History of Austin, TX

Austin city is the capital of Texas, US and it is located at the point where the Colorado River crosses the Balcones Escarpment in the South Central part of Texas. It is the fourth largest city in Texas, encompassing Bastrop Williamson, Hays, and Caldwell counties.

Hundreds of years before the city was founded, the nomadic tribes of Tonkawas, Comanches, and Lipan Apaches hunted and camped along its creeks. In the late 1700s, the missions were set up by the Spanish in this area.

In 1830s, Anglo-American settlers arrived in Central Texas. In 1837, the settlers founded a riverside village called Waterloo along the banks of Colorado River. This was the first settlement in the area. In 1839 the tiny village of Waterloo was selected by scouts to be the permanent capital of the new Republic of Texas. Waterloo was later renamed Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin, the father of Texas. Judge Edwin surveyed the site and laid out a street plan, which is intact to date. He later became the first mayor of the city. In October the same year, President Lamar and the entire government of Texas moved from Houston to Austin in oxcarts, and the population of Austin blew.


By 1840, Austin had 856 residents. In 1842, Mexican invasion threatened Texas and the government moved back to Houston. This was a big blow to Austin, and the city’s population dropped to below 200 people. Sam Houston, who became the president of Texas in 1842, tried to move state records to Houston, fearing that Austin would be captured by the Mexicans who had just captured San Antonio. The residents of Austin, determined to retain Austin as the capital, staged the Archive War and forcibly kept government records. The government would later return to Austin in 1845, which is the year that the United States annexed Texas. When Texas became part of the United States, it took two statewide elections to keep Austin the capital of Texas.

Austin was restored to its capital status in 1846, and it experienced immense prosperity. In 1853, the first permanent state capitol was built out of pure limestone near the present day Confederate Soldiers Monument. The building served as the Lone Star State during the civil war in 1861-1865. During this period, Austin suffered severe food shortages. The capitol burned down in November 1881 and it was succeeded by the present day capitol in 1888, which was built using sunset red granite from a quarry in Burnet County.

After the civil war, the black population in Austin Texas grew, and black churches and neighborhoods were established. The railroad arrived in 1871 and this diversified Austin’s population, bringing in more German, Irish, Mexican, and Swedish settlers.

In September 1881, the public schools in Austin admitted their first classes and the University of Texas was founded in 1883. The city experienced segregation throughout the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The University of Texas admitted its first black undergraduates in 1956.

Significant improvements happened in the city during the 1920s-1950s. Dams were built, the government structure changed twice, there were a lot of technological innovations and in 1960s major companies including IBM and Motorola moved their headquarters to Austin.  

Today, Austin is famous for its vibrant culture, tech innovations, and excellent educational opportunities

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