1970s Austin No 1: The demographic boom

We asked thoughtful locals why the 1970s left such a lasting imprint on Austin. We received many provocative answers, which we’ll share here first.

Feel free to send yours to mbarnes@statesman.com.

No. 1: Elizabeth Christian, president and chief executive officer Elizabeth Christian Public Relations

I think a big reason the ’70s were so seminal to Austin’s development is purely demographic.
Everyone talks about the ’60s in this country, but Austin was still a very young town until later than that. The population had been relatively small and stable for a long, long time –then the Baby Boomers of the 1950s (1954 — my birth year — was the biggest year of the biggest boom in American history) started graduating from high school and college in the early ’70s.
Austin’s first big antiwar protest in 1970. Image courtesy of RagBlog.

We didn’t even have big Vietnam protests in Austin until the ’70s — check out the pictures of the big one on Guadalupe. And the drug culture was late getting here too.

Also, most Austinites, and many Texans, didn’t consider going anywhere but the University of Texas and other Southwest Conference schools for college. We did not disperse — we amalgamated!
That’s changing, as the millennials go all over the world, but that was not the case with us. So all these smart, educated young people graduated in droves and stayed put, here where they’d grown up and gone to college. Unlike today, most of my high school and college friends had two and three generations of family within a few hours’ drive, and many, many were born and raised in Austin. Tell people you’re a fourth-generation Austinite now and they treat you like you’re E.T.
That many people are bound to cause change, in everything from music–ours is still the best generation for that–lifestyle, outdoor living, the way children are raised, etc., etc.

Author: Michael Barnes

Michael Barnes writes about Austin's people, places, culture and history for the Austin American-Statesman and austin360.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s