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About Austin

Austin

History
Main article: History of Austin, Texas
See also: Timeline of Austin, Texas history
Austin, Travis County, and Williamson County have been the site of human habitation since at least 9200 BC. The earliest known inhabitants of the area lived during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age) and are linked to the Clovis culture around 9200 BC (11,200 years ago), based on evidence found throughout the area and documented at the much-studied Gault Site, midway between Georgetown and Fort Hood.

When settlers first arrived from Europe, the area was inhabited by the Tonkawa tribe, and the Comanches and Lipan Apaches were known to travel through the area as well.[20] Spanish colonists, including the Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre expedition, traveled through the area for centuries, though few permanent settlements were created for some time. In 1730, three missions from East Texas were combined and reestablished as one mission on the south side of the Colorado River, in what is now Zilker Park, in Austin. The mission was in this area for only about seven months, and then was moved to San Antonio de Béxar and split into three missions. In the mid-18th century, the San Xavier missions were located along the Colorado River, in what is now western Milam County, to facilitate exploration.

Early in the 19th century, Spanish forts were established in what are now Bastrop and San Marcos.[ Following the independence of Mexico, new settlements were established in Central Texas, but growth in the region was stagnant because of conflicts with the regional Native Americans.

In 1835–1836, Texans fought and won independence from Mexico. Texas thus became its own independent country with its own president, congress, and monetary system. In 1839, the Texas Congress formed a commission to seek a site for a new capital to be named for Stephen F. Austin. Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the newly formed Republic of Texas, advised the commissioners to investigate the area named Waterloo, noting the area's hills, waterways, and pleasant surroundings.[28] Waterloo was selected and the name Austin was chosen as the town's new name.[29] The location was seen as a convenient crossroads for trade routes between Santa Fe and Galveston Bay, as well as routes between northern Mexico and the Red River.[30] Austin is also the site where the southern leg of the Chisholm Trail leads to the Colorado River.

Geography

The most southerly of the capitals of the contiguous forty-eight states, Austin is located in Central Texas, along the Balcones Escarpment and Interstate 35, northwest of Houston. It is also 160 miles south of Dallas and 75 miles north of San Antonio. Its elevation varies from 425 feet (130 m) to approximately 1,000 feet (305 m) above sea level.In 2010, the city occupied a total area of 271.8 square miles (704 km2).Approximately 6.9 square miles (18 km2) of this area is water.

Austin is situated on the Colorado River, with three man-made (artificial) lakes within the city limits: Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake), Lake Austin (both created by dams along the Colorado River), and Lake Walter E. Long that is partly used for cooling water for the Decker Power Plant. Mansfield Dam and the foot of Lake Travis are located within the city's limits.Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Travis are each on the Colorado River.As a result of its straddling the Balcones Fault, much of the eastern part of the city is flat, with heavy clay and loam soils, whereas, the western part and western suburbs consist of rolling hills on the edge of the Texas Hill Country.Because the hills to the west are primarily limestone rock with a thin covering of topsoil, portions of the city are frequently subjected to flash floods from the runoff caused by thunderstorms.To help control this runoff and to generate hydroelectric power, the Lower Colorado River Authority operates a series of dams that form the Texas Highland Lakes. The lakes also provide venues for boating, swimming, and other forms of recreation within several parks on the lake shores.

Austin is located at the intersection of four major ecological regions, and is consequently a temperate-to-hot green oasis with a highly variable climate having some characteristics of the desert, the tropics, and a wetter climate.[57] The area is very diverse ecologically and biologically, and is home to a variety of animals and plants.[58] Notably, the area is home to many types of wildflowers that blossom throughout the year but especially in the spring, including the popular bluebonnets, some planted in an effort by "Lady Bird" Johnson, wife of former President Lyndon Johnson.

A popular point of prominence in Austin is Mount Bonnell. At about 780 feet (238 m) above sea level, it is a natural limestone formation overlooking Lake Austin on the Colorado River, with an observation deck about 200 feet (61 m) below its summit.

The soils of Austin range from shallow, gravelly clay loams over limestone in the western outskirts to deep, fine sandy loams, silty clay loams, silty clays or clays in the city's eastern part. Some of the clays have pronounced shrink-swell properties and are difficult to work under most moisture conditions. Many of Austin's soils, especially the clay-rich types, are slightly to moderately alkaline and have free calcium carbonate.

Climate

Austin has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa), characterized by hot summers and mild winters. Austin is usually at least partially sunny, receiving nearly 2650 hours, or 60.3% of the possible total, of bright sunshine per year.

Austin summers are usually hot, with average July and August highs in the high-90s °F (34–36 °C). Highs reach 90 °F (32.2 °C) on 116 days per year, and 100 °F (37.8 °C) on 18.[70] The highest recorded temperature was 112 °F (44 °C) occurring on September 5, 2000 and August 28, 2011.

Winters in Austin are mild and relatively dry. For the entire year, Austin averages 88 days below 45 °F (7.2 °C) and 13 days when the minimum temperature falls below freezing.[70] The lowest recorded temperature was −2 °F (−19 °C) on January 31, 1949.[74] About every two years or so, Austin experiences an ice storm that freezes roads over and affects much of the city for 24 to 48 hours.Snowfall is rare in Austin; a 3-inch (7.6 cm) snowstorm brought the city to a near standstill in 1985.

Monthly averages for Austin's weather data are shown in a graphical format to the right, and in a more detailed tabular format below.

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