Austin is the capital of Texas and a fast-growing city of about 700,000 people. The traditional dividing line between East Austin and West is Interstate 35. The majority of East Austin residents are African-Americans and Mexican-Americans, in part because of a history of segregation that included white city planners actually pushing communities of color off valuable downtown land. As the Austin metropolitan area sprawls and prices rise for centrally located real estate, gentrification is posing a less blatant, but no less real, threat to East Austin's deep-rooted communities.

Nevertheless, the communities remain vibrant and Austin’s changing demographic profile adds strength and vitality to “minority” communities. More than half of the students in Austin schools are Hispanic, for example, reflecting a growing Latino presence not just in the schools, but in business and politics. African-Americans, too, play a major role in the school board, county commissioners’ races, and chamber of commerce. But while the future of Austin will no doubt differ greatly from its past, East Austin will remain central to the city’s social and economic networks.

Use these resources to find out more about the past and present of Austin, Texas.