Step into the 1950s Austin Through Fascinating Photos Documenting Everyday Life

In the post-World War II era, Austin saw a real estate boom, particularly in the suburbs. These were not the high-rises or apartment complexes we associate with modern urban living; instead, most families aimed for detached houses with yards. The homes generally had a more traditional layout with distinct rooms for cooking, dining, and living, and they were often furnished in styles that reflected post-war optimism—think mid-century modern designs, patterned wallpapers, and pastel colors.

Leisure and Entertainment

Television was a relatively new but fast-growing phenomenon. Shows like “I Love Lucy” and “The Ed Sullivan Show” were popular and became topics of water-cooler conversations. The drive-in movie theater was another popular form of entertainment for families and young couples. For children, the local parks were playgrounds, and the neighborhood streets were safe spaces for riding bikes or playing catch. Social events, like church activities and potlucks, were significant community gathering points.

Food Shopping and Meal Preparation

Grocery shopping was different from today’s one-stop-shop supermarkets. Many families had their milk delivered directly to their doorsteps, while meat was often purchased from a local butcher, and fruits and vegetables from local markets or stands. The 1950s saw the rise of processed foods, like TV dinners, but they had not yet fully displaced the culture of home-cooked meals. The food was often straightforward but hearty, relying on staples like casseroles, stews, and barbecued meats.

Education and School Life

Schools were an integral part of community life. Unlike today’s focus on technology in education, schools of the 1950s were more likely to emphasize basics like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Students would also take part in activities like choir, band, and various sports, which often served as the backbone of community events. Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) were active, and parents were deeply involved in their children’s education, often volunteering for various school activities.

Dress Codes and Fashion

Fashion was more formal compared to today’s casual styles. Men often wore suits or slacks with button-up shirts to work, and women typically wore dresses or skirts. Hats for men and gloves for women were not uncommon accessories when going out. Children’s clothing was often homemade, particularly in middle- to low-income households.

Transportation and Mobility

Cars were becoming increasingly common, and many families aspired to own one. However, Austin’s public transport system was also an essential part of daily life for those who didn’t own a car. Buses were the primary form of public transport, and they were used for various purposes—from getting to work and school to doing grocery shopping.

#1 Gen. Douglas MacArthur Speaking at Texas State Capitol, 1951.

#2 Crew at Anderson’s Gulf Service Station in Austin, 1956.

#4 Kiddieland Park Featuring Kiddie Dude Ranch and Train, Austin, 1950.

#5 Aerial View of Kiddieland Park with Rides and Visitors, Austin, 1950.

#7 Fans Lined Up to Meet Clayton Moore, the Lone Ranger, 1956.

#8 Dishwashers at Work in El Matamoros Restaurant, 1957.

#10 Collapsed Building from Waco Tornado in Austin, Texas, 1953.

#11 Customer at Counter in Lammes Candy Store, Austin, Texas, 1951.

#12 Customers Dining Inside Youngblood’s Fried Chicken Restaurant, Austin, 1958.

#13 Customers Outside Youngblood’s Fried Chicken on South Lamar Street, Austin, 1958.

#14 Desk and Derrick Club of Austin Posing in Front of Accordion Wall, 1952.

#15 Men Around Destroyed R.T. Dennis Building After Waco Tornado, 1953.

#16 Downtown Waco Buildings Destroyed by Tornado, 1953.

#19 Francis Furniture Building Damaged by Fire, 1953.

#20 Front View of the Capitol Building in Austin with Trees and Cars, 1954.

#21 Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Podium, Crowd Watching, 1951.

#22 Crowd Watching Parachuters During MacArthur Visit to Capitol, 1951.

#24 Exterior of Gugenheim-Goldsmith Produce Company with Trucks, 1957.

#25 Fire Trucks in Front of Smoking T.H. Williams & Co. Building, 1950.

#26 Crowd Near Burning T.H. Williams & Co. Building, 1950.

#27 Holy Cross Hospital Dedication with Speaker and Crowd, 1951.

#30 Inauguration Parade in Front of Austin’s Capitol Building, 1953.

#31 Final Preparations for Governor Allan Shivers’ Inauguration, 1953.

#33 Inside Texas Employees Insurance Association Office, 1955.

#34 Interstate Highway 35 Under Construction in Austin, 1954.

#35 Bridge Construction Site for Interstate Highway 35, 1954.

#37 Interior of Jefferson Chemical Company Plant, 1950.

#38 Jefferson Chemical Company Employees in Front of Sign, 1950.

#39 Exterior of Jefferson Chemical Plant with Transformers, 1951.

#41 John C. Ross Hardware and John Deere Stores with Cars, 1954.

#42 Lago Vista Open House BBQ with Guests Seated Outdoors, 1958.

#44 Lamar Plaza Parking Lot and Stores in Background, 1958.

#45 Busy Street Flanked by Large Buildings Including a Pharmacy, 1950s.

#46 Employees Posing in Front of Jefferson Chemical Company Plant, 1954.

#47 Cornerstone Ceremony at First United Methodist Church, Austin, 1952.

#48 Cornerstone Ceremony at the First United Methodist Church, Austin, 1952.

#49 Leander Limestone Corporation Plant and Equipment, 1959.

#50 View of Limestone Processing Plant at Leander Limestone Corporation, 1959.

#51 Students and Staff Leaving for Washington from St. Edwards University, 1959.

#52 Liberty Bell Displayed in Front of Texas State Capitol, 1950.

#53 Exterior of Littlefield Building and 6th Street View, 1958.

#54 Exterior of Lone Star Courts Motel with Sign, 1954.

#55 Crowd at Louisiana Hayride Show at Sportscenter, 1955.

#56 Grand Opening of Magnolia Mobil Service Station, 1955.

#57 Man and Young Girl at Gas Pump with March of Dimes Magazine, 1956.

#59 Inside Manhattan General Hotel Supply Cafeteria, 1950.

#60 Group Dining at El Mats Mexican Restaurant, 1956.

#63 Men in Formal Wear Dining at University School of Law, 1954.

#64 Men Next to Trucks at Texas Heating and Ventilating Company, 1954.

#65 Men in Front of Carpenter Paper Company Building, Austin, 1952.

#66 Men at Work in Austin American-Statesman Construction Shop, 1953.

#67 Men Beside Texas School for Deaf Driver Education Car, 1952.

#68 Construction Workers on TV Tower in Austin, 1952.

#69 Military Parade in Front of Texas State Capitol, 1953.

#70 Military Presentation by Officer to Seated Soldiers, 1950s.

#71 Transaction at Miller’s Garage Old Shine Parlor, 1958.

#72 Gas Pumping at Mobil Station at Airport & Gunter, 1956.

#74 Mr. Leutwyler in Front of His Jewelry Store, 1957.

#75 Mr. O’Connor at Cameo Studios Surrounded by Photographs, 1954.

#76 Mrs. Thomas Outside Manchaca Methodist Church, 1953.

#77 Molly Wynn Celebrating 100th Birthday on Donkey, 1952.

#78 Interior of Nixon-Clay Commercial College Classroom, 1956.

#81 Youth of the Patterson Family Group Portrait, 1951.

#82 Dancing at Governor Allan Shivers’ Inauguration, 1953.

#84 Construction Work at the University of Texas Campus, 1954.

#86 Children Celebrating Birthday Near Christmas Tree, Austin, Texas, 1958.

#89 Queue Outside Randy’s Circle R Catering Truck, 1955.

#91 Men Posing in Front of Rhoades Transfer & Storage Truck, 1951.

#92 Rhodes Truck Lines Employees with Large Trailer, 1958.

#93 Large Paper Rolls at Austin American-Statesman Facility, 1953.

#95 Sani-Products Employee Distributing Snacks from Truck, 1953.

#96 Sanitation Workers Emptying Containers into Truck, 1953.

#99 Man Advertising Sheraton Terrace Motor Hotel, 1958.

#103 Shriners Marching in Parade, Austin, Texas, 1956.

#107 Couple at Southern Union Gas Christmas Party, 1958.

#108 Southern Union Gas Co. Employees Listening to Radio, 1959.

#110 Statue of Governor J.S. Hogg at University of Texas, 1951.

#111 Students in Front of U.T. Fountain, Austin, Texas, 1958.

#112 Dual Control Car at Texas School for Deaf, 1952.

#113 Anderson High School Students Playing Football, 1955.

#115 Tom Griffin Campaigning for Agriculture Commissioner, 1955.

#116 Tom Reavley’s Opening Address at Legislature, 1957.

#117 Truck Parked at Capitol Truck & Trailer Co., 1951.

#124 United Fund Parade with Military Personnel on USO Float, 1956.

#125 Man Discusses with Priests at US Information Agency, St. Edward’s University, 1959.

#126 Men Holding Arab Students Dance Poster at UT International Center, 1959.

#127 Community Center Gathering with Families and Infants, 1957.

#128 Women Operating Phone Switchboard in Austin, Texas, 1951.

#130 Y.W.C.A. Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Diverse Generations, 1954.

#131 Yarings Cosmetic Counter with Perfume and Makeup Displays, 1951.

#133 Deep Eddy Pool Scene with Boys and Girls Observing Swimmers, 1953.

#134 Young Girl with Doll in Front of Birthday Presents, 1951.

#136 Interior of The Vogue Shop with Men and Women, 1959.

#137 Walker’s Austex Chili Company with Truck and Employees, 1952.

#139 Whalen Family in Front of Victorian Cottage, 1959.

#140 Portrait of William and Lula Nabours in Austin, 1951.

#141 Seed Purity Analysis at State Agriculture Department Laboratory, 1951.

#142 Eisenhower’s Early Morning Campaign Visit to Austin, 1952.

#143 Exterior of Texas Memorial Museum, Austin, 1951.

#144 Seed Preparation at State Agriculture Department Laboratory, 1951.

#145 Seed Mixing at State Agriculture Department Laboratory, Austin, 1951.

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Written by Kevin Clark

Kevin Clark is a historian and writer who is passionate about sharing the stories and significance behind historical photos. He loves to explore hidden histories and cultural contexts behind the images, providing a unique insight into the past.

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