport in New York City on May 14—three days before the Austin Police Department obtained a warrant for her arrest.
Wilson was shot to death in her home on May 11 just hours after she went swimming with fellow cyclist Colin Strickland, who Armstrong had previously dated. Strickland said it was never a secret that he dated 25-year-old Wilson and had “no indication” Armstrong would react violently, as she had been dating other people as well.
While Wilson’s family said they don’t believe she was romantically involved with anyone, the case is being investigated as a crime of passion.
Investigators believe Armstrong might be using her sister’s name, Christine Armstrong, in New York State. A $5,000 reward has been issued for information leading to her capture.
Timothy Perez | Missing since March 2022(Robert Perez)Conroe couple Robert and Sandra Perez haven’t seen their son, 32-year-old Timothy Perez, since he left to go visit his brother in Austin on March 5. The couple said he got lost and called Robert for help at 1 a.m. before the call disconnected.
"He said, 'Dad, come get me, I'm lost,'" Robert Perez told Austonia. "I said, 'Pull, over,' but he just hung up, and we were never able to get a hold of him."The Austin Police Department found Timothy’s car—cold and with an empty tank—around 15 miles from his brother’s home at 4:30 a.m. the same morning
Timothy was last spotted again that morning when Round Rock Police responded to a welfare check called in by St. William Catholic Church. RRPD photographed him, said Timothy refused to identify himself and left without incident; Timothy wasn’t reported missing until a few days later.
According to EquuSearch, Timothy’s phone pinged briefly in Conroe on March 16 but hasn’t been located since. RRPD officials said they believe Timothy is voluntarily missing based on his interaction with officers.
But his parents think Timothy might've suffered a nervous breakdown and still drive from Conroe to Austin every few days to look for their son.Due to the sighting at the church, APD closed its missing person case on April 8 but Round Rock Police still lists Timothy as missing.
Timothy is a 6'2, 180 lb. Hispanic man with shoulder-length black hair, a full beard, and brown eyes. Anyone with information on Timothy Perez's disappearance can call the family's private investigator at 512-844-7933.
Jason Landry | Missing since December 2020
More than 31,000 acres were combed through to find missing Texas State student Jason Landry. (Caldwell County Sheriff's Office)
Texas State University student Jason Landry went missing on Dec. 13, 2020, after his car was found abandoned in Luling as he was driving home from nearby San Marcos to Missouri City, Texas, for winter break.
Landry’s car was found crashed with keys still in the ignition and all of his personal possessions, including his clothing, some with drops of blood, and phone, but no one in sight.
As conspiracies have swirled around the internet about what might've happened that night, Capt. Jeff Ferry, who is the lead investigator on the case, said "no doubt this is a tragedy… but it’s not a crime.”
More than a year later, friends and family of Landry are still searching for him and have erected billboards reminding locals of his disappearance and offering a $10,000 reward: one going southbound on I-35 and another along U.S. Hwy. 183 north of Luling.
The billboards were leased for 13 weeks in April but they may extend the rental—meanwhile, the case is in the hands of the Texas Attorney General Cold Case and Missing Persons unit. Anyone with information is asked to call (512) 936-0742.
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