San Marcos is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Austin–Round Rock–San Marcos metropolitan area. The city is on the Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio and is the seat of Hays County. Its population was 44,894 in 2010. In 2013 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population at 54,076.
Founded on the banks of the San Marcos River, the area is thought to be among the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the Americas. San Marcos is home to Texas State University and the Aquarena Center.
In 2010, San Marcos was listed in Business Week's fourth annual survey of the "Best Places to Raise your Kids".In 2013 and 2014, the United States Census Bureau named San Marcos the fastest-growing city in the United States. In December 2013, San Marcos was named #9 on Business Insider's list of the "10 Most Exciting Small Cities In America".
San Marcos City Hall(June 2010)
|Nickname(s): San Marvelous|
|Coordinates: 29°52′46″N 97°56′20″W|
San Marcos is in an area locally known as Central Texas. It is 29 miles southwest of Austin and 47 miles northeast of San Antonio. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2010, the city had a total area of 30.22 square miles (78.269 km2). Interstate 35 is the main highway through the city. The city is situated on the Balcones Fault, the boundary between the Hill Country and the Coastal Plains. Along the fault, many springs emerge, such as San Marcos Springs, which forms Spring Lake and is the source of the San Marcos River. The eastern part of the city is blackland prairie. The western part consists of forested or grassy rolling hills, often marked with cacti.
The San Marcos River and the Blanco River flow through the city, along with Cottonwood Creek, Purgatory Creek, Sink Creek, and Willow Springs Creek.
San Marcos' central location along IH-35 and strong infrastructure makes it ideal for a myriad for industry sectors. The city includes competitive business incentives, a high quality of life, regional airports and proximity to major international airports, access to major roadways like IH-35, SH-130, SH-183, and IH-10, networking opportunities and support for small businesses and entrepreneurs, a healthy tax structure, and a diverse and talented workforce.
Along with its easy access to air travel, the city has ready access to several freight routes and IH-35 and IH-10, which run north/south and east/west respectively, through the region. The excellent access points of the area provide an easy route to major cities in Texas such as Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston, as well as metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. and northern Mexico.
The region has several institutions of higher education that provide a continual source of talent for the region’s workforce. These institutions include the fourth largest university in the state, Texas State University; Gary Job Corps, an education and career technical training program; and two Austin Community College campuses.
The area’s quality of life is highlighted by the San Marcos River, which is naturally fed by the San Marcos Springs. Many other lakes and rivers dot the local landscape, and the region’s location within the Texas Hill Country provides easy access to the many outdoor amenities found here. In June 2006, The View named the San Marcos Outlets as the third-best place to shop in the world. About six million people visit the malls annually.
The San Marcos River and the Blanco River flow through the city, along with Cottonwood Creek, Purgatory Creek, Sink Creek, and Willow Springs Creek. Each of these rivers and creeks has parks or nature preserves with hiking trails along them.
The San Marcos River rises from the San Marcos Springs. The springs are home to several threatened or endangered species, including the Texas Blind Salamander, Fountain Darter, San Marcos gambusia, and Texas Wild Rice. The river begins at San Marcos Springs, rising from the Edwards Aquifer into Spring Lake. The upper river flows through Texas State University and San Marcos and is a popular recreational area. It is joined by the Blanco River after four miles, passes through Luling and near Gonzales, and flows into the Guadalupe River after 75 miles (121 km). This course is the first leg of the Texas Water Safari.
In 2010, San Marcos was listed in Business Week magazine's fourth annual survey of the "Best Places to Raise your Kids." In 2013 and 2014, the United States Census Bureau named San Marcos the fastest-growing city in the United States. In December 2013, San Marcos was named #9 on the Business Insider list of the "10 Most Exciting Small Cities In America."
The river is a popular recreational area and is frequented by residents and tourists for tubing, canoeing, swimming, andfishing. The Texas Water Safari starts in San Marcos on the first Saturday in June each year. Due in part to its natural beauty, the city was nicknamed "San Marvelous." The City of San Marcos references the nickname in its "Keep San Marcos Beautiful" campaign.
The intersection of LBJ Drive and MLK Drive in San Marcos is thought to be the only place in the nation where streets named after both men meet. The City of San Marcos and the San Marcos Arts Commission broke ground in January 2013 on a commemorative sculpture that will sit at the intersection. Designed by Aaron P. Hussey, the sculpture will depict Johnson and King conversing in the Oval Office. The sculpture was officially unveiled on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2014.
The town center (referred to locally as "the square") was laid out in 1851. The Hays County Courthouse, which sits in the center, was built in 1908. The downtown area surrounding the courthouse is home to many of the city's bars, restaurants, boutiques, and music venues, making it a top entertainment destination. The Texas Music Theater, directly across the street from the courthouse, hosted the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Lone Star Music Awards.
For more than 20 years, the San Marcos Performing Arts Commission and the San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department have hosted the Summer in the Park concert series with live music at an outdoor venue every Thursday night from June to August. Contributing to the music scene in San Marcos, Texas State University hosts the Hill Country Jazz Festival and Eddie Durham Celebration annually. KTSW, the university's radio station, also holds an annual festival called MR Fest. "MR" stands for "My Radio" but is pronounced "mister." In 2012, local entrepreneurs began hosting an ongoing outdoor concert series called Foodstock (a play on Woodstock) to benefit the Hays County Food Bank.
Many television shows and movies have filmed in San Marcos, including Boyhood, American Crime, That's What I'm Talking About, Piranha, The Ringer, Courage Under Fire, The New Guy, The Faculty, Idiocracy, The Getaway, The War at Home, Little Boy Blue, Flesh and Bone, Race With the Devil, The Tree of Life, Vikingsand Friday Night Lights.
Local media includes the San Marcos Daily Record, the San Marcos Mercury, and The University Star.
Archeologists have found evidence at the San Marcos River associated with the Clovis culture, which suggests that the river has been the site of human habitation for more than 10,000 years. The headwaters of the cool, clear river are the San Marcos Springs, fed by the Edwards Aquifer. The San Marcos Springs are the third largest collection of springs in Texas. Never in recorded history has the river run dry.
In 1689, Spaniard Alonso de Leon led an expedition from Mexico to explore Texas and establish missions and presidios in the region. De Leon's party helped blaze the Camino Real (later known as the Old San Antonio Road), which followed present-day Hunter Road, Hopkins Street, and Aquarena Springs Drive (the route later shifted four miles to the south; it is now followed by County Road 266, known locally as Old Bastrop Highway). De Leon's party reached the river on April 25, the feast day of St. Mark the Evangelist; the river was thus named the San Marcos.
In January 1808, a small group of Mexican families settled at the Old Bastrop Highway crossing of the river, and named the settlement Villa de San Marcos de Neve. The settlers were plagued by floods and Indian raids, and the settlement was abandoned in 1812.
In November 1846 the first Anglos settled in the vicinity of the San Marcos Springs. The Texas Legislature organized Hays County on March 1, 1848, and designated San Marcos as the county seat. In 1851 a town center was laid out about a mile southwest of the headwaters of the river. The town became a center forginning and milling local agricultural products. The town's most notable founder and early settler was Gen. Edward Burleson, a hero of the Texas Revolution and former vice president of the Republic of Texas. Burleson built a dam on the upper reaches of the river in 1849. The dam powered several mills, including one within present-day Sewell Park.
In the decade following the arrival of the International-Great Northern Railroad in 1881, cattle and cotton provided the basis for the growth of San Marcos as a center for commerce and transportation.
In 1899, Southwest Texas State Normal School (now known as Texas State University) was established as a teacher's college to meet demand for public school teachers in Texas. In 1907 the San Marcos Baptist Academy was established,furthering education as an important industry for the town. The demands of World War II forced the town's industry to diversify, and with the emergence of a manufacturing and light industrial sector the town began to experience growth.
In the late 1940s, former Hollywood director Shadrack Graham produced a documentary about daily life in San Marcos as part of his “Our Home Town” series of films that encouraged commerce and civic activity in small communities. The film highlights several local businesses from the era, including Smith's Flowers, Waldrin's Cleaners, Lack's Furniture, and the Palace Movie Theater.
Gary Air Force Base, just east of town, was opened in 1942 as San Marcos Army Air Field, renamed San Marcos Air Force Base in 1947, and renamed finally in 1953 in honor of Lieutenant Arthur Edward Gary, killed at Clark Field in the Philippines on December 7, 1941, the first San Marcan to die in World War II. During the war, the base trained over 10,000 navigators, and in the following years was the largest center of Air Force and Army helicopter training for pilots and mechanics in the United States, with 21 squadrons and 4800 personnel stationed there. The base was handed over to the Army in 1956, renamed Camp Gary, and was closed in 1963. Subsequently, part of the base was taken over by the city for use as San Marcos Airport, while another part was reopened in 1966 as the Gary Job CorpsCenter.
In the 1960s, with the establishment of Aquarena Springs and Wonder World as attractions, the tourist industry became a growing part of the city's economy. By the 1960s what was then named Southwest Texas State University had grown into an important regional institution, and when coupled with the creation of Gary Job Corps Training Center in 1965, education became the largest industry in San Marcos. The remarkable growth explosion of Austin further allowed San Marcos to prosper.
By 1973, San Marcos and Hays County were included by the U. S. Census Bureau in the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area. By that year the city's population had grown to 25,000 citizens, along with an additional Southwest Texas State University student body of 20,000.
By 1990, the city's population had grown to 28,743, by 2000 it reached 34,733, and by 2010, it was 44,894. A report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in May, 2013 stated that San Marcos had the highest rate of growth among all U.S. cities and towns with at least 50,000 people. Its population rose 6.9 percent between 2011 and 2012. The university, now known as Texas State University, boasts a student body of 34,225.
Lloyd Gideon Johnson House (1919), built by a local banker, home of the San Marcos Masonic Lodge 1937-1990, now restored as a private home
The old San Marcos Telephone Company building.
The Outlet Mall
Fort Street Presbyterian Church, 2012
Entrance to Gary Job Corps Center east of San Marcos