Tag Archives: Austin

Today in Texas History – January 15

From the Annals of the Highways –  In 1841, the Houston and Austin Turnpike Company was chartered. The plan was to lay out a road from Austin to Houston.   The charter allowed the HATC to charge tolls provided that toll gates be located at least forty miles apart. The work was to start within twelve months and be completed in five years. The road was planned to start at Houston, cross the Brazos River within five miles of San Felipe de Austin, and to continue from there to Austin on a route to be selected.  Nothing came of the HATC and it was followed by the chartering of another 50 failed attempts between 1841 and 1905.

Considering how long it took the state to make Hwy 71 a four-lane divided highway running from Columbus to Austin, Red is not surprised at the repeated failures.  Red reckons that it took almost 30 years for that project to be completed and he is still amazed that there is not a controlled access freeway accessing Austin from the east.

Advertisements

Today in Texas History – December 27

From the Annals of the Capital City –  In 1839, the City of Austin was incorporated.  At the time the city had 856 citizens.   The site of Waterloo had been previously chosen for the Capital of the Republic of Texas moving from Houston to a more central but dangerous location.  The Texas Congress designated the name of the new Capital as Austin after Stephen F. Austin who was already revered as the father of Texas.  President Mirabeau B. Lamar assigned Judge Edwin Waller to lay out the plan for a capital city. Waller chose a 640-acre site on a bluff above the Colorado River, bordered by Shoal Creek and Waller Creek on the west and east respectively. Waller surveyed a square-mile plot with 14 blocks running in both directions.  The main throughway was designated as Congress Avenue by Lamar and ran from Capitol Square to the Colorado River. The streets running north-south were named for Texas rivers in geographical order. The east-west streets were named after native trees.  Downtown Austin retains much of this original design today.

Today in Texas History – May 22

Vintage 1971 Postcard LBJ Library University of Texas ...

From the Annals of the Libraries – In 1971, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library was dedicated on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.  LBJ was in attendance along with President Richard M. Nixon and many notable Texas politicians.

The LBJ Library is one of 13 Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.  The LBJL contains over 45 million pages of documents – including LBJ’s papers as well as those of his staff and many of his close associates.  The Library building has been described as a ten-story unadorned travertine monolith.  The architectural design was not critically acclaimed and described by some as a structure that would have pleased Mussolini.  Red for one has always more or less liked the massive structure which is accompanied by an impressive fountain and a genteel garden as a tribute to Lady Bird.  The Library archives are open to researchers and there are numerous exhibits for the general public.

Today in Texas History – February 1

From the Annals of the Statehouse –  In 1882, Nimrod Norton and Joseph Lee ceremonially broke ground on the site of the present Texas Capitol Building.  Norton and Lee were the building commissioners in charge of overseeing construction.  A design competition resulted in eight architects submitting eleven different designs for the building.  In May 1881 the Capitol Board approved the design entered by Elijah E. Meyers of Detroit. The building commission then advertised for a contractor who would build the Capitol in exchange for the three million acres of public land. There were only two bidders and the BC chose Mathias Schnell of Rock Island, Illinois. Schnell ultimately assigned the contract to Taylor, Babcock and Company, a Chicago firm.  Abner Taylor became the chief contractor but subcontracted the work to Gustav Wilke also of Chicago.  The  Capitol was intended to be constructed from Texas limestone but impurities in the rock made it impractical.  The design was changed – made less ornate – and the main building material was changed to red granite from Marble Mountain near Marble Falls.  The Renaissance Revival structure was completed in about six years for a cost of $3.75 million.

Message to Greg Abbott: If you don’t like Austin, why don’t you get the f#(k out

Our Poor Idiot Governor Greg Abbott has made Red long for the days of our previous PIG Rick Perry who seems to have disappeared in DC.  Abbott was recently spotted unleashing a tirade against the city where he has been sucking on the state teat for the last 20 some years while continuing to collect money from the massive personal injury settlement that he has spent the rest of his life ensuring that no one else would ever get.   Speaking to a Tea Party crowd in Bell County, Abbott disparaged the Capital City.

“As I was coming up here from Austin, Texas, tonight, I got to tell you, it’s great to be out of the People’s Republic of Austin. As you leave Austin and start heading north, you start feeling different Once you cross the Travis County line, it starts smelling different. And you know what that fragrance is? Freedom. It’s the smell of freedom that does not exist in Austin, Texas. That said, with your senators and legislators, I can tell you that today, Austin is more free than it was before the legislative session began because the state of Texas passed laws that overrode the liberal agenda of Austin, Texas, that is trying to send Texas down the pathway of California.”

First of all, OPIG Abbott is all about local control until it doesn’t fit within his grand scheme.  After all, this is the guy who wants to blow up the union as it has stood for more than 200 years, so that individual states have more control.  But if a city in his state doesn’t tow OPIG Abbott’s hard Tea Party line – well that’s just undemocratic and must be squashed.  What a complete and total hypocrite.

OPIG Abbott needs to clean up his own house before complaining about Austin.  The state he supposedly leads has the second highest percentage of uninsured children,  ranks number 4 for women living in poverty, number 44 for high school graduation rates, is dead last in percentage of people with at least a high school diploma (that explains a lot right there), dead last in spending on mental health (again explaining a lot), and near the bottom in people with retirement plans and financial net worth of households.  And that’s just a few things.  Texas ranks near the bottom in almost every category involving education, the environment, social welfare and standard of living.

So what can OPIG Abbott brag about?  Where does Texas rank No. 1 among the states? Here’s where.

Highest number of uninsured people

No. 1 emitter of carbon dioxide

No. 1 generator of hazardous waste

No. 1 in executions

No. 1 in percentage of voting age population that doesn’t vote (why bother in Tea Party Republic of Texas)

But you know what, OPIG Abbott is right –  the air is different when you leave Austin.  It’s often filled with the smell of ignorance, bigotry, poverty, pollution, intolerance and untimely death.  Not everywhere – but in way too many places.  So OPIG Abbott, how about this? Why don’t you work on  cleaning up the mess that you and your party have made of Texas over the last 25 years before you start talking trash about one of the most successful, prosperous, vibrant, fun and attractive communities in the entire country.  Red knows you would tackle those issues if you weren’t so busy worrying about who gets to pee where and attempting to upset the constitutional order that has served our country fairly well for about 225 years. So once you have legally cemented LGBT bigotry and have torn apart the basic contract of the union, you might consider getting to work on making things better for the people you supposedly represent.

And one last thing, if you don’t like breathing the air in Austin, please resign and go get a real job.  You won’t be missed.

Today in Texas History – March 22

From the Annals of Reconstruction – In 1866, the Texas State Central Committee of Colored Men met for the first time in Austin.  The group was founded to address the concerns  of African Americans arising after the conclusion of the Civil War.  The group was one of the first to focus on the social, economic and political problems facing freed former slaves and free blacks.  Jacob Fontaine, a Baptist minister, presided over the convention. Fontaine was also the publisher of The Gold Dollar, said to be the first black newspaper published in Austin and the greater Travis County area. The promise of real freedom was short-lived in Texas as successive Republican administrations abandoned efforts to fully integrate African Americans into American social and political institutions.  It would be another hundred years before minorities in Texas would obtain full federal protection for their rights.  Ironically, it would be a president from Texas who shepherd through the required legislation.

Kenneth Threadgill and Janice Joplin

From the Annals of the Troubadours – In 1987, legendary Austin country singer and tavern owner Kenneth Threadgill passed away.  Threadgill was instrumental in creating the Austin music scene.  Born in Peniel, he moved to Austin in 1933 and began working at an old service station on North Lamar across from the DPS Headquarters. Threadgill had been performing on and off for years and was legendary for his yodeling prowess which he learned from imitating Jimmie Rodgers.   He soon bought the service station and renamed it Threadgill’s Tavern.  He still sold gas and food but cleverly obtained the first beer license in Austin after the repeal of Prohibition. Threadgill’s became known for its Wednesday night hootenannies, at which university students and local residents congregated for beer, country music, yodeling, and the “Alabama Jubilee,” the song that would usually get Kenneth to dance his patented shuffle. Bill Neely and Janis Joplin were among the many performers who began their careers performing at Threadgill’s.  Threadgill gained some measure of national celebrity himself when he acted and sang in the Willie Nelson movie Honeysuckle Rose (1980). He sold the tavern in the early eighties and it was taken over by Eddie Wilson.  After being closed for quite some time, the original Threadgill’s Old No. 1 on North Lamar is back and Threadgill’s World  HQ on Barton Springs remains an Austin institution – complete with live music.

Photo of Threadgill and Janis Joplin from http://austinot.com/threadgills-Austin