About Austin

Before 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.

The first documented settlement of current-day Austin occurred in 1835, and the site was named Waterloo in 1837. In 1839, Mirabeau B. Lamar led the charge to establish the capital of Texas at the site, and renamed the city in honor of Stephen F. Austin. Its original name is honored by local businesses such as Waterloo Ice House and Waterloo Records.

The city survived several impoverished early years and was officially elected the capital of the Republic (later the state) of Texas. For a time, Austin was known among Texans as a home for gambling, prostitution, and other vice. In the late 19th century, the establishment of several universities in the city (most notably the University of Texas) made Austin a center of education.

In the 20th century, Austin grew as a metropolitan area and center of commerce. In the 1960s it attracted a large and influential population of musicians, helping to give its present-day motto "The Live Music Capital of the World." Austin also became a tech center, home to many large employers, in the 1990s. Today it maintains these identities and also fosters an increased prominence in the film industry.

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the county seat of Travis County. Situated in Central Texas, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 16th largest in the United States. It is also home to the University of Texas at Austin. According to the demographer for Austin, the 2005 population estimate was 690,252. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area with a population of over 1.5 million. Austin was selected as the #2 Best Big City in "Best Places to Live" by Money magazine in 2006, and the "Greenest City in America" by MSN.

Austin is situated on the Colorado River and on the Balcones Fault, which in much of Austin runs roughly the same route as the MoPac expressway.

Residents of Austin are known as "Austinites" and include a mix of university professors, students, politicians, lobbyists, musicians, state employees, high-tech workers, blue-collar workers, and white-collar workers. 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 progressive lifestyle of many Austin residents, but is also the slogan for a campaign to preserve smaller local businesses and resist excessive commercialization.


Austin has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot summers and mild winters. On average, Austin receives 33.6 inches (853.4 mm) of rain per year, with most of the precipitation coming in the spring, and a secondary maximum in the fall. During the springtime, severe thunderstorms sometimes occur, and tornadoes are not uncommon in the region.

Summer in Austin is hot and typically humid, with average temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 °Celsius) from June until September. Temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C) are common. The highest recorded temperature was 112 °F on September 5, 2000 For the entire year there is an average of 111 days above 90 °F (32 °C) and 198 days above 80 °F (27 °C).

Winter in Austin is mild and dry relative to the rest of the year. For the entire year, Austin averages 88 days when the temperature drops below 45 °F (7 °C) and only 24 days when the minimum temperature falls below freezing. The lowest recorded temperature was -2 °F on January 31, 1949 Snowfall is rare in Austin, but once every year or two Austin is hit with an ice storm that freezes roads over and shuts down much of the city for around a day.