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The History and Culture Behind Austin, Texas

During your first visit to Austin, Texas, you’ll likely make a list of more fantastic things you want to see and do the next time around. This energetic city with a remarkable history can hardly wait to whisk you off of your feet and onto the dance floor for a honky-tonkin’ good time.

 

A little background on Austin’s history:

Originally inhabited by immigrants from Germany, Sweden and Mexico, recorded history documents settlers reaching Central Texas in the 1830s. By 1837, they founded a village named Waterloo, which would be renamed Austin in 1839 and serve as the capital of the Republic of Texas.

 

Political Roots

The first Capitol building is described on The State Preservation Board website as “a log cabin with two large rooms and smaller meeting rooms.” Just a few years later (in 1853), the Board goes on to say: “Texas constructed a limestone Capitol located at Capitol Square (near the present-day Confederate Heroes Monument on the Great Walk).” Austin’s history is intertwined with state politics. The Republic of Texas was formed on March 2, 1836, later annexed by the U.S. on December 29, 1845.

 

Continued Growth

In the 1870s, the second surge in construction came to Austin thanks to the railroad’s arrival. On Christmas of 1871, the railroad reached the city. The Texas State Historical Association notes “for many years railroad extension and economic growth paralleled each other.”

 

The University’s Arrival

The University of Texas at Austin dates back to 1883, its opening bringing with it a burst of new opportunity. Just a few years later, the Driskell Hotel’s 1886 opening saw a city that continued to grow and take shape. The hotel is described as “a landmark of Texas hospitality,” hosting many “legendary meetings” including former presidents and Texas governors.

 

Distinctly Austin

Known today as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” the musical roots of this great city can be traced back to the late 1800s. Originally a German social club, Scholz’s Garden has been serving patrons since 1866 and is “the oldest business in Texas” according to their website. Dessau Dance Hall, built in 1876, served as a popular musical hot spot for more than a century.

 

Ever-evolving

Today, the city is home to more than 250 live music venues and seemingly endless restaurant options serving everything from classic Texas barbecue to delectable Banh Mi. Whether it is exploring Downtown Austin, or shopping in one of the city’s districts (six and growing)… the atmosphere is a true joy, and every boutique offers something unique. Take in views of the Colorado River and the city’s skyline after a hike up Mount Bonnell, find delight in the ever-changing landscape at Graffiti Park and Hope Outdoor Gallery or unwind on the Boardwalk Trail at Lady Bird Lake. There are so many one-of-a-kind experiences here: bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge at sunset, the fascinating Cathedral of Junk and the historic Barton Springs Pool. The list goes on and on. As you get to know this charming place, you’ll understand what the buzz is all about.

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