A view of the house at 96 Rainey Street in 1980 and 2017, which is now a sports bar called Bar 96. Photos courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission and the Austin Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
Austin’s changed all over, but you might not find a better example of the city’s transformation over the last decade than Rainey Street. This formerly quiet residential road close to downtown looks almost nothing like itself ten years ago, even though many of its historic homes haven’t been demolished — they’ve just been converted into bars and restaurants, remodeled to the extent that you might not recognize them in the shadow of the district’s new condo towers and other improvements.
Nobody seems to note Austin’s frequent and drastic transformations more than the folks at r/Austin, the city’s page on Reddit, and this week a poster dug up some old Google Street View images of Rainey Street circa 2007 — a single decade may not seem like a long time, but for Austin that’s something more like an epoch. If you click around, you’ll find that most of the street is navigable via 2007-era Street View, and if you only know the area in its current incarnation, you may find it truly baffling to connect what you’re seeing to anything in the present.
Check out the changes to the house at 79 Rainey Street that became Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden between 2007 and 2017 for a real shocker. It’s amazing what some red paint and picket fences can do!
Another poster in the Reddit thread linked to a Flickr album with a tour of Rainey Street back in 2005, a year after the area was rezoned to Central Business District and just before development began on the street in earnest.
Whether you were in Austin to see the street like this in person or not, it’s worth spending some time clicking around Rainey Street’s digital past — if nothing else, you can impress your friends with your historical knowledge next time you’re out at the bars. That stuff impresses people, right?