OK who dosn’t like to know a little history now and then!
The recorded history of Austin, Texas, began in the 1830s when Anglo-American settlers arrived in Central Texas. In 1837 settlers founded the village of Waterloo on the banks of the Colorado River, the first permanent settlement in the area. By 1839, Waterloo would adopt the name Austin and become the capital of the Republic of Texas. Today you can still find the Waterloo name on some of Austin businesses!
Austin’s history has also been largely tied to state politics and in the late 19th century, the establishment of the University of Texas made Austin a regional center for higher education, as well as a hub for state government. In the 20th century, Austin’s music scene had earned the city the nickname “Live Music Capital of the World.” With a population of over 800,000 inhabitants in 2010, Austin has been experiencing a population boom. During the 2000′s austin was the third-fastest growing large city in the nation.
The story of Downtown Austin began with the Republic of Texas and President Mirabeau B. Lamar in the 1830s. Lamar tapped Edwin Waller to direct the planning and construction of the new town. Waller chose a site on a bluff above the Colorado River, nestled between Shoal Creek to the west and Waller Creek to the east. Waller laid the new city in a simple grid pattern on a 640-acre (or one square-mile plot) with 14 blocks running in both directions. Remarkably, much of this original design is still intact in downtown Austin today.
One grand avenue, which Lamar named “Congress,” cut through the center of town from Capitol Square down to the Colorado River. The streets running north-south (paralleling Congress) were named for Texas rivers with their order of placement matching the order of rivers on the Texas state map. The east-west streets were named after trees native to the region, despite the fact that Waller had recommended using numbers (they were eventually changed to numbers in 1884). The city’s perimeters stretched north to south from the river at 1st Street to 15th Street, and from East Avenue (now Interstate 35) to West Avenue.
Edwin Waller, the first mayor of Austin, designed Congress Avenue to be Austin’s most prominent street. Planned as the widest street in the original 1839 Austin plan, the 120 foot wide Congress Avenue initially ran from the Colorado River north to the State Capitol. Not coincidentally, Congress was the most important street in Austin city life during the 1900s. Early structures along Congress Avenue included government buildings, hotels, saloons, retail stores and restaurants. By the late 1840s “The Avenue” formed a well-established business district. The mid-1870s introduced gaslight illumination and mule-driven streetcars as well as construction of a new Travis County courthouse at Eleventh Street.
Stretching from First Street north to Eleventh Street, the Congress Avenue Historic District was created on August 11, 1978. Stylistically, the dominating structures of significance reflected general Victorian form and detailing, tempered by local materials and building techniques. Notable structures along Congress Avenue north of the Colorado include the Texas State Capitol, The Paramount Theatre, the Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Building, Gethsemane Lutheran Church and the Old Bakery.
Sixth Street is a historic street and entertainment district in Downtown Austin. Sixth Street itself stretches from Mopac Expressway in Old West Austin across to Interstate 35 and beyond. The nine-block area of East Sixth Street roughly between Lavaca Street to the west and Interstate 35 to the east is recognized as the Sixth Street Historic District and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1975.
The area around nearby 4th Street and 6th Street has been a major entertainment district since the 1970s. Many bars, clubs, music venues, and shopping destinations are located on East 6th Street between Congress Avenue and Interstate 35 and many offer live music at one time or another during the week. Traffic is generally blocked on E. 6th Street and most crossroads from I-35 to Brazos Street on weekend evenings, and for UT football home games (depending on pedestrian traffic), as well as holidays and special events to allow the crowds to walk unfettered to the many venues that line the street. East Sixth Street plays host to a wide variety of events each year, ranging from music and film festivals (such as South by Southwest) to biker rallies (such as The Republic of Texas Biker Rally) and the Pecan Street Festival. The area of Sixth Street west of Lavaca is known as the West 6th Street District. Recently, there has been a growing movement to develop this area as an entertainment district of its own, geared toward the live music crowd.
Second Street District
Situated north of Lady Bird Lake, the six-block Second Street District has swiftly become one of Austin’s most popular food and shopping districts. The district, bordered by Colorado and San Antonio Streets, is chockablock with boutiques, coffeehouses, wine bars and design stores and is anchored by a mixed-use development across from City Hall. It contains is a 36-story W Austin Hotel and Residences, which opened in late 2010, and the state-of-the-art Moody Theater, the new home of the iconic PBS music series Austin City Limits. Amazing facilities and equally amazing shows happen here regularly.
In 1997, it was apparent that downtown retail was on the verge of disappearing and downtown, in general, was on a decline. West Second Street had become a blighted area which was home to a number of abandoned warehouses and a lumberyard that the City converted into temporary offices and a City Council Chamber. The city embraced the idea a mixed-use district, and by the mid-2000s all six blocks would be mixed-use buildings with 168,000 square feet of street-level retail.
The Rainey Street Historic District is a community positioned near Lake Lady Bird and Interstate 35 in a southeastern pocket of downtown. The situation at Rainey Street is unique in that the area was once a sleepy residential street, albeit nestled right next to downtown, was rezoned as part of Austin’s central business district in 2004. The hope at the time was to incentivize development near the Austin Convention Center and the since-built Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. But while grander development has stalled, bars and eateries have flocked to Rainey, since CBD zoning enables traffic-heavy cocktail bar or restaurant use without any additional zoning request. As such, old bungalows have been fixed up and turned into bars and cocktail lounges with ample backyards and porches. Vibrant and fun!
West End/Market District
The West End or Market District of Austin is located in the northwest section of Downtown Austin, just north of the Seaholm District and to the west of the Warehouse District.
The Seaholm District is a formerly industrial section of southwest downtown Austin that the city wants to transform into a vibrant urban neighborhood. The city of Austin has designated the area from Lady Bird Lake to 5th Street and from Lamar Boulevard to San Antonio Street as the Seaholm District. At the core of the district is the decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant, which will be redeveloped into a landmark residential and retail destination. After several years of delays and false starts due in part to a recession that dried up financing for development, construction is expected to start on redevelopment projects at the former Seaholm Power Plant and the site of the former Green Water Treatment Plant east of Seaholm in 2012.
Bremond Block Historic District
The Bremond Block Historic District is a collection of eleven historic homes located in the northwest corner of downtown, constructed from the 1850s to 1910. The block was added to National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and is considered one of the few remaining upper-class Victorian neighborhoods of the middle to late nineteenth century in Texas. Six of these houses were built or expanded for members of the families of brothers Eugene and John Bremond, who were prominent in late-nineteenth-century Austin social, merchandising, and banking circles. They are located within the square block bordered by West Seventh, West Eighth, Guadalupe, and San Antonio streets. The district also includes several houses on the west side of San Antonio and the south side of West Seventh, at least three of which were built or altered by the North family.
Judges Hill is a largely residential neighborhood is located north of the central business district of downtown Austin on the eastern bluff overlooking Pease Park, bordered by Rio Grande Street, 15th Street, Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and Lamar Blvd. In 1851, Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson built the first home in present-day Judges Hill near the corner of 18th and San Gabriel. Although the house was subsequently demolished in 1966. Judge Robertson was the first among the neighborhood resident judges and attorneys who earned the area the name of Judges Hill. The area includes many historically designated properties from the late 1800s, some significant mid-century modern design, student communities and limited multi-family housing.
Contact Robert Kenney, Realtor® for Down town austin real-estate information and services. Mobile: 512-922-4922 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org