When the Lone Star State’s own Willie Nelson commented once about the State Capital of Texas, saying that “ There is a freedom you begin to feel the closer you get to Austin”, his reference spoke as much of the urban bohemia it has grown to be than of any hints of the city’s rich, revolutionary and hard-fought past.
And what an interesting mix going on from then until now in a city that once was the capital of a sovereign nation, The Republic of Texas, for a decade from 1836 to 1846. How the spirits of visionaries such as Sam Houston and the city’s namesake, Stephen F. Austin, otherwise known as the Father of Texas, in the shadow of their struggles for independence, could have foretold the success of the thriving metropolis of commerce and the arts that is now Austin. In addition to being the seat of the state government and home of the acclaimed University of Texas, Austin is a self proclaimed Capital of another sort, the “Live Music Capital of the World”, as an official slogan has it. A popular long running PBS TV concert series, “Austin City Limits” attests to that distinct possibility as the show has showcased many outstanding performances over the years with artists who engage and illuminate the lively and unique local music scene.
But music , government and University are far from all that this scenic Texas Hill Country city has to offer. Sometime in the 1990s, Austin adopted the nickname of “Silicon Hills” as well, thanks to the development of many high technology companies in the area, and a favorable work environment.
The largest employers in Austin are, the University of Texas at Austin, the State of Texas, IBM, St. David’s Healthcare Partnership, Austin Independent School District, the City of Austin, Seton Family of Hospitals, Texas State University, and Dell.
A growing number of Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters or regional offices in Austin. Among these are Whole Foods Market, Advanced Micro Devices, Cisco Systems, Intel, Google, Texas instruments, IBM, 3M, ARM Holdings, General Motors, Oracle Corporation and eBay. Other high-tech corporations with operations in Austin includes the Samsung Group, Facebook, Dropbox, QUALCOMM, Inc. , Nvidia, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Electronic Arts, Blizzard Entertainment, Bioware, Cirrus Logic, Applied Materials, Buffalo Technology, United Devices, Xerox, HomeAway,PayPal, Polycom, Silicon Laboratories, Flextronics, National Instruments, Troux, Spansion, Rackspace, AMD and Freescale Semiconductor, among many others. Other Corporations based in Austin include Sweet Leaf Tea Company, Dimensional Fund Advisors, EZCorp, Forestar Group, Keller Williams Realty, GSD&M, Temple-Inland, National Western Life, and Golfsmith.
There are more music venues in Austin than any other city in the US per capita. 6th Street in the Downtown Entertainment District is the vibrant hub, with a great assortment of quality music showcases, bars and restaurants to choose from. Such a diverse array of choices, in fact, that the city’s downtown core hosts the most bar or alcohol serving establishments of any US downtown entertainment district. A highlight annually is the renowned SXSW South by Southwest Film/Music/Interactive Festival held every March and is considered to be one of the premier independent music and film showcases in the world. Other festivals in Austin include,the Fun Fun Fun Festival, the Austin City Limits Music Festival, the Urban Music Festival, Austin Reggae Festival, Art City Austin, Carnivale Brasileiro, Austin Gay Pride, the Kite Festival, and the Texas Craft Brewer’s Festival.
In sporting regards, the University of Texas hosts their 2005 National Champion Longhorns Football Team at the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, and their Longhorn Baseball Team won a College World Series Championship as well. In the world of motorsports, quite an achievement took place as a $300 million Formula One level race track was built, the state of the art Circuit of the Americas, that plays host to a Formula One race, The United States Grand Prix in October, as well as a World Championship motorcycle event, the MotoGP.
In real estate matters, business is thriving in the state capital. Some of the tallest condo towers in the state are in Austin. The Austonian tops out at 56 floors, and the 360 Residential Condominiums tower is 44 floors. And new residential projects are under way and in the planning stages in the downtown core and in the 2nd St., District I’m on other thriving areas of the city.
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