Austin: A City of Wonder and Weird

Austin. A city of good food, great music, and, as the saying “Keep Austin Weird” suggests, general strangeness. There’s a reason and it’s known as the “Live Music Capital of the World”. However, the city wasn’t always this way. Many years ago, it was a very different place, with very different people.

In the early 19th century, Austin (and Texas in general) was a very small and secluded place. Having seceded from Mexico in 1836, the first permanent settlement, Waterloo (which would then become Austin), was settled in 1837. It was also much less diverse, with the population being largely made up of Anglo-American settlers.

Later in the century, however, the University of Texas’ establishment had made Austin into a well-known regional center for those pursuing higher education, as well as the music scene. It was in the 20th century when the city was finally given its title, “the Live Music Capital of the World”. Soon, people began moving to Austin by the hundreds, if not thousands. Between 1940 and 1990, Austin’s population grew at an average rate of 40 percent per decade,  the numbers climbing from 87,930 to 472,020. By 2000, the population was at 656,562. The population became much more diverse, being the home of many Hispanics, Latinos, African-Americans, and Asians. The music changed as well, becoming well-known for having artists such as Selena Quintanilla and Willie Nelson.

Nowadays, Austin is brimming with culture and construction. The people are known for being friendly, and the music is known for being wonderful, the city being the host for music festivals, such as South by Southwest and Austin City Limits. Buildings are being designed and created almost every day, and the downtown is always colorful and lively, covered in lovely street art like the now memetic Hi, “How Are You” art (on Guadalupe and 21st), the building displaying “Greetings from Austin” (on 70 S 1st Street), or the portrait of Gary Clark Jr. (on 2208 South Lamar). It’s become a place of art and culture, mixing together into a true melting pot.