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Austin’s History

The Austin personal injury firm enjoys going out and seeing the city when we’re not in court or working on cases.

Known for music, diversity, food, and traffic, Austin, Texas also has a legendary history filled with remarkable moments and major events, all of which define the city and add to the rich fabric of Texan culture.

To get a better feel for Austin and understand what the future may hold for this evolving city, let’s take a walk into the past and discover more about the roots of this city and what’s shaped it into the thriving metro it is today.

Early Austin History

In the early 1800s and prior, the area that would become Austin was home to various Native American tribes, including the Comanches, the Tonkawas, and the Lipan Apaches. While Spanish missionaries established missions in the Austin area in the 1700s, permanent settlers from Europe established a village in Austin around the 1830s, naming their settlement, Waterloo.

By 1839, the Republic of Texas declared Waterloo its new capital, and the settlement was quickly built out into a bustling city, with the name soon changed to “Austin,” in honor of Stephen F. Austin who has been recognized as the “father of Texas.”

Austin History: 1839 to 1900

Many of the city’s fundamental institutions came on the scene in the 1800s while the geographic, political, and social landscape of the U.S. was also changing dramatically.

The timeline below highlights some of the most important moments in Austin’s and Texas’s history in the earliest years, before the 20th Century:

  • 1839: The village of Austin is officially incorporated as a city.
  • 1840: Austin sees the election of its first mayor, Edwin Waller.
  • 1842: The capital of Texas moves from Austin to Houston.
  • 1845: Texas becomes a U.S. state, and the capital is moved back to Austin.
  • 1855: The Texas Capitol building is erected.
  • 1871: The Houston and Texas Central Railroad runs its first train.
  • 1875: The Austin City Railroad starts running trains.
  • 1881: The Texas Capitol burns down, and the University of Texas at Austin (UTA) opens its doors.
  • 1885: St. Edward’s University opens its doors.
  • 1888: The Texas Capitol is reconstructed.
  • 1900: The Austin Dam fails, killing dozens of people.

Austin History: The 1900s

In the 20th Century, Austin continued to evolve, benefiting from technological advancements, the discovery of oil, and a growing economy while balancing all of that with the backdrop of world wars, horrific weather events, nuclear power innovations, and more.

That shaped Austin in the 1900s, with some of the more notable moments featured in the timeline below:

  • 1910: The rebuilding of the Congress Avenue Bridge is complete.
  • 1917:  UTA opens up its School for Military Aeronautics.
  • 1921: The Austin Civic Theatre opens its doors for the first time.
  • 1930: The Austin Municipal Airport first opens its doors to the public.
  • 1933: Construction for the new State Highway Building and the Austin Public Library begins.
  • 1934: The O. Henry House Museum starts welcoming visitors for the first time.
  • 1937: Lyndon B. Johnson wins the election to become a U.S. Representative for the 10th Congressional District.
  • 1950: Austin’s population tops 132,000 for the first time, highlighting the city’s remarkable growth in just over 100 years.
  • 1958: The Goodwill Industries of Central Texas opens its doors for the first time.
  • 1966: The Texas Tower Sniper kills 16 people in a horrific school shooting at UTA.
  • 1968: Austin establishes a sister-city relationship with Saltillo, Mexico.
  • 1971: The LBJ Presidential Library and Museum is officially dedicated and opened to the public.
  • 1980: Austin’s population surges to more than 345,000 residents.
  • 1982: The National Wildflower Research Center opens its doors for the first time.
  • 1987: South by Southwest has its inaugural year as Austin’s premier music festival.
  • 1992: The Austin Convention Center opens its doors for the first time.
  • 1999: The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport opens its doors for the first time.

Austin History: The 2000s

At the turn of the century and with the rise of the digital age, Austin has continued to prosper and adapt to the time, with some of the more remarkable events of the past two decades or so shown below:

  • 2002: Austin becomes home to the headquarters for the Texas Archive of the Moving Image.
  • 2003: The Frost Bank Tower, standing more than 515 tall and serving as one of the most distinctive landmarks in Austin, goes up.
  • 2009:  The Texas Tribune sets its headquarters up in Austin, TX.
  • 2011: Austin affirms a sister-city relationship with Angers, France.
  • 2013: Austin’s population exceeds 885,400 residents.
  • 2019: Austin-based billionaire, Robert F. Smith, announces that he’ll pay off student loan debts for the graduates of an Atlanta-based college.
  • 2020: Austin cancels South by Southwest and several other events due to COVID-19.
  • 2021: Tesla and other companies move their headquarters to Austin, creating thousands of new jobs and igniting wild growth of the city.

What Will the Future of Austin Look Like?

While many experts predict a bright future for Austin, there’s no way to really know what we can expect tomorrow, next year, or even 10 years from now. Despite that uncertainty, there is one thing that we can be sure of — the fact that a personal injury lawyer in Austin, TX, can give you the answers you need about your rights and legal options whenever you have been harmed by negligence.



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