To most non-Texans, Waco is associated with the 1993 FBI standoff with David Koresch and the Branch Dividians that led to the latter group's fiery death. It's known to me as the city where my mother-in-law lives (also, Ted Nugent). When asked about the downtown area, she explained that after the tornado in 1953, the deadliest in Texas' history with 114 deaths, downtown Waco never recovered. Today there are some businesses still operating, and a popular warehouse district nearby, but downtown Waco and its surrounding area has a lot of vacancies. Let's look at those first.
Buzze's Music is still in business! Not so for J S Barnett, although from the liquor license notice on the window, it appears a bar or restaurant will be opening there soon.
The Hub was a menswear retailer which opened in 1918 and closed less than a year ago. In the 1950s, Elvis Presley was a frequent shopper.
Below, the oddly-named Hippodrome, which will turn 100 in 2014 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It seems to me neither "hippo" nor "drome," nor an ancient Greek racetrack (the original Hippodrome).
Looking down Austin Avenue toward Waco's distinctive Alico Building, once among the tallest buildings in the Southwest.
Below, the midcentury modern base of the otherwise-Beaux Arts Alico Building.
Now for a few of Waco's open businesses, not a chain store among them.
In the shadow of the Alico is Schmaltz's Sandwich Shoppe. It must be named after someone, but isn't this equivalent to naming an eatery Schmuck's or Kvetch's?
Behold, an actual customer enters the Downtown Barber Shop. It seems that barber shops have weathered the march of the chain stores better than many other independent businesses.
The outskirts of downtown Waco also have a lot of auto-related businesses.