Human habitation has existed in Austin, Travis County, and Williamson County at least since 9200 BC. Based on evidence discovered throughout the region and documented at the extensively studied Gault Site, midway between Georgetown and Fort Hood, the first known people of the area lived throughout the late Pleistocene and are linked to the Clovis culture circa 9200 BC.
The Tonkawa tribe was present when people from Europe came. It was also reported that the Comanches and Lipan Apaches passed through the region. Spanish colonists passed through the region, notably the Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre expedition, though few long-term colonies were built for a while.
Texans battled for and conquered independence from Mexico in 1835–1836. Texas subsequently gained its independence and established its own government, congress, and monetary system. The Texas Congress established a commission in 1839 to look for a location for the Republic of Texas’ new capital to replace Houston. Mirabeau B. Lamar had been to the region between 1837 and 1838 when on a buffalo hunting excursion while he was the vice president of Texas. Noting the region’s hills, streams, and lovely surroundings, he suggested the commissioners have a look at the territory on the north bank of the Colorado River. It was considered to be a practical intersection for commerce routes between Santa Fe and Galveston Bay as well as routes between northern Mexico and the Red River.
The Geography of Austin, Texas is a fascinating subject to explore. The city has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century when it became the capital of the Republic of Texas. Population and economic growth were dramatically increased after World War II. With the ability to carry both cotton and cattle, Austin became the main commerce hub for the area after the Houston and Texas Central Railway’s 1871 opening. Texas, Kansas, and Missouri were not far behind. Additionally, Austin served as the southernmost end of the Chisholm Trail, and “drovers” drove cattle up to the railroad there from Austin. One of the few products grown locally for export was cotton, and a cotton gin engine for “ginning” cotton of its seeds and converting the result into bales for shipment was situated downtown close to the railroads. However, in the 1870s, additional new railroads were constructed through the area.
In Austin at the turn of the 20th century, a three-way system of social segregation developed, with Anglo, African American, and Mexican people being divided by law or custom in the majority of spheres of life, including housing, healthcare, and education. Many of the municipal improvement projects started during this time, like building new roads, schools, and hospitals, were purposefully made to institutionalize this segregationist system. Residential segregation was also greatly influenced by limits on deeds. Most home titles after 1935 forbade the use of land by African Americans (and occasionally by other non-white groups). Racial segregation grew in Austin during the first half of the 20th century in conjunction with the system of separated public services, with African Americans and Mexicans facing particularly severe discrimination.
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