A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 12, 2008
Penis Motel & “So Close Yet So Far Out” (Austin Motel)

The Austin Motel (in the capital city of Austin, on Congress Avenue) has been family owned and operated since 1938. The motel boasts an original red 1938 neon sign that some see as a “middle finger salute” and others see as a phallic symbol. The Austin Motel is sometimes nicknamed “Penis Motel.”

Below the words “Austin Motel” is the slogan: “SO CLOSE YET SO FAR OUT.”


Welcome to the Austin Motel
The Austin Motel is a place where you can slow down and relax. Family owned and operated since 1938, the friendly staff invites you to share our 41 unique affordable rooms and our cool 50’s style pool. Located on South Congress Ave., the Austin Motel has the perfect location for shopping, dining, clubbing, bat watching and generally enjoying what Austin has to offer. 
1220 S. Congress Ave., Austin, Texas 78704 • 512.441.1157


Austin Motel History
The Austin Motel which opened its doors in 1938 and has never closed them since. It was the Stewarts who built the Austin Motel Landmark Neon Sign way back in 1938 and it has remained here from the beginning.

flickr
Austin Motel
An Austin institution with the unintentionally most phallic logo ever.

flickr
Austin Motel
So close yet so far out
(Comments—ed.)
ernie says:
Aaah, the Penis Hotel(tm).

MoJoPages.com
Austin Motel
512-441-1157
1220 Congress
Austin TX 78704

The Austin Motel is known as the penis motel in Austin because of it’s unique phallic neon sign. The text on the sign says “so close yet so far out” which indicates how close the motel is to the city center, the town lake, the bat bridge, and the motel is right in the midst of the SoCo trendy neighborhood.
Pros: Good value rooms, conveniently located, nice pool.
Cons: Can get loud during outdoor music action or first thursday crowds.
Price Range: $100 - $200
Recommended: Yes
Review Date: 03/05/2007

SXSW Baby!
The Austin Motel. Also known as the “penis motel” around town. Enough said.

Google Groups: austin.general
Newsgroups: austin.general
From: (Ruth McKay)
Date: 1998/05/23
Subject: Re: Where to Stay in Austin?

> What about the Austin Motel on South Congress. (Known to locals as the
> Austin penis Motel. Sorry).

Because of the shape of the sign - not because of anything that goes on at the motel (anymore than any other motel that is).

Just clarifying.

27 September 1998, Washington (DC) Post:
The marquee outside the Austin Motel read, “So Close, Yet So Far Out.”

Austin (TX) Chronicle (March 10, 2000)
Austin is all over the newsstands these days, what with SXSW coming up and the recent influx of see-lebrities into town. Look no farther than Premiere magazine for a start. If you can get past Sandra Bullock’s buttocks on the cover, inside you’ll find her giving a charming travelogue of the city, from the Austin Motel ("We call it the Penis Motel") to the ol’ Matthew McConaughey nekkid bongo fury story ("When you look like that, you should be allowed to run around naked—until it starts sagging").

The Independent (London)
Texas: Grab a partner and a bottle of Lone Star
Forget Texas’s red-neck image. Peter Watts explores the state capital, Austin, and discovers a thriving music and film scene
Sunday, 17 February 2002
(...)
Take a room at the Austin Motel, a funky little place on the brow of a hill south of the city centre, recognised all round town for its landmark sign, beckoning tourists with the boast “So close, yet so far out” and, on the reverse, “No additives, no preservatives, corporate free since 1938”. People here are friendly; rooms are cheap and decked out with some cracking retro furniture and whole days can be whiled away around the original 1950s kidney-shaped pool.

Epinions.com
Austin - The Best Kept Secret of Texas
Nov 28 ‘02 (Updated Nov 28 ‘02)
(...)
The Austin Motel (aka - the ‘penis’ motel) is a landmark in and of itself. Located across from the Continental Club, one look at it’s neon sign will explain it’s nickname.

Ask MetaFilter (January 13, 2004)
I think they might be referring to the Austin Motel, often reffered to as “the penis motel” by the locals, due to the (un)fortunate shape of the sign out front. Pros: local flavor, quirky neighborhood. Cons: it’s about a mile from the convention center, although I think there’s a ‘Dillo (free bus) that circulates in that area, plus it books up quickly.
posted by whatnot at 9:48 PM on January 13

Austin (TX) Chronicle: Best of Austin 3005
Best Motel: Austin Motel
Most South Congress newbies giggle at the sight of the Austin Motel’s – um – shapely neon sign. In the marquee’s words, the landmark has been “Corporate Free Since 1938,” evident in the range of decor across its 41 rooms. The hipster in us loves the minimalistic 115, turquoise and yellow, Saltillo-tiled, and adjacent to the kidney-shaped pool. For a slightly kitschier experience, the mural rooms won’t disappoint: Try 253, which boasts a bedside view of the Great Wall of China and panda comforters. Be forewarned, though: Business is booming; the motel suggests three-month advanced reservations.
Austin Motel, 1220 S. Congress, 441-1157 http://www.austinmotel.com
(...)
Best Sign: TIE: Austin Motel, El Arroyo
Do we have to choose between one that is “so far out” and one that is so outlandish? It was too close to call, so we didn’t.
Austin Motel, 1220 S. Congress, 441-1157; El Arroyo, 1624 W. Fifth, 474-1222 http://www.austinmotel.com; http://www.ditch.com

Angel Court Jewels MySpace Blog
Thursday, November 09, 2006
SO CLOSE YET SO FAR OUT…
The Austin Motel...Our home away from home.  We absolutely LOVE this retro hotel, built in 1936!!!  It’s an Austin Texas must!!!  Be sure to check out the “Polka Dot Surprise Room”, with original 1960’s wall paper.  We also can’t get enough of the “English Garden Room”, where camped out for the week.  I’m sure you’ll be seeing Austin Motel inspired jewelry in the near future. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, April 12, 2008 • Permalink