What You Need To Know
Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County. It is the 11th-most populated city in the U.S and the 4th-most populated in Texas. It is the fastest growing of the 50 largest US cities and the second largest state capital city in the United States after Phoenix, Arizona. As of June 1, 2016, Austin had a population of 931,830 (U.S. Census Bureau estimate). Located in Central Texas in the foothills of Texas Hill Country, the city is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways including Lady Bird Lake, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, the Colorado River, Lake Travis, and Lake Walter E. Long. It is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of 2,010,860 as of June 1, 2016. In the 1830’s, pioneers began to settle the area in central Austin along the Colorado River. In 1839, the site was officially chosen to replace Houston as the new capital of the Republic of Texas and was incorporated under the name “Waterloo.” Shortly thereafter, the name was changed to “Austin” in honor of Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas” and the republic’s first secretary of state. The city subsequently grew throughout the 19th century and became a center for government and education with the construction of the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin. After a lull in growth from the Great Depression, Austin resumed its development into a major city and, by the 1980s, it emerged as a center for technology and business. A number of Fortune 500 companies have headquarters or regional offices in Austin, including Apple Inc., Cisco, eBay, Google, IBM, Intel, Oracle Corporation, Texas Instruments, 3M, and Whole Foods Market. Dell’s worldwide headquartersis located in nearby Round Rock, a suburb of Austin. Residents of Austin are known as Austinites. They include a diverse mix of government employees, college students, musicians, high-tech workers, blue-collar workers, and businesspeople. The city’s official slogan promotes Austin as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” a reference to the many musicians and live music venues within the city, as well as the long-running PBS TV concert series Austin City Limits. The city also adopted “Silicon Hills” as a nickname in the 1990s due to a rapid influx of technology and development companies. In recent years, some Austinites have also adopted the unofficial slogan “Keep Austin Weird,” which refers to the desire to protect small, unique, and local businesses from being overrun by large corporations. In the late 1800s, Austin was known as the “City of the Violet Crown” because of the colorful glow of light across the hills just after sunset. Even today, many Austin businesses use the term “Violet Crown” in their name. Austin is known as a “clean-air city” for its stringent no-smoking ordinances that apply to all public places and buildings, including restaurants and bars. The FBI ranked Austin as the second-safest major city in the U.S. for the year 2012.
Area: 297.6 km²
The Greater Austin metropolitan statistical area had a Gross Domestic Product of $86 billion in 2010. Austin is considered to be a major center for high tech. Thousands of graduates each year from the engineering and computer science programs at the University of Texas at Austin provide a steady source of employees that help to fuel Austin’s technology and defense industry sectors. The region’s rapid growth has led Forbes to rank the Austin metropolitan area number one among all big cities for jobs for 2012 in their annual survey and WSJ Marketwatch to rank the area number one for growing businesses. By 2013, Austin ranked No. 14 on Forbes’ list of the Best Places for Business and Careers (directly below Dallas, No. 13 on the list). As a result of the high concentration of high-tech companies in the region, Austin was strongly affected by the dot-com boom in the late 1990s and subsequent bust. Austin’s largest employers include the Austin Independent School District, the City of Austin, Dell, the U.S. Federal Government, Freescale Semiconductor(spun off from Motorola in 2004), IBM, St. David’s Healthcare Partnership, Seton Family of Hospitals, the State of Texas, the Texas State University, and the University of Texas at Austin. Other high-tech companies with operations in Austin include 3M, Apple, AMD, Apartment Ratings, Applied Materials, ARM Holdings, Bigcommerce, Bioware, Blizzard Entertainment, Buffalo Technology, Cirrus Logic, Cisco Systems, Dropbox, eBay, PayPal, Electronic Arts, Flextronics, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Hoover’s, HomeAway, Hostgator, Intel Corporation, National Instruments, Nvidia, Oracle, Polycom, Qualcomm, Inc., Rackspace, RetailMeNot, Rooster Teeth, Samsung Group, Silicon Laboratories, Spansion, Troux Technologies, United Devices, and Xerox. In 2010, Facebook accepted a grant to build a downtown office that could bring as many as 200 jobs to the city. The proliferation of technology companies has led to the region’s nickname, “the Silicon Hills”, and spurred development that greatly expanded the city. Austin is also emerging as a hub for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; the city is home to about 85 of them. The city was ranked by the Milken Institute as the No.12 biotech and life science center in the United States. Companies such as Hospira, Pharmaceutical Product Development, and ArthroCare Corporation are located there. Whole Foods Market (often called just “Whole Foods”) is an upscale, international grocery store chain specializing in fresh and packaged food products—many having an organic-/local-/”natural”-theme. It was founded and is headquartered in Austin. Other companies based in Austin include Freescale Semiconductor, Temple-Inland, Sweet Leaf Tea Company, Keller Williams Realty, National Western Life, GSD&M, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Golfsmith, Forestar Group, and EZCorp. In addition to national and global corporations, Austin features a strong network of independent, unique, locally owned firms and organizations.
Health care in the United States and Austin is provided by many distinct organizations. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by private sector businesses. 58% of US community hospitals are non-profit, 21% are government owned, and 21% are for-profit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States spent more on health care per capita ($8,608), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (17.2%), than any other nation in 2011. 64.3% of which was paid for by the government in 2013.
Central Austin lies between two major north-south freeways: Interstate 35 to the east and the Mopac Expressway (Loop 1) to the west. U.S. Highway 183 runs from northwest to southeast, and State Highway 71 crosses the southern part of the city from east to west, completing a rough “box” around central and north-central Austin. Austin is the largest city in the United States to be served by only one Interstate Highway.
Interchange of Interstate 35 and State Highway 45
State Highway 130 is a bypass route designed to relieve traffic congestion, starting from Interstate 35 just north of Georgetown and running along a parallel route to the east, where it bypasses Round Rock, Austin, San Marcos and New Braunfels before ending at Interstate 10 east of Seguin, where drivers could drive 30 miles (48 km) west to return to Interstate 35 in San Antonio.
Austin’s airport is Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) (IATA code AUS), located 5 miles (8 km) southeast of the city.
Intercity bus service
Greyhound Lines operates the Austin Station at 916 East Koenig Lane, just east of Airport Boulevard and adjacent to Highland Mall. Turimex Internacional operates bus service from Austin to Nuevo Laredo and on to many destinations in Mexico. The Turimex station is located at 5012 East 7th Street, near Shady Lane.
Austin Metrorail train at Downtown Station
Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Metro provides public transportation to the city, primarily by bus. Capital Metro is planning to change some routes to “Rapid Lines.” The lines will feature 60 ft (18 m) long, train-like, high-tech buses.
A 2013 study by Walk Score ranked Austin 35th most walkable of the 50 largest U.S. cities. This is considered a medium low ranking.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Austin has a humid subtropical climate. This climate is typified by very long, hot summers; warm transitional seasons; and short, mild winters. Austin averages 34.32 inches (872 mm) of annual rainfall and it is distributed mostly evenly throughout the year, though May and June are generally the wettest months. Sunshine is abundant during all seasons, with nearly 2,650 hours, or 60.3% of the possible total, of bright sunshine per year. Summers in Austin are very hot. Average July and August highs frequently reach the high-90s °F (34–36 °C), and triple digits are common. Highs reach 90 °F (32 °C) on 116 days per year, and 100 °F (38 °C) on 18 days per year. The highest ever recorded temperature was 112 °F (44 °C) occurring on September 5, 2000, and August 28, 2011. Summer humidity is inconsistent and is highly dependent on the shifting patterns of air flow and wind direction. Humidity rises when the air drifts inland from the Gulf of Mexico, but decreases significantly when the air is channeled through the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas. Winters in Austin are mild. Daytime highs in December and January average 63 °F (17 °C) and 62 °F (17 °C), respectively, and the overnight low reaches or exceeds freezing only 19 times per year. The temperature falls below 45 °F (7 °C) during 88 evenings per year, including most nights between mid-December and mid-February. The lowest ever recorded temperature was −2 °F (−19 °C) on January 31, 1949. Roughly every two years Austin experiences an ice storm that freezes roads over and cripples travel in the city for 24 to 48 hours. When Austin received 0.04 inches (1 mm) of ice on January 24, 2014, there were 278 vehicular collisions. Similarly, snowfall is exceptionally rare in Austin. A snow event of 0.9 inches (2 cm) on February 4, 2011, caused more than 300 car crashes. A 13-inch (33 cm) snowstorm brought the city to a near standstill in 1985.