BY SHANNON BARRIENTES / PHOTO BY HERRONSTOCK

The stunning Capitol building stands proudly at the northernmost end of Congress Avenue, a street lined with local music venues, hole-in-the-wall bars, delicious dining, and bustling businesses of every type.

The portion from First Street to the Capitol is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If you love history, be sure to visit the OLD BAKERY AND EMPORIUM, one of the oldest standing landmarks in the area. The Old Bakery is a registered national landmark and has graced Congress Avenue since 1876, when it was built by Swedish immigrant Charles Lundberg. The building was used as a bakery until 1936. The historic building now functions as an Art Gallery. (Find their events on AustinTexas.org.)

If you’re this far north on Congress Avenue, be sure to visit the Capitol grounds. Austin’s Capitol Building forms the terminus of the street at the north end. It was built in the late nineteenth century and topped off with a Goddess of Liberty statue upon its cast iron dome; the Texas State Capitol is a fully functioning city center that contains the chambers and offices of the biannual Texas Legislature and the Governor’s offices. It is one of the few state capitols to claim height over the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., and while the two buildings share an Italian Renaissance Revival style, Texas’ capitol is also entirely unique in that it is constructed with a finish of rare sunset red granite, painstakingly quarried from the nearby Granite Mountain in Marble Falls.

Be sure to take a tour of the Capitol while you are in the area. You can self-guide or join a tour group. Visit www.tspb.state.tx.us for more information, including plans and guides of the Capitol floors. Visitors are allowed to freely walk the grounds during the day—enjoy dozens of landscaped garden-like recesses, as well as grand statues and monuments that celebrate local legends such as the Texas Rangers and heroes of the Alamo.

(LEFT) Texas State Capitol building is a fully functioning city center with the chambers and offices of the biannual Texas Legislature and the Governor’s offices. It is one of the few state capitols to claim height over the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It is also entirely unique in that it is constructed with a finish of rare sunset red granite, painstakingly quarried from the nearby Granite Mountain in Marble Falls.
(TOP) OLD BAKERY AND EMPORIUM, one of the oldest standing landmarks in the area, is a registered national landmark that has graced Congress Avenue since 1876, when it was built by Swedish immigrant Charles Lundberg.

Once you’ve had your fill of history and culture, have some shopping fun as you head south on Congress, admiring the gorgeous nineteenth-century architecture that includes the famous Paramount Theatre. Nestled in this very area, just four blocks from the granite Capitol on Seventh Street, you can discover a Texas legend—the HATBOX: A MODERN HABERDASHERY. In most shops these days, the available selection of hats reflects blind conformity or rows of identical look-alikes. But Hatbox features confident style and dashing personality. It is well worth a visit to find the type of quality and individuality that was celebrated a century ago and is a rarity in today’s world of mass-produced commerce. Hatbox carries an impressive collection of designers and promotes the highest of current fashion and re-vintaged style for both men and women.

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Hatbox: A Modern Haberdashery

Austin’s only locally owned haberdashery

Although a haberdashery originally meant an all-purpose accessory and notions store, in the U.S. the term came to be associated almost exclusively with hats. In the heyday of hats the haberdashery was often seen as a serious place with rows and rows of identical hats lined up as identical soldiers of conformity. These days, hats have come to represent the opposite—wearing a hat conveys a confident style and a dashing personality.

It is with this spirit that Hatbox has created the MODERN Haberdashery, a place that still honors the knowledge and art of the traditional haberdashery while knowing that a contemporary hat-wearing public needs a friendly, helpful and exciting introduction to the world of headwear. From our custom styles to our expert fittings we work with our customers to find the perfect hat with the perfect fit that is entirely unique to
each customer.

Hatbox began in the Montrose District of Houston in 1974. Originally Vertigo Inc., the store began as an innovative gift and art retailer in the heart of Houston’s museum district. After six years of rapid growth, the founder, Lauri Turner, moved the store to Austin. For the next 20 years Vertigo transformed from gift retailer to custom clothier to accessory specialty shop—and now it is a modern haberdashery.

Our little hat shop is all grown up now and features the best the hat world has to offer. Our haberdashers are extensively trained in hat history and fit, and each is dedicated to advancing the art of hat wearing. The passion for knowledge and innovation that first led us to hats keeps our selection fresh and exciting and our quality timeless. Whether you’re looking for the perfect pork pie to complete your collection or just starting out with your first fedora, Hatbox is your hat resource.

Our experienced Hat Shaping Event Team provides a customized experience that perfectly blends our hat designs with your theme, entertainment and cuisine. Whether you are looking for cowboy hats or are hosting a full on Kentucky Derby Racing Day Soiree, we have the perfect hat! Best of all, your guests have an experience they will never forget: a perfectly sized and custom shaped hat to take home and treasure forever!

Across the street at the corner of Sixth, stop at a locally owned store that is entirely too rare to be missed: WILD ABOUT MUSIC. They are the world’s first and only music-themed art and gift gallery. Austin’s passion for and history with music is documented on the walls of this extraordinary retailer. This store is especially precious to many locals as it represents over 100 local, national and international artists. For more than 20 years, Wild About Music has brought the spirit of melody to music lovers worldwide and in the heart of Austin. This gallery is museum-like with a selection that must be seen to be believed. Both Hatbox and Wild About Music are just a corner away from legendary Sixth Street, and just around the corner from the monumental Driskill Hotel.

If you travel south of the bridge on Congress, you’ll hit the area of town that locals call SoCo. Full of locally owned dining and retail, SoCo is an eclectic mix of unique artists and rare finds. One of the local legends can be found at the corner of Monroe and Congress: ALLENS BOOTS, recognizable for the giant red boot that sits atop their roof. Their familiar logo is an oft-included brand in Austin collage murals and it’s a rare local who hasn’t been inside their welcoming doors. Open since 1977, they are a family-owned boot retailer with an amazing array of Austin and Texas collectibles and finds. Trip Advisor lists Allens as a “Top Shopping Attraction” for a good reason—when you walk through their doors you’ll be impressed with the selection and quality. Check out their fun Wall of Fame, featuring photos of movie stars, athletes and rock stars that have graced their famous floors in search of the perfect boots.

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If you’re timing is right, you may find yourself on SoCo on the First Thursday of the month. First Thursday is a popular event that takes place along South Congress Avenue, generally from Barton Springs Road to Elizabeth Street. You’ll enjoy live music, street performers, and plenty of late-night shopping. The stores that normally close early stay open late and some of the stores have special sales while some of the bars and restaurants will offer drink specials. It’s one of the best local parties in the area, and it happens every month!

Enjoy all the history and culture that Congress Avenue has to offer, but don’t forget to enjoy in the fun: all the shopping, dining, and entertainment you can handle.