The Drag began as a strip of shops which provided vital resources to UT students. Bookstores, restaurants, and clothing stores fulfilled student needs. The proximity to campus, particularly the Main Building and the Union Building, added to the popularity of the street. At the start of each semester The Drag fills with students purchasing textbooks and school supplies.
The Drag is considered an important part of Austin's civic life, but for many years many Austinites avoided it because of congestion. The area had fallen into disrepair, and some felt the area had become undesirable because of the presence of panhandlers known as "Dragworms", or more recently as "Dragrats."