Originally named Pecan Street on Edwin Waller's 1839 plan for Austin, Sixth Street served as a farm to market road entering the city from the east. Bringing together a diverse ethnic population, it became a center for Austin's 19th century development.
A major thoroughfare since its beginning, the street served as a stagecoach route, with the Bullock Hotel at the corner of Pecan and Congress Avenue as a stage stop. The street's flat terrain and its distance from the occasionally flooding Colorado River contributed to its appeal as a site for commercial development. Shops, saloons, stables, wagon and lumberyards lined the street, with the owners often residing above their businesses. Development continued through the 1880s along Pecan Street, which was renamed Sixth Street in 1884.
Sixth Street contains Austin's largest concentration of Victorian commercial architecture. The 20th century brought many changes to Sixth Street, and some early structures fell into disrepair. Restoration efforts begun in the 1960s revitalized the area and brought recognition of its role in Austin's past. Sixth Street was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.