|Austin Travel Guide|
Austin is a city and capital of the U.S. state of Texas. Austin has a population of 681,804 people, making it the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 16th largest in the United States. Austin is the county seat of Travis County and is situated in Central Texas. The Austin—Round Rock metropolitan area, a title designated by the U.S. Census, is one of the fastest-growing in the United States and is home to an estimated population of 1,377,633 in 2003.
Austin was founded in 1835 and was first named Waterloo. In 1838, Mirabeau B. Lamar renamed the city in honor of Stephen F. Austin. Its original name is honored by local business establishments such as Waterloo Ice House and Waterloo Records. Austin is situated on the Colorado River, with three lakes within the city limits: Town Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Walter E. Long. Additionally, the foot of Lake Travis, including Mansfield Dam, is located within the city's limits. The city is also situated on the Balcones Fault, which, in much of Austin, runs roughly the same route as the MoPac expressway. Residents of Austin are called "Austinites" and include a heady mix of educators and their students, politicians and lobbyists. Austin is the center of a high-technology region known as Silicon Hills. It is also the self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World.
Austin is situated on the Colorado River, with three lakes within the city limits: Town Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Walter E. Long. Additionally, the foot of Lake Travis, including Mansfield Dam, is located within the city's limits. Town Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Travis are all on the Colorado River. The city is also situated on the Balcones Fault, which, in much of Austin, runs roughly the same route as the MoPac expressway. The eastern part of the city is flat, whereas the western part and western suburbs consist of scenic rolling hills on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Because the hills to the west are primarily limestone rock with a thin covering of topsoil, the city is subjected to frequent flash flooding from the excessive runoff caused by thunderstorms.
Buildings that comprise Austin's skyline are modest in height and somewhat spread out. The latter characteristic is due to a restriction that preserves the view of the Texas Capitol building from various locations around Austin. Austin's current tallest building, called "Frost Bank Tower", opened in 2004 and stands at 515 feet. The Congress Avenue Bridge houses the world's largest urban bat population. In the summer, the colony has up to 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats; in the winter they migrate to Mexico. The iconic Pennybacker Bridge, also known as the "360 Bridge," crosses Lake Austin to connect north and south Loop 360.
At night, parts of Austin are lit with "artificial moonlight." Several "Moonlight Towers", built in the late 19th century and recognized as historic landmarks, illuminate the central part of the city. The towers were prominently featured in the film Dazed and Confused. The "Zilker Tree" is a Christmas "tree" made of large lights strung from the top of the Moonlight Tower that stands in Zilker Park. The Zilker Tree is lit in early December along with the "Trail of Lights," an Austin Christmas tradition.
Residents of Austin are called "Austinites" and include a heady mix of educators and their students, politicians and lobbyists. It is also the self-proclaimed "live music capital of the world," with a vibrant live music scene revolving around many nightclubs on 6th Street and a yearly film/music/multimedia festival known as "South by Southwest." Austin City Limits, the longest-running concert music program on American television, is videotaped on the University of Texas campus. Austinites take great pride in being different from other cities in the United States. "Keep Austin Weird" has become a local motto in recent years, featured on innumerable bumper stickets and t-shirts.
Famous Austin residents include cyclist Lance Armstrong, businessman Michael Dell, tennis player Andy Roddick, actors Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey, musician Willie Nelson, and directors Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez. Former residents include Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush. Austin was also the longtime home of the late blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Among the professional sports teams in Austin are the Austin Ice Bats of the Central Hockey League and the Austin Wranglers of the Arena Football League. The Round Rock Express, affiliated with the Houston Astros, are located in nearby Round Rock, Texas and play Triple-A baseball in the Pacific Coast League. In 2005, the National Basketball Association awarded an NBDL team to the city of Austin, which has yet to be named.
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