Austin: Economy

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Austin: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Austin's role as a center for high technology made it particularly vulnerable to the recession that struck the nation's economy in the early 2000s. For three consecutive years, Austin suffered layoffs and job reductions; even the city government slashed 1,000 jobs. In an effort to reverse the tide, the city launched Opportunity Austin in September 2003. This plan aimed to bolster existing industries, such as computer software, digital media, wireless technology, semiconductors, and tourism, as well as attract new companies from diverse segments, like automotive, medical products, transportation and logistics, and national and regional headquarters. The 5-year goal of Opportunity Austin is to add 72,000 new jobs and a $2.9 billion increase in payroll.

An off-shoot of Austin's leadership in the semiconductor and software industries is the wireless segment. With a developed infrastructure of telecommunication, transportation, electric, and water capacities, Austin is a leading site for wireless technologies. Named one of the hottest wireless cities by Newsweek magazine in June 2004, Austin offers more free wireless spotsincluding its city parksper capita than any other city in the nation. Moreover, the University of Texas at Austin is the nation's most unwired university in the country. Qualcomm Corp. constructed a computer chip design center in Austin in 2004, the same year that Verizon Wireless selected Austin as the first city for the launch of its BroadbandAccess 3G Network, a high-speed wireless Internet access service. Other wireless companies with a presence in Austin include AT&T Wireless Corp., Dell Inc., Intel Corp., and T-Mobile.

Drawing on the same expertise in high technology and innovation, the city is venturing into the biomedical and pharmaceuticals industry. The University of Texas at Austin is a primary asset in this arena. It has world-class programs in bioengineering, nanotechnology, bioinformatics, and pharmaceutical research, and is a leader in the number of science and engineering doctoral degrees it awards. Austin ranks high in patent activitya measure of innovation. The 2,789 patents that were granted to Austin inventors in 2003 translates to 200 patents per 100,000 residents, more than 5 times the national rate of 36 patents per 100,000 residents. The city is home to approximately 85 biotech/pharmaceutical companies, including Apogent Technologies Inc., Luminex Corp., and TOPAZ Technologies Inc.

Austin has a history of success in striving to attract regional office and national headquarters. Dell Inc. is not only based in Austin, it is one of the area's largest employers. A diverse array of companies also elected to make Austin their headquarters: Hoover's Inc. (business/market intelligence), National Instruments Corp. (industrial automation), Schlotzsky's Inc. (sandwich chain), and Whole Foods Market Inc. (natural foods chain). In 2004 alone, a number of companies established or expanded their Austin headquarters, including 360Commerce Inc. (software), Britestream Networks Inc. (semiconductors), HealthTronics Inc. (surgical services/medical devices), Opus Healthcare Solutions (medical software), SigmaTel Inc. (semiconductors), Silicon Laboratories Inc. (integrated circuits), TriCoast Funding (mortgages), and the wireless industry association Wi-Fi Alliance. The city also serves as divisional or regional headquarters for such companies as 3M Co. (conglomerate well-known for adhesives), Progressive Corp. (insurance), and Waste Management Inc. (garbage collection).

Items and goods produced: computers, computer peripherals, software, electronic instruments, semiconductors, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, business equipment, video games

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The city of Austin offers tax abatements, enterprise zone exemptions, public utility incentives, and financing programs for qualified new and existing companies. The Economic Development staff of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce can provide ongoing assistance to relocating companies, from initial inquiry to full employment. Chamber staff can act as area-wide resources for community presentations, initial interface with company employees, spousal employment assistance, residential real estate brokers/tours, special mortgage and banking programs, child care/elder care, and cultural acclimation.

State programs

The state of Texas offers a number of incentive programs to attract new and expanding businesses to the state. The Texas Economic Development Act of 2001 encourages large-scale manufacturing, research and development, and renewable energy by offering an eight-year reduction in property taxes. Other property tax incentives are offered to companies owning certain abated property and those that are located in specified areas known as reinvestment zones. The Texas Enterprise Zone Program offers sales and use tax refunds to companies that create jobs in certain economically distresses areas of the state. Other sales and use tax refunds are extended toward manufacturing machinery and equipment, with agricultural products and semiconductor components targeted in particular. Research and development expenditures may be qualified for franchise tax credits, as can businesses creating jobs or injecting capital into "strategic investment areas."

Job training programs

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) provides workforce development assistance to employers and jobseekers across the state through a network of 28 workforce boards. Programs for employers include recruitment, retention, training and retraining, and outplacement services for employees. TWC also administers the Skills Development Fund, a program that assists public community and technical colleges create customized job training for local businesses. In the 2000-2001 school year alone, the Center for Career and Business Development, operated by Austin Community College, trained more than 5,800 employees of local high technology companies. This college also developed the Robotics and Automated Manufacturing program to produce skilled technicians for such highly automated industries as automotive manufacturing, an industry targeted by the city for growth. The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the city of Austin founded the Capital Area Training Foundation (CATF) as an industry-led, non-profit organization dedicated to establishing long-term education and workforce development solutions. CATF courses provide college credit, internships, industry tours, and guest speakers who help students make the connection between high school and the world of work.

Development Projects

Defined by the Opportunity Austin initiative, the city's focus for the mid-2000s was to strengthen its core high technology industry while attracting new diverse businesses and national, regional, or divisional headquarters. The first company recruited under this program was TASUS Corp., which announced plans in January 2004 to relocate from Indiana to Austin in a move that will create 100 new jobs in the area. Harris Publishing Co. announced a 150-job expansion the following month. In a large coup for the city, The Home Depot Inc. started construction in July 2004 on a new technology center that will create 500 new jobs and have an economic impact of $30 million each year. U.S. Aquaculture broke ground in February 2005 on a $5 million, 60,000 square foot facility that will produce organically raised fish.

In the culture and recreation arena, Austin continued to develop projects that would improve the quality of life for residents and visitors. Construction began in 2005 on the Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts as well as the Lance Armstrong Crosstown Bikeway, named for the seven-time winner of the Tour de France, which will provide a six-mile bike route through downtown Austin. The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art is scheduled to open at the University of Texas at Austin in February 2006. In the planning stage are the Austin Museum of Art and the Mexican-American Cultural Center, a 126,000 square foot facility that will be dedicated to Mexican-American cultural arts and heritage.

Economic Development Information: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, 210 Barton Springs Rd., Ste. 400, Austin, TX 78704; telephone (512)478-9383; fax (512)478-6389

Commercial Shipping

Expansion Management magazine ranked the Austin-San Marcos area one of the top metropolitan areas for logistics, taking into account its transportation/distribution climate, road infrastructure and traffic, railroads, water ports, and air service. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has a 338,000-square-foot cargo port, and handled more than 254 million pounds of freight in 2004. Of this figure, international cargo totaled more than 12 million pounds, a 45 percent increase over the previous year. The airport's freight carriers are Federal Express, Airborne Express, and Menlo Worldwide Forwarding. Austin's busy Port of Entry is served by three brokers: LE Coppersmith Inc., Robert F. Barnes, and UPS Supply Chain Solutions Inc. Freight also travels to and from the city via Burlington Northern, Santa Fe Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, Georgetown Railroad, and Austin Area Terminal Railroad.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Austin boasts a high quality labor force, based in large part on its highly trained, youthful population. In 2003 the percentage of college graduates in the Austin metropolitan area was 36.7 percent, compared to 26.5 percent nationally. The region's seven colleges and universities, particularly the University of Texas at Austin, produce highly skilled, innovate graduates seeking entry into the workforce. At the same time, 47 percent of the area's population was between the ages of 18 and 44 years, while the national average was 39 percent. As a result of these and other factors, Business 2.0 magazine ranked Austin number four on its ranking of "Boom Towns" in March 2004.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Austin metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 652,300

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 1,500

construction: 35,700

manufacturing: 57,700

trade, transportation and utilities: 112,000

information: 20,900

financial activities: 39,400

professional and business services: 85,500

educational and health services: 65,700

leisure and hospitality: 63,500

other services: 24,500

government: 145,800

Average hourly wage of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.94 (2003 statewide annual average)

Unemployment rate: 4.0% (December 2004)

Largest employersNumber of employees
Austin Independent School District(each employs 5,000 people or more)
City of Austin
Dell Inc.
Federal Government
Freescale Semiconductor Inc.
IBM Corp.
St. David's Healthcare Partnership
Seton Healthcare Network
State of Texas
Texas State University-San Marcos
University of Texas at Austin

Cost of Living

Austin was ranked one of the nation's top 40 real estate markets by Expansion Management magazine in 2003. With a rate of 114.2 percent, the area also ranked first in fastest growing household income between 1990 and 2003, according to Cities Ranked & Rated, published by Wiley Publishing in 2004.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Austin area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $216,000

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 94.1 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: none

State sales tax rate: 6.25% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: none

Local sales tax rate: 2.0% (of which, 1.0% goes to Metropolitan Transit Authority)

Property tax rate: 2.6431%

Economic Information: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, 210 Barton Springs Rd., Ste. 400, Austin, TX 78704; telephone (512)478-9383; fax (512)478-6389. Texas Work-force Commission, 101 E. 15th St., Rm. 651, Austin, TX 78778-0001; telephone (512)463-2236; email [email protected]

Austin: Recreation

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Austin: Recreation


Austin beckons the tourist with its carefully maintained natural beauty, historic buildings, art museums and galleries, and vibrant night life. On a walking tour of the downtown area, highlights include the Texas State Capitol, a pink granite structure with a magnificent rotunda, and the ante-bellum Greek Revival Governor's Mansion. Early Texas history is reflected in the French Legation, a French provincial cottage built in 1841 for the French Charge d'Affaires to the Republic of Texas. Visitors may take guided tours of all three attractions. The State Cemetery, considered the Arlington of Texas, is the final resting place of many notable historical figures. The Umlauf Sculpture Gardens display 130 sculptures by Charles Umlauf. Both the curious and the lover of wildlife may appreciate seeing the largest colony of urban bats in North America. More than one million Mexican free-tailed batsthe namesake of the Austin Ice Bats hockey teamlive under the Congress Avenue Bridge between April and September.

Other facets of Austin's past and present are reflected in the landmarks on the University of Texas at Austin campus. In addition to several museums, notable sights include the Center for American History, containing the most extensive collection of Texas history ever assembled; 1893 Little-field House; and one of only five Gutenberg Bibles in the United States.

Zilker Park, the city's largest, is a popular destination for Austinites wanting to go for a swim, take a canoe ride, play soccer with friends, or just stroll through the gardens. Just a few minutes from downtown, it features Barton Springs, fed by natural spring water, as well as a nature center, a fanciful playground, several specialized gardens, a miniature train, large picnic and play areas, and a theater. Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve's 227 acres offer hiking and educational opportunities. Also within the city limits is the 744-acre McKinney Falls State Park.

Arts and Culture

Austin is hailed as the "Live Music Capital of the World," and has more than 120 live music venues (including the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport). The PBS television program "Austin City Limits" has brought the city nationwide attention as a major center for progressive country music, popularized by such entertainers as Willie Nelson, a native Austinite. This is only part of a cultural scene that includes private theaters, two ballet companies, a symphony orchestra, an opera company, dozens of film theaters, and numerous art galleries and museums. The University of Texas Cultural Entertainment Committee hosts a constant stream of visiting entertainers, many of whom perform at the lavish University of Texas at Austin Performing Arts Center, comprised of Bass Concert Hall, Hogg Auditorium, Bates Recital Hall, B. Iden Payne Theatre, McCullough Theatre, and Oscar G. Brockett Theatre. Construction began in 2005 on the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts, which will serve 250 performing groups including the Austin Symphony, Ballet Austin, and the Austin Lyric Opera. Other classical groups in the city include the Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble and the Austin Civic Orchestra.

Aficionados of the stage may choose from traditional or more avant-garde fare presented by Austin's 35 independent theater companies. The Paramount Theatre, a restored 1915 vaudeville house, hosts traveling and children's productions. Repertory venues include Live Oak Theater, Capitol City Playhouse, and Zachary Scott Theatre. The city supports Shakespearean productions and a children's troupe. Musical theater is the forte of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, which stages an annual "grand production" and free monthly musicales. Satirical performances are staged by Esther's Follies.

Austin claims to be home to the highest number of artists per capita of any city in Texas, and offers a wide variety of art galleries. Among Austin's 35 galleries and museums is the Elisabet Ney Museum, which displays the work of the state's first important sculptress in her former home. One of the world's largest collections of Latin American art is on display at the two locations of the Huntington Art Gallery on the University of Texas at Austin campus, while the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at the university has a large collection of Old Master paintings and drawings.

Austin's other museums celebrate Texas history and some of its notable citizens. For instance, the General Land Office Building, where William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry, once worked, was used as the setting for one of his stories and is open for tours. The O. Henry Home and Museum exhibits the writer's personal effects, and on the first Sunday of May, is the site of the O. Henry Pun-Off. The collections of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas are on view at the Republic of Texas Museum. The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Art Center is Texas' first African American history museum. The Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum maintains a collection of the late president's documents and displays memorabilia and a re-creation of his White House Oval Office. The state's natural history is the focus of the Texas Memorial Museum. Old and young alike enjoy Discovery Hall, a hands-on science museum, and the Austin Children's Museum.

Festivals and Holidays

Austin hosts several major events throughout the year, the largest of which are centered on the arts. The South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film, and media festival is an internationally acclaimed, 10-day extravaganza held each March. Spring brings the Old Settler's Music Festival, the Austin International Poetry Festival, and the Austin Fine Arts Festival. The Austin City Limits Music Festival, an extension of the popular "Austin City Limits" television show, has been held each September since its 2002 debut. The following month is the Austin Film Festival, a showcase of commercial and independent films. Festivals with an ethnic flavor include the Carnival Brasiliero, a celebration of Brazilian culture and music held each February, and Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) and Diez y Seis (September 16th), which honor Mexican Independence. The Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo takes place over two weeks in March at the Travis County Exposition Center, which is also the site of the Republic of Texas Biker Rally in June. Numerous holiday celebrations, including Chuy's Christmas Parade, enliven the winter.

Sports for the Spectator

Austin's first professional sports team was the Ice Bats of the Western Professional Hockey League. Named for the world-famous bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge, the team plays at the Travis County Exposition and Heritage Center. The Round Rock Express, a AA baseball affiliate of the Houston Astros, began play in the nearby city of Round Rock after relocating there from Mississippi in 2000. Four years later the city added another professional team, the Austin Wranglers, the nineteenth franchise of the Arena Football League. Spectators can watch the Dallas Cowboys at their pre-season football training camp at St. Edward's University in July and August. Professional basketball fans can view the National Basketball Association's San Antonio Spurs train at the University of Texas at Austin Rec Center.

In college action, the city is gripped with football fever each fall as the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns take on the Big 12 Conference at Memorial Stadium. University athletes engage in a full range of other sports as well, including volleyball, baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, track, tennis, swimming, rowing, diving, and women's soccer.

Sports for the Participant

Amateur athletes delight in Austin's extensive sports facilities. The city's 208 parks and playgrounds total about 16,800 acres, and the city boasts numerous municipal golf courses and more than 28 miles of hiking and biking trails. The 150-mile chain that makes up Highland Lakes offers opportunities for swimming, canoeing, fishing, and boating. Austin has earned a reputation as one of the best tennis and golf environments in the nation.

Annual sporting events invite residents and visitors to put their best foot forward. The Freescale Marathon, a 26.2 mile race from Northwest Austin to Auditorium Shores, draws more than 7,000 participants each February. Texas' largest footrace, the Capitol 10,000, takes place in April and attracts approximately 10,000 runners on a 10K course between Congress Avenue and Auditorium Shores.

Shopping and Dining

The infusion of wealthy high tech, film, and music professionals into Austin has turned it into a retail boom town. Austin offers residents and visitors a variety of shopping experiences. Downtown, for example, the streets around the capitol and other government buildings feature a wide array of upscale shops. One of the city's liveliest areas for both shopping and other forms of entertainment is Old Pecan Street, also known as Sixth Street, a seven-block strip of renovated Victorian and native stone buildings. Sporting more than 70 shops, restaurants, and clubs, Old Pecan Street displays a Bourbon Street flair in the evening. Adjacent to the University of Texas at Austin campusespecially along a street known as "The Drag"are dozens of small clothing boutiques and bookstores; on weekends, sidewalk vendors sell handcrafted items. More traditional mall shopping is common in the fast-growing northern part of the city.

Austin has more fine restaurants and clubs per capita than any other city in the nation. The city's restaurants feature everything from down-home Texas barbecue to the most elegant continental cuisine. Mexican restaurants are particularly abundant, and Asian restaurants have been proliferating.

Visitor Information: Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, 301 Congress Ave., Ste. 200, Austin, TX 78701; telephone (512)474-5171; toll-free 800-926-2282; email [email protected]


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AUSTIN , geographic and political center of Texas and the state's capital, with a Jewish population of around 13,500 in 2001. Jewish settlers arrived as early as the 1840s. The first well-known Jewish settler was Phineas de Cordova, born in Philadelphia and grandson of a 1749 Amsterdam immigrant to Curaçao, Netherlands West Antilles. De Cordova arrived in Texas sometime after 1848 with his wife, Jemimina Delgado. During a brief time in Galveston and Houston, he formed a land company and newspaper publishing business with his brother Jacob de Cordova, then settled in Austin at the request of Governor P.H. Bell in 1850.

Once in Austin, Phineas de Cordova published a weekly, the Southwestern American, for two years. As the de Cordova land agency grew, he became an expert in Texas land laws and published a topographical map of Austin in 1872. He developed a number of political associations, and served in the Texas Senate for three terms during the Civil War years. Other notable Jewish families in Austin during this period included the family of Henry Hirshfeld, who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Hirshfeld, de Cordova, and a handful of other Jewish pioneers met in the mayor's office of the City of Austin to organize its first congregation, Temple Beth Israel, in 1876. Chartered by the State of Texas in 1879, the congregation built its first house of worship in 1884 on the corner of 11th and San Jacinto streets in the heart of downtown Austin.

As Austin grew through the end of the 19th and into the beginning of the 20th century, its Jewish population grew slowly relative to other Texas cities, and unlike places such as Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Waco, a merchant prince who was philanthropist or benefactor never emerged. The Jewish population included peddlers who eventually founded small Main Street types of businesses and intellectuals drawn to teach or study at the University of Texas at Austin. Temple Beth Israel remained the cornerstone of the organized Jewish community until 1924, when the Federation of Jewish Charities was formed.

Orthodox Jews formed a minyan as early as 1914, which was chartered to become Austin's second congregation, Congregation Agudas Achim, in 1924. In 1931, the congregation built its first building at 909 San Jacinto, and occupied this location for more than 30 years. The members affiliated with the Conservative Jewish movement in 1948. Among the founders was Jim Novy, whose longstanding relationship with President Lyndon Baines Johnson served as a springboard of congregational growth. In the early 1960s, Johnson helped Novy trade the synagogue's land downtown for an easement along the Missouri Pacific railroad, in an expanding and newer part of Austin. The site of the old synagogue became the site of Austin's Federal building, a move that helped ensure the financial viability of the congregation for years to come.

In 1963, the congregation moved, but its dedication ceremony, which was to include then Vice President Johnson, had to be postponed in the wake of the assassination and mourning of President John F. Kennedy. On December 30, 1963, President Johnson returned to Austin, and in his first non-official address as president, dedicated the new synagogue, the second time in U.S. history for a sitting U.S. president to do so.

Austin's beginnings as a center of high technology began shortly after the Great Depression. The city grew steadily through the World War ii years, and by the 1950s, several research laboratories and think tanks had been founded. As these formed and began to draw innovative thinkers and high-tech companies to the area, the Jewish population grew as Jewish engineers, doctors, intellectuals, and inventors followed the trend. Rapid growth in the 1970s contributed to more political activity, this time at the local level.

During the 1970s, local Jews contributed to the growth and development of the state's cultural and political life. Michael R. Levy founded Texas Monthly magazine, and Austin's first Jewish mayor, Jeff Friedman (also the youngest ever to hold that position, and fondly known as "the hippie mayor"), was elected in 1975. Also during the 1970s, local philanthropist Helen Smith became the first Texan to serve as international president of B'nai B'rith Women. Helen's husband, Milton Smith, was among those responsible for purchasing land to move Congregation Beth Israel from its downtown location to the suburbs in the 1960s.

While Austin's Jewish population steadily rose and remained at about 1% of the total population of Austin for over a century, its communal growth trajectory differed from most Texas Jewish communities. Unlike Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and other cities, the concept of a united Jewish community was slow to catch on, and support for Zionism was fairly limited. From the late 1970s to the 1990s, the Austin Jewish Federation had a small community center located in an old church and small trailer park. During the late 1970s and 1980s, signs of communal growth manifested itself through a preschool of about 100 children, a Jewish Book Fair, and a Jewish Family Service.

The high technology boom of the 1990s caused an unexpected influx of hundreds if not thousands of new Jewish families to Austin and stretched the longtime traditional bi-congregational infrastructure to the breaking point. In addition to the hi-tech think tanks and start-up shops, Dell Computers, founded by a member of Austin's Jewish community, Michael Dell, also played a large part in the community's growth. As a member of the community, Dell became Austin's first major Jewish philanthropist.

The tone of the community changed dramatically in response to population growth in the 1990s, and new members called for organizations and structures from the Jewish community that had never before existed. Perhaps most emblematic of its unique hi-tech tone was the innovative consolidation of the Austin Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Center. Michael Dell and his wife, Susan Lieberman Dell, purchased and donated a 40-acre site in central Austin, which has become the Jewish Community Association of Austin's Dell Jewish Community Campus. Ground was broken in December 1996 for the new campus facility, which would house Congregation Agudas Achim, a community center, and space that allows for the operation of the Austin Jewish Academy, Early Childhood Program, and a number of youth and family programs. While the campus has become the physical center of Austin's burgeoning Jewish community, the community's growth since 1997 has also spawned two new Reform congregations, as well as growth of its existing Conservative and Orthodox minyans.

The innovative "campus" approach to Jewish communal life has set the tone for the second century of Jewish life in Austin and is actively watched by other mid-sized communities throughout the United States as a model for operating Jewish communities in dynamic and changing times.


R. Winegarten and C. Schechter, Deep in the Heart: The Lives & Legends of Texas Jews, a Photographic History (1990). website: for Dell Jewish Community Campus and jcaa.

[Cathy Schechter (2nd ed.)]

Austin: History

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Austin: History

City Named State Capital

Lured to the area by tales of seven magnificent cities of gold, Spanish explorers first passed through what is now Austin during the 1530s. But instead of gold, they encountered several hostile Native American tribes; for many years, reports of the natives' viciousness (which included charges of cannibalism) discouraged further expeditions and restricted colonization. Spain nevertheless retained control of the region for nearly 300 years, withdrawing after Mexico gained its independence in 1821.

All of eastern Texas then experienced a boom as hundreds of settlers sought permission to establish colonies in the "new" territory. One of these early settlements was the village of Waterloo, founded in 1835 on the north bank of the Colorado River. In 1839 Mirabeau B. Lamar, vice-president of the Republic of Texas, recommended that Waterloo be chosen as the capital, noting among its assets its central location, elevation, mild climate, and freedom from the fevers that plagued residents of the republic's coastal areas. Despite stiff competition from those whose preference was Houston, Lamar's proposal was eventually accepted, and Waterloo was incorporated as Austin in 1839 and renamed in honor of Stephen F. Austin, "Father of Texas." Austin remained the capital when Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845.

During the 1850s the country's regional conflicts mounted, and Texans were fractured into three distinct camps: those who advocated supporting northern policies, those who wished to ally themselves with secessionist southern states, and those who urged the reestablishment of the independent Republic of Texas. Although Travis County citizens voted strongly against secession, Texas as a whole sided with the South when the Civil War erupted. Austin's contributions to the war effort included the manufacture of arms and ammunition and the mustering of the Austin City Light Infantry and a cavalry regiment known as Terry's Texas Rangers after its leader, B. F. Terry.

Despite some political strife following the Civil War, Reconstruction brought prosperity to Austin. The coming of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad in 1871 and the International-Great Northern five years later provided stimulus to the city's growth and commerce.

Modern Development Linked to University

Austin's development received further impetus when, in 1883, the University of Texas at Austin held its first classes. In its early decades, the school was rich in real estate but poor in cash. The discovery of oil on university land in 1924 led to enormous wealth which, along with private donations and federal assistance, has made the University of Texas at Austin one of the best-endowed schools in the country.

Much of Austin's growth and development in the twentieth century was linked to the University of Texas at Austin. Its presence lent a cosmopolitan air to the city; visitors who expected to see cowboy boots and hats in abundance were usually disappointed because Austin was the least "Texan" of all the cities in the state. Besides making Austin a bastion of liberalism and tolerance, the university attracted much high-technology industry and fostered the city's image as the arts capital of Texas.

The recession of the early 2000s hit technology companies especially hard. As a result of its over-reliance on the high technology industry, Austin suffered an economic slump, losing jobs along with public and private revenues. The economy's road toward recovery coincided with the implementation of Opportunity Austin, an initiative launched in 2003 to rejuvenate the industries of existing companies and to diversify into such segments as automotive, biomedicine and pharmaceuticals, and corporate and regional headquarters.

Meanwhile, the resident of the Governor's Mansion moved from Austin into the White House. After a protracted recount effort centered on Florida ballots, George W. Bush resigned as Texas governor in December 2000 to accept his new post as the 43rd President of the United States. He was succeeded as governor by Rick Perry, Bush's lieutenant governor.

Historical Information: Austin History Center, 9th and Guadelupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768-2287; telephone (512)974-7480

Austin: Education and Research

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Austin: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Austin Independent School District (AISD), the largest public school system in the metro Austin area, was ranked one of the nation's top eight public education systems by Forbes magazine in March 2004. Magnet schools such as the Science Academy and the Liberal Arts Academy serve outstanding students from throughout the school district. Through the Austin Partners in Education program, every school in Austin is in partnership with one or more businesses and organizations that donate millions of dollars in cash and in-kind resources such as school supplies, lab and technology equipment, and landscape materials to support AISD schools and programs. In an effort to enhance its fund-raising capacities, Austin Partners in Education reorganized as a non-profit organization in 2004.

The following is a summary of data regarding Austin Independent School District as of the 20042005 school year.

Total enrollment: 79,788

Number of facilities elementary schools: 74

junior high/middle schools: 17

senior high schools: 12

special campuses: 4

Student/teacher ratio: 22:1 (kindergarten through grade 4); 25-26:1 (grades 5-6); 28:1 (grades 7-12)

Teacher salaries

minimum: $35,080

maximum: $56,800

Funding per pupil: $6,644

A number of private and parochial schools also offer diverse educational opportunities to city students.

Public Schools Information: Austin Independent School District, 1111 W. Sixth Street, Austin, TX 78703; telephone (512)414-1700

Colleges and Universities

When it comes to higher education, Austin has a proud tradition. The city had barely been established when the Congress of the Republic of Texas mandated establishment of a "university of the first class." Today, the University of Texas at Austin is joined by six other institutions of higher education in the metropolitan area. The city's 2000 census paints a picture of a learned populous: 83.4 percent of adults have a high school diploma, while 25.7 percent have earned a bachelor's degree, and 14.7 percent have obtained a graduate degree. Austin's educational bent is a major attraction for businesses. The University of Texas at Austin is the nation's third largest university (Fall 2004 enrollment) and has a well-deserved reputation as one of the top research institutions in the country. Its network of research and resources creates a stimulating environment for businesses, and companies benefit from a highly trained workforce.

The area's other institutions of higher education include Austin Community College, St. Edward's University, Concordia University at Austin, Huston-Tillotson College, Southwestern University at Georgetown, Texas State University at San Marcos, and Episcopal and Presbyterian seminaries.

Libraries and Research Centers

Best-selling author and Austin resident James Michener once commented, "The libraries in Austinyou can't imagine how good they are." The large central public library and its 20 branches maintain a collection of more than 1.5 million volumes and about 2,500 periodical titles; special collections are maintained at the Austin History Center near the main library. Each of the colleges and universities has its own library whose collection reflects that institution's research interests and curriculum. Austin is also home to numerous special libraries that preserve the records of businesses, research firms, associations, and governmental agencies; the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum houses the 36th president's papers and other memorabilia. At least 80 research centers affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin sponsor investigations into everything from classical archaeology to artificial intelligence. Other of the city's notable research centers are Sematech, a consortium of U.S. semiconductor producers and the U.S. government; and the National Wildflower Research Center, brainchild of former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, whose facilities are open for tours.

Public Library Information: Austin Public Library (Faulk Central Library), 800 Guadalupe, Austin, TX 78701; telephone (512)974-7400

Austin: Transportation

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Austin: Transportation

Approaching the City

Located eight miles from downtown, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport offers nonstop flights to 32 destinations, including New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Detroit. Total passenger traffic exceeded 7.2 million in 2004, up eight percent from the previous year. The airport is served by seven airlines: Southwest, American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, America West, and Frontier.

Drivers approach Austin via Interstate Highway 35, which runs north-south through the city and links it with Dallas and San Antonio, and Interstate Highway 10, running east-west along the southern edge of the city. Austin is also accessed via U.S. highways 79, 90, 183, and 290. Rail riders can board Amtrak's Texas Eagle line (from Chicago to San Antonio) or its Sunset Limited line (Orlando to Los Angeles).

Traveling in the City

Austin is bisected by interstate highways 10 and 35, and is also served by federal highways 79,90,183, and 290. Two other main roads, Loop 360 and Route 1, run north-south. The city is easy to explore by car and parking is plentiful. Visitors should note that only vehicles with special permits are allowed to drive through or park on the University of Texas at Austin campus.

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority provides the city's bus service. Each day, an average of 130,000 one-way passengers ride the system, which stops at more than 3,000 points throughout central Texas. The downtown area is served by the Armadillo Express trolleys known as 'Dillos, which offer free service to such places as the State Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin. Students and visitors to the University of Texas campus enjoy their own shuttle bus system.

Austin: Communications

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Austin: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Austin's major daily newspaper is the Austin American-Statesman, a morning paper. Readers also have available the Austin Daily Herald. The Daily Texan is the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin. Weekly publications include the Austin Chronicle, a free tabloid that publishes entertainment listings, and the Austin Business Journal, which reports on local commerce. Texas Monthly chronicles state politics and culture. Also among the more than 80 newspapers and periodicals published in Austin are Southwestern Historical Quarterly, published by the Texas State Historical Association; Capitol Times; El Mundo; Buddhist-Christian Studies; El Norte; Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review; and The Southwestern Musician.

Television and Radio

Seven television stations broadcast in Austin: one independent and affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, and WB. Access to dozens of cable channels is also available. The number and variety of the radio stations reflect Austin-ites' passion for music. Thirty-two AM and FM stations offer everything from contemporary and Christian music to talk radio.

Media Information: Austin American-Statesman, 305 S. Congress Ave., PO Box 670, Austin, TX 78767; telephone(512)445-4040; toll-free (800)445-9898; email [email protected]

Austin Online

Austin American-Statesman. Available

Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available

Austin Independent School District. Available

Austin Public Library. Available

City of Austin Home Page. Available and

Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. Available

Texas Workforce Commission. Available

Selected Bibliography

Cantrell, Gregg, Stephen F. Austin: Empresario of Texas (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999)

Douglass, Curan, Austin Natural and Historic (Austin, TX: Eakin Press, 2001)

Endres, Clifford, Austin City Limits (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987)

Rather, Dan, and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin: Celebrating the Lone Star Millennium (Memphis, TN: Towery Publishing, 1999)

Austin: Population Profile

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Austin: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 585,000

1990: 846,227

2000: 1,249,763

Percent change, 19902000: 47.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 63rd

U.S. rank in 1990: 52nd

U.S. rank in 2000: 37th

City Residents

1980: 345,890

1990: 472,020

2000: 656,562

2003 estimate: 672,011

Percent change, 19902000: 39.0%

U.S. rank in 1980: 42nd

U.S. rank in 1990: 27th (State rank: 5th)

U.S. rank in 2000: 22nd (State rank: 4th)

Density: 2,610.4 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 429,100

Black or African American: 65,956

American Indian and Alaska Native: 3,889

Asian: 30,960

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 469

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 200,579

Other: 106,538

Percent of residents born in state: 54.9% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Poplation under 5 years old: 46,715

Poplation 5 to 9 years old: 41,227

Poplation 10 to 14 years old: 37,108

Poplation 15 to 19 years old: 48,809

Poplation 20 to 24 years old: 82,945

Poplation 25 to 34 years old: 138,643

Poplation 35 to 44 years old: 104,874

Poplation 45 to 54 years old: 75,844

Poplation 55 to 59 years old: 21,440

Poplation 60 to 64 years old: 15,052

Poplation 65 to 74 years old: 23,008

Poplation 75 to 84 years old: 15,074

Population 85 years and older: 5,823

Median age: 29.6 years

Births (2002)

Total number: 12,387

Deaths (2002)

Total number: 3,370 (of which, 59 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $24,163

Median household income: $42,689

Total households: 265,594

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 24,799

$10,000 to $14,999: 14,492

$15,000 to $24,999: 32,628

$25,000 to $34,999: 35,546

$35,000 to $49,999: 43,524

$50,000 to $74,999: 51,029

$75,000 to $99,999: 27,568

$100,000 to $149,999: 21,889

$150,000 to $199,999: 6,742

$200,000 or more: 7,377

Percent of families below poverty level: 9.1% (39.3% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 42,979


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AUSTIN, founded in 1839, was named for Stephen F. Austin, the principal American colonizer of Texas. Austin served temporarily as the Texas capital until 1842, when legislators moved the seat of government to Houston, and later to Washington-on-the-Brazos. They returned it to Austin in 1845. Austin experienced moderate growth in the 1850s with the construction of government buildings, but growth slowed during the Civil War. Later, Austin benefited from its location near the Chisholm Trail and from the arrival of the railroad in 1871. The state legislature designated the city the permanent capital of Texas the following year.

World War II marked an important turning point in the city's history, with the location of air bases and army camps nearby. After the war, Austin profited as high-tech electronics industries relocated there. The University of Texas, founded at Austin in 1883, not only maintained its position as one of the city's major employers but also attracted a variety of research and development firms that fueled the city's growth. In addition, expanding government and a thriving tourist industry promoted Austin's development. Austin experienced explosive population growth during this time, from 22,000 in 1950, to 251,808 in 1970, to 465,622 in 1990, to 642,994 in 2000.


Cantrell, Gregg. Stephen F. Austin, Empresario of Texas. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1999.

Humphrey, David C. Austin: A History of the Capital City. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1997.

Robert B.Fairbanks/s. b.

See alsoEmpresario System ; Mexican-American War ; Railroads ; Sunbelt .


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Austin: Introduction
Austin: Geography and Climate
Austin: History
Austin: Population Profile
Austin: Municipal Government
Austin: Economy
Austin: Education and Research
Austin: Health Care
Austin: Recreation
Austin: Convention Facilities
Austin: Transportation
Austin: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1835 (incorporated 1839)

Head Official: Mayor Will Wynn (since 2003)

City Population

1980: 345,890

1990: 472,020

2000: 656,562

2003 estimate: 672,011

Percent change, 19902000: 39.0%

U.S. rank in 1980: 42nd

U.S. rank in 1990: 27th (State rank: 5th)

U.S. rank in 2000: 22nd (State rank: 4th)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 585,000

1990: 846,227

2000: 1,249,763

Percent change, 19902000: 47.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 63rd

U.S. rank in 1990: 52nd

U.S. rank in 2000: 37th

Area: 258.43 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from 425 feet to 1,000 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 68.6° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 31.35 inches

Major Economic Sectors: services, government, wholesale and retail trade

Unemployment rate: 4.0% (December 2004)

Per Capita Income: $24,163 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 42,979

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Texas at Austin, St. Edward's University, Houston-Tillotson College

Daily Newspaper: Austin American-Statesman

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