Austin, the vibrant and ever-evolving city that it is today, has a rich history filled with intriguing stories and lesser-known facts. While many residents and newcomers are familiar with the city's music scene and tech industry, there's a fascinating historical side to Austin that often goes unnoticed.
In this blog post, we'll take you on a journey back in time to uncover some historic cool facts about Old Austin that might surprise you.
The Original State Capitol - Before the majestic State Capitol building we know today, Austin's first state capitol was a simple two-story wooden structure completed in 1853. It stood on what is now known as Capitol Square Park. Sadly, it was destroyed by fire in 1881, leading to the construction of the current iconic building.
A Moonlight Tower City - In the late 19th century, Austin was one of the first cities in the world to illuminate its streets using moonlight towers. Although only a few remain, these towers were a remarkable feat of engineering and an integral part of the city's history.
The Austin Dam Failure - In 1900, Austin suffered a catastrophic dam failure known as the "Great Granite Dam Collapse." This disaster led to the loss of several lives and the destruction of the dam. While the dam is no more, the incident remains a significant part of Austin's history.
Deep Eddy Pool: A Natural Spring Swimming Hole - Deep Eddy Pool, located in the heart of Old Austin, is one of the oldest swimming pools in the state. What makes it unique is that it started as a natural spring swimming hole in the Colorado River and was later converted into a concrete pool in the 1930s.
LBJ's Connection to Austin - Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, had strong ties to Austin. He taught public speaking at The University of Texas at Austin and met his future wife, Lady Bird Johnson, here. You can still visit their former home, now part of the LBJ Presidential Library.
The Treaty Oak's Resilience - The Treaty Oak, located in downtown Austin, is estimated to be over 500 years old. It's a living testament to Austin's resilience, as it survived a 1989 poisoning attempt. Today, it stands as a symbol of the city's enduring spirit.
The Moonlight Towers and "Dazed and Confused" - Austin's iconic moonlight towers gained cinematic fame in the 1993 movie "Dazed and Confused." The film showcased these unique structures, adding to their cultural significance.
Austin's Bat Colony - Austin is home to one of the world's largest urban bat colonies. The Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in impressive numbers each night during the summer months, creating a breathtaking spectacle.
The Driskill Hotel's Haunted History - The historic Driskill Hotel, built in 1886, is known for its luxurious accommodations and fine dining. It's also famous for its alleged hauntings, with tales of unexplained occurrences and ghostly encounters throughout its history.
As you explore the modern and dynamic Austin of today, take a moment to appreciate the city's rich and colorful past. These historic cool facts offer a glimpse into the stories that have shaped Austin's identity. Whether you're a longtime resident or new to the city, understanding Austin's history adds depth and context to the vibrant culture you'll find here.