Are journalists unfairly portraying Austin?

Over at Austin Talks Anna Friedman Herlihy, a long-time resident of the neighborhood, is protesting what she feels is the media’s inaccurate portrayal of Austin.

I welcome any of you to come sit with me on my front porch or take a walk around my part of Austin. It is not a perfect neighborhood, but it is solidly middle class, with little crime (lots of parts of Logan Square and Rogers Park have worse crime than my part of Austin), and comparatively few foreclosures (there are far more in most Northside neighborhoods due to the condo crash).

There are parts of Austin that are even nicer than my part, too (like north of the Green Line tracks near Oak Park) and the “Island” and the Galewood part of Austin. And yes, there are some pockets of Austin that are in trouble (probably equivalent in geographic area to the size of Englewood), but you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water – and I don’t think any part of Austin is in as bad a shape as Englewood.

Herlihy’s take on Austin does contain a kernel of truth: Austin is simply too large and varied a neighborhood to describe as a whole. In the slideshow video, I walk through the lovely Austin Historic District. I’ve also walked the blocks adjacent to that district and many of them can only be described as severely distressed and frightening. You know something has gone terribly wrong when police cars patrol in tandem. There are reasons, other than those Herlihy suggests, for Austin’s sharp population decline over the past decade.

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