The New International Encyclopædia/Austin (Texas)

AUSTIN. The capital of Texas, and county-seat of Travis County, 186 miles west by north of Houston, on the north bank of the Colorado River, which, in its lower course, is navigable for steamboats, and on the Houston and Texas Central, the International and Great Northern, and the Austin and Northwestern railroads (Map: Texas, F 4). It is about 40 feet above the river, and is well built, with wide and shaded streets. Capitol Square (10 acres) contains the capitol building, of granite, which cost $3,500,000, and is the largest State capitol in the United States. Other prominent structures are the State land office, county court-house, and the buildings of the State University. There are also the State asylums for the insane, the blind, and the deaf and dumb; institutions for the colored deaf, dumb, and blind; Saint Edward's College; Tillotson Institute (colored); several seminaries and academies. Two bridges span the river, and in 1893, a great dam, one of the largest in the world, was built 2 miles above the city, to provide water and power. But the dam proved a failure, being carried away by a flood. (See Dams and Reservoirs.) The export trade in agricultural produce, live stock, cotton, grain, wool, and hides is very large; and an extensive wholesale trade in groceries, dry goods, drugs, provisions, etc., is carried on. The manufactures include planed lumber, flour, and tanned leather. The government is administered under a revised charter of 1901, by a mayor, elected biennially; a city council, elected one-half by wards and one half at large; and municipal officials, of whom the sanitary inspector, police, pound-master, bridgekeeper, and hospital matron are elected by the council, and all others by popular vote. The water-works and electric-light plant are owned and operated by the city. Austin, originally called Waterloo, was in 1837 named after Stephen F. Austin (q.v.); was incorporated, and then made the capital of the Republic of Texas in 1839; and later became the permanent capital of the State. The first free school in Texas was established here in 1871. Population, in 1890, 14,575; in 1900, 22,358.