Crafting Your Experience

Austin History Center

Hidden Austin: Stories from the Original Square Mile

Austin was first laid out on 640 acres, one square mile, on the Colorado River. The first 217 lots out of 306 were sold on August 1, 1839. It was a somewhat odd place for the capital city as it skirted what was Comanche and Apache territory immediately to the west making it fairly vulnerable to raids. It was also far from Galveston, which was the largest city in Texas at the time. It took days over rough and rutted dirt roads to reach the city from the most populace areas of the state. For a time, there was tension among factions of Texans, most markedly those who sided with Sam Houston, who wanted to move the capital to the coast. The “Archives War” involved a group trying to steal the state archives and spirit them out of town. It was indicative of the tensions that weren’t completely resolved until after the capital had moved to Houston, then to Washington-on-the-Brazos for a while and finally back to Austin in 1845. It was not until a vote in 1872 that Austin was designated the permanent capital. The stories contained in this adventure uncover 12 "hidden" stories about Austin, stories that reverberate today but have no physical remnant on the sites in which they occurred.

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