This article is about the capital city of Texas. It is not to be confused with Austin County, Texas
As of the U.S. Census Bureau
's July 1, 2019 estimate, Austin had a population of 978,908,
up from 790,491 at the 2010 census
The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock
metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,227,083 as of July 1, 2019, nearly an 80% increase from the year 2000.
Located in Central Texas
within the greater Texas Hill Country
, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake
and Lake Travis
on the Colorado River
, Barton Springs
, McKinney Falls
, and Lake Walter E. Long
Residents of Austin are known as Austinites
They include a diverse mix of government employees, college students, musicians, high-tech workers, and blue-collar workers
. The city's official slogan promotes Austin as "The Live Music Capital of the World", a reference to the city's many musicians and live music venues, as well as the long-running PBS
TV concert series Austin City Limits
The city also adopted "Silicon Hills
" as a nickname in the 1990s due to a rapid influx of technology and development companies. In recent years, some Austinites have adopted the unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird
which refers to the desire to protect small, unique, and local businesses from being overrun by large corporations.
Since the late 19th century, Austin has also been known as the "City of the Violet Crown
", because of the colorful glow of light across the hills just after sunset.
Emerging from a strong economic focus on government and education, since the 1990s Austin has become a center for technology and business.
A number of Fortune 500
companies have headquarters or regional offices in Austin, including 3M
, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
, NXP semiconductors
, Texas Instruments
, and Whole Foods Market
worldwide headquarters is located in the nearby suburb of Round Rock
With regard to education, Austin is the home of the University of Texas at Austin
, which is one of the largest universities in the U.S. and is attended by over 50,000 students.
Austin, Travis County and Williamson County have been the site of human habitation since at least 9200 BC. The area's earliest known inhabitants lived during the late Pleistocene
(Ice Age) and are linked to the Clovis culture
around 9200 BC (over 11,200 years ago), based on evidence found throughout the area and documented at the much-studied Gault Site
, midway between Georgetown
and Fort Hood
When settlers arrived from Europe, the Tonkawa
tribe inhabited the area. The Comanches
and Lipan Apaches
were also known to travel through the area.
Spanish colonists, including the Espinosa
expedition, traveled through the area, though few permanent settlements were created for some time.
In 1730, three missions from East Texas
were combined and reestablished as one mission on the south side of the Colorado River, in what is now Zilker Park
, in Austin. The mission was in this area for only about seven months, and then was moved to San Antonio de Béxar
and split into three missions.
During the 1830s, pioneers began to settle the area in central Austin along the Colorado River
. Spanish forts were established in what are now Bastrop
and San Marcos
Following Mexico's independence
, new settlements were established in Central Texas, but growth in the region was stagnant because of conflicts with the regional Native Americans.
Statue of the Goddess of Liberty on the Texas State Capitol
grounds prior to installation on top of the rotunda
In 1835–1836, Texans fought and won independence from Mexico
. Texas thus became an independent country with its own president, congress, and monetary system. After Vice President Mirabeau B. Lamar
visited the area during a buffalo
-hunting expedition between 1837 and 1838, he proposed that the republic's capital, then 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 chosen to replace Houston
as the capital of the Republic of Texas
and was incorporated under the name "Waterloo". Shortly afterward, 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 Capitol
and the University of Texas at Austin
After a severe lull in economic growth from the Great Depression
, Austin resumed its steady development.
In 1839, the Texas Congress formed a commission to seek a site for a new capital to be named for Stephen F. Austin
Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the newly formed Republic of Texas, advised the commissioners to investigate the area named Waterloo, noting the area's hills, waterways, and pleasant surroundings.
Waterloo was selected, and "Austin" was chosen as the town's new name.
The location was seen as a convenient crossroads for trade routes between Santa Fe
and Galveston Bay
, as well as routes between northern Mexico and the Red River
Second capitol building in Austin
was picked by Lamar to survey the village and draft a plan laying out the new capital.
The original site was narrowed to 640 acres (260 ha) that fronted the Colorado River between two creeks, Shoal Creek and Waller Creek, which was later named in his honor. Waller and a team of surveyors developed Austin's first city plan
, commonly known as the Waller Plan
, dividing the site into a 14-block grid plan bisected by a broad north–south thoroughfare, Congress Avenue, running up from the river to Capital Square, where the new Texas State Capitol was to be constructed. A temporary one-story capitol was erected on the corner of Colorado and 8th Streets. On August 1, 1839, the first auction of 217 out of 306 lots total was held.
The Waller Plan designed and surveyed now forms the basis of downtown Austin.
In 1840, a series of conflicts between the Texas Rangers
and the Comanches
, known as the Council House Fight
and the Battle of Plum Creek
, pushed the Comanches westward, mostly ending conflicts in Central Texas.
Settlement in the area began to expand quickly. Travis County was established in 1840, and the surrounding counties were mostly established within the next two decades.
Initially, the new capital thrived but Lamar's political enemy, Sam Houston
, used two Mexican army incursions to San Antonio
as an excuse to move the government. Sam Houston fought bitterly against Lamar's decision to establish the capital in such a remote wilderness. The men and women who traveled mainly from Houston to conduct government business were intensely disappointed as well. By 1840, the population had risen to 856, of whom nearly half fled from Austin when Congress recessed.
The resident African American
population listed in January of this same year was 176.
The fear of Austin's proximity to the Indians and Mexico, which still considered Texas a part of their land, created an immense motive for Sam Houston, the first and third President of the Republic of Texas, to relocate the capital once again in 1841. Upon threats of Mexican troops in Texas, Houston raided the Land Office to transfer all official documents to Houston for safe keeping in what was later known as the Archive War
, but the people of Austin would not allow this unaccompanied decision to be executed. The documents stayed, but the capital would temporarily move from Austin to Houston to Washington-on-the-Brazos
. Without the governmental body, Austin's population declined to a low of only a few hundred people throughout the early 1840s. The voting by the fourth President of the Republic, Anson Jones
, and Congress, who reconvened in Austin in 1845, settled the issue to keep Austin the seat of government, as well as annex the Republic of Texas into the United States.
In 1860, 38% of Travis County residents were slaves
In 1861, with the outbreak of the American Civil War
, voters in Austin and other Central Texas communities voted against secession.
However, as the war progressed and fears of attack by Union
forces increased, Austin contributed hundreds of men to the Confederate
forces. The African American population of Austin swelled dramatically after the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation
in Texas by Union
General Gordon Granger
at Galveston, in an event commemorated as Juneteenth
. Black communities such as Wheatville
, Pleasant Hill, and Clarksville were established, with Clarksville being the oldest surviving freedomtown ‒ the original post-Civil War settlements founded by former African-American slaves ‒ west of the Mississippi River
In 1870, blacks made up 36.5% of Austin's population.
An 1873 illustration of Edwin Waller's layout for Austin
The postwar period saw dramatic population and economic growth. The opening of the Houston and Texas Central Railway
(H&TC) in 1871
turned Austin into the major trading center for the region, with the ability to transport both cotton and cattle. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas
(MKT) line followed close behind.
Austin was also the terminus of the southernmost leg of the Chisholm Trail
, and "drovers" pushed cattle north to the railroad.
Cotton was one of the few crops produced locally for export, and a cotton gin
engine was located downtown near the trains for "ginning" cotton of its seeds and turning the product into bales for shipment.
However, as other new railroads were built through the region in the 1870s, Austin began to lose its primacy in trade to the surrounding communities.
In addition, the areas east of Austin took over cattle and cotton production from Austin, especially in towns like Hutto
that sit over the blackland prairie
, with its deep, rich soils for producing cotton and hay.
In September 1881, Austin public schools held their first classes. The same year, Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute (now part of Huston–Tillotson University
) opened its doors. The University of Texas
held its first classes in 1883, although classes had been held in the original wooden state capitol for four years before.
During the 1880s, Austin gained new prominence as the state capitol building
was completed in 1888 and claimed as the seventh largest building in the world.
In the late 19th century, Austin expanded its city limits to more than three times its former area, and the first granite dam was built on the Colorado River to power a new street car line and the new "moon towers
The first dam washed away in a flood on April 7, 1900.
In the late 1920s and 1930s, Austin implemented the 1928 Austin city plan
through a series of civic development and beautification projects that created much of the city's infrastructure and many of its parks. In addition, the state legislature established the Lower Colorado River Authority
(LCRA) that, along with the city of Austin, created the system of dams along the Colorado River to form the Highland Lakes
. These projects were enabled in large part because the Public Works Administration
provided Austin with greater funding for municipal construction projects than other Texas cities.
During the early twentieth century, a three-way system of social segregation emerged in Austin, with Anglos, African Americans and Mexicans being separated by custom or law in most aspects of life, including housing, health care, and education. Many of the municipal improvement programs initiated during this period—such as the construction of new roads, schools, and hospitals—were deliberately designed to institutionalize this system of segregation. Deed restrictions also played an important role in residential segregation. After 1935 most housing deeds prohibited African Americans (and sometimes other nonwhite groups) from using land.
Combined with the system of segregated public services, racial segregation increased in Austin during the first half of the twentieth century, with African Americans and Mexicans experiencing high levels of discrimination and social marginalization.
In 1940, the destroyed granite dam on the Colorado River was finally replaced by a hollow concrete dam
that formed Lake McDonald (now called Lake Austin
) and which has withstood all floods since. In addition, the much larger Mansfield Dam was built by the LCRA upstream of Austin to form Lake Travis
, a flood-control reservoir.
In the early 20th century, the Texas Oil Boom
took hold, creating tremendous economic opportunities in Southeast Texas and North Texas. The growth generated by this boom largely passed by Austin at first, with the city slipping from fourth largest to 10th largest in Texas between 1880 and 1920.
After the mid-20th century, Austin became established as one of Texas' major metropolitan centers. In 1970, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Austin's population as 14.5% Hispanic, 11.9% black, and 73.4% non-Hispanic white.
In the late 20th century, Austin emerged as an important high tech center for semiconductors
and software. The University of Texas at Austin
emerged as a major university.
Austin as seen from space, 2020
In 2010, the city occupied a total area of 305.1 square miles (790.1 km2
). Approximately 7.2 square miles (18.6 km2
) of this area is water.
Austin is situated at the foot of the Balcones Escarpment
, on the Colorado River
, with three artificial lakes within the city limits: Lady Bird Lake
(formerly known as Town Lake), Lake Austin
(both created by dams along the Colorado River), and Lake Walter E. Long
that is partly used for cooling water for the Decker Power Plant. Mansfield Dam
and the foot of Lake Travis
are located within the city's limits.
Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Travis are each on the Colorado River.
The elevation of Austin varies from 425 feet (130 m) to approximately 1,000 feet (305 m) above sea level.
Due to the fact it straddles the Balcones Fault
, much of the eastern part of the city is flat, with heavy clay and loam soils, whereas the western part and western suburbs consist of rolling hills on the edge of the Texas Hill Country
Because the hills to the west are primarily limestone
rock with a thin covering of topsoil, portions of the city are frequently subjected to flash floods
from the runoff caused by thunderstorms.
To help control this runoff and to generate hydroelectric power, the Lower Colorado River Authority
operates a series of dams that form the Texas Highland Lakes
. The lakes also provide venues for boating, swimming, and other forms of recreation within several parks on the lake shores.
Austin is located at the intersection of four major ecological regions, and is consequently a temperate-to-hot green oasis with a highly variable climate having some characteristics of the desert, the tropics, and a wetter climate.
The area is very diverse ecologically and biologically, and is home to a variety of animals and plants.
Notably, the area is home to many types of wildflowers that blossom throughout the year but especially in the spring. This includes the popular bluebonnets
, some planted by "Lady Bird" Johnson
, wife of former President Lyndon B. Johnson
The soils of Austin range from shallow, gravelly clay loams over limestone in the western outskirts to deep, fine sandy loams, silty clay loams, silty clays or clays in the city's eastern part. Some of the clays have pronounced shrink-swell properties and are difficult to work under most moisture conditions. Many of Austin's soils, especially the clay-rich types, are slightly to moderately alkaline and have free calcium carbonate
Panorama of Austin skyline in 2018
Austin's skyline historically was modest, dominated by the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas Main Building
. However, since the 2000s, many new high-rise towers have been constructed.
Austin is currently undergoing a skyscraper boom, which includes recent construction on new office, hotel and residential buildings. Downtown's buildings are somewhat spread out, partly due to a set of zoning
restrictions that preserve the view of the Texas State Capitol
from various locations around Austin, known as the Capitol View Corridors
One of the 15 remaining moonlight towers in Austin
At night, parts of Austin are lit by "artificial moonlight" from moonlight towers
built to illuminate the central part of the city.
The 165-foot (50 m) moonlight towers were built in the late 19th century and are now recognized as historic landmarks. Only 15 of the 31 original innovative towers remain standing in Austin, but none remain in any of the other cities where they were installed. The towers are featured in the 1993 film Dazed and Confused
The central business district of Austin is home to the tallest condo towers in the state, with The Independent
(58 stories and 690 feet (210 metres) tall) and The Austonian
(topping out at 56 floors and 685 feet (209 metres) tall). The Independent became the tallest all-residential building in the U.S. west of Chicago
when topped out in 2018. In 2005, then-Mayor Will Wynn set out a goal of having 25,000 people living downtown by 2015.
Although downtown's growth did not meet this goal, downtown's residential population did surge from an estimated 5,000 in 2005 to 12,000 in 2015.
The skyline has drastically changed in recent years, and the residential real estate market has remained relatively strong. As of December 2016, there were 31 high-rise projects either under construction, approved or planned to be completed in Austin's downtown core between 2017 and 2020. Sixteen of those were set to rise above 400 feet (120 metres) tall, including four above 600', and eight above 500'. An additional 15 towers were slated to stand between 300' and 399' tall.
Austin is located within the middle of a unique, narrow transitional zone between the dry deserts of the American Southwest and the lush, green, more humid regions of the American Southeast. Its climate, topography, and vegetation share characteristics of both. Officially, Austin has a humid subtropical climate
under the Köppen climate classification
. This climate is typified by very long and hot summers, short and mild winters, and pleasantly warm spring and fall seasons in-between. Austin averages 34.32 inches (872 mm) of annual rainfall and it is distributed mostly evenly throughout the year, though spring and fall are the wettest seasons. Sunshine is common during all seasons, with 2,650 hours, or 60.3% of the possible total, of bright sunshine per year.
Austin falls in USDAhardiness zones
8b (15 °F to 20 °F) and 9a (20 °F to 25 °F).
Summers in Austin are very hot, with average July and August highs frequently reaching the high-90s (34–36 °C) or above. Highs reach 90 °F (32 °C) on 116 days per year, of which 18 days reach 100 °F (38 °C).
The average daytime high is 70 °F (21 °C) or warmer between March 6 and November 20, rising to 80 °F (27 °C) or warmer between April 14 and October 24, and reaching 90 °F (32 °C) or warmer between May 30 and September 18.
The highest ever recorded temperature was 112 °F (44 °C) occurring on September 5, 2000, and August 28, 2011.
An uncommon characteristic of Austin's climate is its highly variable humidity, which fluctuates frequently depending on the shifting patterns of air flow and wind direction. It is common for a lengthy series of warm, dry, low-humidity days to be occasionally interrupted by very warm and humid days, and vice versa. Humidity rises with winds from the east or southeast, when the air drifts inland from the Gulf of Mexico
, but decreases significantly with winds from the west or southwest, bringing air flowing from Chihuahuan Desert
areas of West Texas
or northern Mexico
Winters in Austin are mild with cool nights, although occasional short-lived bursts of cold weather known as "Blue Northers
" can occur. January is the coolest month with an average daytime high of 61 °F (16 °C). The overnight low drops to or below freezing 19 times per year,
and sinks below 45 °F (7 °C) during 88 evenings per year, including most nights between mid-December and mid-February. Lows in the upper 30s also occur commonly during the winter. Conversely, winter months are also capable of occasionally producing warm days. On average, eight days in January reach or exceed 70 °F (21 °C) and one day reaches 80 °F (27 °C).
The lowest ever recorded temperature in the city was −2 °F (−19 °C) on January 31, 1949. Roughly every two years Austin experiences an ice storm
that freezes roads over and cripples travel in the city for 24 to 48 hours.
When Austin received 0.04 inches (1 mm) of ice on January 24, 2014, there were 278 vehicular collisions.
Similarly, snowfall is rare in Austin.
A snow event of 0.9 inches (2 cm) on February 4, 2011, caused more than 300 car crashes.
The most recent major snow event occurred the week of February 14, 2021, when as many as 7.5 inches were recorded in parts of Travis County. 
Typical of Central Texas
, severe weather in Austin is a threat that can strike during any season. However, it is most common during the spring. According to most classifications, Austin lies within the extreme southern periphery of Tornado Alley
, although many sources place Austin outside of Tornado Alley altogether.
Consequently, tornadoes strike Austin less frequently than areas farther to the north.
However, severe weather and/or supercell thunderstorms
can occur multiple times per year, bringing damaging winds, lightning, heavy rain, and occasional flash flooding to the city.
The deadliest storm to ever strike city limits was the twin tornadoes storm
of May 4, 1922, while the deadliest tornado outbreak
to ever strike the metro area was the Central Texas tornado outbreak
of May 27, 1997.
The 2011 Texas drought dried up many of central Texas' waterways. This boat was left to sit in the middle of what is normally a branch of Lake Travis
, part of the Colorado River
From October 2010 through September 2011, both major reporting stations in Austin, Camp Mabry and Bergstrom Int'l, had the least rainfall of a water year
on record, receiving less than a third of normal precipitation.
This was a result of La Niña
conditions in the eastern Pacific Ocean where water was significantly cooler than normal. David Brown, a regional official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explained that "these kinds of droughts will have effects that are even more extreme in the future, given a warming and drying regional climate."
2018 flooding and water crisis
In Fall 2018, Austin and surrounding areas received heavy rainfall and flash flooding
following Hurricane Sergio
The Lower Colorado River Authority
opened four floodgates
of the Mansfield Dam
after Lake Travis was recorded at 146% full at 704.3 feet.
From the 22nd to the 29th of October 2018 the City of Austin issued a mandatory citywide boil-water advisory
after the Highland Lakes
, home to the city's main water supply, became overwhelmed by unprecedented amounts of silt, dirt, and debris that washed in from the Llano River
Austin Water, the city's water utility, has the capacity to process up to 300 million gallons of water per day, but the elevated level of turbidity
reduced output to only 105 million gallons per day since Austin residents consumed an average of 120 million gallons of water per day, so the infrastructure was not able to keep up with demand.
According to the 2010 United States Census
the racial composition of Austin was 68.3% White
(48.7% non-Hispanic whites
), 35.1% Hispanic or Latino
, 0.5% Puerto Rican
, 0.4% Cuban
, 5.1% Other), 8.1% African American
, 6.3% Asian
, 1.5% Chinese
, 1.0% Vietnamese
, 0.7% Korean
, 0.3% Filipino
, 0.2% Japanese
, 0.8% Other), 0.9% American Indian
, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
, and 3.4% two or more races
Map of racial distribution in Austin, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, AsianHispanic, or Other (yellow)
At the 2000 United States Census
there were 656,562 people, 265,649 households, and 141,590 families residing in the city (roughly comparable in size to San Francisco, Leeds, UK
; and Ottawa, Ontario
, Canada). The population density was 2,610.4 inhabitants per square mile (1,007.9/km2
). There were 276,842 housing units at an average density of 1,100.7 per square mile (425.0/km2
). There were 265,648 households, out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.7% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 4.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 22.5% under the age of 18, 16.6% from 18 to 24, 37.1% from 25 to 44, 17.1% from 45 to 64, and 6.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was US$
42,689, and the median income for a family was $54,091. Males had a median income of $35,545 vs. $30,046 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,163. About 9.1% of families and 14.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over. The median house price was $185,906 in 2009, and it has increased every year since 2004.[needs update]
The median value of a house in which the owner occupies it was $227,800 in 2014, which is higher than the average American home value of $175,700.
A 2014 University of Texas study stated that Austin was the only U.S. city with a fast growth rate between 2000 and 2010 with a net loss in African Americans. As of 2014, Austin's African American and non-Hispanic white percentage share of the total population is declining despite the actual number of both ethnic groups increasing. Austin's non-Hispanic white population first dropped below 50% in 2005. The rapid growth of the Latino or Hispanic and Asian populations have outpaced all other ethnic groups in the city.
According to Sperling's BestPlaces
, 52.4% of Austin's population are religious.
The majority of Austinites identified themselves as Christians
, about 25.2% of whom claimed affiliation with the Catholic Church
The city's Catholic population is served by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin
, headquartered at the Cathedral of Saint Mary
. Nationwide, 23% of Americans identified as Catholic in 2016.
Other significant Christian groups in Austin include Baptists
(8.7%), followed by Methodists
(4.3%), Latter-Day Saints
(1.5%), Episcopalians or Anglicans
(0.3%), and other Christians such as the Disciples of Christ
and Eastern Orthodox Church
The second largest religion Austinites identify with is Islam
(1.7%); roughly 0.8% of Americans nationwide claimed affiliation with the Islamic faith.
The dominant branch of Islam is Sunni Islam
. Established in 1977, the largest mosque
in Austin is the Islamic Center of Greater Austin
. The community is affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America
. The same study says that eastern faiths
, and Hinduism
made up 0.9% of the city's religious population.
Several Hindu temples exist in the Austin Metropolitan area with the most notable one being Radha Madhav Dham
forms less than 0.1% of the religious demographic in Austin, although Orthodox
, and Conservative
In addition to those religious groups, Austin is also home to an active secular humanist community, hosting nationwide television shows and charity work.
As of 2019, there were 2,255 individuals experiencing homelessness in Travis County. Of those, 1,169 were sheltered and 1,086 were unsheltered.
In September 2019, the Austin City Council approved $62.7 million for programs aimed at homelessness, which includes housing displacement prevention, crisis mitigation, and affordable housing
; the city council also earmarked $500,000 for crisis services and encampment cleanups.
In June 2019, following a federal court ruling on homelessness sleeping in public,
the Austin City Council lifted a 25-year-old ban on camping, sitting, or lying down in public unless doing so causes an obstruction. The resolution also included the approval of a new housing-focused shelter in South Austin.
In early October 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbott
sent a letter to Mayor Steve Adler threatening to deploy state resources to combat the camping ban repeal.
On October 17, 2019, the City Council revised the camping ordinance, which imposed increased restrictions on sidewalk camping.
In November 2019, the State of Texas opened a temporary homeless encampment on a former vehicle storage yard owned by the Texas Department of Transportation
Downtown Austin from Congress Avenue Bridge, with Texas State Capitol in background, 2012
The Greater Austin metropolitan statistical area
had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $86 billion in 2010.
Austin is considered to be a major center for high tech
Thousands of graduates each year from the engineering and computer science programs at the University of Texas at Austin
provide a steady source of employees that help to fuel Austin's technology and defense industry sectors. The region's rapid growth has led Forbes
to rank the Austin metropolitan area number one among all big cities for jobs for 2012 in their annual survey and WSJ Marketwatch to rank the area number one for growing businesses.
By 2013, Austin was ranked No. 14 on Forbes'
list of the Best Places for Business and Careers (directly below Dallas, No. 13 on the list).
As a result of the high concentration of high-tech companies in the region, Austin was strongly affected by the dot-com boom
in the late 1990s and subsequent bust.
Austin's largest employers include the Austin Independent School District
, the City of Austin, Dell
, the U.S. Federal Government
, NXP Semiconductors
, St. David's Healthcare Partnership, Seton Family of Hospitals, the State of Texas
, the Texas State University
, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Other high-tech companies with operations in Austin include 3M
, Apartment Ratings, Applied Materials
, Arm Holdings
, Blizzard Entertainment
, Buffalo Technology
, Cirrus Logic
, Cisco Systems
, Electronic Arts
, Intel Corporation
, National Instruments
, Rooster Teeth
, Samsung Group
, Silicon Laboratories
, United Devices
, and Xerox
. In 2010, Facebook accepted a grant to build a downtown office that could bring as many as 200 jobs to the city.
The proliferation of technology companies has led to the region's nickname, "Silicon Hills", and spurred development that greatly expanded the city.
Whole Foods Market
, an international grocery store chain specializing in fresh and packaged food products, was founded and is headquartered in Austin.
Other companies based in Austin include NXP Semiconductors
, Sweet Leaf Tea Company
, Keller Williams Realty
, National Western Life
, Dimensional Fund Advisors
, Forestar Group
, Outdoor Voices
, Tito's Vodka
, Speak Social
, and YETI
In 2018, Austin metro-area companies saw a total of $1.33 billion invested. Austin's VC numbers were so strong in 2018 that they accounted for more than 60 percent of Texas' total investments.
Culture and contemporary life
Museum of the Weird on Sixth Street
The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, located on Lady Bird Lake at 600 River Street
"Keep Austin Weird" has been a local motto
for years, featured on bumper stickers and T-shirts. This motto has not only been used in promoting Austin's eccentricity and diversity, but is also meant to bolster support of local independent businesses.
According to the 2010 book Weird City
the phrase was begun by a local Austin Community College librarian, Red Wassenich, and his wife, Karen Pavelka, who were concerned about Austin's "rapid descent into commercialism and overdevelopment."
The slogan has been interpreted many ways since its inception, but remains an important symbol for many Austinites who wish to voice concerns over rapid growth and irresponsible development. Austin has a long history of vocal citizen resistance to development projects perceived to degrade the environment, or to threaten the natural and cultural landscapes.
According to the Nielsen Company
, adults in Austin read and contribute to blogs more than those in any other U.S. metropolitan area.
Austin residents have the highest Internet usage in all of Texas.
In 2013, Austin was the most active city on Reddit
, having the largest number of views per capita.
Austin was selected as the No. 2 Best Big City in "Best Places to Live" by Money
magazine in 2006, and No. 3 in 2009, and also the "Greenest
City in America" by MSN.
is a shopping district stretching down South Congress Avenue from Downtown. This area is home to coffee shops, eccentric stores, restaurants, food trucks, trailers, and festivals. It prides itself on "Keeping Austin Weird," especially with development in the surrounding area(s). Many Austinites attribute its enduring popularity to the magnificent and unobstructed view
of the Texas State Capitol.
The Rainey Street Historic District
is a neighborhood in Downtown Austin consisting mostly of bungalow
style homes built in the early 20th century. Since the early 2010s, the former working class
residential street has turned into a popular nightlife district. Much of the historic homes have been renovated into bars and restaurants, many of which feature large porches and outdoor yards for patrons.
The Rainey Street district is also home to the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.
"Old Austin" is an adage
often used by the native citizens in Austin, Texas when being nostalgic to refer to the olden days of the capital city of Texas
Although Austin is also known internationally as the live music capital of the world
and its catch phrase/slogan Keep Austin Weird can be heard echoed in places as far as Buffalo, New York
and Santa Monica, California
- the term Old Austin
refers to a time when the city was smaller and more bohemian
with a considerably lower cost of living and better known for its lack of traffic, hipsters
, and urban sprawl
It is often employed by longtime residents expressing displeasure at the rapidly changing culture,
or when referencing nostalgia of Austin culture.
The growth and popularity of Austin
can be seen by the expansive development taking place in its downtown landscape.
Forbes ranked Austin as the second fastest-growing city in 2015.
This growth can have a negative impact on longtime small businesses that cannot keep up with the expenses associated with gentrification
and the rising cost of real estate.
A former Austin Musician, Dale Watson
, described his move away from Austin, "I just really feel the city has sold itself. Just because you're going to get $45 million for a company to come to town – if it's not in the best interest of the town, I don't think they should do it. This city was never about money. It was about quality of life."
Annual cultural events
Austin's Zilker Park Tree is a Christmas display made of lights strung from the top of a Moonlight tower
in Zilker Park. The Zilker Tree is lit in December along with the "Trail of Lights," an Austin Christmas tradition. The Trail of Lights was canceled four times, first starting in 2001 and 2002 due to the September 11 Attacks, and again in 2010 and 2011 due to budget shortfalls, but the trail was turned back on for the 2012 holiday season.
Cuisine and breweries
A food truck trailer park in South Austin
Austin is also home to a large number of food trucks
, with 1,256 food trucks operating in 2016.
The city of Austin has the second-largest number of food trucks per capita in the United States.
Austin's first food hall
, "Fareground," features a number of Austin-based food vendors and a bar in the ground level and courtyard of One Congress Plaza
As Austin's official slogan is The Live Music Capital of the World
, the city has a vibrant live music scene
with more music venues per capita than any other U.S. city.
Austin's music revolves around the many nightclubs
on 6th Street and an annual film/music/interactive
festival known as South by Southwest
(SXSW). The concentration of restaurants, bars, and music venues in the city's downtown core is a major contributor to Austin's live music scene, as the ZIP Code encompassing the downtown entertainment district hosts the most bar or alcohol-serving establishments in the U.S.
Austin has been the location for a number of motion pictures, partly due to the influence of The University of Texas at Austin Department of Radio-Television-Film
. Films produced in Austin include The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
(1984), Man of the House
, Secondhand Lions
, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
, Waking Life
, Spy Kids
, The Faculty
, Dazed and Confused
, The Guards Themselves
, Wild Texas Wind
, Office Space
, The Life of David Gale
, Miss Congeniality
, Doubting Thomas
, The New Guy
, Hope Floats
, The Alamo
, Blank Check
, The Wendall Baker Story
, School of Rock
, A Slipping-Down Life
, A Scanner Darkly
, Saturday Morning Massacre
, and most recently, the Coen brothers
' True Grit
, How to Eat Fried Worms
and Lazer Team
. In order to draw future film projects to the area, the Austin Film Society
has converted several airplane hangars from the former Mueller Airport into filmmaking center Austin Studios
. Projects that have used facilities at Austin Studios include music videos by The Flaming Lips
and feature films such as 25th Hour
and Sin City
Austin has a strong theater culture, with dozens of itinerant and resident companies producing a variety of work. The Church of the Friendly Ghost
is a volunteer-run arts organization supporting creative expression and counter-culture community. 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 the Chitlin' Circuit
Public art and performances in the parks and on bridges are popular. Austin hosts the Fuse Box Festival each April featuring 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 Austin improvisational theatre
scene has several theaters: ColdTowne Theater, The Hideout Theater, The Fallout Theater, and The Institution Theater. Austin also hosts the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, which draws comedic artists in all disciplines to Austin.
View of Austin Central Library from César Chávez Street
The Central Library, which is an anchor to the redevelopment of the former Seaholm Power Plant
site and the Shoal Creek
Walk, opened on October 28, 2017.
The six-story Central Library contains a living rooftop garden
, reading porches, an indoor reading room, bicycle parking station
, large indoor and outdoor event spaces, a gift shop, an art gallery, café, and a "technology petting zoo" where visitors can play with next-generation gadgets like 3D printers
In 2018, Time
magazine named the Austin Central Library on its list of "World's Greatest Places."
Museums and other points of interest
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
The HOPE Outdoor Gallery, overlooked by the historic Texas Military Academy building, the oldest standing educational building in Texas
Locally produced art is featured at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture
. The Mexic-Arte Museum
is a Mexican and Mexican-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.
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 HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a public, three-story outdoor street art
project located on Baylor Street in the Clarksville
The gallery, which consists of the foundations of a failed multifamily development,
is a constantly-evolving canvas of graffiti
. Also known as "Castle Hill" or simply "Graffiti Park," the site on Baylor Street was closed to the public in early January 2019 but remained intact, behind a fence and with an armed guard, in mid-March 2019.
The gallery will build a new art park at Carson Creek Ranch in Southeast Austin.
Austin area professional sports teams
Natural features like the bicycle-friendly Texas Hill Country
and generally mild climate
make Austin the home of several endurance and multi-sport races and communities. The Capitol 10,000 is the largest 10 k race in Texas, and approximately fifth largest in the United States.
The Austin Marathon
has been run in the city every year since 1992. Additionally, the city is home to the largest 5 mile race in Texas,
named the Turkey Trot as it is run annually on thanksgiving. Started in 1991 by Thundercloud Subs, a local sandwich chain (who still sponsors the event), the event has grown to host over 20,000 runners. All proceeds are donated to Caritas of Austin, a local charity.
The Austin-founded American Swimming Association hosts several swim races around town. Austin is also the hometown of several cycling groups and the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong
Combining these three disciplines is a growing crop of triathlons, including the Capital of Texas Triathlon held every Memorial Day
on and around Lady Bird Lake, Auditorium Shores
, and Downtown Austin
In 2017, Precourt Sports Ventures
announced a plan to move the Columbus Crew SC
soccer franchise from Columbus, Ohio
Precourt negotiated an agreement with the City of Austin to build a $200 million privately funded stadium on public land at 10414 McKalla Place,
following initial interest in Butler Shores Metropolitan Park and Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park.
As part of an arrangement with the league, operational rights of Columbus Crew SC were sold in late 2018,
and Austin FC was announced as Major League Soccer's 27th franchise on January 15, 2019, with the expansion team starting play in 2021.
Parks and recreation
To strengthen the region's parks system, which spans more than 29,000 acres (11,736 ha), The Austin Parks Foundation (APF) was established in 1992 to develop and improve parks in and around Austin. APF works to fill the city's park funding gap by leveraging volunteers, philanthropists, park advocates, and strategic collaborations to develop, maintain and enhance Austin's parks, trails and green spaces.
Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake
(formerly Town Lake)
is a river-like reservoir on the Colorado River. The lake is a popular recreational area for paddleboards
, dragon boats
, and rowing shells
. Austin's warm climate and the river's calm waters, nearly 6 miles (9.7 km) length and straight courses are especially popular with crew
teams and clubs. Other recreational attractions along the shores of the lake include swimming in Deep Eddy Pool
, the oldest swimming pool in Texas, and Red Bud Isle, a small island formed by the 1900 collapse of the McDonald Dam
that serves as a recreation area with a dog park and access to the lake for canoeing and fishing.
The 10.1 miles (16.3 km) Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail forms a complete circuit around the lake. A local nonprofit, The Trail Foundation, is the Trail's private steward and has built amenities and infrastructure including trailheads, lakefront gathering areas, restrooms, exercise equipment, as well as doing Trailwide ecological restoration work on an ongoing basis. The Butler Trail loop was completed in 2014 with the public-private partnership 1-mile Boardwalk project.
Along the shores of Lady Bird Lake is the 350 acre (142 ha) Zilker Park
, which contains large open lawns, sports fields, cross country courses, historical markers, concession stands, and picnic areas.
Zilker Park is also home to numerous attractions, including the Zilker Botanical Garden
, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden
, Zilker Hillside Theater, the Austin Nature & Science Center, and the Zilker Zephyr, a 12 in (305 mm) gauge miniature railway
carries passengers on a tour around the park. Auditorium Shores
, an urban park
along the lake, is home to the Palmer Auditorium
, the Long Center for the Performing Arts
, and an off-leash dog park
on the water.
Both Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores have a direct view of the Downtown skyline.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
The Barton Creek Greenbelt
is a 7.25-mile (11.67 km) public green belt
managed by the City of Austin's Park and Recreation Department. The Greenbelt, which begins at Zilker Park
and stretches South/Southwest to the Woods of Westlake subdivision
, is characterized by large limestone
cliffs, dense foliage, and shallow bodies of water. Popular activities include rock climbing
, mountain biking, and hiking. Some well known naturally forming swimming holes along Austin's greenbelt include Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls, Gus Fruh Pool, and Campbell's Hole. During years of heavy rainfall, the water level of the creek rises high enough to allow swimming
, cliff diving
, and tubing
Austin is home to more than 50 public pools and swimming holes
. 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. Hamilton Pool Preserve
is a natural pool that was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago. The pool, located about 23 miles (37 km) west of Austin, is a popular summer swimming spot for visitors and residents. Hamilton Pool Preserve consists of 232 acres (0.94 km2) of protected natural habitat featuring a jade green pool into which a 50-foot (15 m) waterfall flows.
Other parks and recreation
Camping is legal on all public property except in front of City Hall since 2019. However, "Other areas where camping remains banned include any city park space, under Austin Parks and Recreation rules. That includes downtown green spaces as well as trails and greenbelts such as along Barton Creek."
The Austin Country Club
is a private golf club located along the shores of the Colorado River, right next to the Pennybacker Bridge
. Founded in 1899, the club moved to its third and present site in 1984, which features a challenging layout designed by noted course architect Pete Dye
The city had 39 homicides in 2016, the most since 1997.
FBI statistics show that overall violent and property crimes dropped in Austin in 2015, but increased in suburban areas of the city.
One such southeastern suburb, Del Valle
, reported eight homicides within two months in 2016.
According to 2016 APD
crime statistics, the 78723 census tract had the most violent crime, with 6 murders, 25 rapes, and 81 robberies.
In 2010, Andrew Joseph Stack III deliberately crashed his Piper Cherokee PA-28 into Echelon 1, a building in which the IRS
, housing 190 employees was a lessee of.
The resulting explosion killed 1 and injured 13 IRS employees, completely destroyed the building and cost the IRS a total of $38.6 million. (see 2010 Austin suicide attack)
Austin City Hall
Austin is administered by an 11-member city council
(10 council members elected by geographic district plus a mayor elected at large). The council is accompanied by a hired city manager
under the manager-council system of municipal governance. Council and mayoral elections are non-partisan, with a runoff in case there is no majority winner. A referendum approved by voters on November 6, 2012 changed the council composition from six council members plus a mayor elected at large to the current "10+1" district system. November 2014 marked the first election under the new system. The Federal government
had forced San Antonio and Dallas to abandon at-large systems before 1987; however, the court could not show a racist pattern in Austin and upheld the city's at-large system during a 1984 lawsuit. In five elections between 1973 and 1994 Austin voters rejected single-member districts.
Austin formerly operated its city hall at 128 West 8th Street.
Antoine Predock and Cotera Kolar Negrete & Reed Architects designed a new city hall building, which was intended to reflect what The Dallas Morning News
referred to as a "crazy-quilt vitality, that embraces everything from country music to environmental protests and high-tech swagger."
The new city hall, built from recycled materials, has solar panels in its garage.
The city hall, at 301 West Second Street, opened in November 2004. Steve Adler
assumed the office of mayor on January 6, 2015.
Fire protection within the city limits is provided by the Austin Fire Department
, while the surrounding county is divided into twelve geographical areas known as emergency services districts, which are covered by separate regional fire departments.
Emergency medical services are provided for the whole county by Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.
Other levels of government
The 8-story U.S. Courthouse is located at Fourth, Fifth, San Antonio, and Nueces streets (opened December 2012).
Austin is known as an enclave of liberal
politics in an otherwise conservative state—so much so, that the city is sometimes sarcastically called the "People's Republic of Austin" by residents of other parts of Texas, and conservatives in the Texas Legislature.
Former Governor Rick Perry
referred to it as a "blueberry in the tomato soup," meaning it is a democratic city in a republican state.
Travis County Presidential elections results
As a result of the major party realignment that began in the 1970s, central Austin became a stronghold of the Democratic Party
, while the suburbs tend to vote Republican
. Overall, the city is a blend of downtown liberalism and suburban conservatism but leans to the political left as a whole. The city last went to a Republican candidate in 2000 when former Texas Governor George W. Bush successfully ran for president. In 2004, the Democrats rebounded strongly as John Kerry enjoyed a 14.0% margin over Bush, who once again won Texas.
City residents have been supportive of alternative candidates; for example, Ralph Nader
won 10.4% of the vote in Austin in 2000.
In 2003, the city adopted a resolution against the USA PATRIOT Act
that reaffirmed constitutionally guaranteed rights.
As of 2018, all six of Austin's state legislative districts are held by Democrats.
Travis County was also the only county in Texas to reject Texas Constitutional Amendment Proposition 2 that effectively outlawed gay marriage and status equal or similar to it and did so by a wide margin (40% for, 60% against).
Two of the candidates for president in the 2004 race called Austin home. Michael Badnarik
, the Libertarian Party candidate, and David Cobb
of the Green Party
both had lived in Austin. During the run up to the election in November, a presidential debate was held at the University of Texas at Austin
student union involving the two candidates. While the Commission on Presidential Debates
only invites Democrats and Republicans to participate in televised debates, the debate at UT was open to all presidential candidates. Austin also hosted one of the last presidential debates between Barack Obama
and Hillary Clinton
during their heated race for the Democratic nomination in 2008.
In the 2016 presidential election, Travis County, which contains the majority of Austin, voted for Hillary Clinton
(D) by a 38.9-point margin (66.3% to 27.4%).
A controversial turning point in the political history of the Austin area was the 2003 Texas redistricting
. Before then, Austin had been entirely or almost entirely within the borders of a single congressional district–what was then the 10th District–for over a century. Opponents characterized the resulting district layout as excessively partisan gerrymandering
, and the plan was challenged in court by Democratic and minority activists. The Supreme Court of the United States
has never struck down a redistricting plan for being excessively partisan. The plan was subsequently upheld by a three-judge federal panel in late 2003, and on June 28, 2006, the matter was largely settled when the Supreme Court, in a 7–2 decision, upheld the entire congressional redistricting plan with the exception of a Hispanic-majority district in southwest Texas. This affected Austin's districting, as U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett
's district (U.S. Congressional District 25) was found to be insufficiently compact to compensate for the reduced minority influence
in the southwest district; it was redrawn so that it took in most of southeastern Travis County and several counties to its south and east.
The distinguishing political movement of Austin politics has been that of the environmental movement, which spawned the parallel neighborhood movement, then the more recent conservationist movement (as typified by the Hill Country Conservancy),
and eventually the current ongoing debate about "sense of place" and preserving the Austin quality of life. Much of the environmental movement has matured into a debate on issues related to saving and creating an Austin "sense of place."
In 2012, Austin became just one of a few cities in Texas
to ban the sale and use of plastic bags. However, the ban ended in 2018 due to a court ruling that regarded all bag bans in the state to contravene the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act.
Over 43% of Austin residents age 25 and over hold a bachelor's degree
, while 16% hold a graduate degree
In 2009, greater Austin ranked eighth among metropolitan areas in the United States for bachelor's degree attainment with nearly 39% of area residents over 25 holding a bachelor's degree.
Other institutions of higher learning in Austin include St. Edward's University
, Huston–Tillotson University
, Austin Community College
, Concordia University
, the Seminary of the Southwest
, the Acton School of Business
, Texas Health and Science University
, University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
, Austin Graduate School of Theology
, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
, Virginia College
's Austin Campus, The Art Institute of Austin
, Southern Careers Institute of Austin, Austin Conservatory and a branch of Park University
Public primary and secondary education
The Austin area has 29 public school districts, 17 charter schools and 69 private schools.
Most of the city is served by the Austin Independent School District
. This district includes notable schools such as the magnet Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School of Austin, Texas
(LASA), which, by test scores, has consistently been within the top thirty high schools in the nation, as well as The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. Some parts of Austin are served by other districts, including Round Rock
, Del Valle
, Lake Travis
, and Eanes ISD
Four of the metro's major public school systems, representing 54% of area enrollment, are included in Expansion Management
magazine's latest annual education quality ratings of nearly 2,800 school districts nationwide. Two districts—Eanes and Round Rock—are rated "gold medal," the highest of the magazine's cost-performance categories.
Private and alternative education
Austin has a large network of private and alternative education institutions for children in preschool-12th grade exists. Austin is also home to child developmental institutions.
Austin's main daily newspaper is the Austin American-Statesman
. The Austin Chronicle
is Austin's alternative weekly
, while The Daily Texan
is the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin
. Austin's business newspaper is the weekly Austin Business Journal
. The Austin Monitor
is an online outlet that specializes in insider reporting on City Hall, Travis County Commissioners Court, AISD
, and other related local civics beats. The Monitor
is backed by the nonprofit Capital of Texas Media Foundation. Austin also has numerous smaller special interest or sub-regional newspapers such as the Oak Hill Gazette
, Westlake Picayune
, Hill Country News
, Round Rock Leader
, and The Villager
among others. Texas Monthly
, a major regional magazine, is also headquartered in Austin. The Texas Observer
, a muckraking biweekly political magazine, has been based in Austin for over five decades. The weekly Community Impact Newspaper
published by John Garrett, former publisher of the Austin Business Journal
has five regional editions and is delivered to every house and business within certain ZIP codes and all of the news is specific to those ZIP codes.
Another statewide publication based in Austin is The Texas Tribune
, an on-line publication focused on Texas politics.
is "user-supported" through donations, a business model similar to public radio.
The editor is Evan Smith
, former editor of Texas Monthly
. Smith co-founded the Texas Tribune
, a nonprofit, non-partisan public media organization, with Austin venture capitalist John Thornton and veteran journalist Ross Ramsey.
Alex Jones, journalist, radio show host and filmmaker, produces his talk show The Alex Jones Show
in Austin which broadcasts nationally on more than 60 AM and FM radio stations in the United States
Radio shortwave and XM Radio
: Channel 166.
In 2009, 72.7% of Austin (city) commuters drove alone, with other mode shares
being: 10.4% carpool, 6% work from home, 5% use transit, 2.3% walk, and 1% bicycle.
In 2016, the American Community Survey
estimated modal shares for Austin (city) commuters of 73.5% for driving alone, 9.6% for carpooling, 3.6% for riding transit, 2% for walking, and 1.5% for cycling.
The city of Austin has a lower than average percentage of households without a car. In 2015, 6.9 percent of Austin households lacked a car, and decreased slightly to 6 percent in 2016. The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Austin averaged 1.65 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.
In mid-2019, TomTom
ranked Austin as having the worst traffic congestion in Texas, as well as 19th nationally and 179th globally.
Central Austin lies between two major north–south freeways: Interstate 35
to the east and the Mopac Expressway (Loop 1)
to the west. U.S. Highway 183
runs from northwest to southeast, and State Highway 71
crosses the southern part of the city from east to west, completing a rough "box" around central and north-central Austin. Austin is the largest city in the United States to be served by only one Interstate Highway.
U.S. Highway 290
enters Austin from the east and merges into Interstate 35. Its highway designation continues south on I-35 and then becomes part of Highway 71, continuing to the west. Highway 290 splits from Highway 71 in southwest Austin, in an interchange known as "The Y." Highway 71 continues to Brady, Texas
, and Highway 290 continues west to intersect Interstate 10
. Interstate 35 continues south through San Antonio
on the Texas-Mexico border. Interstate 35 is the highway link to the Dallas-Fort Worth metro-plex in northern Texas. There are two links to Houston, Texas (Highway 290 and State Highway 71/Interstate 10). Highway 183 leads northwest of Austin toward Lampasas
In the mid-1980s, construction was completed on Loop 360
, a scenic highway that curves through the hill country from near the 71/Mopac interchange in the south to near the 183/Mopac interchange in the north. The iconic Pennybacker Bridge
, also known as the "360 Bridge," crosses Lake Austin to connect the northern and southern portions of Loop 360.
State Highway 130
is a bypass route designed to relieve traffic congestion, starting from Interstate 35 just north of Georgetown and running along a parallel route to the east, where it bypasses Round Rock
, Austin, San Marcos
and New Braunfels
before ending at Interstate 10
east of Seguin
, where drivers could drive 30 miles (48 km) west to return to Interstate 35 in San Antonio
. The first segment was opened in November 2006, which was located east of Austin–Bergstrom International Airport
at Austin's southeast corner on State Highway 71
. Highway 130 runs concurrently with Highway 45 from Pflugerville
on the north until it reaches US 183
well south of Austin, at which point SR 45
continues west. The entire route of State Highway 130 is now complete. The final leg opened on November 1, 2012. The highway is noted for having a maximum speed limit of 85 mph (137 km/h) for the entire route. The 41-mile section of the toll road between Mustang Ridge and Seguin has a posted speed limit of 85 mph (137 km/h), the highest posted speed limit in the United States
State Highway 45
runs east–west from just south of Highway 183 in Cedar Park
to 130 inside Pflugerville
(just east of Round Rock). A tolled extension of State Highway Loop 1 was also created. A new southeast leg of Highway 45 has recently been completed, running from US 183 and the south end of Segment 5 of TX-130 south of Austin due west to I-35 at the FM 1327
/Creedmoor exit between the south end of Austin and Buda
. The 183A Toll Road opened in March 2007, providing a tolled alternative to U.S. 183 through the cities of Leander
and Cedar Park
. Currently under construction is a change to East US 290 from US 183 to the town of Manor. Officially, the tollway will be dubbed Tollway 290 with "Manor Expressway" as nickname. Despite the overwhelming initial opposition to the toll road concept when it was first announced, all three toll roads have exceeded revenue projections.
Intercity bus service
operates the Austin Station at 916 East Koenig Lane, just east of Airport Boulevard and adjacent to Highland Mall
Turimex Internacional operates bus service from Austin to Nuevo Laredo and on to many destinations in Mexico. The Turimex station is located at 5012 East 7th Street, near Shady Lane.
offers daily service to San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston from a stop at 15th St and San Jacinto.
Intercity rail service
An Amtrak Texas Eagle station
is located in west downtown. Railway segments between Austin and San Antonio have been evaluated for a proposed regional passenger rail project called "Lone Star Rail". However, failure to come to an agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad
, the tracks' current owner, ended the project in 2016.
Capital Metro opened a 32-mile (51 km) commuter rail
system known as Capital MetroRail
on March 22, 2010.
The system operates on existing freight rail lines and serves downtown Austin, East Austin, North Central Austin, Northwest Austin, and Leander in its first phase. Future expansion could include a line to Manor and another to Round Rock.
Capital Metro has also explored building a light rail
system to connect the MetroRail line to key destinations in Central Austin. On August 7, 2014, the Austin City Council unanimously voted to place a $600 million light rail bond proposal on the November 4, 2014 ballot;
the ballot measure was voted down. Capital Metro returned in 2020 with a major transit expansion plan called Project Connect, which was comfortably passed by voters on the November 2020 ballot. At a total project cost of $10 billion, the Project Connect system plan proposes 3 new light rail lines, 1 new commuter rail line, several new MetroRapid lines, more park-and-rides, more express bus routes, and improvements to the existing local bus system and fare technology.
In Summer 2018, Capital Metro began testing autonomous electric shuttles
on Downtown streets. The pilot program tested two driverless bus models from EasyMile
on a route from the Austin Convention Center to the Austin Central Library.
Capital Metro is also considering implementing full-size driverless buses, likely to be included on a 2020 transportation referendum.
Austin is served by several ride-sharing
companies including Uber
, and RideAustin
On May 9, 2016, Uber and Lyft voluntarily ceased operations in Austin in response to a city ordinance that required drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies to get fingerprint checks, to have their vehicles labeled, and to not pick up and drop off in certain city lanes.
Uber and Lyft resumed service in the summer of 2017. The city was previously served by Fasten
until they ceased all operations in the city in March 2018.
In 2018, scooter-sharing
debuted rentable electric scooters
The city briefly banned the scooters - which began operations before the city could implement a permitting system - until the city completed development of their "dockless mobility" permitting process on May 1, 2018.
Dockless electric scooters and bikes are banned from Austin city parks and the Ann and Roy Butler Trail and boardwalk.
For the 2018 Austin City Limits Music Festival
, the city of Austin offered a designated parking area for dockless bikes and scooters.
Cycling and walking
The Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge over the Colorado River.
Austin is known as the most bike-friendly city in Texas, and was ranked the #7 city in the US by Bicycling Magazine
The city's bike advocacy organization is Bike Austin.
Bike Texas, a state-level advocacy organization, also has its main office in Austin.
are a popular transportation choice among students, faculty, and staff at the University of Texas. According to a survey done at the University of Texas, 57% of commuters bike to campus.
A 2013 study by Walk Score
ranked Austin 35th most walkable of the 50 largest U.S. cities.
More recently, Walk Score rated some Austin neighborhoods among the most walkable in Texas. Downtown Austin scored 88 points out of a possible 100, with the West Campus neighborhood scoring 87, and East Austin scoring 81.
Austin has two types of relationships with other cities, sister
Sister city monument in Austin commemorating the relationship with Saltillo
Austin's sister cities are:
- Adelaide, Australia (1983)
- Angers, France (2011)
- Antalya, Turkey (2009)
- Gwangmyeong, South Korea (2001)
- Hackney, England, United Kingdom (2014)
- Koblenz, Germany (1991)
- Lima, Peru (1981)
- Maseru, Lesotho (1978)
- Ōita, Japan (1990)
- Orlu, Nigeria (2000)
- Pune, India (2018)
- Saltillo, Mexico (1968)
- Taichung, Taiwan (1986)
- Xishuangbanna, China (1997)
The cities of Belo Horizonte
, Brazil and Elche
, Spain were formerly sister cities, but upon a vote of the Austin City Council in 1991, their status was de-activated.
Covenants between two city leaders:
- ^ All elected officials in the city of Austin are officially nonpartisan; party affiliation is for informational purposes only.
- ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
- ^ Official records for Austin were kept at downtown from September 1891 to July 1942, Mueller Airport from August 1942 to June 1999, and at Camp Mabry since July 1999. For more information, see Threadex
- ^ a b "Government | AustinTexas.gov - The Official Website of the City of Austin". www.austintexas.gov. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
- ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
- ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
- ^ a b c "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001): Austin city, Texas". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
- ^ "Austin, Texas". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
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Last edited on 7 May 2021, at 23:53
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