South Congress: Urban Hip Meets Austin Originality
South Congress Avenue, a mecca for funky, only-in-Austin shops, superb restaurants and unrestrained hipness, is one of Austin’s most beloved areas. Just south of the state capital’s downtown area,“SoCo” as it is known by locals, is the neighborhood just west of this famed avenue and home to a delightful mix of people from all walks of life who dearly love this eclectic part of town.
“I’ve lived here for about a year, but my next-door neighbors have been here since the 1940s,” says Paula Kothmann, a South Congress resident who works for a nonprofit organization that helps homeless people. “It’s close to everything.”
Austin’s central business district — and the Texas capitol — is a short 5 minutes north, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is only about 20 minutes away.
Homes for sale in South Congress vary greatly in size, style, price and age. Some areas of the neighborhood were developed in the 1880s, while others are under construction today. It’s truly an eclectic mix. Adorable 380-square-foot bungalows sit side-by-side with much larger homes, some in excess of 8,700 square feet.
A testament to the area’s enduring popularity, much of the new construction is the result of older homes being updated and expanded to accommodate urbanites who want modern amenities as well as the convenience of downtown living.
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Everyday Convenient Access to Schools, Shopping and Dining
Everyday convenience begins with a quality education. Youngsters in South Congress attend Travis Heights Elementary School and Fulmore Middle School, both about a 5-minute drive away, and Travis High School, just 10 minutes away. All three Austin Independent School District schools received an “Academically Acceptable” rating from the Texas Education Agency in 2011.
There’s more. With some of the most beloved, distinctive Austin establishments located just around the corner, South Congress residents don’t need to venture far to enjoy some of the best food and shopping Austin has to offer.
It’s no secret. Talk to folks who live in South Congress, and they will tell you how much they appreciate the easy access to the numerous shops and eateries that characterize the unique and pedestrian-friendly Congress Avenue.
“I like the walkability,” says Kothmann. “I lived in Europe for several years, and I like being able to do things without a car. A lot of times when we go out to eat, we just stay right here in the neighborhood.”
First Thursday is First in Neighborhood Fun
A young couple is thrilled to have just purchased an adorable 1930s bungalow a short drive from the downtown high-tech firm where they both work in video game development. They’re pleased with their compact home in South Congress, knowing they can add on when it comes time to start a family.
Exhausted after a day of unpacking, and feeling hungry, they decide to walk the two blocks to Congress Avenue, where they know plenty of restaurant choices await. It’s Thursday, and they don’t expect it to be too difficult to get a table at one of the eateries.
But what’s this? Congress Avenue is absolutely packed with all sorts of people having fun, reveling up and down the avenue as they visit street vendors of all stripes. Wow! There goes a unicyclist dressed as a clown and juggling batons! Smiling in awe as they approach one of the booths, they ask a vendor what’s going on. Welcome to “First Thursday,” a giant once-a-month block party where the shops and restaurants stay open late to accommodate thousands of Austinites who come for great food, shopping and entertainment.
“We love First Thursday,” says Andrew Burnette, who’s worked at South Congress Avenue’s Big Top Candy Shop for two years. “It’s a time when families come out. We have the circus theme, so the more people that squeeze in here, the more circus-like it is and the more fun.”
A Vibrant and Friendly Place to Call Home
South Congress’s proximity to the renowned, vibrant and one-of-a-kind shopping, dining and entertainment district by the same name makes this neighborhood an exciting place to live.
Just steps from some of the city’s best restaurants and funkiest shops — not to mention great people-watching — the South Congress neighborhood itself is a treasure of historical homes interspersed with contemporary architectural masterpieces. Mature trees and friendly neighbors contribute to the neighborhood’s appeal, as does the raucous monthly block party, First Thursday, and the convenient proximity to good schools, Austin’s central business district, and the state capitol.
“Everyone’s friendly here,” says Kothmann. “It’s a great place to call home.”