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Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texasmarker and the seat of Travis Countymarker. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 15th-largest in the United Statesmarker. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in the nation from 2000 to 2006. According to the 2009 U.S. Census estimate, Austin had a population of 757,688. The city is the cultural and economic center of the , with a population of approximately 1,652,602 as of the July 2008 U.S. Census estimate, making it the 36th-largest metropolitan area in the nation.

The area was settled in the 1830s on the banks of the Colorado River by pioneers who named the village Waterloomarker. In 1839, Waterloo was chosen to become the capital of the newly independent Republic of Texas. The city was renamed after Stephen F. Austin, known as the father of Texas. The city grew throughout the 19th century and became a center for government and education with the construction of the Texas State Capitolmarker and the University of Texasmarker. After a lull in growth from the Great Depression, Austin resumed its development into a major city and emerged as a center for technology and business. Today, Austin is home to many companies, high-tech and otherwise, including the headquarters of three Fortune 500 corporations, Dell, Whole Foods Market, and Freescale Semiconductor.

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, also the "Greenest City in America" by MSN. According to CNN Headline News and Travel & Leisure magazine, Austin ranks No. 2 on the list of cities with the best people, referring to the personalities and attributes of the citizens. Austin was also voted America's #1 College Town by the Travel Channel. Austin was ranked the fifth-safest city in part because there are fewer than five murders per 100,000 people annually. Furthermore, in 2009, Austin was determined to be the least stressful large metro area by Forbes magazine.

Residents of Austin are known as "Austinites" and include a diverse mix of university professors, students, politicians, musicians, state employees, high-tech workers, blue-collar workers, and white-collar workers. The main campus of the University of Texasmarker is located in Austin. The city is home to enough large sites of major technology corporations to have earned it the nickname "Silicon Hills." Austin's official slogan promotes the city as "The Live Music Capital of the World," a reference to its status as home to many musicians and music venues. In recent years, many Austinites have also adopted the unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird"; this refers partly to the eclectic and liberal lifestyle of many Austin residents but is also the slogan for a campaign to preserve smaller local businesses and resist excessive commercialization.

History

Prior to the arrival of settlers from the United States, the area that later became Austin was inhabited by a variety of nomadic Native American tribes, including the Tonkawa tribe, the Comanches, and the Lipan Apaches.

Early on, the Texas Congress formed a commission to seek a site for a new capital to be named Austin. Mirabeau Lamar, (second President of the newly-formed Texas republic), advised the commissioners to investigate the area named Waterloo. Waterloo was chosen and Edwin Waller was picked by Lamar to survey the village and draft a plan laying out the new capital. The original site was narrowed to that fronted the Colorado River between two creeks, Shoal Creek and Waller Creek, which was later named in honor. The fourteen-block grid plan was 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, the first auction of 306 lots was held. The grid plan that Waller designed and surveyed now forms the basis of the streets of downtown Austin.

Initially, the new capital thrived. But Lamar's political enemy Sam Houston used two Mexican army incursions to San Antoniomarker as an excuse to move the government to Washington-on-the-Brazosmarker. Remaining Austin residents responded to the threat by forcibly keeping the national archives in their city in defiance of President Houston's attempts to bring them to Washington (Texas Archive War). Once the annexation of the Republic of Texas by the United States became official in 1845, delegates wrote a new state constitution in which Austin was again named the seat of state. The Texas State Capitolmarker was completed in 1888, and claimed as the 7th largest building in the world.

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 at Austinmarker held its first classes in 1883.

The Austin music scene began attracting national attention in the 1970s with artists such as Willie Nelson and venues such as the Armadillo World Headquartersmarker. Today, Austin is known as much for its cultural life as its high-tech innovations.

Geography

City limits of Austin
Austin is located at and is approximately above sea level. According to the 2000 census, the city has a total area of . of it is land and (2.67%) is water.

Austin is situated on the Colorado River, with three man-made (artificial) lakes within the city limits: Lady Bird Lakemarker, Lake Austinmarker, and Lake Walter E.marker Longmarker. Additionally, the foot of Lake Travismarker, including Mansfield Dammarker, is located within the city's limits. Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Travis are each on the Colorado River. The city is also situated on the Balcones Fault, which, in much of Austin, runs roughly the same route as Loop 1 (Mopac Expressway). The eastern part of the city is flat, whereas the western part and western suburbs consist of scenic 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.
The view from Mount Bonnell
Austin is located at the intersection of four major ecological regions and is consequently a temperate-to-hot green oasis but has some characteristics of the desert, the tropics, and a wetter climate. It is very diverse ecologically and biologically, and is home to a variety of beautiful animals and plants, notably the wildflowers that blossom throughout the year but especially in the spring, including the popular bluebonnets, some planted in an effort by Lady Bird Johnson.

A popular point of prominence in Austin is Mount Bonnellmarker. At about above sea level, it is a natural limestone formation overlooking Lake Austinmarker on the Colorado River, with an observation deck about below its summit. From the observation deck, many homes are visible.

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.

Climate

Austin has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot summers and mild winters. On average, Austin receives of rain per year, with most of the precipitation in the spring, and a secondary maximum in the fall. During springtime, severe thunderstorms sometimes occur, though tornados are rare in the city. Austin is usually at least partially sunny.

Austin summers are usually hot and humid, with average temperatures of approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) from June until September. Temperatures above are common. The highest recorded temperature was on September 5, 2000. For the entire year there is an average of 111 days above and 198 days above .

Winters in Austin are mild and dry. For the entire year, Austin averages 88 days below and 24 days when the minimum temperature falls below freezing. The lowest recorded temperature was on January 31, 1949. Snowfall is rare in Austin, but approximately biannually Austin may suffer an ice storm that freezes roads over and affects much of the city for 24 to 48 hours. Monthly averages for Austin's weather data are shown in a graphical format to the right, and in a more detailed tabular format below.

::Table Note: Averages are from the 30 year average from 1971–2000 at Camp Mabrymarker, and records are from Camp Mabry and from previous climate sites, spanning from 1897 to present.


Government and politics

Law and government

Austin City Hall
Austin Main Post Office


Austin is administered by a city council of seven members, each of them elected by the entire city. The council is composed of six council members, and by an elected mayor, 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. Austin remains an anomaly among large Texas cities in that council members are elected on an at-large basis by all voters, as opposed to elections by 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.

The mayor of Austin is Lee Leffingwell. His first term ends in 2012.

Law enforcement in Austin is provided by the Austin Police Department, except for state government buildings, which are patrolled by the Texas Department of Public Safety, along with the Texas Rangers, and the Texas Homeland Security Committee.

Fire protection is provided by the Austin Fire Department, and emergency medical services are provided by Austin-Travis County EMS.

The United States Postal Service operates several post offices in Austin. The main post office, the Austin Post Office, is located at 8225 Cross Park Drive.

Politics

The controversy that dominated Austin politics during the 1990s was the conflict between environmentalists and advocates of urban growth. The city council has in the past tried to mitigate the controversy by advocating smart growth, but growth and environmental protection are still the most divisive issues in city politics.

Austin is well known as a center for liberal politics in a generally conservative state, so much so that the city is sometimes sarcastically referred to as "The People's Republic of Austin" by residents of other parts of the state and by conservatives in the Texas Legislature. Suburban neighborhoods in Austin, especially to the west and north, and several satellite municipalities, however, tend toward political conservatism.

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. One consequence of this is that in the most recent redistricting plan, formulated by former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and enacted by the Republican-majority legislature, the central city has been split among multiple sprawling districts. Opponents characterized the resulting district layout as excessively partisan gerrymandering, and the plan was challenged in court on this basis by Democratic and minority activists; of note, the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker 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 may later affect Austin's districting, as U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett's district was found not to be sufficiently compact to compensate for the reduced minority influence in the southwest district.

Overall, the city is a blend of downtown liberalism and suburban conservatism but leans strongly to the political left as a whole. In 2003, the city adopted a resolution against the USA PATRIOT Act that reaffirmed constitutionally guaranteed rights. In the 2004 presidential election, Senator John Kerry won a substantial majority of the votes in Travis County. Of Austin's six state legislative districts, three are strongly Democratic and three are swing districts all of which are held by Democrats. However, two of its three congressional districts (the 10th and the 21st) are presently held by Republicans, with only the 25th held by a Democrat. This is largely due to the 2003 redistricting, which left downtown Austin without an exclusive congressional seat of its own. Travis County was also the only county in Texas to reject Texas Constitutional Amendment Proposition 2 effectively outlawing gay marriage and status equal or similar to it and did so by a wide margin (40% for, 60% against).

Austin is also an active area for the Libertarian Party. Although the Libertarians remain a third party, they occasionally garner substantial votes, and one of the past Libertarian presidential candidates, Michael Badnarik, comes from Austin.

Two of the candidates for president in the 2004 race call Austin home. Michael Badnarik, mentioned above as the Libertarian Party candidate, and David Cobb of the Green Party both have lived in Austin. During the run up to the election in November, a presidential debate was held at the University of Texasmarker student union involving the two minor party 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.

Sister cities

List of sister cities of Austin, Texas, designated by Sister Cities International.



Economy

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 Austinmarker provide a steady source of employees that help to fuel Austin's technology and defense industry sectors. The metro Austin area has much lower housing costs than Silicon Valleymarker, but much higher housing costs than many parts of rural Texas. 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 United States Federal Government, Freescale Semiconductor (spun off from Motorola in 2004), IBM, St. David's Healthcare Partnership, Seton Healthcare Network, the State of Texas, Texas State University-San Marcos, and the University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texasmarker. Other high-tech companies with operations in Austin include 3M, Apple Inc.marker, Hewlett-Packard, Google, AMDmarker, Applied Materials, Cirrus Logic, Cisco Systems, eBay/PayPal, Hoover's, Intel Corporationmarker, National Instruments, Samsung Group, Silicon Laboratories, Sun Microsystems and United Devices. The proliferation of technology companies has led to the region's nickname, "the Silicon Hills," and spurred development that greatly expanded the city. The concentration of high-tech companies has led the former American Airlines flight between Austin and San Jose, Californiamarker to be dubbed the "nerd bird." This route will now be operated by Alaska Airlines effective September 2, 2009.
Southward view of downtown Austin from The Capitol Grounds on 11th Street.


Austin is also emerging as a hub for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. About 85 companies from this industry are based in Austin. The city was ranked by the Milken Institute as the #12 biotech and life science center in the United States.

It is also home to advertising agencies including Omnicom owned GSD&M Idea City and LatinWorks, as well as Dell’s agency of record, WPP Group owned Enfatico.

Whole Foods Market is a grocery store that specializes in organic, local, and natural foods and other goods. It was founded and based in Austin. As of August 25, 2008, Whole Foods has 271 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

In addition to global companies, Austin features a strong network of independent, locally-owned firms and organizations. The success of these businesses reflects the high level of commitment by the citizens of Austin to preserving the unique spirit of the city and has been tied to the "Keep Austin Weird" campaign.

Cityscape

Buildings that make up most of Austin's skyline are modest in height and somewhat spread out. The latter characteristic is due to a restriction that preserves the view of the Texas State Capitolmarker building from various locations around Austin (known as the Capitol View Corridor). However, many highrise towers have been constructed and the downtown area is looking more modern and dense. The city's tallest building, The Austonianmarker, was topped out on September 17, 2009. Austin is currently undergoing a skyscraper boom, which includes recent construction on the now complete 360 Condominiums at , the Austonian at , the T. Stacy Towers at and tall and several others that are mainly for residential use. By 2015, the Frost Bank Tower could be the only skyscraper built before 2005 to remain in the top ten tallest buildings in the city.

A moonlight tower.
At night, parts of Austin are lighted with "artificial moonlight" from 17 surviving Moonlight Towers. Several moonlight towers, built in the late 19th century and recognized as historic landmarks, illuminate the central part of the city. Only 17 of the 31 original towers remain standing. The towers are featured in the film Dazed and Confused.

Downtown

The central business district of the city is now home to some of the newest and tallest condo towers in the state. The 360 Tower, one of several new condo towers in Austin, opened in early 2008. The mayor strives to have up to 25,000 people living Downtown by 2015. Because of this, the city has been driven to increase density in Austin's urban core. The skyline has drastically changed from 5 years ago, and the residential real estate market has remained relatively strong while other parts of the city have seen a slowing along with the rest of the country. With Austin’s strong and growing economy, the market is there.

Downtown growth has been aided by the presence of a popular live music and nightlife scene, Whole Foods Market flagship store and headquarters, museums, restaurants, and Lady Bird Lakemarker, considered one of the city's best recreational spots. The 2nd Street District consists of several new residential projects, restaurants, coffee shops, record stores, upscale boutiques and museums, and the Austin City Hall. Under construction across 2nd Street from Austin City Hall is the new Austin City Limits location that will be housed beneath a new W Hotel and residential tower. Each year SXSW, the largest music conference in the world, is hosted in downtown Austin.
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Demographics

As of the 2005-2007 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 63.7% of Austin's population; of which 49.9% were non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 8.5% of Austin's population; of which 8.3% were non-Hispanic blacks. American Indian made up 0.5% of the city's population; of which 0.3% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 5.6% of the city's population; of which 5.5% were non-Hispanic. Pacific Islander Americans made up 0.1% of the city's population. Individuals from some other race made up 19.5% of the city's population; of which 0.4% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 2.1% of the city's population; of which 1.3% were non-Hispanic. In addition, Hispanics and Latinos made up 34.2% of Austin's population.

As of the census of 2000, there were 656,562 people, 265,649 households, and 141,590 families residing in the city (roughly comparable in size to San Franciscomarker, Memphismarker, and Columbusmarker). The population density was 2,610.4 people per square mile (1,007.9/km²). There were 276,842 housing units at an average density of 1,100.7/sq mi (425.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 65.4% White, 10.0% Black or African American, 4.7% Asian, 0.6% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 16.2% from other races. 3.0% were from two or more races. 30.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino, who can be of any race. About 52.9% of the population were non-Hispanic whites.

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 $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. From the year 2000 to 2005, the median house price in Austin grew 34 percent.

According to the US Census Bureau, as of July 2008 the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Area had 1,652,602 people. It is one of the top 5 fastest growing metro areas in the nation. If combined with the population of the adjacent San Antoniomarker metropolitan statistical area (approximately to the southwest), the region is home to about 3.7 million people.

Austin is consistently ranked among the three safest cities per capita of any size in many categories and for many reasons, especially because annually, per 100,000 people there are fewer than five people murdered.

Arts and culture

take pride in eccentricities and celebrate differences and being different (in lifestyle, character, beliefs, etc.). Austin is the only major Texas city that has no ordinance against women appearing topless in public. "Keep Austin Weird" has become a local motto in recent years, featured on innumerable 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 and independent businesses. According to the Nielsen Company, adults in Austin read and contribute to blogs more than those in any other U.S. metropolitan area.

South Congressmarker, called "SoCo" by many, is a shopping district stretching down South Congress Avenue from Downtown. This area is home to many coffee shops, eccentric stores, restaurants and festivals. It prides itself on "Keeping Austin Weird", despite constant development surrounding the area.

Annual cultural events

The O.marker Henry Housemarker Museum hosts the annual O. Henry Pun Off, which is a pun contest where the contestants exhibit amazing wit. Other annual events include Eeyore's Birthday Party, Spamarama, and the Austin Reggae Festival and Art City Austin in April and Carnaval Brasileiro in February. Sixth Street features annual festivals such as the Pecan Street Festival and Halloween night. The three-day Austin City Limits Music Festivalmarker has been held in Zilker Parkmarker every year since 2002.
The sights of Austin's nightlife on 6th Street.


Austin's Zilker Park Tree is a Christmas display made of lights strung from the top of a Moonlight tower in Zilker Parkmarker. The Zilker Tree is lit in December along with the "Trail of Lights," an Austin Christmas tradition.

Music

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 longest-running concert music program on American television, Austin City Limits, is recorded on the University of Texas at Austinmarker campus. Austin City Limits and C3 Presents produce the Austin City Limits Music Festivalmarker, an annual music and art festival held at Zilker Parkmarker in Austin based on the Austin City Limits television show. The festival and television show alike attract musical artists from around the world. Other music events include the Urban Music Festival, the Fun Fun Fun Fest, and the Old Settlers Music Festival. The Austin Symphony Orchestra traces its roots to 1911.

Film

Austin hosts the annual Austin Film Festival, which draws films of many different types from all over the world. In 2004 the city was first in Moviemaker Magazine's annual top ten cities to live and make movies. The 2007 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival included Pete Townshend, Iggy Pop, Tom Morello, and Rickie Lee Jones.

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-Filmmarker. Films produced in Austin include Man of the House, Secondhand Lions, Waking Life, Spy Kids, Dazed and Confused, Office Space, The Life of David Gale, Miss Congeniality, Doubting Thomas, Slacker, Idiocracy, The New Guy, Hope Floats, The Alamo , Blank Check, The Wendall Baker Story , A Scanner Darkly, and most recently, Grindhouse, How To Eat Fried Worms and Bandslam. 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 also hosted the MTV series, The Real World: Austin in 2005.

Media

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 Texasmarker. Austin also has smaller newspapers such as the Oak Hill Gazette, and Austin Business Journal. Texas Monthly, a major regional magazine, is also headquartered in Austin. The Texas Observer, a muckraking biweekly magazine, has been based in Austin for over five decades.Community Impact Newspaper is a free monthly hyperlocal newspaper with separate editions for various regions of Austin. Newspapers are delivered to every house and business within certain zip codes and all of the news is specific to those zip codes. "Busted! in Austin" is a local weekly crime newspaper featuring mugshots of local people arrested. The local PBS station KLRUmarker produces several award winning locally produced programs. KUT is the leading public radio station in Texas and produces the majority of its content locally. KOOP is a volunteer-run radio station with more than 60 locally produced programs. Network television stations (affiliations in parentheses) include KTBCmarker (Fox), KVUEmarker (ABC), KXANmarker (NBC), KEYE-TVmarker (CBS), KNVAmarker (The CW), KBVOmarker (My Network TV), and KAKWmarker (Univision). Also, subscribers to Time Warner Cable receive a 24-hour local news station, News 8 Austin. In some parts of Austin, Time Warner has cable competition from Grande Communications.

Theater

Austin also has a strong theater culture, with dozens of itinerant and resident companies producing a wide variety of work. The city also has a burgeoning circle of live performance theater venues such as the Zachary Scott Theatre Center (Scott was born in Austin and an alumnus of the University of Texas), Vortex Repertory Company, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Rude Mechanicals, Refraction Arts, Arts on Real, Scottish Rite Children's Theater, Hyde Park Theatre, The City Theatre, and Esther's Folliesmarker, a comedy and magic show. The Victory Grillmarker was a renowned venue on the Chitlin' circuit. Public art and performances of many kinds in the parks and on bridges is popular and it is easy to find a myriad of diverse and creative free productions. Austin hosts the Fuse Box Festival each April featuring international, leading-edge theater artists.

The Paramount Theatremarker opened in downtown Austin in 1915. Managing to escape destruction throughout the years, it contributes not only to Austin's theater culture, but also to its film culture, showing a variety of classic films throughout the summer. The summer program features a series of double features, often paired with vintage cartoons or serials to complete the retro feel. Gone With the Wind is always shown, usually at the end of the season or over the Labor Day weekend. The theater also hosts regional premieres for films such as Miss Congeniality. The long-running outdoor musical, the Zilker Parkmarker Summer Musical, expects to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2008.

The Long Center is also a large theater, which opened in 2008. It used to be the Lester E. Palmer Auditorium, which housed various events. The Long Center was built with recycled materials from the old auditorium, and is an example of Austin's green lifestyle. The Long Center features a 2,300 seat theater, which houses plays, comedians, musicals, etc.

Ballet Austin is the fourth largest ballet academy in the country. Each year Ballet Austin's twenty member professional company performs ballets from a wide variety of choreographers, including their international award winning artistic director, Stephen Mills. Ballet Austin has traveled around the world performing in Europe, the Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.), and New York City's Joyce Theatre. The city is also home to the Ballet East Dance Company, a modern dance ensemble, and the Tapestry Dance Company which performs a variety of dance genres.

In January 2007, Austin Lyric Opera hosted the American Premiere of the Philip Glass opera, Waiting for the Barbarians, an allegory of oppressor and oppressed based on the novel by J. M. Coetzee of South Africa. Coetzee, the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature in 2003, is a University of Texas at Austin graduate and former UT professor.

The growing Austin improv comedy scene is spread over several theaters: ColdTowne Theatermarker, The Hideout Theater, and Salvage Vanguard Theater. Some of Austin's best known improv troupes include ColdTowne, The Frank Mills, Girls Girls Girls, Parallelogramophonograph, and Get Up. Austin also hosts the annual Out of Bounds Improv Festival and Miniature Golf Tournament. Out of Bounds has drawn nationally known sketch and improv artists. In 2008 Out of Bounds festival will host over 40 improv and sketch comedy troupes from 11 cities perform over 7 days. The 2008 festival has also been expanded to include stand-up and short films.

Sports

Austin is the largest city in the United States without a franchise in a major professional sports league. Many Austinites support the University of Texas Longhorns' sports programs. The University of Texas football and baseball teams each won their respective national championships during the 2005–2006 seasons. Minor-league professional sports came to Austin in 1996, when the Austin Ice Bats began playing at the Travis County Expo Center. Since then, they have been joined by many other teams including the Austin Wranglers, an arena football team, and the Austin Aztex FC, a professional soccer team of the USL First Division. Austin is home to one of the state's largest sports stadium, Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadiummarker, seating over 101,000 fans.
Austin Area Minor-League professional sports teams
Club Sport Founded League Venue
Round Rock Express Baseball 1999 Pacific Coast League Dell Diamondmarker
Austin Aztex U23 Soccer 2008 USL Premier Development League Dragon Stadium
Austin Aztex FC Soccer 2009 United Soccer Leagues - First Division Nelson Field (2009) & House Park(2010+)
Austin Outlaws Football 2003 National Women's Football Association House Park
Austin Toros Basketball 2005 NBA D-League Austin Convention Centermarker
Texas Stars Ice hockey 2009 American Hockey League Cedar Park Center
Austin Turfcats Indoor football 2009 Southern Indoor Football League Luedecke Arenamarker
Austin Gamebreakers Football 1998 North American Football League Yellow Jacket Stadium
In addition to team sports, Austin is generally known for its active outdoor culture. Austin is home to many runners, rock-climbers, swimmers, divers, snorkelers, mountain bikers, cyclists, and more. Natural features like the bicycle-friendly Texas Hill Country, limestone rock formations, and generally mild climate work with the centrally-located Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, and local pools like Barton Springsmarker to make Austin the home of several endurance and multi-sport races and communities. The Capitol 10,000 is the largest race in Texas, and approximately fifth largest in the nation. The Austin Marathon has been run in the city every year since 1992. The Austin-founded American Swimming Association hosts an open water swimming event, the Cap 2 K, and other closed-course, open water, and cable swim races around town. Austin is also the hometown of several cycling groups and the champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, as well as environmentally- and economically-minded bicycle commuters. 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 Lakemarker, Auditorium Shores, and Downtown Austin.

Museums and other points of interest

Museums in Austin include the Texas Memorial Museummarker, the Blanton Museum of Artmarker (reopened in 2006), the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museummarker across the street (which opened in 2000), the Austin Museum of Art (AMOA), and the galleries at the Harry Ransom Centermarker. The Texas State Capitolmarker itself is also a major tourist attraction. The Driskill Hotelmarker built in 1886, and located at 6th and Brazos, 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 Museummarker, which houses documents and artifacts related to the Johnson administration, including LBJ's limousine and a recreation of the Oval Office.

The art that gave Austin its reputation for being weird is featured at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culturemarker. The Mexic-Arte Museum is a Latin American art museum founded in 1983. Austin is also home to the O.marker Henry Housemarker Museum, which is where O. Henry lived in Austin in 1891. Farmers markets are popular attractions, providing a variety of locally grown and often organic goods.

Austin is also "weird" for its many statues and landmarks, such as the Hyde Park Bar & Grill fork, the Mangia dinosaur, the Loca Maria lady at Taco Xpress on South Lamar, the pink flamingo lawn in front of the Pots and Plants Garden Center, the Hyde Park Gym's giant flexed arm, and Daniel Johnston's Hi, how are you? frog mural. Austin locals are proud of these landmarks and work to preserve them, even as the city grows.

The Ann W.marker Richards Congress Avenue Bridgemarker houses the world's largest urban population of Mexican Free-tailed Bats. Starting in late February, 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 Austin Zoomarker, located at 10807 Rawhide Trail in unincorporated western Travis Countymarker, west of Austin and north of U.S. Highway 290, is a rescue zoo that provides sanctuary to displaced animals from a variety of situations, including those involving neglect.

Parks and recreation

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department Building
The Austin Parks & Recreation Department received the Excellence in Aquatics award in 1999 and the Gold Medal Awards in 2004 from the National Recreation and Park Association. Home to more than 50 public swimming pools, Austin has parks and pools throughout the city. There are several well-known swimming locations. These include Deep Eddy Poolmarker, Texas' oldest man-made swimming pool, and Barton Springs Poolmarker, the nation's largest natural swimming pool in an urban area. Barton Springs Pool is spring-fed and ranges in temperature from about during the winter to about during the summer. Hippie Hollow Parkmarker, a county park situated along Lake Travis, is the only officially sanctioned clothing-optional public park in Texas. Activities include rockclimbing, kayaking, swimming, exploring, and hiking along the greenbelt, a long-spanning area that runs through the city. Hamilton Pool is a pool and wildlife park located about 30 minutes from the city.

Transportation

Highways

Central Austin is bracketed by Interstate 35 to the east and the Mopac Expressway to the west. U.S. Highway 183 runs from northwest to southeast, and State Highway 71 crosses southern part of the city from east to west, completing a rough "box" around the central and north-central city. 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 I-35. Its highway designation continues south on I-35 and then becomes part of Highway 71, continuing on to the west. Highway 290 becomes its own road again southwest of the city, when it splits from Highway 71 in a busy interchange in Oak Hill known as "The Y." Highway 71 continues as far west as Brady, Texasmarker, and Highway 290 continues west to intersect Interstate 10 near Junction. Interstate 35 continues south through San Antoniomarker, and continues to its culmination at Laredo, Texasmarker, which is on the Texas-Mexico border. Interstate 35 is the highway link to the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex in northern Texas. There are two links to Houston, TX (Highway 290 and State Highway 71/Interstate 10). Highway 183 leads northwest of Austin and is a route with other major highways to such cities as Abilene, San Angelo, Lubbock, Amarillo, Albuquerque and Denver.

In the mid-1980s, Austin completed construction 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 Bridgemarker, also known as the "360 Bridge", crosses Lake Austinmarker to connect north and south Loop 360.

Tollways

In November 2006, Austin opened the first segments of its first-ever tollway system: State Highway 130 runs from Georgetown. Highway 130 connects with Highway 45 in Pflugerville, Texas. The project, when completed, will end at Interstate 10 just east of Seguinmarker, about 30 miles east-northeast of San Antoniomarker.

State Highway 45 runs east-west from just west of Highway 183 in Cedar Parkmarker to 130 inside Pflugervillemarker (just east of Round Rock). The project also included a tolled extension to Mopac that allows direct access to I-35. A new southeast leg of Highway 45 has recently been completed, connecting US 183 and the current south end of TX-130 to I-35 at the FM 1327/Creedmoor exit near the south end of Austin and close to the town of Buda'smarker northernmost interchange.

The 183A Toll Road opened March 2007, providing a tolled alternative to 183 through the cities of Leandermarker and Cedar Parkmarker.

Airports

Austin's airport is Austin-Bergstrom International Airportmarker (ABIA) (IATA code AUS), located southeast of the city. The airport is on the site of the former Bergstrom Air Force Basemarker, which was closed in 1993 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Previously Robert Mueller Municipal Airport was the commercial airport of Austin.

Intercity bus service

Greyhound Lines operates the Austin Station at 916 East Koenig Lane.

Turimex Internacional, a division of Mexican company Grupo Senda, 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. It is advisable to disembark at the station in Laredo, Texas, take a cab across the border and onto the Nuevo Laredo bus station where you can find buses to the major cities to continue your journey.

Public transportation

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) provides public transportation to the city, primarily by bus. Capital Metro is planning to change some routes to "Rapid Lines". The lines will feature long, train-like high-tech buses. This addition is going to be implemented to help reduce congestion. Capital Metro is also testing a commuter rail system known as Capital MetroRail that was scheduled to open in March 2009. The system was built on existing freight rail lines and will serve 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 is also looking into a circulator system of streetcars to connect most of Downtown, the University of Texas, and the Mueller Airport Redevelopmentmarker. The streetcar system would help connect the new rail line to key destinations in Central Austin. An Amtrak Texas Eagle stationmarker is located west of downtown. Segments of the Amtrak route between Austin and San Antonio are under evaluation for a future passenger rail corridor as an alternative to the traffic congestion of Interstate 35.

Education



Researchers at Central Connecticut State Universitymarker ranked Austin the 23rd most literate city in the United States for 2007. The Austin Public Librarymarker operates the John Henry Faulk Library and various library branches. The Travel Channel gave Austin the title "America's #1 College Town."

Higher education

Austin is home to the University of Texas at Austinmarker, the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. The university has several internal colleges located inside the city including the College of Pharmacy, McCombs School of Business, the School of Architecture, and the School of Engineering. Other institutions of higher learning in Austin include Austin Community College, Concordia Universitymarker, Huston-Tillotson University, St. Edward's Universitymarker, the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, the Acton School of Business, Austin Graduate School of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminarymarker, Virginia College's Austin Campus, and a branch of Park University.

Public primary and secondary education

Most of the city is served by the Austin Independent School District. Some parts of Austin are served by other districts, including Round Rock, Pflugerville, Leander, Manor, Del Valle, Lake Travis, and Eanes ISDs.

Private and alternative education

Private and alternative education institutions for children in preschool-12th grade include Regents School of Austin, Redeemer Lutheran School, Garza (public), the Waldorf schools, The Griffin School, The Khabele School, Concordia Academymarker, St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic School, San Juan Diego Catholic High Schoolmarker, Brentwood Christian School, St. Austin Catholic Schoolmarker, St. Stephen's Episcopal Schoolmarker, St. Mary's, St. Michael's Catholic Academymarker, St. Gabriel's Catholic School, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, St. Francis School, Saint Paul Lutheran School,Trinity Episcopal School, Huntington-Surrey, and many Montessori schools. Paragon Preparatory Middle School is a private school for grades 5-8, founded in 1997.

Notes

  1. http://www.texasarchitect.org/ta200811-book.php?sess_id=ece092634aaa35fbcdca2fc24573e106
  2. Fortune. 2009-Apr. Accessed 2009-06-22
  3. " Availability of FEIS." Fort Worth District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Retrieved on December 29, 2008.
  4. " Austin City Hall." Hunter Douglas Contract. Retrieved on December 29, 2008.
  5. Witt, Howard. "In heart of Texas, drumbeat for green." Chicago Tribune. September 28, 2007. 1.
  6. " Austin City Hall." City of Austin. Retrieved on December 29, 2008.
  7. " Post Office Location - AUSTIN." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on April 16, 2009.
  8. For more information on the City of Adelaide, see also Adelaide and Adelaide city centre
  9. http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Nerd-Bird-Grounded-jw.html
  10. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ACSSAFFFacts?_event=ChangeGeoContext&geo_id=16000US4805000&_geoContext=&_street=&_county=Austin&_cityTown=Austin&_state=&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=010&_submenuId=factsheet_1&ds_name=ACS_2007_3YR_SAFF&_ci_nbr=null&qr_name=null®=null%3Anull&_keyword=&_industry=
  11. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=16000US4805000&-qr_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00_DP3YR5&-ds_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00_&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-_sse=on
  12. Article on the Fuse Box Festival in the Austinist
  13. Review of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, 50th Anniversary performance of Zilker Park Summer Musical
  14. http://www.austinenchantedforest.com/
  15. http://www.austinfarmersmarket.org/
  16. http://www.wildlyaustin.com/
  17. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/resources/keeptexaswild/bats/mexicanfreetailedbat.phtml
  18. " Contact Us." Austin Zoo. Retrieved on February 1, 2009.
  19. http://www.co.travis.tx.us/tnr/parks/hamilton_pool.asp
  20. " Austin, Texas." Greyhound Lines. Retrieved on April 7, 2009.
  21. "[1]."Grupo Senda - Turimex Internacional. Retrieved on August 29, 2009.


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