Austin History Center

Robert N. Simmons Photographs

An Inventory of the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Simmons, Robert N., 1940-
Title: Robert N. Simmons Photographs
Abstract: Robert N. Simmons is an amateur digital photographer active in the Austin, Texas area in the 2010s. 872 digital photographs and 3 short digital videos by Simmons document street art, construction, and people in Austin, Texas from the 1960s and 2007-2014.
Identification: AR.2014.024
Quantity: 6.44 GB (872 digital photographs, 3 digital videos)
Location: Digital Collections Box, Reading Room
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library
810 Guadalupe, , PO BOX 2287, , Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Note

Robert N. Simmons is an amateur digital photographer active in the Austin, Texas area in the 2010s.

Born in 1940 in Dallas, Texas, he attended high school at Cascia Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma and then college at the University of Texas at Austin, earning his Bachelor's degree in government and economics in 1964. He did post-graduate work at UT in broadcasting and photography, studying under Russell Lee.

Simmons built his career in the broadcasting industry, working for 25 years as air talent, management and broadcast property owner and investor. Later in his career he would buy small radio stations and improve their value for resale. He was involved in the construction of KOOP-KVRX-FM in Austin as well as the creation of Texas Student Television's KVR9. He also owned and operated with his wife at the time an operatic costume rental business. Later he was involved for a time in the oil and gas industry in South Texas. He also does some occasional voice acting.

Simmons has had a lifelong interest in video, audio, and photography. With the advent of digital technology he has pursed this hobby more, posting his work at various sites online under the username "Telebob" and on his own website,

As of 2015, Simmons resides in Austin where he has spent most of his adult life. He has also lived for short periods in California, Oregon, New York, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

Scope and Contents

872 digital photographs and 3 short digital videos by Robert N. Simmons document street art, construction, and people in Austin, Texas from the 1960s and 2007-2014. The bulk of the photographs document graffiti around the city and the changing city skyline because of new construction projects. The vast majority of images are born-digital photographs shot from 2007-2014, though there are a few scans of photographic prints from the 1960s, 1970s and possibly the early 2000s.

375 photographs depict public art, street art, and graffiti. These are subdivided by location and project. The Hope Outdoor Gallery graffiti site at Castle Hill is most heavily documented with 178 photos. There are 25 images of graffiti at the Lamar Boulevard underpass at 5th Street. 106 other photographs document assorted murals and graffiti sites. Not all of the photos in the Assorted Locations folder have locations identified and there may be additional unidentified photos of the Hope Outdoor Gallery in this folder. Two public art projects are also represented: the "Play Me, I'm Yours" pianos located in various places around the city in 2011 and the "Thirst" tree installation over Lady Bird Lake in 2013.

The folder on Buildings and Construction contains 312 photographs. 81 images document general downtown construction, especially condominium buildings. There are an additional 35 images depicting changes to the Rainey Street neighborhood, 42 images of the Waller Creek/Seaholm Redevelopment project, and 38 on "The Bowie" building at 311 Bowie Street. 57 photos document construction in South Austin, especially along South Lamar Boulevard, and 22 images are of various locations on the eastside.

There are 131 photographs of people. Many of these are of musicians, especially Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators. The Assorted People sub-folder includes candid photos of people as well as images of plaques, graves, and memorials. Other scenes of people include a New Year's Eve parade in 2007, Occupy Wall Street protestors at City Hall, and Texas Roller Derby skaters.

The remaining photographs in the collection consist of 22 images of the Hike and Bike Trail and Lady Bird Lake (as well as the new boardwalk and the "belts" public art project); 11 photos of roads and traffic; 11 images of old burned-out cars after the Bastrop fires of 2011; 5 images of other parks and trails; 3 photos of a car show; and 2 photos of Barton Springs. The three short digital video clips depict a train passing through the Waller Creek Redevelopment area, the Occupy Wall Street protestors, and an unidentified construction site.

Image titles were supplied by the photographer, though misspellings were corrected and abbreviations spelled out. Titles supplied by the archivist are indicated by square brackets.


Photographs had little original organization, so they were grouped by subject alphabetically and individual files were organized chronologically.


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use

Restriction 03: These photographs may not be duplicated without the written permission of the photographer.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Erickson, Roky.
Simmons, Robert N., 1940- .
Austin (Tex.)--Buildings, structures, etc.
Austin (Tex.)--Pictorial works.
Austin (Tex.)--Songs and music.
Austin (Tex.)--Social life and customs.
Political activists--Texas--Austin.
Street art--Texas--Austin.
Document Types:
Digital images.
Digital video.

Related Material

Additional photographs by Simmons:

  • AF - Music Festivals - Longhorn Jazz Fesival M9383(6), PICA 37394, 37398
  • AF - Music Halls - Jade Room M9320, PICA 37398
  • AF - Public Utilities - Electric Utility Dept. - Austin - Seaholm Power Plant P9220(2), PICA 37399
  • AF - Saloons - Armadillo World Headquarters S0300(52), PICA 37395-37396
  • AF - Zilker Park - Barton Springs - General - 1970-1999, PICA 37400
  • Biography - Brammer, William Lee, PICB 21736
  • Biography - Erickson, Roky, PICB 21734-21735, 21737, 21740
  • Biography - Franklin, Jim, PICB 21738
  • Biography - Walton, John Ike, PICB 21754
  • Biography - Wilson, Burton, PICB 21739
  • HB - 15th Street 300 Block, PICH 10696
  • HB - Windsor Road 1200, PICH 10697

Austin Files

  • Art Galleries - Murals/Outdoor Art A6400(104)
  • Austin - Pictures, Illustrations, Etc. 2000-2009, 2010-2019, A8710-A8711
  • Photographers and Photography P3500
  • Protests, Demonstrations, etc. - Occupy Austin P7750(18)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Robert N. Simmons Photographs (AR.2014.024), Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2007/001

Donation Date: Multiple donations, 2014.

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Nicole Davis/November 2015.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Photographs, 1965-2014

Access DVD of images is in the Reading Room Digital Collections Box. See attached spreadsheet for item-level inventory.
AR.2014.024(001-002) Barton Springs, 1973, 2014
AR.2014.024(003-013) Bastrop Fires, 2011
Buildings and Construction, 1965, 2003-2014, undated
AR.2014.024(014-050, video001) Assorted Locations, 1965, 2006-2014
AR.2014.024(051-131) Downtown, 2003-2014, undated
AR.2014.024(132-153) Eastside, 2011-2013
AR.2014.024(154-188) Rainey Street, 2014
AR.2014.024(189-245) South Austin, 2005-2014, undated
AR.2014.024(246-283) The Bowie (311 Bowie Street), 2014
AR.2014.024(284-325, video002) Waller Creek/Seaholm Redevelopment, 2013-2014, undated
AR.2014.024(326-328) Custom Car Show, 2013
AR.2014.024(329-350) Lady Bird Lake and Hike and Bike Trail, 2007-2014
AR.2014.024(351-355) Nature, 2008-2014
People, 1965-2014, undated
AR.2014.024(356-446) Assorted People, 1965-1966, 1976, 2004-2014, undated
AR.2014.024(447-456) 13th Floor Elevators, Circa 1965-1966, 2007
AR.2014.024(457-464) New Year's Eve Parade, 2007
AR.2014.024(465-474, video003) Occupy Wall Street, 2011
AR.2014.024(475-486) Texas Roller Derby, 2011-2013
Public Art, Street Art, and Graffiti, 2007-2014
AR.2014.024(487-592) Assorted Locations, 2006-2014, undated
AR.2014.024(593-639) Assorted Eastside Locations, 2013-2014
AR.2014.024(640-817) Hope Outdoor Gallery at Castle Hill, 2007-2014
AR.2014.024(818-842) Lamar Boulevard Underpass, 2013
AR.2014.024(843-848) Play Me, I'm Yours, 2011
AR.2014.024(849-853) Railroad Bridge, 2007-2014
AR.2014.024(854-861) Thirst Tree, 2013
AR.2014.024(862-872) Roads and Traffic, 2005-2014