Getting around Austin isn’t always easy. Most of the main roads in the city have at least two names, making navigation confusing for those new to the city. This list will help you make sense of Austin’s many multi-named streets.
· The MoPac Freeway (named for the Missouri Pacific Railroad) and Loop 1 are the same. The locals just call it “MoPac.” Oh, and by the way, there is no loop despite the name of loop 1. It is a north-south highway.
· Capital of Texas Highway is another name for Loop 360. Although Loop 360 is quite curvilinear, it is also not a loop, perhaps a quarter-loop at best, along the west side of town.
· Highway 71 is also called Ben White Boulevard. Also, there is a stretch of Highway 71 that is part of Highway 290, but the “real” 290 leaves Austin on the northeast side of the city.
· Research Boulevard is the same as US Route 183. At one point, 183 is called Anderson Lane, and at another section, Ed Bluestein Boulevard.
· When 290 arrives in Austin from Houston and reaches I-35, it turns into Ranch Road 2222 and runs west toward Lake Travis. Along the way, it is also known as Allandale, Northland, and Koenig.
· Ranch Road 2244 is the same as Bee Cave Road (sometimes called Bee Caves Road). It is unique because it is actually named after a single cave that once had a large colony of bees.
· Martin Luther King Boulevard is the same as 19th Street. Locals generally call it “MLK.”
· Enfield Road and 15th Street are the same road. When you exit 15th Street on MoPac, only the Enfield name is used, so this one is important!
· Windsor is the same as 24th Street. The MoPac exit for 24th Street only says Windsor.
· Cesar Chavez and 1st Street are the same highway (east-west). However, South 1st is a major north-south highway that leads from downtown to south Austin.
· Dean Keaton Street is the same as 26th Street in the campus area, although as soon as you get to the east side of I-35, it becomes Manor Road. And Manor is pronounced “Mayner” for reasons lost in history.
· If you follow a map to 6th Street and you end up on a smooth residential street instead of the bustling entertainment district, you are probably on South 6th Street. Of course, on most street signs, “South” is just a little “S” that can be easy to miss.
· Manchaca Road maintains the same name throughout its diagonal route in South Austin, but it can be confusing because it is pronounced “Man-Chack.” In fact, there is an ongoing effort to change his Menchaca name due to the original name being basically a typographical error.
· In downtown Austin, North-South Congress Avenue marks the dividing line between streets that begin with “West” or “East”. Unfortunately, many locals tend to omit these details when referring to common streets, such as 6th Street. The main entertainment district is located on East 6th Street east of Congress Avenue. Since West 6th Street also has bars, it’s easy for newcomers to get confused. Some GPS navigation systems also overlook this important detail.
Rename streets named after incomplete historical figures
Introducing an entirely new wrinkle in the confusing sage of the street name, several streets are in the process of renaming due to changing views of our history. Several streets around Austin are named after historical figures from the Civil War, but that is slowly changing. Robert E. Lee Road in South Austin is now Azie Morton Road. A longtime Austin resident, Azie Morton was the first African American to serve as Treasurer of the United States. In North Austin, Jeff Davis Avenue is still in the process of changing its name to William Holland Avenue.
Holland was an African-American school teacher, county commissioner, and state representative. As these changes roll out, mapping services like Google Maps and Waze will no doubt be flawed for a while. And people who have lived in these neighborhoods will also have a period of adjustment. While some people see this as a necessary correction of a historical error, other members of the community see it as a revisionist history.
The Menchaca / Manchaca saga
A retired history buff judge began an effort several years ago to change Manchaca Road to Menchaca Road because, he argued, the road was supposed to have been named after a man named Menchaca who was a hero of the Texas Revolution. However, the exact origin of the name has never been 100% proven. Others point out that there is a similar Native American word, manchac, and there is a swamp named after that version of manchac in Louisiana. In late 2018, the judge got the city council to approve the name change.
But business owners in the area, many with Manchaca in the name, have begun an effort of their own to stop the change. At the beginning of 2019, the legal dispute continues, and the signs have not yet been changed.
Edited by Robert Macias