Can you think of 10 things that embody the spirit of Austin, Texas? There are probably far more than 10 things that we think of when talking about Austin. But here are some that many of us can probably agree on. I challenge you to think of even more. Feel free to comment below the post…
10 Things That Are “Austin”:
6th Street – The entertainment center of Austin, located downtown between IH-35 and Congress Avenue. It is known worldwide as the place to party and hear live music when visiting Austin. 6th Street hosts dozens of bars & restaurants, nestled in buildings, many of which have been around since the 1800s.
Austin City Limits – The legendary Austin music show that premiered in 1976, which features primarily Texas musicians, but also features national and international talent. It is produced and filmed on the University of Texas Campus and is a part of regular programming on PBS Television. The show has also spawned the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which is an annual concert held in Zilker Park, attracting thousands of people and scores of musicians.
Barton Springs – Considered the “crown jewel” of Austin, this natural spring fed pool flows year round. It is 3 acres in size and has been a gather place for locals for more than 100 years.
Chuy’s Restaurant– A favorite Mexican restaurant in Austin since 1982 that started on Barton Springs Road. There’s now a Chuy’s Restaurant in every major Texas city and even one located in Tennessee and Alabama!
“Keep Austin Weird” – The unofficial slogan for Austin, originating by local Austinites who cherished Austin’s individual and atypical nature. Austin has long been known for its counter-culture attitude, hippies, liberal political thinking and a strong art/music community – which may seem “weird” to other more traditional Texans.
Lady Bird Lake – Another one of Austin’s precious resources, the lake was made what it is today with the help of many local Austin volunteers, including Former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, for whom it is named. Some of the wonderful features offered by the lake are its convenience (located in the heart of Austin near downtown), beauty, cleanliness (clean water, air, environment, etc.), trails for hiking and walking, open space and so much more.
South By Southwest (SXSW) – One of the largest music, film and interactive events in the United States, it attracts thousands of performers from all over the world each year in March. The music portion of the event lasts 4 days, with musicians performing at scores of venues throughout Austin. The film portion of SXSW screens hundreds of independent films from all over the world for audiences. The newest attraction of SXSW is the interactive events portion, which is a hub for demonstrating new technology.
Texas State Capitol – Constructed in the 1880s, it is home to the Texas Legislature and the office of the Governor and is the largest state capitol building in the United States.
University Of Texas Longhorns – The University of Texas and Longhorn sports have a long tradition in Austin and a significant fan base. On any given day in Austin UT fans can be seen wearing the UT colors – burnt orange.
Willie Nelson – Born in Texas, Willie Nelson established himself as a country music songwriter and performer in the 1960s. He made his home in Austin in the 1970s where he frequently played locations like the Armadillo Headquarters.
Runners Up (Things that didn’t make the top 10 list):
Waterloo (name of businesses; old name of Austin)
“The Drag” (Guadalupe Street)
And many more…
Town Lake (aka, “Lady Bird Lake”) is one of Austin’s most precious resources and one of her not-so-hidden gems. And it’s one of my favorite outdoor locations to take brides and grooms for engagement photography sessions!
Downloadable PDF trail map here.
Some of the wonderful features offered by the lake are its convenience (located in the heart of Austin near downtown), beauty, cleanliness (clean water, air, environment, etc.), trails for hiking and walking, open space and so much more. I like it for all those reasons and because it makes my photographed subjects (usually newly engaged couples) feel relaxed and somewhat connected to nature, a feeling which manifests in the photos.
The lake is named after Lady Bird Johnson who was chair of the Town Lake Beautification Project, a community effort to create hike and bike trails and to plant flowering trees along the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. Mrs. Johnson is also the founder of the National Wildflower Research Center, a non-profit environmental organization formed in 1982.
Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake), downstream and south of the Highland Lakes on the Colorado River, was formed in 1960 by the construction of Longhorn Dam. The surface area covered by the lake is over 400 acres and is owned and operated by the City of Austin in cooperation with the Lower Colorado River Authority. It was created by the City of Austin for the purpose of being a cooling pond for the Holly Street Power Plant.
In the early 1970s the Town Lake Beautification Project was a recommendation made to the Austin City Council in commemoration of the upcoming United States Bicentennial Celebration which would occur in 1976. In 1971 when Roy Butler became Mayor of Austin, he began working with Lady Bird Johnson to form what would later become the Town Lake Beautification Committee. Mrs. Johnson was a primary contributor to the effort of improving the then “Town Lake”, which had become polluted with chemicals from area industry, littered with trash and had been left derelict without major oversight. In 1971, with the assistance of members including Emma Long, Jim Pfluger and Mrs. Roy Butler, the Town Lake Beautification Committee was officially off and running.
With the support of the local community and with new dams in place on the Highland Lakes, the sole purpose and goal of the project was to beautify the banks of Town Lake with trees and trails for Austinites to enjoy. A $2.5 million dollar Capital Improvement Project bond for the years 1975-1977, approved by tax payers provided funding for the undertaking. Town Lake Metropolitan Park resulted as a dividend of the committee’s hard work and foresight – covering an estimated 5 miles of the north and south shores of the lake. The park includes numerous sports parks, outdoor event venues (Auditorium Shores), boat/kayak/canoe rental locations, swimming pools, picnic tables with grills, miles of running trails, pedestrian bridges (one currently under construction), restrooms, Butler Park (on the south side), many varieties of trees, look out points and more.
More History from Wikipedia:
By the 1970s, Town Lake and its shoreline had become neglected, polluted and overgrown with weeds. KTBC referred to the lake as an “eyesore.” During his two terms in office (1971–1975), the Mayor of Austin Roy Butler partnered with former United States First Lady Lady Bird Johnson to establish the Town Lake Beautification Committee with the purpose of transforming the Town Lake area into a useable recreation area. A system of hike and bike trails was built along the shoreline of the lake in the 1970s, establishing (what was then known as) Town Lake as a major recreational attraction for the city of Austin.
One of the most popular features of Metropolitan Park are the miles of hike and bike trails which run along both sides of Town Lake and allow runners and bikers a continuous exercise trail with the best view in town. Living a healthy lifestyle (including regular outdoor exercise) is considered to be in vogue in Austin, as is being seen on the hike and bike trail around Town Lake. Even celebrities like Luke Wilson, Lance Armstrong and our own Texas Governor, Rick Perry are rumored to be runners on Town Lake.
Many people know that the Colorado River is the primary source of water for Town Lake; however, there are also natural artesian springs near Deep Eddy which also act as a source of water for the lake. Today these natural springs are covered by the lake but still flow and can be seen by boat. Only sailing, rowing, kayaking, canoeing and other non-motorized water sports are permitted on Town Lake. Motorized craft of any kind (other than those specially authorized by the City of Austin are not allowed on any part of Town Lake.
Town Lake officially became “Lady Bird Lake” in July 2007 when Austin’s City Council unanimously affirmed the resolution.