Revisiting LBJ’s Austin one address at a time
May 05, 2013
by Madelyn Herzog
[posted on newyorktimes.com on May 4, 2013]
Long before Austin became a bustling hub of live music, technology and food trucks, it was a simple capital city, dominated by politicians and lobbyists. That city was the Austin of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s day. Though Johnson did not live in Austin for much of his life, the city made a mark on him from an early age. He was only 10 when he began accompanying his father, a state representative, to the Capitol, where he became enchanted with the legislative process.
Johnson returned to the city frequently for the rest of his life, often for politics but also for refuge.
“As soon as father landed in Austin, he began to feel relief,” said Luci Baines Johnson, 65, the president’s younger daughter. “Two days in the Hill Country did more for his soul than two weeks in the Caribbean would’ve done.”
Forty-two years ago, on May 22, 1971, Johnson’s Presidential Library and Museum opened its doors in Austin, a fitting culmination to his political and personal history with the city. “I know he was proud to be part of the community,” Ms. Johnson said.
Johnson, who died in 1973, would barely recognize modern Austin, but landmarks associated with his life there remain. Some may look unremarkable, but with a little background it is possible to imagine Johnson’s Austin through them. read more