Capital of Texas, USA, on the Colorado River; seat of Travis County; population (2000 est) 656,600. It is the market centre for the surrounding agricultural region, and an important centre for electronic and scientific research and the manufacture of high technology goods, including semiconductors and computers. It was incorporated in 1839.
Austin was founded in 1838, two years after Texas became independent of Mexico, and was originally called Waterloo. It was chosen as the new capital city of the Republic of Texas in 1839 and was renamed in honour of Stephen Austin, a Texan leader commonly known as the ‘Father of Texas’. It was an important stop on the Chisholm cattle-drive trail in the 1860s.
Austin has 150 entries on the National Register of Historic Places, including the French Legation (1840); the State Capitol (1888), which at 94 m/ 308 ft high is the largest
of any state; and the Lyndon B Johnson Library and Museum. Other attractions include the Austin Lyric Opera, the Austin Symphony, the Austin Zoo, and the city's historic Districts. It is the seat of the University of Texas (1883) and several other colleges, including the independent Catholic institution, St Edward's University (1878). In the 1970s Austin became a centre for country music. The large bat colony under Congress Avenue bridge is a tourist attraction; there are about 1.5 million bats and their activity is at its most spectacular in August.
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