5th St Corridor History

Discover the journey of the 5th St Corridor through an interactive map, 5th St Loteria, and a detailed timeline. Uncover key events, families, and milestones that have shaped the Corridor.


5th St Corridor Loteria Card

El Pajaro

Informed by the Oaxacan Barro Negro ceramic tradition and aesthetic, BLACKBIRD was designed by Holly Young-Kincannon and carved by Joseph Drummond Kincannon. Young-Kincannon describes the inspiration for the statue as being multi-layered but ultimately rooted in the idea of “[flight] without fear.”

La Susana

Susanna Dickinson survived the Battle of the Alamo and informed Sam Houston of the battle, earning her the nickname “Messenger of the Alamo.” The house her husband built for her, along with rare family artifacts, was preserved and given to the City of Austin in 2003. The Susanna Dickinson Museum is now one of the Brush Square Museums.

Los Héros

These bronze busts were gifted to Austin by the state of Coahuila and depict two Mexican revolutionaries, José Morelos y Pavón and Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Considered founding fathers of an independent Mexico, both were Catholic priests who fought for social reform.

La Plaza Saltillo

Named for Austin’s sister city, Plaza Saltillo is inspired by the plazas popular throughout Mexico. Plaza Saltillo is the eastern anchor of the 5th Street Mexican American Heritage Corridor and District and serves as a popular meeting place, metro station, and shopping center.

Los Tamales

Walker’s Aus-Tex Chili Factory produced up to 38,000 tamales per hour with their automatic tamale-making machine, making tamales a symbol of the area. Outside of the factory, tamales were sold by street vendors.

El Corredor

Since 2010, Mexic-Arte Museum and its supporters have worked to create, develop, and garner support for the 5th Street Mexican American Heritage Corridor and District. The area is surrounded by significant historic, cultural, and community sites deserving of both preservation and active use. 

La Fabrica de Chile

Located in the heart of downtown Austin, Walker’s Aus-Tex Chili Factory at one point employed 15% of Austin’s Mexican population. The factory operated from 1900 to 1972, with a brief pause from 1916 to 1918 to rebuild after a fire.

Los Tonkawas

Consistently helpful and friendly to Texas settlers, the Tonkawa Tribe is indigenous to Austin. In the 19th century, they were forcibly removed to Oklahoma, where they now number approximately 800.

El Roble del Tratado

The only remaining tree of the Council Oaks, the 500 year old Treaty Oak was allegedly the site of the meeting between Stephen F. Austin and local Native American tribes to negotiate Texas’s boundaries.

Los Bomberos

Operated by the Austin Fire Museum Hook & Ladder Society, the Austin Fire Museum is a Brush Square Museum highlighting the evolution of uniforms and procedures, along with other memorabilia.

El Museo

Mexic-Arte Museum was founded in 1984 by artists Sylvia Orozco, Sam Coronado, and Pio Pulido. The Museum is dedicated to enriching the community through education programs, exhibitions, and the collection, preservation, and interpretation of  Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture for visitors of all ages.

La Iglesia

The Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic church was built in the early 20th century to give Mexican Americans a place to worship without being discriminated against. The church also had an accompanying school that educated hundreds of Mexican American youth.

El Escritor

William Sidney Porter was a famed short story writer of classics such as “Gifts of the Magi,” written while he was in prison for embezzlement. The pen name “O’Henry” now lends itself to his family home, which preserves many artifacts from his life.

El Mero Muro

The Mexic-Arte Museum’s El Mero Muro is a mural program located on the exterior wall of the building on 5th St. and Congress Ave. Conveying powerful messages of relevant social issues, the outdoor murals of the Museum are in a unique and highly visible area of downtown Austin.

Los Robles de Subasta

The first 301 lots that would become the city of Austin were sold under these centuries-old oak trees in 1839. The now iconic trees serve today to provide shade to Austinites and tourists alike.

Los Dulces

“Los Dulces” represent the street vendors popular in the 19th and 20th centuries, who sold everything from candy to pastries to tamales. These vendors frequented Republic Square, known as Chili Park then.

5th St Texas Rivers Loteria Card

El Comal

“Comal” is an Aztec Nahuatl word for a ceramic pan.

La Guadalupe

The river was first called after Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe by Alonso de León in 1689. It was renamed the San Augustin by Domingo Terán de los Ríos who maintained a colony on it, but the name Guadalupe persisted.

La Vaca

The Lavaca River was named for the bison that initially inhabited the area.

Las Nueces

The Nueces River was named because of the numerous pecan trees along the banks.

Los Brazos

The Brazos River was named for being the saving fresh water for several groups of settlers, prompting the name “the arms of God.”

Los Pedernales

“Pedernales” is a Spanish word for the flint typically found in riverbeds.

Los Rios

The 2024 version of Mexic-Arte’s Cinco de Mayo luncheon highlights the streets, named after Texas rivers that intersect with 5th St.

El Rio Grande

The fourth longest river in the United States, the  Rio Grande starts in Colorado and ends in the Gulf of Mexico.

Development of the 5th St Corridor


Mexic-Arte Museum organized the First Mexican and Mexican American Families in Austin exhibition. Historian Dr. Cynthia Orozco created a chronology of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Austin for this project.

June 3, 1999

The City of Austin passes a resolution to create a committee to develop long-term recommendations for events at Republic Square Park and the activation of the 5th Street Corridor.


Map of the Mexican American History and Heritage 5th Street Corridor is conceptualized and named by Sylvia Orozco and Mexic-Arte Museum.

Dec. 9, 2010

Mexic-Arte Museum seeks partners to support the planning, design and development of the Corridor, including sidewalk and street improvements, signage, and public art.

August 25, 2011

The City of Austin passes a resolution to partner with Mexic-Arte Museum and other public and private entities to develop the 5th Street Mexican American Heritage Corridor.

Feb. 22, 2013

Mexic-Arte Museum, in conjunction with the Austin History Center, presents Austin’s Mexico – A Forgotten Neighborhood exhibition.

June 2013

The Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Initiative recommended the City designate a segment of Fifth Street as the Mexican-American Heritage Corridor.


Signage is created and installed along the 5th Street Corridor by the City of Austin.


Mexic-Arte secures Downtown Austin Alliance partnership and City of Austin support to develop the 5th Street Mexican American Heritage Corridor into a Cultural District.


Familia Limon

Familia Saldaña

The Saldaña family history began in central Texas and Austin when their great-grandmother Sebastiana Tavetas moved from Mexico after the start of the 1910 Mexican Revolution. Their great-grandfather Santos Saldaña, born in 1888, also moved from Mexico to Austin. As devout Catholics, they were parishioners of the original Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic.

The church and school were built in 1907 on East 5th and Guadalupe. In 1926, prior to the infamous 1928 Master Plan, the church was torn down, and the leftover materials were used to build the current church at 9th and Lydia. Felipe, son of Santos and Sebastiana, worked as a trusted employee at the Calcasieu Lumberyard for over 30 years and was one of very few keyholders of the yard. Calcasieu was started in 1883 and part of Austin’s original square mile located at Lavaca and 2nd Streets. Felipe’s wife Mary worked at the L. East Poultry Plant, founded in 1913, was originally located in downtown Austin. Felipe and Mary Saldaña had six children who attended the original Palm Elementary School from 1946 through 1960. The Saldaña family is now six generations strong and remains active church parishioners and community leaders in Austin.

Familia Quintanilla

The Quintanilla family resided on Rainey Street, and their children, Anita, Linda, Ralph, and Catherine (Cat), all of whom were born in the Rainey Neighborhood, are among the earliest Mexican American families to settle in the Rainey Street Historic District and among the best known for their leadership on behalf of Mexican Americans in Austin.

By the 1940s, the Quintanilla family lived at 71 ½ Rainey Street, and the patriarch, Sam Quintanilla, was well known as a salesman and later realtor and insurance broker, with offices on 6th street. In the 1970s, Sam Quintanilla was a founding member of the Greater Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Quintanilla family led at Palm School, where Sam served as PTA chair, and daughter Anita as 4th grade queen, safety patrol captain and president of the Girl Scouts. Cat Quintanilla was honored as Queen of the Palm School. Quintanilla family members have served the community in capacities as activists, educators, artists and politicians. Anita has been a strong advocate for preservation and protection of the Rainey Street Historic District, Palm School and Palm Park. Linda Quintanilla provides invaluable volunteer services at the Austin History Center, and Cat Quintanilla has served as Mayor of the City of Sunset Valley.

Familia Pacheco

The Pacheco Family emigrated to the US from Tamaulipas, Mexico due to the Mexican Revolution. Mr. Jose Pacheco came to the US accompanied by his padrino Eustasio Cepeda, a teacher who fought for immigrant rights. There is now a library in his honor over Springfield and 7 Street. 

Mr. Pacheco’s father was a humble philanthropist and respected restaurateur (his restaurant was located in downtown and existed over 30 years). During his teen years Joe Pacheco worked as a newspaper delivery boy and helped his father with his business, further strengthening the Pacheco’s connection to the 5 St. corridor.

Austin’s Mexico

In conjunction with the Austin History Center, Mexic-Arte developed an interactive exhibition and map titled Austin’s Mexico: A Forgotten Neighborhood. The exhibition aims to uncover the history of some of the earliest Mexican settlers in our city. On our website, the digital version allows viewers to click/roll over icons that reveal text and historical photos from the original exhibit and listen to the descendants’ interviews.