Austin is the county seat of Travis County and capital of the state of Texas. It is the fifteenth largest city in the U.S. and the fourth largest in Texas. Austin covers an area of two hundred and ninety-seven square miles and has a population of over seven hundred and fifty-seven thousand people. The city of Austin is a high tech center and its universities produce thousands of engineering and computer science graduates each year. The city also has a large concentration of high tech companies which include IBM, Dell, Apple Inc., Cirrus Logic, AMD, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung Group, Google, Applied Materials, PayPal, Cisco Systems, Intel and Sun Microsystems.
Austin can trace its history back to the nineteenth century. This is when Anglo American pioneers entered the area. The state of Texas was still a possession of Mexico back then and the pioneers founded the village of Waterloo. The third president of the Republic of Texas nominated Waterloo to be the republic’s capital. It was decided that it would become the capital and several hundred acres of land was purchased to establish the city. It was then renamed to Austin, in honor of Stephen F. Austin. In 1845, Texas was annexed by the United States and Austin became the capital of the state.
Today, Austin is a lively city that is bustling with history, culture and entertainment. The city has several annual events that visitors may want to take part in. These include Annual O, Spamarama, Eeyore’s Birthday Party, Pecan Street Festival, Austin Reggae Festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Trail of Lights, Carnaval Brasileiro, Halloween night and Art City Austin. The city is also home to a ton of prominent attractions.
A popular attraction in Austin is Zilker Botanical Garden. This botanical garden was founded in 1955 and sits on thirty-one acres of land. It contains a number of gardens which include Green Garden, Cactus and Succulent Garden, Pioneer Village, Isamu TaniguchiI Oriental Garden, Hartman Prehistoric Garden, Doug Blachly Butterfly Trail and Garden, Mabel Davis Rose Garden and Herb and Fragrance Garden. The Zilker Botanical Garden is a jewel of the city and provides a much needed respite from the urban landscape.
The Elisabet Ney Museum is another key attraction of the city. This museum was founded in 1893 and is situated in the former studio of a sculptor named Elisabet Ney. The museum is also dedicated to her work and memory. In 1902, it was enlarged and in 1907, it was bought by Joseph B. Dibrell. In 1941, Austin purchased it and opened it as a museum. In 1972, it was added to the roll of the National Register of Historic Places. Works by Elisabet Ney that are housed here include “Anna Elisabeth Wernze Ney”, “St. Sebastian Martyr”, “King George V of Hannover”, “Franz Friedrich von Furstenberg”, “Baron Justus von Liebig”, “King Ludwig II”, “Lady Macbeth”, “Sam Houston as Older Man” and “Dr. David Thomas Iglehart”.
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is another attraction not to miss during a visit to Austin. This is one of the thirteen presidential libraries that is administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The museum has over forty-five million pages of historical documents pertaining to the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum was founded in May of 1971, with both Lyndon Johnson, and president at the time Richard Nixon. This presidential library is adjacent to the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public affairs and is seated on fourteen acres of the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. This museum has the highest visitation of any current presidential library and the top floor contains a 7/8 scale of the Oval Office as it existed during the time of his presidency.
Another popular Austin attraction is the Harry Ransom Center. The Harry Ransom Center is a archive and library that is housed at the University of Texas at Austin. It contains a diverse collection of cultural and literary artifacts that cut across literature, theater and film, history and art. It contains over thirty-six million manuscripts, five million pictures, one million rare books and over one hundred thousand art works. It also houses a reading room and galleries which have a rotating display of works from the collection. Contained in the center are works such as the First Folio of William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe’s writing desk, manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Kraus Map Collection, love letters of the Mexican Emperor Maximilian I and his wife Carlotta and props designed by Salvador Dalí. The center also contains the personal libraries of many famous people including Evelyn Waugh, Aleister Crowley, Carson McCullers, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Norman Mailer, Alice Corbin Henderson, Graham Greene, Lewis Carroll, Don DeLillo, D. H. Lawrence, T. E. Lawrence and Anne Sexton.
Also in the city is the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. This museum has as its core purpose collecting, exhibiting and preserving art that is reflective of the city’s contribution to popular culture. Artists featured here include Sam Yeates, Kerry Awn, Gilbert Shelton, Ken Featherston, Micael Priest, Jim Franklin, Bill Narum, Henry Gonzalez, Gary McElhaney, Danny Garrett, Guy Juke, Nels Jacobson and Jack Jackson. The exhibits rotate on a regular basis, but some that were featured at the time of this writing include “Fandango de los Muertos”, “Carnaval Brasileiro 2009”, “Mike “Rollo Banks” Malone” and “Emma’s Yearly Pie Social”.
Other popular Austin attractions include Austin Bats, The Driskill Hotel, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Austin Children’s Museum, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, Zilker Metropolitan Park, Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Emporium at The Old Bakery, O. Henry Home & Museum, Austin History Center, Hippie Hollow Park, Zilker Zephyr Miniature Train, French Legation Museum, Roy Kizer Golf Course, Deep Eddy Pool, Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, Austin Zoo, McKinney Falls State Park, Fall Creek Vineyards, Mexic-Arte Museum, Sixth Street, Philosophers’ Rock and Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater.