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What Austin, Texas looked like in the 1970s Through These Fascinating Photos

In 1970, Austin had a population of around 250,000 and the metropolitan area had nearly 400,000 people. During the late 1970s, the city experienced a tremendous boom in development. As a result of growth, preservationists and developers fought a series of fierce political battles. The battles revolved around the preservation of Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer. In 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter barely beat Republican Gerald Ford in Austin.

Before the 1970s, the city’s urban economic engine was fueled by the state government and the University of Texas. Then came IBM, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Tracor, and other foreign and domestic tech companies. During the 1970s, regional banks were permitted, formerly banned by regulatory law, to provide Austin with fresh capital.

(Antiwar) tensions erupted in May 1970 as the war in Cambodia expanded, and the National Guard killed antiwar protesters at Kent State. The Austin City Council refused to permit the Student Mobilization Committee to hold an antiwar march on the city streets at that moment due to a related local issue. In April and early May 1970, antiwar protests were met with confrontations, some of them violent. A federal judge ruled that they could march on May 8 as a large crowd gathered. Twenty thousand demonstrators marched from campus to the Capitol with minimal opposition from the police.

In the 1970s, Austin also established itself as a powerful and prolific international music scene through the talents of musicians, singer-songwriters, and music business operatives. By cultivating a cross-cultural, cross-generational musical hybrid known as “progressive country,” the songs, the sounds, and the identities that emerged in Austin’s music venues, studios, and backrooms began to gain traction in the national marketplace at the dawn of this seminal decade. In this dissertation, the story of this music scene is told, and why it is significant in the history of popular culture. There was a major shift in the complexion of the city thanks to young people. In 1971, the voting age was lowered to 18, resulting in more people of color serving on the commissioners court, school board, and city council. Jeff Friedman, a 30-year-old former UT student activist, was elected as the city’s youngest mayor in 1975.

#1 American Bank Exterior, 1978. The building stands on the corner of West 6th Street and Colorado Street.

American Bank Exterior, 1978. The building stands on the corner of West 6th Street and Colorado Street.

An empty intersection can be seen in the foreground, and two low, light colored buildings can be seen to the left of the building. A parking lot with several trees can be seen to the right.

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#2 The sky of downtown Austin and the new Austin high school building where the city can be seen in the distance, along with small neighborhoods and suburbs in the foreground, 1978

The sky of downtown Austin and the new Austin high school building where the city can be seen in the distance, along with small neighborhoods and suburbs in the foreground, 1978

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#3 Auditorium Shores on Town Lake, looking east, with three boys riding bikes on a gravel path, 1972 .A railroad bridge crosses the river behind them. Crest Inn is visible in the distance.

Auditorium Shores on Town Lake, looking east, with three boys riding bikes on a gravel path, 1972 .A railroad bridge crosses the river behind them. Crest Inn is visible in the distance.

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#4 A modern, postwar, multi-story building near a river or lake. A treetrunk takes up the right foreground, 1975

A modern, postwar, multi-story building near a river or lake. A treetrunk takes up the right foreground, 1975

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#5 A group of school children eating lunch in the Pflugerville Elementary School cafeteria, 1978

A group of school children eating lunch in the Pflugerville Elementary School cafeteria, 1978

The students can be seen sitting at a very long lunch table with stools attached. two teachers can be seen standing in the background at the end of the table. An empty table can be seen in the foreground, and the cafeteria kitchen can be seen in the background through windows and doors on the wall to the right.

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#6 A group of people holding a hose in the middle of Barton Pool, 1970

A group of people holding a hose in the middle of Barton Pool, 1970

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#7 Line of Cars Waiting to Enter a Festival, 1970s

Line of Cars Waiting to Enter a Festival, 1970s

Bumper-to-bumper traffic sits long enough for people to sit on and hang out of vehicles. Many individuals choose to enter the festival on foot and are visible in lines on either side of the road.

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#8 Old Men’s Barracks at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, 1970. There is a line of laundry between houses to the left, and men sit at a picnic table to the right.

Old Men's Barracks at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, 1970. There is a line of laundry between houses to the left, and men sit at a picnic table to the right.

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#9 Metalsmith sculptor selling wares at the Renaissance Market, 1977

Metalsmith sculptor selling wares at the Renaissance Market, 1977

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#10 Motorists stranded in flood waters, May 21, 1979.

Motorists stranded in flood waters, May 21, 1979.

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#11 Several officers in gas masks standing together during a mock casualties and chemical warfare exercise at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, 1973

Several officers in gas masks standing together during a mock casualties and chemical warfare exercise at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, 1973

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#12 Town Lake Gazebo, 1970

Town Lake Gazebo, 1970

A pathway curves around to the gazebo in the foreground and Town Lake is behind the gazebo. Buildings across the river and a bridge are visible in the background. Started in 1967 and dedicated to the city in 1970 by the Austin Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction as a "lasting tribute to the construction industry." The gazebo is built on the promontory where Barton Creek flows into Town Lake providing a view of downtown Austin from the south side of Town Lake.

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#13 Downtown Austin, Texas, 1970s

Downtown Austin, Texas, 1970s

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#14 Houses in Austin, 1978

Houses in Austin, 1978

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#15 Air Force One carrying the casket of President Lyndon B. Johnson. People stand on the tarmac, some at attention, 1973

Air Force One carrying the casket of President Lyndon B. Johnson. People stand on the tarmac, some at attention, 1973

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#16 Aircrew Class 70-8B in Front of Plane, 1970

Aircrew Class 70-8B in Front of Plane, 1970

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#17 The exterior of a restaurant called “The Barn”, located at 8611 Balcones Drive, 1977

The exterior of a restaurant called "The Barn", located at 8611 Balcones Drive, 1977

Three large buildings can be seen side by side and attached to one another. The first is a cylindrical structure with the words, "Steaks and Seafood", seen painted on. Next, is a barn-like building with the restaurant's name seen on the front. Third, is a building made to appear like a steamboat with the words, "Showboat" and "Port of Austin".

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#18 Barton Pool Cleanup #2,March 25, 1970.

Barton Pool Cleanup #2,March 25, 1970.

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#19 Family housing buildings under construction at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, 1970

Family housing buildings under construction at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, 1970

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#20 Students boycotting the closing of L.C. Anderson High School, 1971

Students boycotting the closing of L.C. Anderson High School, 1971

The school was ordered closed in 1971 by a federal judge as part of desegregation. African-American students and parents sit on sidewalks and cars to protest the closing. The school, located at 900 Thompson Street, was originally named E.H. Anderson, and later renamed L.C. Anderson after one of its longest-serving principals. In 1973, a new, integrated L.C. Anderson High School reopened at its current location at 8403 Mesa Drive.

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#21 The Canadian Street Branch Library located at 2131 East Ceaser Chaves/1st st, 1970

The Canadian Street Branch Library located at 2131 East Ceaser Chaves/1st st, 1970

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#22 Convict Hill Restaurant, December 11, 1973.

Convict Hill Restaurant, December 11, 1973.

In the foreground, a waitress in a short dress can be seen holding menus and gesturing at a food cart filled with iced steak cuts, along with a wine bottle and glass of wine. Wooden tables set with silverware can be seen throughout the restaurant, and various western paintings can be seen hanging on the wall.

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#23 Courthouse from Westgate, 1971

Courthouse from Westgate, 1971

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#24 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. from Nueces, 1972

Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. from Nueces, 1972

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#25 Steel Framing of the Frank Erwin Center, December 2, 1975.

Steel Framing of the Frank Erwin Center, December 2, 1975.

The ground in the foreground is unpaved dirt, and the photo is taken downhill from the building frame. Two cranes can be seen inside the structure, and buildings can be seen in the background.

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#26 The Spencer and Associates architect, office located in an older building, 1979

The Spencer and Associates architect, office located in an older building, 1979

Four desks can be seen in the foreground, and a low bookshelf wall with a Corinthian column can be seen to left, closing in the desk area. Track lighting can be seen on the ceiling above the desk area, and in the background an exposed air duct can also be seen near the ceiling.

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#27 Best in TAC Award Ceremony, 1970

Best in TAC Award Ceremony, 1970

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#28 Building T-407 at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, before the fire that destroyed it, 1974

Building T-407 at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, before the fire that destroyed it, 1974

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#29 Children at Zilker Park Kite Tournament, 1970.

Children at Zilker Park Kite Tournament, 1970.

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#30 A group of school children in a classroom at Pflugerville Elementary School, 1978

A group of school children in a classroom at Pflugerville Elementary School, 1978

The children can be seen working in workbooks at small desks, and the teacher can be seen standing to the far right. A chalk board with the alphabet can be seen on the left wall, and shelves with coats and lunchboxes can be seen on the wall to the right, in the background. An open door can be seen to the left of the lunchbox shelf.

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#31 Asign at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, which reads “Combat Support Center”., 1970s

Asign at the Bergstrom Air Force Base, which reads "Combat Support Center"., 1970s

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#32 A large dining room at a restaurant or club in the Texas Hill Country, 1973

A large dining room at a restaurant or club in the Texas Hill Country, 1973

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#33 Driskill Penthouse,1979.

Driskill Penthouse,1979.

The building is small but well crafted, with several wood sculpted architectural details seen along the exterior wall under the roof line. Several lights can be seen posted to the building's perimeter. An attached window awning can be seen on the foremost side of the house over an entrance.

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#34 The Pflugerville Elementary School building, 1978

The Pflugerville Elementary School building, 1978

The structure is long and narrow. A flag poll with the U.S. and Texas flag can be seen in the background to the right, at the end of the building. A school bus can also be seen next to the flag poll. An empty lot can be seen in the foreground and a tree can be seen in the background to the left.

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#35 Erwin Center Construction, August 11, 1975.

Erwin Center Construction, August 11, 1975.

The shape of the building suggests it is the Erwin Center. The edge of the steel beam wall in the foreground can be seen curving around to the right in the background. The dirt in the center of the structure is dug out, and a crane can be seen to the right in the background.

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#36 David Crockett High School at 5601 Manchaca Road at the corner of Stassney Lane, 1970s

David Crockett High School at 5601 Manchaca Road at the corner of Stassney Lane, 1970s

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#37 Exterior of 12th Air Force Headquarters ,1970s

Exterior of 12th Air Force Headquarters ,1970s

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#38 Sidney Lanier High School on 1201 Payton Gin Road from Payton Gin Road, 1970s

Sidney Lanier High School on 1201 Payton Gin Road from Payton Gin Road, 1970s

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#39 Exterior of log cabin at Bohl’s Place, 1971.

Exterior of log cabin at Bohl's Place, 1971.

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#40 F-4 Phantoms, 1970s

F-4 Phantoms, 1970s

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#41 Flagpole inauguration at the Montopolis Branch of the Austin Public Library on July 4th, 1971.

Flagpole inauguration at the Montopolis Branch of the Austin Public Library on July 4th, 1971.

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#42 The scenery at Given Beauty Pageant in 1970.

The scenery at Given Beauty Pageant in 1970.

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#43 Governor’s Mansion with fence, 1971.

Governor's Mansion with fence, 1971.

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#44 Group of People at Houston Pride Event, 1979.

Group of People at Houston Pride Event, 1979.

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#45 Holly Street Power Plant, 1970

Holly Street Power Plant, 1970

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#46 Kite Tourney in Zilker Park, 1970.

Kite Tourney in Zilker Park, 1970.

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#47 Kite Tourney in Zilker Park #4 ,March 8, 1970.

Kite Tourney in Zilker Park #4 ,March 8, 1970.

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#48 Last Eagle passenger train through Austin, 1970

Last Eagle passenger train through Austin, 1970

The train stops at the Austin International & Great Northern (I&GN) Railroad depot in Austin. There are no passengers waiting on the platform. The engine has the logo of C&EI (Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad). I&GN Railroad operated in Texas. It was created when the International Railroad company and Houston-based Great Northern Railroad company merged on September 30, 1873. I&GN's Austin depot was completed on 3rd and Congress Avenues on December 28, 1876. In 1924, the I&GN was bought by Gulf Coast Lines (GCL), which was subsequently purchased by Missouri Pacific on Januray 1, 1925. I&GN operated as a subsidiary of Missouri Pacific until March 1, 1956, when all GCL subsidiaries were merged under Missouri Pacific, and I&GN ceased to operate as a corporate entity. The old Austin depot had been demolished in 1950. sumed operation of the station and the Eagle.

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#49 Library Study and Periodicals Section, 1975

Library Study and Periodicals Section, 1975

Around the room, patrons sit at tables reading and conversing. Shelves of periodicals line the walls in the background. In the middle of the floor are some short, freestanding bookshelves. In the center background is a desk with a woman behind it talking to two patrons.

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#50 Mechanics Working in a Garage, 1975

Mechanics Working in a Garage, 1975

In the centerground is a jacked 1967 Buick Wildcat with the hood up; behind it is a Chevrolet C/K with the hood up. A stationwagon is visible in the garage door in the left background. The cars are attended to by several mechanics, possibly students, while others work with machinery at desks along the right wall.

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#51 Montopolis Bridge, February 1971.

Montopolis Bridge, February 1971.

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#52 Motorola Employees, February 20, 1979.

Motorola Employees, February 20, 1979.

Both employees can be seen from the side, facing right, and appear to each be holding a paper manual or schematic as they work. To the right of the employees are dozens of small shelves full of circuit board parts.

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#53 Parking lot outside a new 10-lane bowling alley on the Bergstrom Air Force Base, 1970

Parking lot outside a new 10-lane bowling alley on the Bergstrom Air Force Base, 1970

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#54 Old Bergstrom Air Base chapel, which was later converted to the base education office, 1975

Old Bergstrom Air Base chapel, which was later converted to the base education office, 1975

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#55 Opening of Bartholomew Playground, June 1, 1970.

Opening of Bartholomew Playground, June 1, 1970.

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#56 People Walking With Banner in Parade, 1979.

People Walking With Banner in Parade, 1979.

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#57 A protest to save Juarez-Lincoln University and mural (by Raul Valdez) at East 1st Street and I-35 in Austin, 1979

A protest to save Juarez-Lincoln University and mural (by Raul Valdez) at East 1st Street and I-35 in Austin, 1979

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#58 Relocatable Family Housing, 1970.

Relocatable Family Housing, 1970.

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#59 Scenery at Givens Beauty Pageant, May 1970.

Scenery at Givens Beauty Pageant, May 1970.

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#60 Scholz Garten and Saengerrunde Hall, 1971

Scholz Garten and Saengerrunde Hall, 1971

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#61 The South Ridge Plaza strip mall with Spanish tile along the roof line, 1979

The South Ridge Plaza strip mall with Spanish tile along the roof line, 1979

A sign for an ice cream shop can be seen on the foremost right corner, and more store units can be seen stretching into the background to the left. Several vehicles can be seen parked directly in front of the stores. In the foreground, a mostly empty parking lot and drive with a few small trees planted in garden dividers can be seen.

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#62 St. John’s Elementary School, December 22, 1972.

St. John's Elementary School, December 22, 1972.

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#63 A small diner called Steak ‘N’ Stein with an old neon sign that can be seen on a tall stand to the right, 1973

A small diner called Steak 'N' Stein with an old neon sign that can be seen on a tall stand to the right, 1973

Vehicles can be seen parked front between the building and the street in the foreground, including a Dodge truck and a Volkswagen. A small sign can be seen to the right advertising breakfast and lunch specials. The restaurant, now demolished, was located on 1701 San Jacinto Boulevard.

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#64 Students in High School Library, 1971.

Students in High School Library, 1971.

A girl can be seen wearing headphones at a recorded media listening station in the foreground. Another girl can be seen to the right behind the media station's counter. Bookshelves can be seen in the background to the right, and many windows can be seen on the back wall. Students can be seen sitting at tables throughout the space in the background.

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#65 Theater students rehearsing, 1975

Theater students rehearsing, 1975

Two players stand on stage acting out a scene while nine others sit in chairs around the auditorium. The seating is staggered on three sides, with a large open space with chairs in the middle at the foot of the stage.

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#66 Travis Bank and Trust ,1976.

Travis Bank and Trust ,1976.

The building was located at 3711 North Lamar Boulevard, possibly now heavily renovated or demolished. The photo is taken from across the street, at a southwest angle. The building is a pale color with many dark windows and has two major segments that can be seen, each with a different number of stories. The shorter of the two segments can be seen in the foreground.

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#67 Travis Bank and Trust Sign, November 20, 1976.

Travis Bank and Trust Sign, November 20, 1976.

The sign rests on a tall brick structure with bushes seen planted at the base. A single story, postmodern building can be seen in the background to the right, and a single car can be seen parked in that building's parking lot, though more cars can be seen in the parking lot further in the background. A road can be seen to the left with cars driving on it.

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#68 Tubas in Music Class, 1975

Tubas in Music Class, 1975

Three tubas sit on stands in the foreground. In the background are several students with instruments, seated around their teacher. Behind the teacher is a blackboard with writing on it, and to its right a reel-to-reel tape recorder.

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#69 An Elementary School in Austin, 1973

An Elementary School in Austin, 1973

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#70 Exterior of Wilford Hall medical center, owned by the U.S. Air Force, 1979

Exterior of Wilford Hall medical center, owned by the U.S. Air Force, 1979

The building can be seen in two parts, a lower single story building in the foreground, and a taller building with several stories in the background. Both buildings are fairly wide and can be seen centered to the left in the photo. On the tall building in the background, the words, "Wilford Hall USAF medical Center" can be seen

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#71 Zilker Park Kite Tournament,March 8, 1970. A child is seen holding up a kite and a vehicle is parked behind him.

Zilker Park Kite Tournament,March 8, 1970. A child is seen holding up a kite and a vehicle is parked behind him.

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#72 Zilker Park Kite Tournament #4 1970

Zilker Park Kite Tournament #4 1970

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#73 Austin Community Garden near airport, 1975.

Austin Community Garden near airport, 1975.

Rows of plants and a string fence separating rows are visible in the foreground. The airport control tower, airplanes and gates are visible behind the chain-link fence in the background.

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#74 Paving on 38th Street, 1975.

Paving on 38th Street, 1975.

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#75 Protesting Aqua Fest Boat Races, 1970

Protesting Aqua Fest Boat Races, 1970

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#76 Cars drive up and down Congress Avenue at the intersection with 11th Street in the downtown district of the city of Austin, 1970

Cars drive up and down Congress Avenue at the intersection with 11th Street in the downtown district of the city of Austin, 1970

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#77 Austin Neighborhood, 1978

Austin Neighborhood, 1978

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#78 Austin Neighborhood Citizens’ Patrol, 1978

Austin Neighborhood Citizens' Patrol, 1978

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#79 South Austin, 1978

South Austin, 1978

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#80 South Austin, 1978

South Austin, 1978

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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