East Sixth Street is a National Register historic district in Austin, TX with six blocks of turn-of-the-century Victorian commercial buildings. It is also the heart of the music scene in the Live Music Capital of the World®. Before the music era began, the area was a melting pot of small businesses, with owners from many cultures – European, Middle Eastern, Asian and more. Read on for the must-see sites and museums in this iconic neighborhood:
Historic Sixth Street and the Driskill Hotel. C00146, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
Italian immigrant Michael Paggi operated a carriage shop on property he owned at 421 E. Sixth St. (now Pete's Dueling Piano Bar) from 1875 to 1905. Former slave E. H. Carrington, followed by son-in-law D. H. Lyons, owned a successful grocery at 522 E. Sixth St. (next to modern day Easy Tiger) from 1873 to the 1940s and both were African American community leaders. Starting around 1921, Ben Garza and his brothers owned a meat market in the Randerson-Lundell Building, 701 E. Sixth St., for many years. Today, crowds of music lovers and revelers keep the old buildings young.
The Driskill Hotel
Since its beginning in 1886, cattleman Jesse Driskill’s hotel has provided an elegant backdrop for gatherings of the powerful, the famous and the sociable. J. N. Preston’s Romanesque building design features
portrait busts of Driskill and his sons. An annex was added in 1930 to compete with the 1924 Stephen F. Austin Hotel on Congress Avenue. The Driskill celebrated its 130th Anniversary in December of 2016. 604 Brazos St. 512-474-5911. driskill.hyatt.com
Museum Row at Brush Square
Austin founder Mirabeau Lamar’s 1839 plan called for a public open space in each quadrant of the city. One of those spaces, Brush Square, is home now to three museums.
O. Henry Museum
William Sydney Porter, who later found fame as short-story writer O. Henry, lived in this 1886 Victorian cottage. Visit this spring an experience "Once A-Pun a Time: 40 Years of the Pun-Off," an exhibition celebrating one of Austin's weirdest (and punniest) annual events. 409 E. Fifth St. 512-472-1903. ohenrymuseum.org.
Follow along with our journey across historic Austin on the Insider Blog, hop on a historic downtown walking tour at the Austin Visitor Center and download free smartphone tours of Austin’s historic places at preservationaustin.org/programs/historic-austin-tour-ap.