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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nickname: "Live Music Capital of the World, ATX"
Location in the state of Texas
Coordinates 30°18'01?N, 97°44'50?W
County Travis County
Mayor Will Wynn
City 669.3 km²
Land 651.4 km²
Water 17.9 km²
City (2004) 681,804 (city proper)
Density 1,007.9 persons/km²
Summer (DST) CST (UTC-6)
The City of Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the county seat of Travis County. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Austin has a population of 656,562 people, making it the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 16th largest in the United States. Situated in the region of Central Texas, the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area is one of the fastest-growing in the United States and is home to an estimated population of 1.4 million as of 2004. Residents of Austin are known as Austinites.
1.1 Early settlers
1.2 Anglo American settlers
1.3 Republic of Texas
1.4 1845 to 1899
1.5 1900 to 1969
1.6 1970 to 1989
1.7 1990 to present
4 Government and politics
4.1 Law and government
7 Notable natives, citizens, and associated people
8 Architectural landmarks
10 Media and entertainment
For several hundred years before the arrival of European settlers, the area around present-day Austin was inhabited by a mixture of Tonkawa, Comanche, and Lipan Apache Indians, who fished and hunted along the creeks, including present-day Barton Springs.
Anglo American settlers
Stephen F. AustinThe first documented permanent settlement of current day Austin occurred in 1835. Anglo American settlers began arriving in the area, when Texas was still part of Mexico. They founded the village of Waterloo in 1837, along the banks of the Colorado River. According to local folklore, Stephen F. Austin, the "father of Texas", negotiated a peace treaty with the local Indians at the site of the present day Treaty Oak after several settlers were killed in raids. According to local legend, Austin also negotiated a boundary treaty with the Indians that laid out the fledgling town's limits.
Republic of Texas
Waterloo was chosen to become the capital of the new Republic of Texas in 1839 and was purchased by The Republic for that purpose. Mirabeau B. Lamar renamed the city in honor of Stephen F. Austin. The city's original name is honored by local businesses such as Waterloo Ice House and Waterloo Records.
A grid plan for the new capital's streets was surveyed by Judge Edwin Waller (after whom Waller Creek was named). The grid survives nearly intact in present-day downtown Austin. The north-south streets of the grid were named for the rivers of Texas, following an east-west progression from Sabine Street to Rio Grande Street (Red River Street being "out of order" to the west of Sabine Street). The exception was the central thoroughfare Congress Avenue, which leads from the far south side of town over the river to the foot of the hill where the new Texas State Capitol was to be constructed. The original north-south grid was bookended by West Avenue and East Avenue (now Interstate 35).
The east-west streets of the grid followed a progression uphill from the river and were named after trees native to the region, with Pecan Street as the main east-west thoroughfare. The east-west streets were later renamed in a numbered progression, with Pecan Street becoming Sixth Street. The original tree-named streets survive in nostalgic names, including Pecan Street, which is the name of a locally-produced beer.
In October 1839, the entire government of the Republic of Texas arrived by oxcart from Houston. By the next January, the population of the town was 839.
Also in 1839, the Congress of the Republic of Texas set aside 40 acres (160,000 m²) of land near downtown Austin for a "university of the first class". This land became the central campus of The University of Texas at Austin in 1883.
In 1842, Austin almost lost its status as capital city during the Texas Archive War. President Sam Houston had tried to relocate the seat of government from Austin to Houston, and then to Washington-on-the-Brazos. In the dead of night on December 29, 1842, a group of men was sent to take the archives of Texas from Austin to Washington-on-the-Brazos. Angelina Eberly fired a cannon at the men, who made their escape, only to be caught by another group of men who returned the archives back to Austin.
1845 to 1899
After Texas was admitted to the Union in 1845, two unsuccessful statewide elections were held that attempted to move the capital elsewhere.
From 1861 to 1865, Texas was part of the Confederacy.
St. Edward's University (then St. Edward's Academy) was founded in 1878 by Rev. Edward Sorin, Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, on South Austin farm land.
In September 1881, the city schools admitted their first public school classes. That same year, Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute, the forerunner of Huston-Tillotson University, opened to the public.
In 1882 construction began on The University of Texas at Austin campus with the placement of the cornerstone of the Main Building. The University formally opened in 1883. From 1884 to 1885, an axe murderer, the Servant Girl Annihilator, terrorized Austin.
Texas State CapitolThe Texas State Capitol was completed in 1888 on the site specified in the 1839 plan. At the time it was billed as the "seventh largest building in the world."
In 1891, the neighborhood of Hyde Park was developed north of the The University of Texas as a streetcar suburb.
In 1893, the Great Granite Dam on the Colorado River was constructed, stabilizing the river's flow and providing hydroelectric power.
1900 to 1969
In 1900, a great storm caused Colorado river waters to crest 11 feet above the granite and limestone dam, washing sections of the dam 60 feet downstream, sending a wall of water into downtown Austin, leveling homes and killing 47 persons. Two more failed attempts would be made to rebuild the dam until Tom Miller Dam was completed slightly up river in the 1940s.
In 1910, the city opened the concrete Congress Avenue Bridge across the Colorado River, fostering development along South Congress Avenue. The Littlefield Building at 6th and Congress downtown also opened this same year.
In 1911, the city extended the streetcar line into South Austin, allowing for development of Travis Heights in 1913.
In the 1930s, the Lower Colorado River Authority replaced the Great Granite Dam by building a series of seven dams and reservoirs that now define the Colorado river's course through Austin. Lyndon Baines Johnson, then a member of the House of Representatives, played an instrumental role in authorizing funding for the dams.
On August 1, 1966, in the city's most traumatic event, Charles Whitman terrorized Austin by killing 16 people, his wife and mother in the early hours, 3 in the Tower and 11 with a high-powered rifle from the UT Tower. Whitman was killed by APD officer Houston McCoy with two fatal shotgun blasts.
1970 to 1989
In the 1970s, Austin became a refuge for a group of Country and Western musicians and songwriters seeking to escape the music industry's corporate domination of Nashville. The best-known artist in this group was Willie Nelson, who became an icon for what became the city's "alternate music industry." The Armadillo World Headquarters gained a national reputation during the 1970s as a venue for these anti-establishment musicians as well as mainstream acts. In the following years, Austin gained a reputation as a place where struggling musicians could launch their careers in informal live venues in front of receptive audiences. This ultimately led to the city's motto, "Live music capital of the world."
During the 1970s and 1980s, the city experienced a tremendous boom in development that temporarily halted with the Savings and Loan crisis in the late 1980s. The growth led to an ongoing series of fierce political battles that pitted preservationists against developers. In particular the preservation of Barton Springs, and by extension the Edwards Aquifer, became an issue which defined the themes of the larger battles.
1990 to present
Downtown high-rises, viewed from the westIn the 1990s, the boom resumed with the influx and growth of a large technology industry. Initially the technology industry was centered around larger, established companies such as IBM, but in the late 1990s, Austin gained the additional reputation of being a center of the dot-com boom and subsequent dot-com bust. Austin is also known for game development, filmmaking, and popular music.
In 2000, Austin became the center of an intense media focus as the headquarters of presidential candidate and Texas Governor George W. Bush. Interestingly, the headquarters of his main opponent, Al Gore, were in Nashville, thus re-creating the old country music rivalry between the two cities.
As Austin became known as a location for creative individuals, corporate retail branches also moved into town and displaced many 'home-grown' businesses. To many long-time Austinites, this loss of landmark retail establishments has left a void in the city's culture. In response, "Keep Austin Weird" became a popular rallying cry and many Austinites have reacted with renewed support of local businesses.
According to the 2000 United States Census Bureau, Austin is located at 30°18'01?N, 97°44'50?W (30.300474, -97.747247)GR1. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 669.3 km² (258.4 mi²). 651.4 km² (251.5 mi²) of it is land and 17.9 km² (6.9 mi²) of it (2.67%) is water.
Austin is situated on the Colorado River, with three man-made (artificial) lakes wholly within the city limits: Town Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Walter E. Long. Additionally, the foot of Lake Travis, including Mansfield Dam, is located within the city's limits. Town Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Travis are all on the Colorado River. The city is also situated on the Balcones Fault, which, in much of Austin, runs roughly the same route as the MoPac Expressway. The eastern part of the city is flat, whereas the western part and western suburbs consist of scenic rolling hills on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Because the hills to the west are primarily limestone rock with a thin covering of topsoil, the city is subjected to frequent flash flooding from the excessive runoff caused by thunderstorms. To help control this runoff and to generate hydroelectric power, the Lower Colorado River Authority operates a series of dams that form the Texas Highland Lakes. The lakes also provide venues for boating, swimming, and other forms of recreation within several parks located on the lake shores.
A popular point of prominence in Austin is Mount Bonnell. At about 780 feet above sea level, it is a natural limestone formation overlooking Lake Austin on the Colorado River, approximately 200 feet below its summit.
Thousands of graduates each year from the engineering and computer science programs at The University of Texas at Austin provide a steady source of young, talented and driven employees that help to fuel Austin's technology sector. The metro Austin area also has much lower housing costs than, for example, Silicon Valley. As a result of the relatively high concentration of high tech companies in the region, Austin was strongly affected by the dot-com boom in the late 1990s and subsequent bust, although recovery is proceeding rapidly.
Austin's biggest employers include the State of Texas, The University of Texas, the SETON Healthcare Network, Dell, IBM and Freescale Semiconductor (spun off from Motorola in 2004). Other high-tech companies in Austin include Apple Computer, Vignette, AMD, Applied Materials, Intel, Motive Inc, Cirrus Logic, Samsung, National Instruments, United Devices and Sun Microsystems. The proliferation of technology companies has led to the region's nickname, "the Silicon Hills," (Austin was originally "Silicon Gulch", but it seems that San Jose, California already has that distinction) and has spurred rapid development that has greatly expanded the city to the north and south.
Other globally well known companies, such as Hoover's, Inc., a business research and publishing company, are headquartered in the city.
In addition to global companies, Austin features a strong network of independent, locally-owned firms and organzations, the Austin Independent Business Alliance. The success of these businesses reflects the high level of commitment by the citizens of Austin to preserving the unique spirit of the city, and has been tied to the "Keep Austin Weird" campaign.
Government and politics
See also: List of current and former capital cities in the United States
Law and government
Downtown Austin and the State Capitol as seen from the Congress Avenue Bridge over Town LakeAustin is administered by a city council of seven members, each of them elected by the entire city, and by an elected mayor under the weak mayor-council government system of municipal governance. Council and mayoral elections are non-partisan, with a runoff in case there is no 50% majority winner. Austin remains an anomaly among large Texas cities in that the council is not elected by districts, though there has been a strong effort to change the election system to one of single districts.
The main political actors within Austin city politics are interest groups such as the pro-environmental Save Our Springs Alliance, the Austin Police Association, Austin Toll Party and the Austin Business Council.
The political controversy that dominated the 1990s was the conflict between environmentalists, strong in the city center, and advocates of urban growth, who tend to live in the outlying areas. The city council has in the past tried to mitigate the controversy by advocating smart growth, but growth and environmental protection are still the main hot-button issues in city politics. Today conservatives in Austin argue that the city's various highway traffic problems are rooted in the denial of past highway/infrastructure development by political action committees who do not support highway expansion.
Austin is well known as a center for liberal politics in a generally conservative state, leading some Texas conservatives to deride the city as "The People's Republic of Austin." Austin's suburbs, especially to the west and north, and several satellite municipalities, however, tend toward political conservatism.
As a result of the major party realignment that began in the 1970's, central Austin became a stronghold of the Democratic Party while the suburbs tend to vote Republican. To a limited degree the division between Democratic and Republican precincts coincides with the aforementioned divisions between supporters of environmental regulations and supporters of urban growth. One consequence of this is that in the most recent redistricting plan, formulated by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and imposed by the Republican-majority legislature, the central city has been split among multiple sprawling districts that do not conform to any unifying economic, geographic or cultural theme. Many political observers have characterized the resulting districting layout as gerrymandering. The plan was challenged in court by Democratic and minority activists, but was upheld by a three-judge federal panel in late 2003; in December 2005, the United States Supreme Court accepted an appeal of this decision for argument on March 1, 2006. 
Overall, the city leans Democratic; in the 2004 presidential election, Senator John Kerry won a substantial majority of the votes in Travis County as illustrated in this pictorial of votes by-county. Of Austin's six state legislative districts, three are strongly Democratic, one leans Republican, and two are swing districts presently held by Democrats. However, two of its three congressional districts are presently held by Republicans; this is largely due to the 2003 redistricting, which left Austin with no congressional seat of its own. Travis County was also the only county in Texas to reject Texas Constitutional Amendment Proposition 2 effectively outlawing gay marriage and status equal or similar to it and did so by a wide margin (40% for, 60% against).
The combination of economic conservatism with social liberalism has also made Austin an active area for the Libertarian Party. Although the Libertarians remain a third party, the party is very active in the Austin area, and one of the past Libertarian presidential candidates, Michael Badnarik, comes from Austin. Michael Badnarik is currently making a run to represent part of Austin in the U.S. Congress in the House of Representatives, District 10. Republican congressman Ron Paul is from the Texas Gulf Coast and used to represent neighboring counties surrounding Travis County.
Two of the candidates for President in the 2004 race call Austin home. Michael Badnarik, mentioned above as the Libertarian Party candidate, and David Cobb of the Green Party both have lived in Austin. During the run up to the election in November a Presidential debate was held at the University of Texas student union involving the two minor party candidates. While the Commission on Presidential Debates only invites Democrats and Republicans to participate in televised debates, the debate at UT was open to all Presidential candidates.
City of Austin
Population by decade
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 656,562 people, 265,649 households, and 141,590 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,007.9/km² (2,610.4/mi²). There were 276,842 housing units at an average density of 425.0/km² (1,100.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 65.36% White, 10.05% Black or African American, 0.59% Native American, 4.72% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 16.23% from other races, and 2.99% from two or more races. 30.55% of the population were Hispanic American or Latino of any race.
There were 265,649 households out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.7% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 16.6% from 18 to 24, 37.1% from 25 to 44, 17.1% from 45 to 64, and 6.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 105.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $42,689, and the median income for a family was $54,091. Males had a median income of $35,545 vs. $30,046 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,163. About 9.1% of families and 14.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over. From the year 2000 to 2005, the median house price in Austin grew 34%. In 2005, the median house price for the city is $136,278. Average rents in Austin in 2005 were $622 for a one bedroom apartment, and $805 for a two bedroom apartment.
The sights of Austin's nightlife on 6th streetAustin's official slogan is The Live Music Capital of the World. Austin has a vibrant live music scene boasting more music venues per capita than any other U.S. city. Austin's music revolves around the many nightclubs on 6th Street and an annual film/music/multimedia festival known as South by Southwest. The longest-running concert music program on American television, Austin City Limits, is videotaped on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Austin City Limits and Waterloo Records run the Austin City Limits Music Festival, an annual music and art festival held at Zilker Park in Austin. Other annual events include Eeyore's Birthday Party in April and Carnaval in February.
Austinites take great pride in being eccentric and celebrate the differences between themselves and other U.S. cities. "Keep Austin Weird" has become a local motto in recent years, featured on innumerable bumper stickers and t-shirts. This motto has not only been used in promoting Austin's eccentricity and diversity, but is also meant to bolster support of local and independent businesses. Another example of Austin "weirdness" is Leslie Cochran, a vagrant transvestite and frequent mayoral candidate whose best showing was 7.77% of the vote in 2000.
Notable natives, citizens, and associated people
Stevie Ray Vaughan statue on Town Lake.Famous current and former Austin residents include:
Harry Anderson actor, comic, magician
Wes Anderson film director
Clifford Antone music impressario
Lance Armstrong cyclist
Marcia Ball musician
Angela Bettis actress
Terry Bozzio musician
Berkeley Breathed cartoonist
Sandra Bullock actress
George W. Bush U.S. President
Shawn Colvin musician
Ben Crenshaw golfer
Michael Dell businessman
Bradley Denton author
J. Frank Dobie author
Joe Ely musician
Roky Erickson musician
John Henry Faulk radio personality
Tom Ford fashion designer
Jimmie Dale Gilmore musician
Alberto Gonzales U.S. Attorney General
Nanci Griffith musician
Ethan Hawke actor
Tobe Hooper film director
Jaxon comic book artist, historian
Eric Johnson guitarist
Lyndon B. Johnson U.S. President
Alex Jones radio host
Janis Joplin musician
Barbara Jordan U.S. Congressman, professor
Mike Judge cartoonist, filmmaker
Harry Knowles film critic
Russell Lee photographer
Richard Linklater film director
Paul London professional wrestler
Terrence Malick film director
Tim McCanlies film director
Matthew McConaughey actor
James McMurtry musician
Nelly hip hop artist
Willie Nelson musician
Elisabet Ney artist
Chad Oliver author
O. Henry author
Andy Roddick tennis player
Robert Rodriguez film director
Virgil Runnels (Goldust) professional wrestler
Gilbert Shelton comic book artist
Bruce Sterling author
Charles Umlauf artist
Townes Van Zandt musician
Stevie Ray Vaughan musician
Howard Waldrop author
Don Webb author
Walter Prescott Webb author
Mack White comic book artist
Owen Wilson actor
Renιe Zellweger actress
A moonlight towerBuildings that comprise Austin's skyline are modest in height and somewhat spread out. The latter characteristic is due to a restriction that preserves the view of the Texas Capitol building from various locations around Austin. Austin's current tallest building, the Frost Bank Tower, opened in 2004 and stands at 515 feet.
The Congress Avenue Bridge houses the world's largest urban population of Mexican Free-tailed Bats. Starting in late February, up to 1.5 million bats take up residence inside the bridge's expansion and contraction zones, an ideally suited environment for raising their young. Every evening around sunset, the bats emerge in search of insects and more than 100,000 people watch the emergences every year. The bats migrate to Mexico each winter.
The iconic Pennybacker Bridge, also known as the "360 Bridge," crosses Lake Austin to connect north and south Loop 360.
At night, parts of Austin are lit with "artificial moonlight." Several moonlight towers, built in the late 19th century and recognized as historic landmarks, illuminate the central part of the city. The towers were prominently featured in the film Dazed and Confused. The "Zilker Tree" is a Christmas "tree" made of large lights strung from the top of the Moonlight Tower that stands in Zilker Park. The Zilker Tree is lit in early December along with the "Trail of Lights," an Austin Christmas tradition.
The University of Texas at AustinAustin is home to The University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest universities in the country and is the flagship institution of The University of Texas Systemthe largest state system of higher education in Texas. Other institutions of higher learning include Austin Community College, Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson University and St. Edward's University.
Most of the city is covered by the Austin Independent School District. Parts of Austin are served by other districts, including Round Rock Independent School District, Pflugerville Independent School District, Leander Independent School District, and Eanes Independent School District.
Researchers at Central Connecticut State University ranked Austin the 16th most literate city in America for 2005.
Media and entertainment
Austin has been the location for a number of motion pictures, partly due to the influence of The University of Texas at Austin's outstanding Department of Radio-Television-Film. Films produced in Austin include Man of the House, Secondhand Lions, Waking Life, Spy Kids, Dazed and Confused, Office Space, The Life of David Gale, Miss Congeniality, Doubting Thomas and Slacker. In order to draw future film projects to the area, the Austin Film Society has converted several airplane hangars from the former Mueller Airport into the filmmaking center, Austin Studios. Projects that have used facilities at Austin Studios include music videos by The Flaming Lips, and feature films such as 25th Hour and Sin City. Austin also hosted the MTV series, The Real World: Austin in 2005.
Austin City Limits Music Festival with view of stages and Austin skyline.Austin hosts the annual Austin Film Festival, as well as South by Southwest, which draw films of many different types from all over the world. In 2004 the city was first in Moviemaker Magazine's annual top ten cities to live and make movies.
Austin also hosts the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, which attracts musical artists from around the world. The 2005 festival included Oasis, Coldplay, and Franz Ferdinand.
Austin also has a strong theater culture, with dozens of itinerant and resident companies producing a wide variety of work. From Esther's Follies on E. 6th street to Zachary Scott on S. Lamar, live entertainment can be found around the city.
Austin is, as of 2006, the largest U.S. city by population not to have a team in one of the big four professional leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB).
Among the professional sports teams in Austin are the Austin Ice Bats of the Central Hockey League, the Austin Wranglers of the Arena Football League, and the Austin Toros of the NBDL. The Round Rock Express, affiliated with the Houston Astros, are located in nearby Round Rock, Texas and play Triple-A baseball in the Pacific Coast League. Austin is also home to the University of Texas Longhorns who recently won the 2005 College World Series (baseball) and 2005 National Championship in the Rose Bowl (football).
In addition to team sports, the combined draws of the bicycle-friendly Texas Hill Country that begins in Northwest Austin, the centrally-located Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, and local pools like Barton Springs make Austin the home of several endurance and multisport races and communities. The venerable Capitol 10,000 is the largest 10 K race in Texas, and approximately fifth largest in the nation. The Austin-founded American Swimming Association hosts the Capitol 2K and other closed-course, open water, and cable swim races around town. Austin is also the hometown of the several cycling groups and the outrageously famous Lance Armstrong. Combining these three disciplines is a growing crop of triathlons, including the Capital of Texas Triathlon held every Memorial Day on and around Town Lake, Auditorium Shores, and downtown Austin, even crossing 6th Street on several legs of the race.
Austin is served by these major highways: Interstate 35; U.S. Highways 183 and 290; Texas State Highways 45, 71, 130, Loop 1/MoPac and Loop 360.
Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) provides public transportation to the city, primarily by bus. Capital Metro is building a commuter rail system that is scheduled for completion in 2008. The system will be built on pre-existing freight rail lines and will serve Downtown Austin, East Austin, Northwest Austin and Leander in its first phase. An Amtrak Texas Eagle station is located west of Downtown. Segments of the Amtrak route between Austin and San Antonio are being evaluated for a future passenger rail corridor as an alternative to the traffic congestion of Interstate-35.
Austin's airport is Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, located 5 miles (8 km) southeast of the city.
For more information on Austin, Texas, please visit Wikipedia.