Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas
City of Austin
Austin
Bullock Texas State History Museum
Austin City Hall
Pennybacker Bridge
University of Texas at Austin Main Building
Flag of Austin, Texas
Flag
Official seal of Austin, Texas
Seal
Nicknames: 
Live Music Capital of the World, Silicon Hills, ATX, City of the Violet Crown
Motto(s): 
Keep Austin Weird (unofficial)
Location within Travis County
Location within Travis County
Austin is located in Texas
Austin
Austin
Location within Texas
Austin is located in the United States
Austin
Austin
Location within the United States
Austin is located in North America
Austin
Austin
Location within North America
Coordinates: 30°16′N 97°44′W / 30°16′N 97°44′W / 30.267; -97.733

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States, the fourth-most-populous city in Texas, and the second-most-populous state capital city (after Phoenix, Arizona).[5] It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States[6][7] and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2018 estimate, Austin had a population of 964,254[8] up from 790,491 at the 2010 census.[3] The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,168,316 as of July 1, 2018. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

In the 1830s, pioneers began to settle the area in central Austin along the Colorado River. In 1839, the site was chosen to replace Houston as the capital of the Republic of Texas and was incorporated under the name "Waterloo". Shortly afterward, the name was changed to Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas" and the republic's first secretary of state. The city grew throughout the 19th century and became a center for government and education with the construction of the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin.[9] After a severe lull in economic growth from the Great Depression, Austin resumed its steady development, and by the 1990s it emerged as a center for technology and business.[10] A number of Fortune 500 companies have headquarters or regional offices in Austin including, 3M, Amazon.com, Apple Inc., Cisco, eBay, General Motors, Google, IBM, Intel, Oracle Corporation, PayPal, Texas Instruments, and Whole Foods Market.[11] Dell's worldwide headquarters is located in the nearby suburb of Round Rock.

Residents of Austin are known as Austinites.[12] They include a diverse mix of government employees, college students, musicians, high-tech workers, blue-collar workers, and a vibrant LGBT community.[13] The city's official slogan promotes Austin as "The Live Music Capital of the World," a reference to the city's many musicians and live music venues, as well as the long-running PBS TV concert series Austin City Limits.[14][15] The city also adopted "Silicon Hills" as a nickname in the 1990s due to a rapid influx of technology and development companies. In recent years, some Austinites have adopted the unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird,"[16] which refers to the desire to protect small, unique, and local businesses from being overrun by large corporations.[17] In the late 19th century, Austin was known as the "City of the Violet Crown," because of the colorful glow of light across the hills just after sunset.[18] Even today, many Austin businesses use the term "Violet Crown" in their name. Austin is known as a "clean-air city" for its stringent no-smoking ordinances that apply to all public places and buildings, including restaurants and bars.[19]

U.S. News & World Report named Austin the #1 place to live in the U.S. for 2017 and 2018.[20][21] In 2016, Forbes ranked Austin #1 on its "Cities of the Future" list,[22] then in 2017 placed the city at that same position on its list for the "Next Biggest Boom Town in the U.S."[23] Also in 2017, Forbes awarded the South River City neighborhood of Austin its #2 ranking for "Best Cities and Neighborhoods for Millennials".[24] WalletHub named Austin the #6 best place in the country to live for 2017.[25] The FBI ranked Austin as the #2 safest major city in the U.S. for 2012.[26]

History

Austin, Travis County and Williamson County have been the site of human habitation since at least 9200 BC. The area's earliest known inhabitants lived during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age) and are linked to the Clovis culture around 9200 BC (over 11,200 years ago), based on evidence found throughout the area and documented at the much-studied Gault Site, midway between Georgetown and Fort Hood.[27]

When settlers arrived from Europe, the Tonkawa tribe inhabited the area. The Comanches and Lipan Apaches were also known to travel through the area.[28] Spanish colonists, including the Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre expedition, traveled through the area for centuries, though few permanent settlements were created for some time.[29] In 1730, three missions from East Texas were combined and reestablished as one mission on the south side of the Colorado River, in what is now Zilker Park, in Austin. The mission was in this area for only about seven months, and then was moved to San Antonio de Béxar and split into three missions.[30]

Early in the 19th century, Spanish forts were established in what are now Bastrop and San Marcos.[29][31] Following Mexico's independence, new settlements were established in Central Texas, but growth in the region was stagnant because of conflicts with the regional Native Americans.[31][32][33]

In 1835–1836, Texans fought and won independence from Mexico. Texas thus became an independent country with its own president, congress, and monetary system. After Vice President Mirabeau B. Lamar visited the area during a buffalo-hunting expedition between 1837 and 1838, he proposed that the republic's capital, then in Houston, be relocated to the area situated on the north bank of the Colorado River (near the present-day Congress Avenue Bridge). In 1839, the Texas Congress formed a commission to seek a site for a new capital to be named for Stephen F. Austin.[34] Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the newly formed Republic of Texas, advised the commissioners to investigate the area named Waterloo, noting the area's hills, waterways, and pleasant surroundings.[35] Waterloo was selected, and "Austin" was chosen as the town's new name.[36] The location was seen as a convenient crossroads for trade routes between Santa Fe and Galveston Bay, as well as routes between northern Mexico and the Red River.[37]

Edwin Waller was picked by Lamar to survey the village and draft a plan laying out the new capital.[34] The original site was narrowed to 640 acres (260 ha) that fronted the Colorado River between two creeks, Shoal Creek and Waller Creek, which was later named in his honor. The 14-block grid plan was bisected by a broad north-south thoroughfare, Congress Avenue, running up from the river to Capital Square, where the new Texas State Capitol was to be constructed. A temporary one-story capitol was erected on the corner of Colorado and 8th Streets. On August 1, 1839, the first auction of 217 out of 306 lots total was held.[34][37] The grid plan Waller designed and surveyed now forms the basis of downtown Austin.

In 1840, a series of conflicts between the Texas Rangers and the Comanches, known as the Council House Fight and the Battle of Plum Creek, pushed the Comanches westward, mostly ending conflicts in Central Texas.[38] Settlement in the area began to expand quickly. Travis County was established in 1840, and the surrounding counties were mostly established within the next two decades.[33]

Initially, the new capital thrived. But Lamar's political enemy, Sam Houston, used two Mexican army incursions to San Antonio as an excuse to move the government. Sam Houston fought bitterly against Lamar's decision to establish the capital in such a remote wilderness. The men and women who traveled mainly from Houston to conduct government business were intensely disappointed as well. By 1840, the population had risen to 856, of whom nearly half fled from Austin when Congress recessed.[39] The resident African American population listed in January of this same year was 176.[40] The fear of Austin's proximity to the Indians and Mexico, which still considered Texas a part of their land, created an immense motive for Sam Houston, the first and third President of the Republic of Texas, to relocate the capital once again in 1841. Upon threats of Mexican troops in Texas, Houston raided the Land Office to transfer all official documents to Houston for safe keeping in what was later known as the Archive War, but the people of Austin would not allow this unaccompanied decision to be executed. The documents stayed, but the capital would temporarily move from Austin to Houston to Washington-on-the-Brazos. Without the governmental body, Austin's population declined to a low of only a few hundred people throughout the early 1840s. The voting by the fourth President of the Republic, Anson Jones, and Congress, who reconvened in Austin in 1845, settled the issue to keep Austin the seat of government, as well as annex the Republic of Texas into the United States.

In 1860, 38% of Travis County residents were slaves.[41] In 1861, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, voters in Austin and other Central Texas communities voted against secession.[31][34] However, as the war progressed and fears of attack by Union forces increased, Austin contributed hundreds of men to the Confederate forces. The African American population of Austin swelled dramatically after the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas by Union General Gordon Granger at Galveston, in an event commemorated as Juneteenth. Black communities such as Wheatville, Pleasant Hill, and Clarksville were established, with Clarksville being the oldest surviving freedomtown ‒ the original post-Civil War settlements founded by former African-American slaves ‒ west of the Mississippi River.[34] In 1870, blacks made up 36.5% of Austin's population.[42]

An 1873 illustration of Edwin Waller's layout for Austin

The postwar period saw dramatic population and economic growth. The opening of the Houston and Texas Central Railway (H&TC) in 1871[43] turned Austin into the major trading center for the region, with the ability to transport both cotton and cattle. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas (MKT) line followed close behind.[44] Austin was also the terminus of the southernmost leg of the Chisholm Trail, and "drovers" pushed cattle north to the railroad.[45] Cotton was one of the few crops produced locally for export, and a cotton gin engine was located downtown near the trains for "ginning" cotton of its seeds and turning the product into bales for shipment.[46] However, as other new railroads were built through the region in the 1870s, Austin began to lose its primacy in trade to the surrounding communities.[34] In addition, the areas east of Austin took over cattle and cotton production from Austin, especially in towns like Hutto and Taylor that sit over the blackland prairie, with its deep, rich soils for producing cotton and hay.[47][48]

Statue of the Goddess of Liberty on the Texas State Capitol grounds prior to installation on top of the rotunda

In September 1881, Austin public schools held their first classes. The same year, Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute (now part of Huston–Tillotson University) opened its doors. The University of Texas held its first classes in 1883, although classes had been held in the original wooden state capitol for four years before.[49]

During the 1880s, Austin gained new prominence as the state capitol building was completed in 1888 and claimed as the seventh largest building in the world.[34] In the late 19th century, Austin expanded its city limits to more than three times its former area, and the first granite dam was built on the Colorado River to power a new street car line and the new "moon towers".[34] Unfortunately, the first dam washed away in a flood on April 7, 1900.[50]

In the 1920s and 1930s, Austin launched a series of civic development and beautification projects that created much of the city's infrastructure and many of its parks. In addition, the state legislature established the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) that, along with the city of Austin, created the system of dams along the Colorado River to form the Highland Lakes. These projects were enabled in large part because the Public Works Administration provided Austin with greater funding for municipal construction projects than other Texas cities.[34]

During the early twentieth century, a three-way system of social segregation emerged in Austin, with Anglos, African Americans and Mexicans being separated by custom or law in most aspects of life, including housing, health care, and education. Many of the municipal improvement programs initiated during this period—such as the construction of new roads, schools, and hospitals—were deliberately designed to institutionalize this system of segregation. Deed restrictions also played an important role in residential segregation. After 1935 most housing deeds prohibited African Americans (and sometimes other nonwhite groups) from using land.[51] Combined with the system of segregated public services, racial segregation increased in Austin during the first half of the twentieth century, with African Americans and Mexicans experiencing high levels of discrimination and social marginalization.[52]

In 1940, the destroyed granite dam on the Colorado River was finally replaced by a hollow concrete dam[53] that formed Lake McDonald (now called Lake Austin) and which has withstood all floods since. In addition, the much larger Mansfield Dam was built by the LCRA upstream of Austin to form Lake Travis, a flood-control reservoir.[54] In the early 20th century, the Texas Oil Boom took hold, creating tremendous economic opportunities in Southeast Texas and North Texas. The growth generated by this boom largely passed by Austin at first, with the city slipping from fourth largest to 10th largest in Texas between 1880 and 1920.[34]

After the mid-20th century, Austin became established as one of Texas' major metropolitan centers. In 1970, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Austin's population as 14.5% Hispanic, 11.9% black, and 73.4% non-Hispanic white.[42] In the late 20th century, Austin emerged as an important high tech center for semiconductors and software. The University of Texas at Austin emerged as a major university.[55]

The 1970s saw Austin's emergence in the national music scene, with local artists such as Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, and Stevie Ray Vaughan and iconic music venues such as the Armadillo World Headquarters. Over time, the long-running television program Austin City Limits, its namesake Austin City Limits Festival, and the South by Southwest music festival solidified the city's place in the music industry.[10]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Austin, Texas
العربية: أوستن (تكساس)
asturianu: Austin
azərbaycanca: Ostin (Texas)
bamanankan: Austin (Texas)
বাংলা: অস্টিন
Bân-lâm-gú: Austin
беларуская: Остын
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Остын (Тэхас)
Bislama: Austin, Texas
български: Остин
Boarisch: Austin
bosanski: Austin (Teksas)
brezhoneg: Austin (Texas)
català: Austin
čeština: Austin
Cymraeg: Austin
eesti: Austin
Ελληνικά: Ώστιν (Τέξας)
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Austin
español: Austin
Esperanto: Aŭstino
estremeñu: Austin (Texas)
euskara: Austin
føroyskt: Austin
français: Austin (Texas)
Gaeilge: Austin, Texas
贛語: 奧斯汀
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Austin
Hausa: Austin
հայերեն: Օստին (Տեխաս)
hrvatski: Austin (Teksas)
Ilokano: Austin, Texas
Bahasa Indonesia: Austin, Texas
interlingua: Austin (Texas)
Interlingue: Austin (Texas)
íslenska: Austin (Texas)
italiano: Austin
עברית: אוסטין
Kapampangan: Austin, Texas
ქართული: ოსტინი
қазақша: Остин
kernowek: Austin, Teksas
Kiswahili: Austin, Texas
Kreyòl ayisyen: Austin, Texas
Кыргызча: Остин (Техас)
кырык мары: Остин (Техас)
Latina: Austinopolis
latviešu: Ostina
lietuvių: Ostinas
Limburgs: Austin (Texas)
македонски: Остин (Тексас)
Malagasy: Austin, Texas
मराठी: ऑस्टिन
მარგალური: ოსტინი
Bahasa Melayu: Austin, Texas
Mirandés: Austin (Texas)
Nederlands: Austin (Texas)
नेपाल भाषा: अस्तिन, तेक्सास
Napulitano: Austin (Texas)
norsk: Austin
norsk nynorsk: Austin
occitan: Austin
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Ostin
पालि: अस्टिन
پنجابی: آسٹن
Papiamentu: Austin
Piemontèis: Austin
polski: Austin
português: Austin
română: Austin, Texas
Runa Simi: Austin
русский: Остин (Техас)
саха тыла: Остин
संस्कृतम्: आस्टिन्
sardu: Austin
Seeltersk: Austin
shqip: Austin
sicilianu: Austin (Texas)
Simple English: Austin, Texas
slovenčina: Austin (Texas)
slovenščina: Austin, Teksas
ślůnski: Austin
Soomaaliga: Austin
српски / srpski: Остин
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Austin, Texas
suomi: Austin
svenska: Austin
தமிழ்: ஆஸ்டின்
Taqbaylit: Austin
татарча/tatarça: Остин
ᏣᎳᎩ: ᎠᏍᏘᏂ
Tsetsêhestâhese: Austin (Texas)
Türkçe: Austin, Teksas
українська: Остін (Техас)
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: Austin
vèneto: Ostin
Tiếng Việt: Austin, Texas
Volapük: Austin (Texas)
Winaray: Austin, Texas
吴语: 奥斯汀
ייִדיש: אסטין
Yorùbá: Austin
粵語: 柯士甸
žemaitėška: Ostins
中文: 奧斯汀