A boulevard in transition : migrant placemaking in North Austin

Gonzalez, Lynda Myrtha
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

The low-income and ethnically diverse neighborhoods of North Lamar Boulevard have not received the kinds of city-backed economic development efforts that have revamped other areas of Austin like the Mueller Airport development, South Congress Avenue, or East 12th street. As the city nears the 1 million population mark, local public attention has centered around the East-West divide of segregation and gentrification. Young, white-collar professionals have migrated to the city’s urban core in the last decade, and commercial and residential development has reshaped East Austin to accommodate the tastes of these new middle- and high-income earners. The neighborhoods that surround North Lamar Boulevard in the city’s far northern sector have, for the most part, dodged this fate. Instead, it grapples with other obstacles. Sidewalks in the Rundberg neighborhood remain in disrepair. Local news media coverage routinely casts the area as crime-ridden. Residents wish that city buses in these neighborhoods provided reliable and frequent service. Despite these community challenges, immigrant business owners and residents have taken it upon themselves to personalize the North Lamar neighborhood to their own liking: the facade of one restaurant, Mariscos Los Jarochos, features elaborate woodwork; across the street, another building showcases Mexican murals and artisanal masonry. In the evening, families stroll North Lamar to eat dinner at any number of taco trucks or to buy a refreshing raspa, or snow cone. The utilization and remaking of space in the North Lamar neighborhood by immigrant communities foster a sense of belonging, especially as city development efforts in the area have dragged on for the past decade and other needs remain unmet