|City of Austin|
Downtown skyline as seen from Lady Bird Lake
Location in the state of Texas
Austin is the capital of the US state of Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas, Austin is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and thefourth-most populous city in Texas. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in the nation from 2000 to 2006.Austin is also the second largest state capital in the United States, after Phoenix, Arizona. Austin had a July 1, 2013 population of 885,400 (U.S. Census Bureau estimate). The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of 1,883,051 as of July 1, 2013.
In the 1830s, pioneers began to settle the area in central Austin along theColorado River. After Republic of Texas Vice President Mirabeau B. Lamarvisited the area during a buffalo-hunting expedition between 1837 and 1838, he proposed that the republic's capital then located 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 site was officially chosen as the republic's new capital (the republic's seventh and final location) and was incorporated under the name Waterloo. Shortly thereafter, 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 Capitoland the University of Texas at Austin. After a lull in growth from the Great Depression, Austin resumed its development into a major city and, by the 1980s, it emerged as a center for technology and business. A number ofFortune 500 companies have headquarters or regional offices in Austin including Advanced Micro Devices, Apple Inc., Cisco, eBay, Google, IBM,Intel, Texas Instruments, 3M, Oracle Corporation and Whole Foods Market. Dell's worldwide headquarters is located in nearby Round Rock, asuburb of Austin.
Residents of Austin are known as "Austinites". They include a diverse mix of government employees (e.g., university faculty and staff, law enforcement, political staffers); foreign and domestic college students; musicians; high-tech workers; blue-collar workers and businesspeople.The city is home to development centers for many technology corporations; it adopted the "Silicon Hills" nickname in the 1990s. However, the current official slogan promotes Austin as "The Live Music Capital of the World", a reference to the many musicians and live music venues within the area, and the long-running PBS TV concert series Austin City Limits. In recent years, some Austinites have also adopted the unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird". This interpretation of the classic, "Texas-style" sense of independence refers to: a desire to protect small, unique, local businesses from being overrun by large corporations. However, many residents have rejected this slogan, inspiring Austinite and award-winning actor and directorKen Webster to offer "Keep Austin Cool" as a compromise. In the late 1800s, Austin also became known as the City of the "Violet Crown" for the wintertime violet glow of color across the hills just after sunset. Even today, many Austin businesses use the term "violet crown" in their name. Austin is known as a "clean air city" for the city's stringent no-smoking ordinances that apply to all public places and buildings, including restaurants and bars. The FBI ranked Austin as the second safest major city in the U.S. for the year 2012.
Austin has a strong theater culture, with dozens of itinerant and resident companies producing a variety of work. The city also has live performance theater venues such as the Zachary Scott Theatre Center, Vortex Repertory Company, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Rude Mechanicals' the Off Center, Austin Playhouse, Scottish Rite Children's Theater, Hyde Park Theatre, the Blue Theater, The Hideout Theatre, and Esther's Follies. The Victory Grill was a renowned venue on theChitlin' circuit. Public art and performances in the parks and on bridges are popular. Austin hosts the Fuse Box Festival each April featuring international, leading-edge theater artists.
The Paramount Theatre, opened in downtown Austin in 1915, contributes to Austin's theater and film culture, showing classic films throughout the summer and hosting regional premieres for films such as Miss Congeniality. The Zilker Park Summer Musical is a long-running outdoor musical.
The Long Center for the Performing Arts is a 2,300-seat theater built partly with materials reused from the old Lester E. Palmer Auditorium.
Ballet Austin is the fourth largest ballet academy in the country. Each year Ballet Austin's 20-member professional company performs ballets from a wide variety of choreographers, including their international award winning artistic director,Stephen Mills. The city is also home to the Ballet East Dance Company, a modern dance ensemble, and the Tapestry Dance Company which performs a variety of dance genres.
The Austin improvisational theatre scene has several theaters: ColdTowne Theater, The Hideout Theater, The New Movement Theater, and The Institution Theater. Austin also hosts the Out of Bounds Improv Festival, which draws comedic artists in all disciplines to Austin.
Museums in Austin include the Texas Memorial Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art (reopened in 2006), the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum across the street (which opened in 2000), the Austin Museum of Art (AMOA), the Elisabet Ney Museum and the galleries at the Harry Ransom Center. The Texas State Capitol itself is also a major tourist attraction. The Driskill Hotel built in 1886, once owned by George W. Littlefield, and located at 6th and Brazos streets, was finished just before the construction of the Capitol building. Sixth Street is a musical hub for the city. The Enchanted Forest, a multi-acre outdoor music, art, and performance art space in South Austin hosts events such as fire-dancing and circus-like-acts.Austin is also home to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, which houses documents and artifacts related to the Johnson administration, including LBJ's limousine and a re-creation of the Oval Office.
Locally produced art is featured at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. The Mexic-Arte Museum is a Latin American art museum founded in 1983. Austin is also home to the O. Henry House Museum, which served as the residence of O. Henry from 1893 to 1895. Farmers' markets are popular attractions, providing a variety of locally grown and often organic foods.
Austin also has many odd statues and landmarks, such as the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, the Willie Nelson statue, the Mangia dinosaur, the Loca Maria lady at Taco Xpress, the Hyde Park Gym's giant flexed arm, and Daniel Johnston's Hi, How are You? Jeremiah the Innocent frog mural.
The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge houses the world's largest urban population of Mexican Free-tailed Bats. Starting in March, up to 1.5 million bats take up residence inside the bridge's expansion and contraction zones as well as in long horizontal grooves running the length of the bridge's underside, an environment ideally suited for raising their young. Every evening around sunset, the bats emerge in search of insects, an exit visible on weather radar. Watching the bat emergence is an event that is popular with locals and tourists, with more than 100,000 viewers per year. The bats migrate to Mexico each winter.
The Austin Zoo, located in unincorporated western Travis County, is a rescue zoo that provides sanctuary to displaced animals from a variety of situations, including those involving neglect.
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department received the Excellence in Aquatics award in 1999 and the Gold Medal Awards in 2004 from the National Recreation and Park Association.Home to more than 50 public swimming pools, Austin has parks and pools throughout the city. There are several well-known swimming locations. These include Deep Eddy Pool, Texas' oldest man-made swimming pool, and Barton Springs Pool, the nation's largest natural swimming pool in an urban area.Barton Springs Pool is spring-fed while Deep Eddy is well-fed. Both range in temperature from about 68.0 °F (20.0 °C) during the winter to about 71.6 °F (22.0 °C) during the summer. Hippie Hollow Park, a county park situated along Lake Travis, is the only officially sanctioned clothing-optional public park in Texas. Activities include rockclimbing, kayaking, swimming, mountain biking, exploring, and hiking along the greenbelt, a long-spanning area that runs through the city. Zilker Park, a large green area close to downtown, forms part of the greenbelt along the Colorado River. Hamilton Pool is a pool and wildlife park located about 30 minutes from the city.