Austin City Guide
Austin is the capital of Texas and the seat of Travis County. As a center of government, it's no surprise that the folks are passionate about their politics. However, the presence of the University of Texas has lent a decidedly liberal focus to the city. Environmentalists and civil liberties activists are the rule rather than the exception, and the Democrats and Libertarians are just as well represented as the Republicans. Indeed, Austin's blue-state leanings have led to it being dubbed "the blueberry in the tomato soup" by a number of Texas conservatives. Many Austinites, embracing the eclectic, alternative culture of their city, have adopted the unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird."
The city of Austin actually began as a tiny settlement called Waterloo, established at the gentle bend in the Colorado River sometime in the 1830s. When the new Republic of Texas was formed in 1836, the founding fathers debated fiercely over the next course of action. President Sam Houston advocated joining the U.S., while Vice-President Mirabeau B. Lamar wanted Texas to remain an independent nation. When Lamar became President of Texas in 1838, he suggested making Waterloo the capital city, despite the fact it was located on the western edge of the settled territory and threatened by attacks from the Penateka Comanche. Lamar's vision of Texas was a territory extending all the way to the Pacific, and he hoped placing the capital that far west would encourage expansion.