Long before Austin became the bustling city that we see today, it was a popular hunting and fishing area for many of the regional Native American tribes. Nomadic tribes, such as the Apache, Tonkawa and Comanche, made camp in the area and took advantage of the vast natural resources for their survival.
In the early 1830’s, white settlers founded a small village in the area, then called Waterloo, which was chosen as the capital of the Republic of Texas in 1839. It was then that the name of the settlement was changed to Austin, as a tribute to the founder of Texas, Stephen Austin. The small village began to grow into a thriving city in a very short period of time, with nearly 900 residents in just a few months of its selection as the capital.
The year 1845 brought the annexation of Texas into the United States. The state’s legislature approved Austin as the capital of the newly created state, and over the next several years, two public referendums confirmed this decision. Austin continued to grow and thrive, becoming the true heart of the state. When the railroad came to the city in 1871, Austin’s population exploded. Within half a decade, the population of the city rose from around 5,000 residents to 10,000.
The 1880’s brought the introduction of the city’s public school system. This, coupled with the opening of the University of Texas at Austin, brought a true sense of order and community to the city. In 1888, Austin’s state capital building was completed, bringing even more attention to the steadily growing city. It was billed at the time as the 7th largest building in the world. The building was constructed of pink granite and the peak of the building stands higher than the US Capitol building in Washington, DC.
From the early 1900’s through the 1950’s, Austin became a hub of manufacturing and innovation. There were factories, laboratories and think-tanks popping up all over the area, and many companies were finding that the city was the ideal location for their businesses. Even today, some of the best known technological innovators have their offices and factories around Austin. This high-tech attraction to the area has earned the region the nickname “The Silicon Hills.”
In the 1970’s, the interests of the people of the city seemed to turn to culture, the community and the environment. Well-known musicians, such as Willie Nelson, brought the attention of the rest of the country and the world to the city. The live music scene began to grown and Austin is now known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Communities grew close and people worked together to make their neighborhoods safe and beautiful. The people and the government took steps together to preserve the area’s natural resources and to make Austin a cleaner, greener place to live. This trend has continued up to today, with Austin being a unique city, known for its music, strong community ties, and deep interest in environmental issues.
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