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It’s Time to Talk About Sixth Street in Austin

The recent shootings have generated a lot of talk about what’s happening on one of the nation’s most famous drinking drags.

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Sixth Street during the 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival on March 16, 2012 in Austin, Texas.
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

*Update: Alleged gunman Endicott McCray was arrested by U.S. Marshals Service in Atlanta on Wednesday. McCray is facing a charge of first-degree murder.

Just after closing time early Sunday morning, havoc erupted on Sixth Street in downtown Austin when a man began firing shots into the crowd, leaving one dead and four more injured. The suspect, 24-year-old Endicott McCray, who reportedly got into a fight with his brother-in-law and pointed the gun at him, remains at large.*

The incident generated headlines across the world, and rightfully so. According to police, the woman who died, Teqnika Marie Moultrie, was visiting friends in the city with her wife. They decided to go downtown to Sixth Street, a world-famous tourist destination and entertainment district. After they left Voodoo Doughnuts, located in the heart of Sixth, shots rang out and Moultrie was struck in the head by a bullet. She died at the scene. That someone enjoying an ordinary night out on the town could so easily become a victim of senseless gun violence is a terrifying nightmare made real.

This tragedy is certainly deserving of the attention it received, but for many who live in Austin or are familiar with the downtown scene, it sadly doesn’t come as a surprise. Sixth Street has felt like a volatile powder keg for at least fifteen years. This is not meant to diminish the very real grief and pain being felt by the families affected by Sunday morning’s events. What happened is unacceptable. But as details continue to unfold and the manhunt continues, maybe the shooting presents an opportunity for us to talk about the overall state of Sixth Street.

I’ve lived in Austin for 25 years, and for more than half of that time, I’ve felt embarrassed that so many out-of-towners form their impressions of Austin based on this strip of street. The visitors to our fine city walk out of their hotels and straight to a place that locals have nicknamed “Dirty Sixth,” a moniker meant to convey both literally and figuratively how unseemly this corridor is. Many of us that live here avoid the area. When we talk about the future of our arts and culture scenes, how music and tourism can improve and thrive in our city, we tend not to mention Sixth Street’s former or current reputation. We even largely resist talking about the problems of Sixth on a political level.

But instead of ignoring this pox on our house, perhaps it’s time we stopped turning our heads the other way and started trying to rebuild Sixth in a way that positively evolves this ever-shifting city. Below are a few ideas, to at least start the conversation.

No, let’s not turn it into Bourbon Street
The Forbes story that made the rounds this weekend advocating for changing alcohol and noise ordinances was ill-timed and, to my mind, severely under-thought. The notion that we need Bourbon-style open-carry alcohol/to-go cups is wrong. How is more public intoxication better for Sixth and the city? Inside bars, there’s some degree of regulation: bartenders can refuse the over-served, arrange for rides for the too-drunk-to-drive, keep a modicum of order. Street-drinking turns the onus of control to the cops, who already have an unenviable task on their overburdened hands. There’s no way there’s less violence or less fights with alcohol in the street. There’s more opportunity for underage drinking and more opportunity for people to drink right up until the moment they reach their car and drive themselves home.

The Forbes piece also suggests extending drinking hours. Bars would love it; police would not. Plus, you’d simply be pushing the 2 a.m. rush-to-the-streets to a 4 a.m. rush. For the most part, Sixth Street patrons, by the nature of their age, probably don’t have anywhere to be the next morning. They’ll drink longer and harder right up until whenever the new last call is.

We need more business diversity
At the heart of Sixth’s problem is a lack of diversity in the businesses lining the street’s five most important blocks, from Brazos to Red River. The old-timers wax nostalgic about a time when the area offered more than just shot bars and dance clubs. There used to be a live music venue next to a shot bar, next to a coffee shop, next to a restaurant, next to an art gallery, next to a salon, and on and on. But over the years, rents increased and it became more viable to build your business around high-volume alcohol sales than music or food. (And, related to point one, if drinking hours were extended, rents would likely continue to escalate since you’d be lengthening the highest part of the bell curve for alcohol consumption, thus making bars the most economically viable business to survive consequent booms in the downtown real estate market.)

A handful of places do offer some diversity—the Alamo Drafthouse (a movie theater), the Parish (a music venue), Esther’s (a comedy club), Parkside (a high-end restaurant), to name a few—but they’re definitely outliers. And there are a smattering of other live music venues—from Dirty Dog and Flamingo Cantina to the Vulcan and Maggie Mae’s—but there is a counter-argument to be made that the clientele of those places might actually be turned off by having to brave Dirty Sixth to patron the music clubs and thus opt to not visit those places as a result.

Reconcile SXSW and Spring Break 
For some locals, the only time Sixth Street becomes a destination is during SXSW. Festival organizers lock down many of the downtown bars as official venues, in part out of fear of losing those places to private parties, corporate unaffiliated buyouts, and pirate showcases. As a result, people who pay a lot of money for badges and bracelets are thrown into the cesspool of non-SXSW-related Spring Break revelry.

When SXSW first started expanding down Red River—and later, east across the highway—some worried showcasing-hopping would suffer. Instead it offered festival-goers a much-needed alternative to Sixth and spread the financial joys of a successful SXSW week to other bar owners outside of Sixth Street. If you’re being generous, one could argue it probably saved SXSW itself.

Admirably, SXSW organizers have consulted with the biggest and best crowd-control/crowd psychology consultants to help formulate ways to better coexist with Spring Break crowds, but ideally SXSW would loosen its grip on Sixth even more. Let Sixth be Spring Break central. Let those bars live or die on that particular holiday alone, and maybe without an annual SXSW cash-influx, we’ll see the places that aren’t viable year-round close, allowing rents to stabilize and the opportunity for more diverse businesses to take their place.

City leaders should double-down on area evolvement
Earlier this year, Mayor Steve Adler announced the creation of the Austin Music & Creative Ecosystem Omnibus Resolution, a directive for city leaders to examine how to better serve Austin’s live music community, from the venues to the musicians. So far, city leaders have been largely silent on Sixth Street issues, despite the fact that expanding the music clubs and art venues on Sixth might shake up the crowd a little and could consequently promote the Austin music and culture scene. These musicians and artists could then be better able to tap into regular work in the area and scoop up some of those tourism dollars—in short, do the very thing the resolution aims to accomplish.

Perhaps there should be rewards or financial incentives for Sixth Street businesses that want to focus on original music and arts. At the very least, a work-group should be created and gathered to discuss these very things.

There should also be some reinvestment dollars into the civil services—fire, police, other city departments—that serve and protect the area. In 2014, a resolution was adopted by the old City Council addressing concerns with Downtown Entertainment Districts and expressly laid out “whereas large crowds fueled by alcohol pose significant health, public safety and transportation issues” and called for “updated emergency management plans.” The resolution tasked the city manager to engage stakeholders and city departments and come up with suggestions for code changes that would bolster safety and law enforcement downtown. A staff report was compiled and recommendations were made and presented to the council in July 2015, recommendations that have yet to be implemented. Can money from hotel and occupancy taxes be allocated to bringing those recommendations to fruition?

Examine various competing interests
In a 2012 Community Impact interview, Bob Woody, the president of East Sixth Street Community Association—the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Sixth” and a stakeholder on both East and West Sixth Street (home to another stretch of bars that runs from roughly the west side of Congress Avenue to Lamar)—said he “prefer bars with lots of transactions.” He went on to say:

What I want to do is to open a hospital in East Austin and I want [a prospective customer] to be born there, and I want him to drink on East Sixth Street until he moves on to drink at West Sixth Street. I’d also like to open a graveyard on far West Sixth and have him buried there. So I want to have him to cradle to grave. I’m kidding about the hospital, but you see what I’m saying. You’ve got a little more professional workers on West Sixth versus a college student on East Sixth.

When the East Sixth business model is based on “fast transactions” and college students—so much so that one of the players who has an interest in a competing destination designed for customers to essentially graduate to—how can we expect anything other than the Sixth Street we know now?

What about the ARCH?
How much of the atmosphere on Sixth is a result of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless shelter (ARCH) one block away on Seventh Street? A lot has been written on the topic, with some—including the Austin Police Association—petitioning for the center to be moved from downtown to others making the point that even the homeless population the shelter is meant to serve feels unsafe near the facility.

There is certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence that the shelter adds to the air of danger that pervades a certain part of downtown. In my own experience, I walked from Stubb’s on my way to ACL Live at 7 p.m. on a recent Thursday night, and the sheer volume of obviously-inebriated probably-homeless folks lining the streets, sleeping in doorways, and aggressively panhandling was kind of shocking. I did not feel safe. Not because they were homeless, but because they were obviously intoxicated and some of the people I saw seemed unpredictable. Maybe they’re there because Sixth is a hub of downtown activity and not because the ARCH is a block away. I have no way of knowing. But it seems to add to the general unsettling vibe, especially as the night grows longer.

Also, if you’re on Sixth for a night out and see a large collection of folks languishing in a what is supposedly one of the most prosperous cities in America, is it now that much easier to care less about the area and treat it as poorly as it looks.

Look to other revitalized entertainment districts
Part of the life cycle of Deep Ellum, a once-thriving music/arts/entertainment hub in Dallas, mirrors what is happening on Sixth Street in Austin. It too became too notorious, and multiple storied businesses in the area shut down. But over time, the area successfully reinvented itself, with a commercial and residential real estate boom that began lifting the area as many as four years ago. High-density developers continue to be drawn to the neighborhood. The way city leaders and developers have cultivated Deep Ellum could provide a sort of blueprint for how Sixth Street can change or be restored to a Historic District worthy of that designation.

But the broader question remains: how much more violence, how many more nights like the one this past weekend, how many more YouTube videos of fights on Sixth must happen before we deem the area too dangerous, too unpredictable to continue on as is? At some point, doesn’t business suffer? Doesn’t all of downtown suffer? Doesn’t the city’s global reputation suffer?

This much is clear: it’s time we start talking about these questions—and, if we don’t like the answers, start making change happen.

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  • itseemedtoher

    I’ve lived in Austin about the same amount of time as the author, and I couldn’t agree more. 6th street has for decades been crowded, been full of inebriated folks and the homeless (I know, I worked at the Paradise Cafe on 6th for years) but it didn’t feel as out of control and dangerous as it does now, on both sides of sixth, the “dirty” stretch and the west side stretch of bars near Nueces that can be just as out of control. I often rideshare now, and I’m constantly hearing from tourists who are appalled by the aggressiveness of the panhandling, and the sirens going on all night. The couple of times I’ve rideshared late, the sight I’ve witnessed at 2-3am is chaos. Mobs of people in the surrounding streets, cars everywhere trying to pick up passengers with nowhere to pull over (the designated spot on 7th/San Jac-Trinity is not enough) young people running everywhere and into traffic, countless passed-out women wobbling around blindly, many supported by men I pray were friends, their feet dragging on the ground. I’m sure we don’t want this for our visitors, residents and especially our young people attending school here. The police appear to be doing the best they can. It’s our turn as residents to step up, and I think Mr. Langer’s solutions are an excellent start.

  • Jm

    So much Nanny State bullshit and half-baked formulations of both problem and solution in this piece. I’m sorry to say, but 1 random shooting does not mean the urban sky is falling. This shooting was a tragic event, and I’m pissed that this asshole could end a wonderful life so recklessly and pointlessly. And certainly there are issues with Dirty 6th. But this whole piece was just a massive knee-jerk pre-existing-agenda vomit, using the recent shooting as an excuse to push a bunch of armchair-quarterback “solutions”.

    • scottunzicker

      I couldn’t have put it better myself, Jm. Well said. The LAST thing we need is more Austin City Council involvement and meddling. How’s that that urban density plan/metrorail BS working out for you, CoA?

    • stormyseaward

      THANK YOU.

    • Dude Dude

      This author wants to turn it into a “high density” condo area, with more hipster stores, is what I generally gathered lol

  • CED

    Well stated. I’ve been here for 15 years and used to feel okay going to see a show or meet up with friends downtown, but no more. I stress endlessly about walking back to my car at the end of the night even during the SXSW Film Fest every year. I cut short screening times so I’m not out as late. It is very disheartening. My husband works in EMS and you’re right, a lot of people who are homeless downtown in Austin are in very dangerous intoxicated states from drugs like K2 and similar. Another issue that needs to be addressed and curbed, but also an almost unmanageable one. It’s beyond me that the city has done little to change this perception of 6th. I don’t even consider going down there any more and miss frequenting places like Maggie Maes, Casino El Camino and the Ritz. I’m sad to tell visiting friends it’s not even worth the experience of 6th Street when they come to visit because it’s no experience to which I want to expose anyone.

    • Rowland Williams

      I’ve been here 24 years and used to frequent 6th for the music. But music left 6th soon after I arrived to be replaced by dance bars – a hell of a loss! And while I can’t speak to whether drunkenness is more or less prevalent than it used to be or 6th generally more or less dangerous, I can say that you would never know from today’s 6th Street that it’s located in the “Live Music Capital of the World.” It’s just another street with a lot of bars and even more drunks. But then with rents unaffordable for young musicians, maybe that’s apropos.

  • atxjoe

    With the rents that are being demanded in that area the only businesses that survive are bars and very high-end restaurants. The correct response, possibly counter-intuitive, is to encourage and allow for more development in new areas of the city. Expand the urban core into new places. Decrease the concentration of expensive development in just the 6th street area. The more the city tries to control this type of development the more it will take on it’s own, ugly life. You can’t out-think simple supply and demand. There is very little supply of CBD zoning, and a huge demand for it.

    How will this address violence and shootings? It won’t. There will always be human trash and random acts of violence. We need to enforce existing laws and ensure that bars and restaurants are not over-serving their patrons. But looking at the long history of Austin and specifically the 6th street area shows it to be one of the most safe places for adult fun in the country. Thanks in part to good Austinites, good bar-owners, and a great police force.

  • WhatevaMan

    As some one who has been in Austin since 2001 and still goes out on a regular basis… I can honestly tell the author and all like minded Pollyannas, 6th street hasn’t changed… you have.
    It was always dirty and a little dangerous. We just got older and a little more sober and now we notice it more. Same way that when you were 10 and climbed trees and jumped bikes and now it makes you shutter to think about doing that stuff for fear of getting hurt.
    The city is changing in that it is getting bigger and it is going from a music city to a food city but other than that its the same bar town it has been since I moved here.

    • Lakota Clearwater

      Most of the changes happened during the 90s, so you never experienced the version of Sixth that existed in the 80s. It was wall-to-wall music venues and not one shot bar. It wasn’t mobbed with drunk idiots, it was loud with music blasting from every door. I’ve seen almost no change since 2001, so you’re right, during the time you’ve lived here it’s remained mostly the same, a place for idiots to drink until they puke and fight. Have fun, kids.

      • Dude Dude

        I’m never puked or fought. I go down about every other weekend and have since I moved here 7 years ago. I’ve seen a couple fights, but given the sheer number of people there, it’s bound to happen and I’d be willing to bet it’s less on average than in other bar scenes. Cop presence is good and people know it. I’ve never had any problems out of the homeless people either and I park in that area all the time. Just say no to the panhandlers in a humane way “sorry, no cash” and move on, just give them a modicum of humanity.

        • Lakota Clearwater

          Wait a second… your comment is sensible and sane. Moderate. Isn’t there someone you want to hate, or some sort of extreme position you want to take? How about injecting a conspiracy theory? I feel totally disoriented by what you’ve said, it’s not something I’m accustomed to seeing on Disqus. You’re kind of, uh, what’s the word I’m looking for… normal? nice? rational? Very suspicious. People like you don’t actually exist in comment threads. What are you up to, sir? Surely there’s an AK-47 rolled up in that yoga mat your carrying.

    • Buford

      Try re-reading the article, Champ. Langer (rightfully) laments that 6th has gone downhill in the 25 years that he’s been going there, and he asserts that it’s been “a volatile powder keg” for 15 of those years.

      You got to Austin in 2001… 15 years ago… about the same time that Langer suggests that 6th started it’s decline. So it’s understandable that you haven’t witnessed any change and that, to you, it’s always seemed dirty and dangerous. You’re a relative newbie… a neophyte… so how about listening to what the knowledgeable ones have to say and learn something from them instead of calling them names and dismissing their insights.

      • JohnnyC

        And you are a weird mix of condescending and crazy sounding. I agree with you in principle but the way you responded to that guy makes me want to run away.

        • Blake Mitchell

          Buford’s reaction seems about right to me. If anyone sounded condescending, it was the original Newbie poster with his scolding and name-calling.

          • Buford

            Thanks… that was my thought, too. Langer authored an insightful, well-written article. WM responded by calling him a ‘Pollyanna’ (incorrect for this context) and then attempted to argue against Langer’s assertion using a flawed, incorrect, ignorant miscomprehension of what Langer clearly wrote.

            I actually took it easy on him.

        • Buford

          Run. Good riddance.

        • Lakota Clearwater

          Well said, JohnnyC. I wanted to up-vote Buford but he was too condescending. There’s a lot of that in Austin, anyone who’s been here a year longer than you is a wise old-timer who has seen it all, and you need to shut your mouth and listen to the old-timer. Kinda like an AA meeting. 😉

      • WhatevaMan

        Oh well let me bow down to your superior Austin-ness. After 15 short years of living here and hearing the constant drone of Austin was better “back when” that note begins to wear a little thin after a while.

        Austin was not better back when… you were. The music was better because it was what you liked. The streets seemed safer because it was your kind of folks on the street. That’s not the case anymore. It’s true for people that were here 25 yrs ago, 15 yrs ago… hell even 5 yrs ago for some.

        You are right though… Pollyanna is not the right word for it. How about “Romanticize”, every person who lives here romanticizes some point and time when the city was better. I realize that I’m not a native; nor have I been here better than a quarter century but after hearing the same stories about how much better 6th street was *insert decade* it dawned on me that you were talking about sitting in a bar listening to music and talking to girls/guys. Now instead of bands there is a DJ playing EDM… all those spots you loved closed and new spots opened up. Guess what, the kids that go down there every weekend and drink 2 dollar shots and listen to EDM out of bad sound systems are making the same memories you did 25+ yrs ago. In their 30s, 40s and 50s they will here about some fight or god forbid killing happening on 6th street and they will say the same exact thing that Andy wrote about in this article. My 2 best friends, one born here – the other born here, constantly tell me about how much better it used to be… but when pressed the only thing that is different (other than the type of music and traffic – which I concede to be way worse) is them.

        Austin used to grow by 10s of thousands every decade until the 90s and then it started growing by 100s of thousands every decade. 6th street is the same just more crowded, harder to park near and has more bad music than ever… but its still a street full of bars and bad sound systems.

        If you can show me a time in the last 35-40 yrs when 6th between I-35 and Congress was a hub of class and refinement and I will retract every word I’ve typed… but I doubt that’ll happen.

        • Buford

          That’s a lot of words, but they all boil down to an attempt to change the subject and deflect from the key point here. You asserted that Langer was wrong when he wrote that 6th has gone downhill in the last 25 years because it’s been dangerous and dirty for the 15 years that you’ve lived here. That assertion is illogical to the point of being imbecilic.

          So just apologize and move on… we don’t need another dissertation clarifying what you intended to say but didn’t.

          • WhatevaMan

            You’re right… I am sorry your reading comprehension is low and all those words were lost on you. Good day sir.

        • Scooby Dude

          Actually he is right. 6th St was a very different vibe up until the late 90s-early 2000s when population growth really started taking off. It was definitely somewhat more live music oriented, as was most of the nightlife scene in Austin. The crowd was also much smaller on avg (I don’t think cops started blocking car traffic every weekend until the 2000s).

          • WhatevaMan

            Never argued either size of crowd or quality or quantity of live music either… all I said was
            1.) People romanticized the time that they were down there as better because they were younger and it was their scene at the time
            2.) 6th street has always been full of bars and young drunk people… and that fact hasn’t changed.
            There are people in the comments saying the same exact thing about the decline of 6th street starting 35 yrs ago as opposed to 25 yrs ago.
            Its like a right of passage for people to dump on what Austin is like now as opposed to what Austin was like “back when”. Austin is one of the safest cities in the country and this one shooting doesn’t change that.

        • Lakota Clearwater

          I generally agree with what you’re saying. Everything changes, and there was an almost-magical scene here that offered free live music in a very accessible and friendly vibe, where you could chat with the musicians during their breaks, and people knew each other a lot more because there were a lot fewer people. It was a scene that was precious for those who participated in it. I got a taste of the tag end of it between about 1990 and 1992, but it was changing quickly by that point.

          So, what was lost was truiy unique and wonderful, but your discussion about the rise of the EDM scene is well-received by me because I happen to dig EDM, and we were a little late to that scene but we’re doing well now. And there’s actually a new vibe in that scene that’s a bit like the old live-music scene, but it’s about a new generation. People know each other and you can chat with the DJs and get into shows free if you get to know people. I’m very happy with that. It just isn’t anything like the scene that has been lost, and a lot of people are constantly mourning the loss of what once existed here. We’re never going to have it again and we have to get used to it and adapt to what’s replacing it. We have awesome festivals like never before, and we’ve got a lot of decent indy rock (I guess, that’s a style I detest), plus EDM, hip hop… maybe someday we’ll have jazz, but Austin has never been sophisticated. It’s perpetually adolescent.

          The money that’s flooding Austin is mostly high-tech, and that’s never going to attract an old-timey folk-rock neo-hippie scene. I personally don’t feel at home in most of Austin anymore, but I’m freaking OLD, I’m 60, and that’s about double the age of what Austin caters to. I can’t relate to hipsters at all. I should probably leave because I’m unlikely to ever contribute anything of value to this city again, though I certainly did in the past. I spoke on a tech panel, played the music festival with an African drumming ensemble, and volunteered for the music fest for a couple years, but now the only way I interact with SXSW is to gawk at the marvelous street scene and exquisite people-watching. It’s a totally new city, and it’s going to keep changing, and people are going to keep complaining in exactly the way you said — it all depends on when you got here and what your frame of reference is. Nobody’s right or wrong in this discussion, all points of view are valid, but getting self-righteous about knowing that “my scene” was so much better than “your new scene” is annoying, stale, overdone. Old timers need to let the noobs have their day in the spotlight.

  • Kynama W

    Don’t even mention the horrible K2 drug that is ALL OVER SIXTH STREET. I can stand anywhere on Sixth street for just a few minutes and buy a stick of K2 for $3.00. Where are the police when it comes to dangerous drugs? Beating people up on Sixth street for being drunk. Sixth Street is a drug haven. I’m against the war on drugs, but dangerous drugs like K2 needs to be stopped. Any time a city gets large, there will always be violence…get used to it Austin….your history is history….

  • Alex Newsome

    I was born and raised in Austin, and now live overseas. All I know, is that 6th Street NEVER was a great place to begin with.

    • Dude Dude

      We’re glad you moved away.

      • Alex Newsome

        You’re an ass, Dude Dude. I love Austin. And today in most respects it’s better than when I left. Sixth street, however has been the exception. Since I was a kid, it was the key point for debauchery, much drug use and overall stupid behavior and living. That’s why it shouldn’t become the next Bourbon Street.

      • Alex Newsome

        Dude Dude, You’re and ass. I love Austin. I think I like it even better now than when I left. It’s just that Sixth street has always been a pit of drunkeness and drugs in a city that is otherwise absolutely beautiful.

  • JimmyD

    I lived in Austin from 1974 to 1983, and 6th street was a great place to hang out. I can remember even taking our twin daughters who were about 4 months at the time to a restaurant on 6th Street. No way that’s going to happen today. Finally, there has not been one mention of the role of easy access to guns in the murder that took place. I realize that fighting that is basically tilting at windmills, but the 2nd Amendment does not protect your right to carry a handgun into a bar, get loaded on alcohol, and start shooting innocent people at random. What in the world does that have to do with having a well-armed militia? Nothing. Go ahead and argue that I am wrong; but until you’ve had a loved one murdered senselessly by some drunk guy with a gun, you’ve got zero cred.

    • Scooby Dude

      There hasn’t been any mention of it because this guy was a violent felon who could not legally enter a bar or possess a weapon, let alone do both at the same time. He’s a career violent criminal who doesn’t care one iota about any gun law. Besides, in 51% establishments, not even licensees can legally carry.

    • Dude Dude

      If it was only for a “well armed militia” then why has it only been the past 30 years that gun zealots have been trying to rescind the 2nd amendment? You don’t have an answer for that do you. You are aware that it’s illegal to take a gun into a bar don’t you? Probably not. That dude would have had a gun regardless of any law.

  • jm

    I don’t think it’s fair to compare 6th Street to Deep Ellum. Yes, maybe at one time Deep Ellum was similar, but it spiraled down fast and was a very scary area to be walking in up until a few years ago. 6th Street is not even close to being like that.

    • Dude Dude

      Exactly. Unless you’re afraid of hipsters and drunk frat guys I don’t see why anyone would be so fearful. Just make sure you go out with friends, especially if you’re a female and plan on drinking.

  • Rob Austin

    They need to control traffic flow. everyone on side of the street goes one direction, if you want to go the other way you have to cross the street (or a center divider line) I do not recommend anyone go to 6th street afater dark it’s too dangerous.

    • Dude Dude

      Been there hundreds of times, not a single problem. If you don’t like it move to Round Rock or Cedar Park.

  • savoyshopper

    The only one of these ideas that really stands out is the business diversity, one, and I think it’s a great point. I agree that if there were different types of businesses, it would not only change the vibe and that every coffee shop or art gallery would also equal one less shot bar. I’m not really sure what to do with that information, as I don’t see how the city could really provide a grant / tax credit / whatever to continually pay towards the rents of those kinds of businesses, but I definitely agree with the concept.

    Apart from that, though, seriously, leave the homeless people alone. They’ve got enough problems. Instead of the millions involved in moving ARCH away from where everyone already is and away from where all of the services already are, you could spend the same money on actually solving homelessness. For that much money, instead of moving all of the facilities to “somewhere else”, low income transitional housing studio apartments could be built to actually get people off the street It’s always deeply disappointing to see someone go there when talking about the homeless- it makes absolutely zero logistical sense, targets a group of disadvantaged people, and therefore really takes away from the credibility of the article.

    • Dude Dude

      The market decided that it’s a street full of bars. Do you propose that the city council subsidize the landlords of said new businesses for lost profit?

  • errxn

    I’ve long thought that there was a faction in town, call them the Old Austin crowd or the bluebloods or whatever, that had shutting down Sixth as an agenda. The city has tossed around a “revitalization” plan for
    quite a few years now, which basically meant shutting down Sixth as we know it.

    At first, I just wrote it off to more of the same ol’ same ol’ from The People Who Fight Everything In This Town. But you know what? I can’t even argue with it anymore. I went down there during the last SXSW and it was a goddamn nightmare. I decided right then that it was my last SXSW, at least for core downtown events. Regular weekends aren’t all that much better, from the very few times I’ve been there since.

    And now, we’ve officially graduated to people getting murdered, right alongside self-serving toolbags like Antonio Buehler, who have decided it’s their full-time job to set up camp on Dirty Sixth for the sole purpose of antagonizing and distracting the already overstressed police.

    Time to clean that shithole up for good.

  • Fantasy Maker

    This city has turned into a toilet over the last 35 years

    • Dude Dude

      Move. Personally I love Austin.

      • Kozmo

        We’ll see how much you love it when it has mutated into something unrecognizable, as it has for many of us old timers. Or when you can’t afford to live here anymore.

  • Madrigalian

    I used to love 6th Street. Music of all kinds side by side, you could travel from one club to another all along the street, beer in hand, no worries. One of my favorite places to visit was called Joe’s Generic Bar. Had a hanging barcode for a sign out front. None of the furniture matched, the bar was made of egg crates and old wooden doors with Igloo coolers on the floor stocked with your favorite bottled beers. There was no bathroom, you had to go next door or out back in the alley. But some of the greatest live music would be played there. It was a great place to be. Now years later, the whole street has turned into a glass and chrome mockery of what it used to be. Austin must have decided that “cleaning up” 6th street and bringing a “higher caliber” of businesses would be preferable to old Joe’s Generic Bar. But the result has been, as the author describes, a loss of all that made 6th street something special. Now, it might as well be in Baltimore for all the character it’s kept.

    You know what we need around here is more rules. More rules and regulations and bureaucrats deciding what would be best for the good folks on 6th street. Just like always.

    • Kozmo

      Interesting; I remember Joe’s but I also remember a small, stinky bathroom there. Maybe it came and went over time. I don’t know how a bar kept its license without a toilet, even on Sixth Street in this party town.

      • Madrigalian

        You could be right and my memory could be faulty. Maybe there was a bathroom that was consistently nasty and we just went out back. Could be. It was many years ago now.

  • Kozmo

    I think it’s time for journalists to stop putting the word “senseless” before the phrase “gun violence.” It makes perfect sense to me, once you mix guns and alcohol in this toxic, violence-obsessed culture. Also, how about some token acknowledgment of the fact of under-age drinking fueling much of the congestion and rowdiness on Sixth Street? perhaps the cliche “senseless gun violence” should be replaced by “illegal drinking by minors that is winked at by authorities and commentators and contributing toward a disrespect for the law”?

  • Kozmo

    It’s fascinating to observe personally how Sixth Street has gone full cycle in the time I’ve lived in Austin. In the mid to late 70s, when I arrived, it was seen as desolate, dirty, and illicit, a place of crime and sleeze. Then the music scene took off and by the late 80s and well into the 90s the place was a party/music destination with a cooler vibe despite out of town drinkers and frat-rats and their SBs. My overseas visitors were impressed that Sixth Street in the early 90s was so peaceable and calm despite the crowds and booze. And it was fairly easy to park (often for free) within a few blocks of where you wanted to be. All this began to change sometime — I’m not sure exactly when — but today, Sixth Street is again in the news as a seedy, disreputable place where violence lurks at any moment and where the riff-raff can dependably be found. La plus ca change….