Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

Shot of Austin's Capital. Austin is the seat of Travis County, Texas. Photo by Juan Nino on Unsplash.
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Promotion: Nearby Map of Travis County
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Austin, the capital of Texas, county seat of Travis County, and home of the University of Texas at Austin, is located in central Travis County on the Colorado River and Interstate Highway 35. Situated at 30°16' north latitude and 97°45' west longitude, it is at the eastern edge of the Hill Country and the Edwards Plateau. The city was established by the three-year-old Republic of Texas in 1839 to serve as its permanent capital, and named in honor of the founder of Anglo-American Texas, Stephen F. Austin. A site-selection commission appointed by the Texas Congress in January 1839 chose a site on the western frontier, after viewing it at the instruction of President Mirabeau B. Lamar, a proponent of westward expansion who had visited the sparsely settled area in 1838. Impressed by its beauty, healthfulness, abundant natural resources, promise as an economic hub, and central location in Texas territory, the commission purchased 7,735 acres along the Colorado River comprising the hamlet of Waterloo and adjacent lands. Because the area's remoteness from population centers and its vulnerability to attacks by Mexican troops and Indians displeased many Texans, Sam Houston among them, political opposition made Austin's early years precarious ones.

Surveyors L. J. Pilie and Charles Schoolfield laid out the new town, working under the direction of Edwin Waller, who was appointed by Lamar to plan and construct Austin. Out of the 7,735 acres they chose a 640-acre site fronting on the Colorado River and nestled between Waller Creek on the east and Shoal Creek on the west. The plan was a grid, fourteen blocks square, bisected by Congress Avenue, and extending northward from the Colorado River to "Capitol Square." Determined to have Austin ready by the time the Texas Congress convened in November 1839, Waller opted for temporary government buildings at temporary locations. The one-story frame capitol was set back from Congress Avenue on a hill at what is now the corner of Colorado and Eighth streets. The first auction of city lots took place on August 1. During October President Lamar arrived, government offices opened for business, Presbyterians organized the first church, and the Austin City Gazette, the city's first newspaper, made its appearance. Congress convened in November, Austin was incorporated on December 27, and on January 13, 1840, Waller was elected the town's first mayor. By 1840 Austin had 856 inhabitants, including 145 slaves as well as diplomatic representatives from France, England, and the United States.

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David C. Humphrey | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Adoption Status:
This place has been adopted and will not be available until May 6, 2026
Adopted by:
Tommy and Sandy Hughes

Belongs to

Austin is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Austin is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Waterloo)


Latitude: 30.30239720
Longitude: -97.76190700

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2021 View more »


Place Type Population (Year/Source) Currently Exists
College or University Yes
College or University Yes
College or University Yes
College or University Yes
College or University Yes
College or University Yes

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