Watch Austin grow up in Google Earth’s mesmerizing time-lapse photos

People in Austin complain all the time about how fast the city has grown and how much their favorite neighborhoods have changed, but you can get a satellite’s-eye view of just how much by using Google Earth Engine. The site collects aerial photography from 1984 to 2016, a period in Austin that includes the real estate boom and bust of the 1980s, the late 1990s tech boom and bust in the early 2000s, as well as the 2008 recession and subsequent economic recovery.

The view of Austin from a macro view can be a bit muddled but you can see lots of activity on the outskirts of town, like the emergence of the Texas 130 toll road on the far right.

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The city of Austin

But take a look at the neighborhoods and zoom in on certain high-growth areas and the changes are more impressive. For instance, between 1984 and 2016, the old Robert Mueller Municipal Airport was closed. Its runways were razed and replaced with a planned community of retailers and single-family homes.

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Robert Mueller Airport, then Mueller development

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was simply Bergstrom Air Force Base three decades ago. The military abandoned the base but the city turned it into an international flying hub. In the time-lapse below, you can see how the city added another runway to the existing airfield and rebuilt the terminal and parking for civilian use. When a large road suddenly cuts across the map on the right, that’s the construction of the Texas 130 toll road.

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Bergstrom Air Force Base, then Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Also in southwest Travis County, you find lots of farmland and rural areas that haven’t changed much at all in the past 30 years. But in the space of a few years, the Texas 130 toll road appears – seen below on the left – and then, blossoming from the green space, the Circuit of the Americas racetrack.

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Circuit of the Americas emerges in Elroy

Another transformation becomes evident on the other side of the county in Steiner Ranch. Here, you can see how development spilled along roadways and how houses sprouted on hilltops throughout the area.

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Steiner Ranch

Just a few miles north, on Lake Travis, the aerial photos show the effects of fluctuating drought conditions on the Highland Lakes. Over the past 30 years, the exposed shoreline of Lake Travis flashes like a neon sign as waters recede and return, depending on the season’s rainfall.

Lake Travis
Lake Travis

Try Google Earth Engine for yourself. I learned a lot just by looking up my own neighborhood in South Austin near the corner of West Slaughter and Brodie lanes:

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‘Morning Joe’ tries to get weird with Austin

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Viewers of MSNBC’s talk show “Morning Joe” know that it’s hard for anything other than politics to break into show’s mix these days. If you’re not named Donald Trump, you need not apply for air time.

Unless, it seems, you’re South by Southwest and you’re celebrating you’re 30th anniversary.

The festival in full swing — Interactive and Film have largely given way to Music — was the subject of an effusive taped piece on Thursday morning’s show. That was followed by this equally effusive crosstalk among the show’s hosts and guests:

Joe Scarborough: “What a town, man. Isn’t it a crazy town?”

Mika Brezinski: “You’re headed there this weekend. You’re going to make Austin even weirder.”

Mark Halperin: “They have great music, great food, great people. pretty much great everything. Even the airport’s good.”

Steve Schmidt: “Hands down, one of the great cities in the country. … It’s an awesome place.”

 

Austin airport travelers ate 693,375 breakfast tacos in 2015

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport broke its passenger record last year. The airport said Monday that almost 12 million passengers walked through its gates, up 11 percent from the same period in 2014. But enough of the actual news. Let’s figure out how many tacos those sky-bound souls ate.

Nuevo Leon Mexican restaurant and Hills Cafe offer a homegrown Austin flavor to travelers in the Austin airport and can be found in the East Food Court.  With SXSW in full swing the Austin Bergstrom International Airport is a hotspot for world travelers and the food selections in the concourse offer a taste of Austin flavor. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
(RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

According to the city of Austin, passengers at one of the fastest growing airports in the country consumed, purchased or otherwise enjoyed:

  • 65.5 tons of brisket, up 3.5 tons/7,000 lbs. or 5.5 percent over 2014
  • 693,375 breakfast tacos, up 71,065 tacos or 11.5 percent from 2014
  • 1,190 live music performances (23 per week)
  • 51,278 “Keep Austin Weird” T-shirts, up 15,082 or 41.5 percent from 2014

This year, the airport also broke its record for models named Blac Chyna being arrested on its premises, up 100 percent over 2015.