As the state capital, the Live Music Capital of the World, and one of the country’s fastest-growing economies, Austin thinks big. In this Section WORK LIVE CLIMATE PLAY THE DETAILS OUR ROOTS Kiplinger’s Personal Finance rated Austin #1 on its list of Best Cities for the next decade. COME ONE, COME Y’ALL. Austin is Texas with a twist. It’s not every day that you find a city that strikes the perfect balance between laid-back and bustling. Whether you’re moving for work, a new start, or the tantalizing tastes of Texas, Austin’s inviting (and barbecue-loving) culture will leave you glad you’ve arrived. WORK Austin knows how to get down to business—all while maintaining an easygoing atmosphere. People from around the country and the world are moving to take advantage of the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that the city has laid before them. Because of its reputation in key industries like technology, digital media, clean energy, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing, Austin has grown a professional climate that attracts new businesses from every part of the globe. Between 2013 and 2014, the Austin metropolitan area grew by 4.1 percent, adding 36,100 jobs. Among the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, the capital city ranked as the second-best performing metro area in terms of job growth. The country (and the rest of the world) took note. Austin’s population growth placed first among the same U.S. metros. Texas has a pro-business spirit. With no state income tax and competitive wages, the highly-educated workforce in Austin is able to take advantage of an unrivaled work-life balance. Austin is at once a city that is hardworking and progressive, but it is also entrepreneurial and creative. They say if you love what you do (and where you live), you’ll never work a day in your life. Welcome to Austin. LIVE It’s no wonder that Austin is viewed as one of the best places in the country to live. Because of top-ranked educational institutions, efficient modes of public transportation, and an ever-expanding health care system—including the addition of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas—there’s no better time to move to Austin. Austin is also an affordable city in which to live. According to the National Association of Realtors, in 2014, the median home price was $240,700. Austinites also enjoy one of the lowest state and local tax burdens in the nation. Texas ranks 43rd among the 50 states in taxes paid per $1,000 of personal income. And newgeography.com rankings place Austin eighth in cities that help to stretch your paycheck the furthest. CLIMATE Say hello to blue skies and sunny summers. Austin’s winters are mild, with below–freezing temperatures occurring on an average of about 25 days each year. Meanwhile, the Texas summers bring 109 days of 90+ degree temperatures. Due to the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Austin’s relative humidity hovers around 67 percent. Luckily, there are plenty of watering holes in which to stay cool, even in the Texas heat. PLAY When the weather calls for it—and it often does with 228 sunny days a year—Austinites hit the trails and neighborhood paths. The Hike and Bike Trail has paths for all levels of runners—from 3.5 miles to 10—all set against the backdrop of Lady Bird Lake. Kayakers, paddleboarders, and rowers rejoice! Austin’s central watering hole is the prime place to make a splash. Just north of the trail, downtown hosts local festivals galore—think Pecan Street Festival, Texas Book Festival, and the Austin Food and Wine Festival. And on any normal Saturday, you can shop ’til you drop on Second Street, see a movie at the beloved Violet Crown Cinema, and wander down Congress for a bite to eat. If you’re looking for a honky-tonk or a dance hall, look no further than the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Austin gained a reputation for live music long ago, when Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker strummed their guitars at celebrated haunts like The Armadillo World Headquarters. While some of the historic hots pots have been replaced—there are upwards of 200 live music venues today—locals still celebrate old favorites like the Broken Spoke and the Continental Club as part of the city’s heritage. Sixth Street has long been Austin nightlife’s claim to fame, but it has expanded to both the east and west to include new bars and restaurants that are worth exploring. Rainey Street redefined nightlife by turning old houses into happening pubs, while North and East Austin laid claim to new pockets that are increasingly popular. South Congress has mastered Austin’s “weird” vibe, and the Domain offers a more upscale scene. And we love our BBQ. The line that wraps around Franklin Barbecue may seem long, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a carnivore who isn’t willing to wait. To complete your barbecue tour, stop in at la Barbecue, John Mueller Meat Co., Lamberts, or Stubb’s for smoky charred briskets and fall-off-the-bone ribs. Once a year, festivals like South by Southwest and Austin City Limits bring music lovers, film watchers, and techies to Texas from around the world. And recently, we’ve gained a venue for visitors and Austinites alike to rev their engines. Once a year since 2012, Austinites trade their requisite slow pace for soaring speed at the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™. Residents give back at nonprofits and volunteer at Austin’s many charities. We get in the game by joining the Austin Sports and Social Club, which teams up athletes in different sports. We’re members of many diverse and welcoming places to worship. Austin’s reputation as a well-rounded city holds true. THE DETAILS Austin has a population of 912,791 (2014 U.S. Census), making it the 11th-largest city in the United States. When added with Round Rock and San Marcos, the Austin metropolitan area has a combined population of 1.9 million and is the 35th-largest metropolitan area in the country. Austin is well positioned to do business with major markets in the U.S. and Latin America. Its location in Central Texas puts Austin fewer than 200 miles from Houston, Dallas and San Antonio—three of the 10 largest cities in the country—and a mere 225 miles from the Mexico border. Whatever your reason for coming to Austin, you’ll be met by friendly faces, a bustling city center, and truly unique spots to spend your time. Your new life awaits. OUR ROOTS Austin has a history that isn’t too far from what you’d expect. Long before the first cornerstones were laid, the bend in the Colorado River brought residents and visitors to the place we now know as the capital city. The Tonkawas, Comanches, and Lipan Apaches camped and hunted along the creeks, including what we fondly now call Bar ton Springs. The Spanish followed, setting up temporary missions in the area during the late 1700s. The first permanent Anglo settlers arrived during the 1830s and called their homestead Waterloo. When the Republic of Texas needed a capital in 1839, they chose Waterloo. Building onto the existing village, early Texans built the city from out of the wilderness and named it after the “Father of Texas,” Stephen F. Austin. When the United States annexed Texas in 1845, it took two statewide elections for the capital to remain in Austin—but it stands to this day, the capital city. Judge Erwin Waller, who later became Austin’s first mayor, surveyed the city and mapped out a street plan that remains mostly intact today. A capitol building facing the Colorado River from the top of Congress Avenue was part of this plan, solidifying Congress Avenue and Pecan Street (now Sixth Street) as two principal thoroughfares through downtown. The grand capitol building, which was billed as the “seventh-largest building in the world,” was constructed and creatively financed, in part, from the XIT Ranch. It remains to this day a landmark in the Austin skyline and a reminder of one of the city’s key industries: government. When the new University of Texas at Austin was proposed, it faced some opposition from parents who worried about sending their sons to school in a town full of lawmakers. Nonetheless, the school opened in 1883. Two years prior, Austin public schools first opened their doors and the same year, the Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute, predecessor of Huston-Tillotson University, admitted its first students. The construction of the granite Austin Dam on the Colorado River also marked a huge milestone for the city by stabilizing the river and providing hydraulic power to generate electricity. With the help of a young congressman by the name of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the U.S. government later funded a series of seven dams, replacing the old system, and propelling an aspiring lawmaker into a national role. Throughout the late 1960s until the 1980s, growth was the name of the game in Austin. Big name companies like IBM, Texas Instruments, and Motorola brought their businesses to the city and were followed by hundreds of other high-tech brands. Against a bustling tech scene, Austin began to grow outward as the downtown area grew upward. The music scene during the 1970s and 1980s ushered in a new Austin and left an indelible mark on the city. Old music halls like the Vulcan Gas Company and The Armadillo World Headquarters saw countless stars, and soon, Antone’s, the Continental Club, Emo’s, and Mohawk would introduce other generations to Austin’s live music scene. In 1991, musician Lillian Standfield recognized that Austin had more live music venues per capita than any other place on earth. She named Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and the name stuck. The slogan has some stiff competition, however. In 2000, Red Wassenich, an Austin Community College librarian, coined the “Keep Austin Weird” mantra, and it remains Austin’s battle cry to this day. Wassenich began printing bumper stickers at the turn of the century, and soon local shops and restaurants carried T-shirts, coffee mugs, and hats with the slogan emblazoned on the front or back. Austin has a knack for effortlessly reinventing itself as the times change, making way for shifts in thinking. With weirdness at its heart, the capital city is always ready to embrace what’s new and next.
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