How did Austin come to be?history book
(my teachers would be so proud of me for paying attention)


Before being settled by early Americans, the land that the City of Austin now occupies was home to the Tickanwatic tribe of American Indians.  After being forced out of their land by more settlers claiming this land, the Indian tribe moved away.  As the area began to grow the region was know as Waterloo.  

  • 1836 - Battle of San Jacinto, and Texas won its Independence from Mexico.

  • 1836 - 1st election for the President of the Republic was held.  Sam Houston won.

  • 1838 - Mirabeau Lamar succeeded Sam Houston as President.   The Republic began to look for a permanent place for the state capital, Lamar suggested Waterloo.

  • 1839 - A location was chosen and the city of Waterloo became the City of Austin, named in honor of Stephen F. Austin (the "Father of Texas").  Mirabeau Lamar declared Austin the capital of Texas.  Most early Texas politicians agreed with declaring Austin the capital - all except Sam Houston.  The first capitol building was a log cabin built where the Austin city hall now stands.

  • 1841 - Sam Houston  succeeded Lamar as President.  Sam Houston was so determined to have his namesake city become the capital that on New Year's Eve 1842 he sent Texas Rangers into Austin to steal all of the government papers.  The Rangers almost got away with it, however an Austinite spotted the crime and reported the theft.  The documents were returned and Austin became the capital of the Texas government.  Houston did become a much larger city. 

  • 1844 - Anson Jones was elected President.

  • 1845 - Texas was admitted to the Union as the 28th state.

  • 1848 - The annexation of Texas causes the Mexican American War.  The United states army wins the war and Mexico relinquishes all right to Texas.

  • 1853 - The new capitol building, built on Capitol Square was completed.

  • 1861 - Texas seceded from the Union.

  • 1865, June 19 - Gordon Granger, Union General declared that all slaves were free.

  • 1869 - First pontoon bridge across the Colorado River allowed opened.

  • 1871 - Railroad arrived in Austin.

  • 1876 - First wooden bridge across the Colorado was opened.  Shortly thereafter it collapsed under the weight of a ranchers cattle being herded across the bridge.  The first public school was also opened.

  • 1881 - The stone and wood capitol was destroyed by a fire.

  • 1883 - A new temporary capitol was built on 11th street & Congress Avenue.  The newly opened University of Texas held its first classes here.

  • 1884 - The first building at the University of Texas was completed, Old Main.  The next year St. Edward's College opened.

  • 1888 - The new state Capitol building was completed.

  • 1890 - The first of a series of dams along the Colorado River was completed, this created Lake McDonald, we know now know it as Lake Austin.

  • 1900 - Heavy rains caused the dam to break and sent big chucks of granite and tons of water down the Colorado river below.  Later in the 1930's a new dam was constructed, know as the Tom Miller Dam.

  • 1909 - With the development of Woodridge Park, a series of parks began to open.

  • 1918 - Andrew Zilker sold part of his land to the City of Austin to allow Barton Springs and Zilker Park to be constructed.

  • 1926 - First Austin public library opened.

  • 1930 - The first airport opened in Austin

  • 1935 The University of Texas Tower was completed.

  • 1938 - The LCRA began construction on a series of dams that created the Highland Lakes system.

  • 1946 - The City of Austin purchased the right of way for Interstate Highway 35.

  • 1952 - The first television show to air in Austin was on Thanksgiving Day,  KTBC went on the air with the University of Texas vs Texas A & M football game.

  • 1955 - The City of Austin acquired the land for Highway 1 (Mo-Pac).

  • 1970 - The beginning of the live music scene arrived.  The Armadillo World Headquarters opened in Austin.

  • 1982 - The 360 bridge was dedicated.  The bridge actually has the name of the Percy V. Pennybacker Bridge and connected north Austin to south Austin across Lake Austin.

  • 1984  - Michael Dell started Dell Computers.  This was the beginning of an influx of high-tech, semiconductor and start-up companies to Austin.  And it is still going on.

  • 1985 - South by Southwest (SXSW) held its first music conference in Austin.  The conference gains worldwide attention every year.

  • 1992 - The Austin Convention Center was opened.

  • 1993 - The Bergstrom Air Force base was closed and the City of Austin began planning to convert the facility into the new airport that Austin desperately needed.

  • 1995 - The renovation and expansion to the capitol building was completed.  It took over 6 years and $187 million dollars.

  • 1999 - The new Austin-Bergstrom International Airport opened for business.  

  • 1999 - This year also marked the re-opening of the University of Texas observation tower.  It had been closed to the public 30 years prior.

  • 2000 - The City of Austin holds an A2K Party to ring in the new millennium.  About 260,000 people attended.  

Today Austin is an exciting mix of people, religions and cultures.  It is not uncommon to see someone with multiple body piercing walking along Congress Avenue next to a government representative in a suit.  Having the University of Texas located in the heart of downtown Austin has played a huge part in the defining the culture in Austin.  Along the way the city of Austin has picked up several nicknames including: "Live Music Capital of the World" (because of the number of music venues, bands, concerts etc. that make its home in Austin), "Third Coast" (because of all of the film industry influence), "Silicon Hills" (due to the number of high-tech industries that have moved to Austin) and the "best place on the planet to live"

What’s in a name

I’m sure you have wondered "where did they come up with that name?".  Well...here’s a helpful guide:

I-35 A parking lot - ok that was a joke. Traffic on the north/south highway can get to be a big mess most of the day. Because of the increased number of people in Austin and the increase in the amount of travel between Dallas and San Antonio, the highway can cause you serious traffic headaches. The City of Austin is very aware of the issues and is working on a resolution plan.
Balcones Fault
(Bal-CONE-ays)
The City of Austin is located on the Balcones Fault.  Where the Hill Country of East Texas meet the plains of West Texas a fault line exists.   West of Hwy 1 (Mo-Pac) you can see the geography change.
Burnet (Burn-it) North/south running street.
Caesar Chavez 1st street in downtown Austin
Lake Travis,
Lake Austin,
Town Lake
What’s the difference? Location, location, location. Yes all three are a part of the Colorado River. North of Austin, between Marble Falls Dam and Highway 620 is Lake Travis.  The longest in the Highland Lakes chain, Lake Travis is popular for skiing, boating, sailing and scuba diving. From the Mansfield dam (at Highway 620) down to the Tom Miller dam (next to the Hula Hut restaurant) is Lake Austin (it is a long, skinny river with high limestone cliff walls) - perfect for water skiing  From the Tom Miller dam through the downtown City of Austin is Town Lake – no motorized vehicles are allowed on the water (unless it is a charter), neither is swimming. Canoeing and rowing are popular Town Lake activity.  Check out the water,water,water section.
Llano Estacado
(Yah-No) (S-ta-ca-do)
The name of a winery.  Also the name of the plains area where the Hill country of East Texas meets the Plains of West Texas.  It's the transition area.
Mo-Pac (Mo-Pack) Also know as Highway 1. It is one of the central traffic arteries that runs north/south through Austin. Named for the Missouri Pacific railroad line that runs along side of it.


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