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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Texas > Austin

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Austin History

After Texas won independence from Mexico in 1835-1836, the newly formed Texas Congress decided to use Austin as its new capital, having named it after Stephen F. Austin, the man affectionately known as The Father of Texas. Stephen F.
Austin is famous for having established the first colonies in the region.

Between its settlement and the year the State Capitol was built in 1888, Austin witnessed the ebb and flow of its residents, due to the recession of Congress and fighting within the Texas government. By the late 1800s, Austin was back on its feet and in 1891 was one of the first American cities to utilize a vast street light system known as the Moonlight Towers. Several of these towers still exist and can be seen illuminating parts of the city.

By the early 1900s, Austin was left in the shadow of big oil towns like Houston and Dallas. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s with its embracement of arts and culture, that Austin started to really show up on the map. The city developed big music venues like the Armadillo World Headquarters, Hole in the Wall, Continental Club, Liberty Lunch and Antone’s attracting musicians like Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Technology is also a big aspect of the city. Tech companies such as Dell, AMD, and Texas Instruments are located in the city, and Google, Facebook and Apple also have secondary offices here. With the influx of ambitious young people to the area, many startups and apps have been conceived in the city.

Weather is also an important part of Austin history. Austin has seen devastating floods over the years, with the most recent damaging floods being in 2013 and 1981.

What once started out as a sleepy town with a population of 22,000 in 1900 is now the 11th largest city in America with over 842,000 inhabitants in the city proper and over 1.8 million in the metro area.

Did you know?
• In 2011, Texas saw its worst fire on record in the Austin suburb of Bastrop. Over 1,600 homes were destroyed after a record-breaking drought. 
• About 1.5 million bats live under the Congress Avenue Bridge between March and November, making it the largest urban bat colony in North America. 
• Texas State Capitol building is America's largest state capitol building with the dome looming seven feet higher than the Capitol in Washington D.C.

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Featured Hotels

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The Driskill

Built in 1886 and still standing as one of Austin's oldest buildings, this stately, and allegedly haunted, hotel sits in the epicenter of Downtown at Sixth Street near Congress Avenue. Enjoy staying in the ornate and classic rooms, grab a bite at the restaurant, 1886 Cafe and Bakery, and a drink at the Driskill Bar.

Intercontinental Hotel Stephen F. Austin

Located on Seventh Avenue at Congress Avenue, this impressive hotel is a common destination for travellers needing to be in the thick of the action. Featuring 189 large rooms with soft bedding, the hotel also offers a beautiful pool, a Jacuzzi and bar and restaurant offering hand-crafted beer, wine, cigars and fine food.

Four Seasons

The Four Seasons offers beautiful views of Lady Bird Lake with direct access to the Hike and Bike Trail. Located in Downtown Austin the Four Seasons offers a heated saltwater pool babysitting eucalyptus steam room and complimentary electric car charging station.

Hotel San Jose

Once a flophouse in the middle of what used to be a downtrodden neighbourhood, Hotel San Jose is now one of the premiere boutique hotels in all of Austin. Featuring hacienda-style rooms with access to a romantic courtyard with drink service and pool, Hotel San Jose is not only loved by guests, but by locals who enjoy sipping on cocktails in the warm atmosphere.

Hotel Saint Cecilia

Owned by the same proprietors as Hotel San Jose, this quaint boutique hotel located in a gorgeous Travis Heights estate was named after the patron saint of music and poetry. Hotel Saint Cecilia offers 14 impeccable guest suites and a photo-worthy pool with a neon sign illuminating it. Favoured by celebrities.

Heywood Hotel

Arguably East Austin's first modern boutique hotel, this seven-room converted home features coffee service, Wi-Fi, bicycles, parking and an internet jukebox. For travellers who enjoy simple and sleek designs or to be in walking distance to the hot spots of East Austin and Downtown, the Heywood Hotel is a perfecting resting place.