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Online Insiders City And Tour Guide About Austin is your online insider guide all about Austin with information and links on living in the city of Austin, visiting Austin and the best things about Austin, Texas.

Barton Creek Overlooking Ladybird Lake
View of Lady Bird Lake and Downtown Austin from Zilker Park

Austin Texas is the capital of Texas, the fourth largest city in the state of Texas and the sixteenth largest city in the United States. Originally settled in 1837 by Stephen F. Austin, “the father of Texas,” as the village of Waterloo, today Austin is a city about education, technology and music while still retaining much of the natural beauty and green spaces beloved by the original settlers.

The center of Texas government and education since the founding of the independent Republic of Texas in the 1800's, it was in the 1970's that the reputation about Austin as a music mecca first began to take shape with the progressive country “cosmic cowboy” sound born at the Armadillo World Headquarters music hall. Thirty years later, Austin boasts more music venues per capita than any other city in the United States and counts as former and current citizens of Austin not only musicians but nationally known athletes, celebrity chefs, award winning actors and film directors and U.S. Presidents.

The humorist and short story writer William Sidney Porter, who became famous under the pen name O. Henry, was one of Austin's earliest famous citizens. According to a tall tale spun by O. Henry about Austin, the unlikely group of Stephen F. Austin, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and Ponce de Leon stopped at the foot of what is now Austin's Congress Avenue while navigating the Colorado River by canal boat.

Photo from the Austin History Center
Short Story Writer O. Henry in Austin

As the story goes, suddenly an idea struck Stephen F. Austin. He was too generous a man to conceal it.

“Boys, let's start a town site here and call it Austin.”

“Just as you say,” they replied, and they laid out Austin . . . and Austin has been laid out ever since.

In fact, the President of the new Republic, Mirabeau B. Lamar, sent a party of four men from Houston shortly after the founding of the Republic of Texas to locate a site for the new capital. On April 13, 1839, they reported to the President about Austin that, "The imagination of even the romantic will not be disappointed on viewing the valley of the Colorado, and the fertile and gracefully undulating woodlands and luxuriant prairies at a distance from it."

Austin's first lots were sold at auction on August 1, 1839. Bidding began at $120 and the land sold quickly as people were eager to move to what was expected to be a lively and active place in the new Republic of Texas. In the heart of Indian country, Austin was still a wilderness town with a number of different Indian tribes in the area, most notably the Comanches and the Wacos. The old west's famous cattle trail, the Chisholm Trail, passed by and through Austin on what are still some of Austin's most used thoroughfares, IH-35 and Lamar Boulevard.

Photo from the Austin History Center
Scholz Beer Garten Opened in 1866 and Remains Open Today

A large number of early settlers were from Germany, including the famous sculptor and free spirit Elisabet Ney, whose marble sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin can be seen today at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. Ney was often observed wearing long flowing gowns and black veils about Austin like an ancient Greek, or even more shocking, in men's overalls which she wore while working.

Another notable German immigrant was Augustus Scholz, who bought a house in Austin, then a cafe, then added a zoo and bowling alley until his property expanded to include an entire city block. The property became known as Scholz Beer Garten in 1866 and was the center of celebration, good fellowship and famous singing festivals. William Sydney Porter (O. Henry) sang with a quartette at Scholz Beer Garten during the time he lived about Austin.

In 1966, a resolution was passed by the Texas House of Representatives about Austin which identified Scholz Beer Garten as "a gathering place for Texans of discernment, taste, culture, and erudition." Music and fellowship continue to emanate from Scholtz Beer Garten where it still stands today in the original spot at Sixteenth Street and San Jacinto as the oldest restaurant and banquet facility in Texas and Austin continues to be full of free spirits and wild Indians.

Photo from the National Archives
Lady Bird and President Johnson on the Pedernales River in 1967

Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States, grew up in the Texas Hill Country and many of his family still live in the Austin area. The Austin radio station started by his family, K-LBJ, continues to broadcast Austin music and news about Austin today.

President Johnson explained his love about Austin and the Texas Hill Country as, "There is something different about this country from any other part of the nation. The climate is generally pleasant, the sun is generally bright, the air seems to be always clean, and the water is pure. The moons are a little fuller, the stars are a little brighter."

It was O. Henry who is credited with first giving the name The City of the Violet Crown about Austin. The Capitol City . . . The Third Coast . . . The River City . . . The Live Music Capital of the World . . . The Silicon Hills. Austin, Texas is a special place and there are many special names about Austin. There is just something unique about Austin. To those who love Austin, residents and those who visit Austin alike, the thing about Austin is that it's more than just a place, Austin is about a state of mind.
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