Texas over Time: Austin Avenue, Waco

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of gifs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Austin Avenue, Waco, TexasAustin Avenue: 1906, 1908, 1914, 1940s, 1950s

  • On May 11, 1953, a F5 tornado hit downtown Waco. The damages were severe: 196 businesses and factories were destroyed, 217 sustained major damage, and 179 sustained lesser damages. Over half of the 114 people who died were in a single city block bordered by Austin and Franklin Avenues and 4th and 5th Streets. Read more here and here.
  • In 1970, Austin Avenue was remodeled to serve as a pedestrian mall. It was not a success, and in 1985, the mall sidewalk was ripped up and two-way traffic was restored to downtown. One can still see remnants of the mall downtown and can feel the difference in the road going down Austin Avenue.
  • The ALICO building, which was built in 1910 off Austin Avenue, was once the tallest building in the Southwest. The ALICO building is still open today and holds the headquarters for the American-Amicable Life Insurance Company of Texas and houses many other tenants.

By popular demand, here is a Flickr set of the individual images used to create this animation. We’ll include this in each future “Texas over Time” post.



  1. Raphael Tuck and Sons’. 1906.
  2. The Rotograph Co. 1908.
  3. The Acmegraph Co. 1914.
  4. B-W News Agency. 1940s.
  5. B-W News Agency. Late 1950s.

Waco, Texas: Streets: Austin Avenue. Vertical file, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Gif and factoids prepared by Timothy Brestowski, student library assistant

Name of insurance company in ALICO building corrected 2/12/14.


  • jeff brown

    February 12, 2014 at 9:26 am Reply

    Would love to see this extended with photos from after the tornado up to today.

    • Amanda Norman

      February 12, 2014 at 9:41 am Reply

      Great idea–stay tuned for future Texas over Time posts!

  • Lisa Dragoo

    February 12, 2014 at 12:17 pm Reply

    Love this. Would like a way to pause each photo, though, so the detail can be studied. Perhaps that ability already exists, if someone could enlighten me. One small detail, the correct current name of the insurance company in the ALICO building is American-Amicable Life Insurance Company of Texas. More photos of the ALICO building are available on the company’s website (www.aatx.com).

    • Amanda Norman

      February 12, 2014 at 12:35 pm Reply

      Hi Lisa, you can pause the animation using the Escape key in Internet Explorer or Firefox, but so far as I can tell, you have to refresh the page to make the animation restart. We have posted each of the postcards on our Facebook page. We’ll probably put them up on our Flickr site, too, since a few others have been wanting a “pause” feature, too! I’ll add a link to the post when that gets done.

      • Amanda Norman

        February 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm Reply

        And here’s the Flickr set (also added to the body of the post). Enjoy!

  • Don Grisham

    July 3, 2014 at 1:29 am Reply

    Do you have the nighttime Austin Avenue Christmas picture from the 1960s that was used as the cover shot for a book on history of Waco? I believe a Mr. Jasek took it.

    • Amanda Norman

      July 3, 2014 at 11:17 am Reply

      Hi Don, I consulted with our photo archivist, and he says we do not have that image from A Pictorial History of Waco. The photos were drawn from the collection of James F. Jasek, whose collection was strong on the works of Waco photographers Windy Drum and Jimmie Willis. We have other images from those photographers, but not that one.

Post a Comment