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"Where the Eagles Gather"
JCI First Coast Travel & Tourism
JCI First Coast Travel & Tourism is aired on Channel Austin.

Earlier this year, (2010); I was with my family watching "Gideon" play at the dog park on the south west side of I35. I ventured off towards the shores of the lake where my father grew up from the age of ten until he built his first home for his family beside his parent's river front home. My parents moved further south and my grandparents had to move when the city condemned their home so that I 35 could be built. Eight homes where moved from Harper Lane. As I grew up in South Austin I often heard of the wonderful stories of living on the shores of the Colorado River, but I had never walked on the property before that day.


As I looked over the lake I wondered what my dad and grandparents would think of Austin's beautiful skyline now. My dad had been a lifeguard at the Norwood's spring fed pool that was located just up the road from them. As I walked around the Norwood Mansion I could see signs of what had once been fabulous landscaped gardens at one of the most beautiful homes in Austin. I felt sad as I walked around the Norwood home that was given to the city years ago and left unattended to rot. I began researching the restoration effort by a group of local residents, and asked my mother more questions about the property.

(Photo by Jamie Gandy)
My dad was only ten years old when his neighbor Mr Norwood built a 15 floor skyscraper one block west of Congress Avenue. The Norwood Tower was the first building in Austin to have an electric elevator. Several sources also note that this building was the 2nd fully air-conditioned office building west of the Mississippi River. The Norwood Tower was the tallest commercial office building in Austin from 1929 until 1971 when 823 Congress was built. However it was only the 5th tallest building in Austin in 1971. Texas State Capitol, University of Texas Tower and two others were taller.

When I was growing up the State Capitol and UT Tower were the tallest buildings in the Austin skyline, but today the huge skyscrapers tower above and hide the older buildings. I remember when the skyscraper was being finished at 111 Congress in 1987. My husband and I went inside on our own tour when it was finished, but I could not remember the name of the building or any of the names of the skyscrapers. When I started researching I discover that many of the buildings changed names over the years. One Congress Plaza had been Norwest Plaza and Franklin Plaza.

The beautiful night skyline view that our JCI LIVE AUSTIN program used last spring is no longer accurate. The Austonian is now towering over the skyline claiming number one as to the tallest skyscraper, and it's dome lighted top makes a big change in our skyline. The Frost Bank Tower made the town talk in 2004 when it's unusual large white unique top added a different appearance to Austin's skyline. And the stair stepped building with the blue lights has always been my favorite, but I had no idea what the name was.

Last season I began making my own backgrounds for our shows. As I camped out along the south shore and filmed my interest increased to knowing their names and more of the buildings history. So I decided that it is time that this ole Austin gal learn about the Austin skyscrapers. I hope you have fun joining me in my new journey.

The Ten Tallest Buildings in Downtown Austin

#1   The Austonian - 200 Congress
Completed in 2010 and now the tallest building in Austin not only changed the skyline because of the height but the moon dome top which lights in pink, yellow, green, blue.

#2   360 Condominiums - 360 Nueces Street
Most noted from it's steeple glass top facing south to Lady Bird Lake. From January 15, 2008 until June 29, 2000 The 360 was the tallest building in Austin. It was named 360 not only because of the address, but because 360 is a famous name in Austin. There is a 360 website, hwy and bridge in Austin, and of course 360 beautiful city views can be observed from these condominiums.

#3   Frost Bank Tower - 401 Congress
The Frost Bank TowerMost recognized by the unusual white top.
The Frost Bank Tower was completed in 2004. At 515 feet and 33 stories, this was the tallest skyscraper in Austin until 2008 when the 360 Condominiums were finished.

#4    The "W" Austin Hotel - 200 Lavaca Street
The "W" is under construction but topped out at 32 floors. The W Austin Hotel will host the Austin City Limits Studio. Originally started to be 14 stories until a hotel joined the investors.

#5    The Spring - Corner of West 3rd and Bowie Streets
The largest building on the west downtown area finished in 2009 and has 36 floors.

#6   The Ashton - 101 Colorado Street - Website
The Ashton building started during the fall in 2006 and finish its 36 floors in the spring of 2009. Most noted by its distinctive penthouse facing west.

#7    Four Seasons Residences - 98 San Jacinto Boulevard
Located behind the Four Seasons Hotel. This residential project completed in 2010. 394 feet high, and 32 floors.

#8    One American Center - 600 Congress Ave.
Construction on this skyscraper was completed in 1984. At a height of 395 feet and encompassing 32 floors, this was the tallest building in Austin from 1982 until surpassed by Frost Bank in 2003. One American Center has a 6 story atrium that faces Congress Avenue.

#9   One Congress Plaza - 111 Congress
Noted for it's beautiful blue lights highlighting the stair step top
This 30-story skyscraper was completed in 1987. When constructed, the building had to comply with a 1931 height restriction stating that any buildings on Congress Avenue had to stair step back from the street; they could then exceed 200 feet in height.

#10    Austin Hilton
Convention Center
Hotel
- 555 East 5th Street
377 feet tall and 31 floors. On Friday, January 17, 2003, a topping out ceremony was held at the hotel and a 10 foot Live Oak Tree was lifted to the top. The Hilton was the tallest hotel in Austin until this year 2010. The "W" Hotel now takes over the title.

#11   Legacy on the Lake - NE corner of Rainey Street and Cumming Street
31 floor 339 feet high waterfront residences finished in 2009.

#12   Bank of America Center - 515 Congress
Located at North Congress Avenue and East Sixth Street. When construction was completed on this 25-story skyscraper in 1975, it was the 3rd building in Austin to exceed the State Capitol's height. At 329 feet, it was the city's tallest office building from 1975 until 1982, when the One American Center building was completed.

#13    300 West Sixth - Named from address
325 feet - 23 floors built in 2002. The property is noted for the distinctive barrel-vaulted roof and makes the building a landmark on the Austin skyline. In addition, the fašade features Texas limestone. Winner of the 2010 BOMA International TOBY Award

#14    Chase Tower - 221 W Sixth St.
325 feet - 21 floors built in 1974. The Chase Tower recently sold to Spire Realty Group of Dallas.

#15   The Monarch - 801 West 5th
The 29-story 323 foot building takes its name from its inverse roof, with eaves that sit raised on both sides, reminiscent of a butterfly poised to launch. While the massive structure remains grounded. The Monarch is located in the west end of downtown and was built in 2008. The photo to the right has the top of the building lighted blue. This month the building is lighted pink.

#16   100 Congress - Named after address
Noted for the brown glass top and white lights highlighting the roof top. Across street from One Congress Plaza. This building appears to be the same size as One Congress Plaza when looking from the south side of Lady Bird Lake. However it is 68 feet less in height.

#17   Texas State Capitol -
311 feet high but only 4 floors. The Capitol was built in 1888.

#18    San Jacinto Center - 98 San Jacinto
Located in the heart of the Austin, Texas central business district. The building is adjacent to the Four Seasons Hotel, and provides breathtaking views of downtown Austin, the State Capitol and Town Lake. Construction on the 21-story building was completed in 1987. The building is clad in Texas Creme limestone and Llano Rose granite with a gray pointed roof top. It was originally designed to have a twin building to its east, the Two San Jacinto Center, but it was not built because of an overloaded real-estate market. Thirteen years later the Four Seasons Residences were built on that location. San Jacinto Center is Noted for the large pointed roof top. CLICK HERE for older night skyline with San Jacinto Center on far right.

#19   University of Texas Building -
307 feet - 29 floors built in 1937

#20   Dobie Center
the 306 foot high Dobie Center, named after J. Frank Dobie, is a privately owned twenty-seven story residence hall located adjacent to the University of Texas at Austin campus. On its completion in 1972, Dobie Center became the tallest building in Austin, surpassing the Texas State Capitol, which had held the title for nearly 90 years.

#21    301 Congress - Name after address
Another 301 Congress link - 305 feet high, 22 floors built in 1986. The beautiful atrium faces congress and is 63 feet 5 inches high.


360 - Frost - "W" - Austonian        ~      "W" - Bank of Am. - Frost - Austonian - Ashley - 100 Congress - One Congress Plaza
                                            (Last photo: Frost - Austonian - Ashley - 100 Congress - One Congress Plaza)

  
The Driskell and Capitol photos are by Trey Ratcliff. Click on the photos to see more photos that he took in Austin.

Favorite Skylines from the past - Photos from South Austin Memories Facebook Group

LINKS

List of Tallest Buildings in Austin

Great Drawing of Skyscrapers in order of ranking

Skyline with list of names of each building.

Skyline changes during festivals at Austin City Limits

Keep Up with new skyscrapers coming to Austin

Austin Towers.net - Condos with maps

City Map at Lady Bird Lake

Article of Scarbrogh Building First Austin Skyscraper 1910

Post Card of the Scarbrogh Building

Post Card of the Littlefield Finance Building

The Norwood Building

History of Austin's Skyline

Photos of Austin Skyline from St. Edwards University

Notes of past names of buildings.

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