On the west side of downtown Austin, nestled in the Castle Hill neighborhood lies an abandoned lot that I never knew existed until our trip down for SXSW this year. Locals have called it the Castle Hill Graffiti Park, or the Austin Graffiti Park, but it's official name is the The Hope Outdoor Gallery Project. And unlike your typical city park, it's a rough and hectic series of abandoned walls that serve as a 3 story canvas and playground for graf-artists from all over the world.
What I found amazing is that it's prime property just sitting there with a gorgeous view of downtown that any normal land owner would jump at the opportunity to develop on. So I had to do a little digging, and it seems that shortly after construction was finished, it was discovered that the building’s support pillars had not been sunk deep enough and cracks appeared in the walls. So the building was torn down to its foundation and the area was left abandoned to await future development. But locals in the neighborhood thought the lot was an eye sore and the property owners decided to let graf-artist use the blank concrete walls as a canvas to get their message out. Finally in 2011 the area was branded the Hope Outdoor Gallery Project and is one of the largest outdoor galleries in Texas. But just because it's a wide open outdoor gallery doesn't mean anyone can just show up and start 'tagging' the walls. Nope, it can actually be considered trespassing if you do show up and just start painting the walls.
The site is a constantly evolving playground of art and inspiration, and is truly on of the many things that keeps Austin weird. So if your in the area of Baylor and 11th visiting Whole Foods or Waterloo Records, take the time to drive by and check out the Hope Outdoor Gallery. It really is incredible.