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History of Austin, Texas

Happy Texas Day! In honor of the Lone Star State’s special day, Texas Day, we’re celebrating with some fun facts about the history of Austin, Texas. Though Texas became the 28th state in the union on December 29, 1845, on February 1, 1861 Texas delegates voted to secede from the Union, but it wasn’t approved by voters until February 23rd and not made official until March. While many Texans don’t understand why Texas Day is celebrated, we love our state and we’re proud to celebrate it anyway!

A Capital is Born

Long before we were keeping Austin weird, the city was once just a simple settlement called Waterloo. Immigrants from Germany, Sweden, and Mexico were among the first settlers. In 1839, this quaint little town was selected as the capital for the Republic of Texas and grew immensely.

Eventually the town was renamed after “the father of Texas,” Stephen F. Austin. In 1845, when Texas was annexed by the United States, two statewide elections were held to maintain Austin as the state’s capital. 

In 1888, the seventh largest building in the world (at the time) was erected known as the capitol building. The project was funded by the famous XIT Ranch and remains a central landmark today on the Austin skyline. 

Surging Growth – A Foundation for Technology

In 1893, construction of the Great Granite Dam on the Colorado River began. The dam steadied the river and was able to generate electricity which had a significant effect on the city’s growth, attracting manufacturers and other businesses. By 1938, the dam was broken into seven government funded dams with the aid of a young congressman, beginning his political career in Austin, Lyndon B. Johnson. 

By the 1950’s think tanks and research laboratories settled into the city attracting innovators and advanced technology companies, a tradition that continues even today. With a booming population, Austin’s economy brought in many modern attractions such as public pools, movie theaters, a professional baseball team, and public libraries. 

Culture Club

With scores of diverse groups inhabiting Austin throughout its history, the city has acquired a rich and unique culture. Through this birth, Austin has become a magnet for music enthusiasts delivering festivals and concerts from country to indie rock and everything between.

In the mid 1970’s, the popular television show, Austin City Limits debuted on PBS with a performance by Willie Nelson. The show continues to air today showcasing talent from all genres of music.

Today, there are dozens of festivals held to celebrate the culture and diversity that encompasses Austin’s rich history and arts. Most popular of all is the annual South By Southwest Conference (SXSW) held every March which features music, film, and comedy festivals along with exhibitions, workshops, and tradeshows. 

Thanks to the early settlers who inhabited Austin and its surging growth, there is a vast amount of culture, art, technology, and history, which indeed is something to be celebrated.