Over a hundred years ago, Austin’s wild west era, tall towers of light were constructed – 31 to be exact – around the city: moontowers. These metal pillers acted as early-day street lights for late-night Austinites, shining just enough light to read their wrist watches. Lucky for us, these fixtures still dot the city landscape today: a tribute to a time long gone.
Austin is the only city in the world known to still have these moonlight towers, which illuminate about 1,500 square feet of area beneath their looming glow. At 50-meters in height, they can be seen amidst the city’s growing skyline, which grows new skyscrapers by the dozen with each year that passes. But the moontowers are protected, or at least the 17 that remain today, so theoretically they should stay where they are. That is, if the pressure of a swelling population doesn’t force work-arounds. I’m a part of that population problem – a transplant from somewhere else – but I do hope the moontowers stay put.
And while we’re on the topic of Austin’s past, the train tracks that run through the city center are not just for show – real trains chug through downtown every day. I’m sure this is normal to some of you, but I’ve never lived in such proximity to a regularly-running cargo train, and I smile every time I see its cars roll by. The whistle sounds all over the city at night, and is often the last sound I hear before drifting off to sleep…
In a world of boundless technology advances and endless fast-tracking measures, it’s a comfort of sorts knowing that these essentials of the past still function – and are of use – today. Good night moontowers, good night trains, good night Austin.