50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About AustinThere’s a lot more to the capital of Texas than you ever realized. Prepare to be surprised.
1. Austin is home to about 750,000 bats in spring and summer and up to 1.5 million at the peak of bat-watching season. It’s the largest urban bat colony in North America.
Source: Flickr user Eric2. Austin, in landmass, is almost as large as New York City, occupying about 280 square miles. 3. Austin has been the site of human habitation since at least 9200 BC. 4. There are hundreds of wild Monk Parakeets flying freely around Austin, mingling with the mockingbirds and bumping wings with the whippoorwills. 5. Austin is one of the safest major cities in the U.S. 6. In 1999, Austinite Matthew McConaughey was arrested in ATX for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. When the police arrived, they found him dancing around, playing bongo drums. Naked.
Source: Matthew McConaughey via Facebook7. Austin is one of the sunniest cities in America, getting on average about 300 clear days a year. 8. Austin’s most famous and favorite homeless cross dresser and all around life of the city, Leslie Cochran, ran for mayor three times, most recently in 2003. RIP, Leslie.
Source: Flickr user Megan Ann9. After Leslie’s death, Austin’s current mayor, Lee Leffingwell, proclaimed March 8, 2012 and every March 8 forward “Leslie Day.” 10. Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant owns a house in Austin—and likes to haggle over the price of cheese at Whole Foods on Lamar and 5th. 11. Speaking of Led Zeppelin, Austin was recently rated one of the “drunkest” cities in America by “Men’s Health,” mostly for its impressive/alarming ranking as 23rd in the nation for DUI crashes, eighth for DUI arrests, and second for binge drinking. 12. Austin is the only city in the world known to still operate a system of Moonlight towers, lighting structures from the 19th century.
Source: Flickr user Matthew Rutledge13. Austin has its own personal Bigfoot. His name is Hairy Man, and he, of course, lives on Hairy Man Road. 14. Young Mister Frodo (Elijah Wood) has a home in Austin and can be frequently spotted downtown, undoubtedly at some indie show, sporting skinny jeans and a cardigan. 15. Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock is an Austinite and owns the restaurant Bess Bistro downtown.
Source: Bess Bistro Facebook page16. Breakfast tacos are the food that define Austin. 17. National chain Whole Foods started out in Austin in 1978 when 25-year-old college dropout John Mackey and Rene Lawson Hardy borrowed $45,000 to open a small natural foods store. Not only did Mackey and Lawson work there, they lived there, too—and since it was zoned commercially and didn’t have a shower, they made the best of it by bathing in the Hobart dishwasher. 18. The Austin 5th and Lamar Whole Foods ain’t your average grocery store. It has a wine bar, various restaurants throughout, a clothing area, a chocolate fountain, and more.
Source: Flickr user Terren in Virginia19. In 1884, three years before Jack the Ripper began terrorizing the streets of London, Austin, was the home of the first known serial killer in the world, the Servant Girl Annihilator. 20. Austin celebrates weird stuff. There’s Eeyore’s Birthday, the Gorilla Run, and Reggae Fest (formerly Marley Fest).
Source: Wikimedia user Sean Loyless21. Austin actually grew during the Great Depression. During this time, the city’s population increased 66 percent and University of Texas’ enrollment nearly doubled. 22. South Austin is home to one of the most unique cathedrals around: The Cathedral of Junk, made entirely out of various clocks, beer signs, knickknacks, doodads, gadgets, and whatnots. 23. People love Blueballs here. (The donuts from Gourdough’s.)
Source: Gourdough’s Facebook page24. The Texas State Capitol was built to be about 10 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol. It’s made of pink granite from Marble Falls (technically “sunset red,” but let’s face it, it’s pink). 25. Austin is growing—and fast. It was recently named America’s fastest growing city by “Forbes” magazine, with a population growth rate of 2.8 percent. 26. Throughout its history, Austin has doubled in population every 20 years. 27. In Austin, Guadalupe is pronounced “Guada-loop,” Manchaca is “Manshack,” San Jacinto simply because “San Jack,” and Lady Bird Lake… well, that’s “Town Lake” to natives. 28. Austin was recently ranked one of the fittest cities in America by “Shape” magazine.
Source: Pure Austin Fitness Facebook page29. Which might have something to do with its 220 parks, running and biking trails, lakes like Austin and Travis, more than 250 gyms, yoga studios, healthy restaurants, and health food stores. 30. Up until the late Cretaceous Period, Austin was completely underwater. That’s why many of the cliffs in Austin are made up of that crumbly whitish rock, or “Austin Chalk.” 31. The greater Austin area contains 10 extinct volcanoes. They used to be violent underwater volcanoes called “explosion craters” by geologists. 32. In more recent years, Austin has been ranked the No. 1 city in the U.S. for dogs and dog owners by the Pets at Home website. It’s home to 12 off-leash parks, swimming holes, and tons of dog-friendly restaurants and hotels.
Source: Austin Dog Alliance Facebook page33. Austin is a little blue oasis in a predominantly red (Republican) state. 34. In fact, it’s been that way for a while. In 1861, most of Texas voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy—but not Travis County. Travis County voted 704 to 450 against secession. 35. Zagat’s blog named Austin one of the top 10 cities in the U.S. for food trailers. They. Are. Everywhere.
Source: Flickr user Sheila Scarborough36. Austin is the largest U.S. City without stock in a professional sports team—even though it’s home to one of the state’s largest sports auditoriums. That’s because most people only bleed orange here. 37. The UT mascot, Bevo, made his debut in 1916 during the Texas 21-7 win over Texas A&M. The Aggies branded Bevo with a 13-0, and, as the story goes, some Texas fans turned the 13 into a B, made the hyphen an “E”, inserted a “V,” and left the “O.” Poor Bevo.
Source: Texas Longhorns Facebook page38. We’re now on Bevo Number 14. 39. OK, just one more Bevo fact: His owners, Betty and John T. Baker, say they spend more than $3,000 a year on food and maintenance alone for the formerly known “Sunrise Studly.” 40. The Hook ’em Horns hand sign was created in 1955 by head cheerleader, Harley Clark. Warning: Do not do this in College Station.
Source: Flickr user Johnny Wilbank41. Everyone knows to celebrate when the UT Tower is lit up, indicating a UT win. In something. It’s lit up a lot. #WINNING 42. Speaking of the tower—sorry, but it has to be mentioned—in 1966 Charles Whitman’s shooting rampage from atop the tower was the nation’s first college mass murder. He killed 14 people and wounded many others. A later brain scan showed that a brain tumor had driven him mad. 43. Austin ranks first in Texas for its number of artists and musicians per capita. 44. Austin has no state or local corporate or personal income taxes. 45. Austin really is the Live Music Capital of the World. The slogan became official in 1991 when it was discovered that ATX had more live music venues per capita than anywhere else. There are more than 1,900 bands and performing artists in the city, and nearly 200 live music venues around town.
Source: Flickr user Thomas Moore46. Austin boasts the highest annual bookstore sales in the U.S. at $195 per household.
Source: BookPeople Facebook page47. Austin was originally named Waterloo. What, you knew that? OK, well did you know that in 1839 the name was replaced because people started to realize that the “Father of Texas,” Stephen F. Austin, was kind of a badass. 48. Everyone knows Austin is where the cult classic “Dazed and Confused” was filmed, but did you know that all of the wooden paddles in the film were designed and decorated by the actors themselves?
Source: Dazed and Confused Facebook page49. During filming, 16-year-old actress Milla Jovovich (Michelle) and 21-year-old Shawn Andrews (Kevin Pickford) ran off to Vegas and eloped. 50. The highest point in Austin is Mount Bonnell at 785 feet.
Source: Flickr user Jeff GunnFeature Image Source: Flickr user Allen Sheffield
Zip Codes and Neighborhoods in Austin, TX
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