Jana Birchum, Photo & Video

12th & Chicon

For over a decade I worked  AIDs outreach in East Austin. Twice a week we parked at 12th & Chicon, The Corner, where all the action was. Today, gentrification has changed the nature of the street scene, much to the relief of the neighborhood. But the heart of the corner remains.


For decades, 12th and Chicon was a hangout, a gathering point, and an open air drug market. The regulars pulled up their lawn chairs and settled in the for day, day after day, year after year.


Drugs of choice differ. Some snort, some shoot, some drink. Everyone's on the hustle.


Waiting on the corner for something or someone or some action.


Prostitution was always a normal part of the scene.


Normal life, normal day. The corner catches some of everything, from the low down to the most mundane.


A momentary snapshot of the traffic through the alley.


Passing through.


Mural on the corner store wall.

Just Doing Business

Drug dealing was always part of the scene. Day or night.


12th and Chicon was a gathering spot for as long as I've been in Austin. Gentrification has changed the nature of the corner, but the action has moved down the street, not out of town.


All that's left of the Fresh Up Club is it's sign.


Sarah was a regular on the corner. She spends less time there now. At the time the photo was made, she had decided to stay away from the scene.