88 Fascinating Facts about Austin, the “Bat City” of Texas

Austin, the Texas state capital, is known for its live music, food trucks, diversity, and the Texas State Capitol building.

Find out what else the “Live Music Capital of the World” is famous for with these fun Austin city facts! Also see our list of fun facts about Texas state and fun facts about Dallas, another large city in Texas!

General Austin Facts

  • Austin is the capital and 4th largest city in the US state of Texas, after Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas.
  • Austin is part of the “Texas Triangle” formed by these four cities. The other 3 cities form the three corners of the triangle, while Austin is just 70 mi (113 km) northeast of San Antonio, on the way to Dallas.
  • With 964,177 residents, Austin is the 11th largest city in the United States, putting it between San Jose, California and Jacksonville, Florida in terms of population.
  • Austin is the 2nd largest state capital in the US, after Phoenix, Arizona. It is the largest capital city that is not also the largest city in the state.
  • Austin city proper is similar in size to Cancun, Mexico.  
  • The greater Austin area, which includes Round Rock, is home to 2.3 million people, making it the 28th largest population center in the country.
  • Around 8% of all Texans live in the Greater Austin Area.
  • Austin sits at the same latitude as Cairo, Egypt.
Fireworks over downtown Austin at night
4th of July Fireworks in Austin
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in Austin was 112°F (44°C) in 2011 and 2000, while the lowest was −2°F (−18.9°C) in 1949.
  • Austin was originally called Waterloo. Shortly after, it was renamed Austin after Stephen F. Austin, the “father of Texas”.
  • Some common nicknames for Austin are Bat City, Hippie Haven, and City of the Violet Crown.
  • Slogans for Austin have included “Keep Austin Weird” (the city is known for its eccentricity and diversity) and “The Live Music Capital of the World”.
The official flag of the city of Austin, Texas
The Austin City flag
  • People from Austin are called Austinites.
  • 18.3% of Austinites were born outside of the country.
  • Austin is notably liberal, despite Texas being typically being considered a conservative state. For example, the 6th season of Queer Eye, the gay makeover show, was filmed there.
  • The Austin flag shows the seal of Austin (without its surrounding circle of text) on a white background. The oil lamp on the seal represents knowledge, after the city’s major educational institutions.
  • Austin has 15 sister cities, including Maseru (Lesotho), Lima, (Peru), Antalya (Turkey), and Adelaide (Australia).

Interesting Facts about Austin Places

  • Texas has its own Colorado River (not to be confused with the Colorado River that flows through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and California, and forms the Grand Canyon) and it flows through Austin.
  • Lady Bird Lake, actually a section of the Colorado River, was named after the wife of President Lyndon Johnson, who was born in Texas.
Some people swimming in a clear blue water natural spring pool in Austin, Texas called Baron Springs
Swimming at Baron Springs, Austin
  • The endangered Barton Springs salamander only lives around Baron Springs, a spring-fed swimming pool in Austin.
  • The Texas State Capitol in Austin is the largest capitol building in the US in total size, or 6th tallest. It was one of the largest buildings in the world when it was first built.
  • There is a miniature Statue of Liberty at the Texas State Capitol called “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty Monument”. It was erected by the Boy Scouts of America in 1951. The Scouts also buried a Time Capsule with it that is meant to be opened in 2076.
  • The tallest building in Austin is The Independent, which has 58 floors and stands 690 ft (210 m) tall.
The Texas State Capitol building in the evening
The Texas State Capitol, largest in the country
  • Other easily recognizable buildings in Austin include Forest Bank Tower, Austin Convention Center, Fairmont Austin (considered one of the top places to stay in Austin), The Paramount Theater, and The Long Center for the Performing Arts.
  • The Historic Scoot Inn was opened in Austin back in 1871, which makes it the oldest bar in Central Texas. Live music continues to be played at the bar to date.
  • There is an annual pun competition in Austin, called the O. Henry Pun-Off, and hosted by the William Sydney Porter House (the former house of a famous writer O. Henry, known for his wit). There is a false myth that Oh Henry! chocolate bar was named after him.
  • The Texas State Cemetery in Austin is the final resting place of several famous Texans, including civil rights leader Barbara Jordan, Father of Texas Stephen F. Austin, Navy SEAL and renowned sniper Chris Kyle, and Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan.
  • A colony of 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats live under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin. This is why Austin is sometimes called “Bat City”.
Some bats flying in the sky at night around Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin
Bats at Congress Avenue Bridge
  • The University of Texas at Austin is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the country. It is the oldest of the 13 institutions in the University of Texas System.
  • Austin is the only major city in Texas to have a nude beach: Hippie Hollow on Lake Travis.
  • Austin is the only city in the world that still operates moonlight towers, whose purpose is to light up the city at night. The city has ordinances in place to protect all 17 of the moonlight towers from being taken down.

Austin Economy and Society Facts

  • Austin has been rated as one of the best big cities to live in and one of the greenest cities in the US.
  • Austin has the 2nd most food trucks per capita in the US, after Raleigh, North Carolina.
Aerial view of downtown Austin, the river, and riverside parks
Austin is known for its green spaces
  • The Greater Austin area has the 26th largest economy in the United States, between the Greater Pittsburgh area and the Greater Sacramento area.
  • Austin is home to 2 Fortune 500 companies: Oracle and Hormel Foods.
  • Other major companies with offices in Austin include 3M, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Tesla.
  • There are 16 colleges and universities in Austin, with the largest being the University of Texas at Austin. It has over 50,000 students, putting it in the top-10 largest in the country.
  • Austin has the lowest crime rate of the four major cities in Texas.
Aerial view of buildings, fountain, and Clock Tower at University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin
  • The Austin–Bergstrom International Airport is the 32nd busiest airport in the US. It served 17,343,729 million passengers in 2019.
  • Austin has 9 billionaires with a combined net worth of 299 billion USD.
  • The richest person in Austin (and currently, in the whole world) is Elon Musk, with a net worth of 219 billion USD.
  • 12.53% of people in Austin live below the poverty line.
  • Greater Austin has the 3rd highest percentage of LGBTQ+ people in the US, at 5.9% of the city’s population. It is surpassed only by San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.
  • 71.7% of the residents of Travis county (which Austin is mostly located in) voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
The US and Texas state flag flying in front of the round building of the Texas State Capitol in Austin
The US and Texas flag flying at the Capitol
  • Austin has 11 major newspapers, including The Austin Chronicle, Austin Times Herald, Austin Press, and Austin Citizen.
  • Movies filmed in Austin include Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dazed and Confused, Spy Kids, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, The Quiet, 6 Years, Idiocracy, Boyhood, and Zombieland.
  • TV shows filmed in Austin include Walker, Fear the Walking Dead, and Queer Eye (season 6).
  • Austin City Limits is the longest running concert television program in the US.

Austin Sports Facts

  • Austin has one major professional sports team: Austin FC (Major League Soccer).
  • Austin FC’s home stadium is Q2 Stadium. The stadium was just built in 2019.
A soccer game taking place at Q2 Stadium in Austin, with the bleachers full of spectators
Austin FC Stadium vs. Columbus Crew” by Daniel Ziegler is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
  • There are 3 players worth knowing on Austin FC’s roster: midfielders Tomas Pochettino and Alex Ring, and forward Cecilio Dominguez.
  • Some famous athletes born in Austin include quarterback Nick Foles, safety position Michael Devin Griffin, and boxer James Kirkland.
  • The World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament takes place every March in Austin. Based on the Official World Golf Rankings, the top 64 golfers from around the world qualify to compete at the tournament that’s held at the Austin Country Club each year. The format of the game is by holes instead of strokes.
  • The Heart of Texas Regatta has been hosted by the Austin Rowing Club on Lady Bird Lake every March since 1983. This rowing tournament is nationally recognized and includes Junior, Open and Master events over two days, with over 1500 competitors.
  • Rodeo Austin has been held every March since 1938. The rodeo takes place at the Travis County Expo Center, and the event includes a nightly concert.
A cowboy riding a bucking cow at Rodeo Austin with fans watching
Rodeo Austin. “Hang on!” by US Department of State is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.
  • The Formula 1 tournament (United States Grand Prix) has taken place at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin each year since 2012.
  • During President’s Day weekend each year, the Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon are held.
  • Each year on Thanksgiving Day, a five-mile Turkey Trot is held in Austin, with all proceeds going to charity.
  • Each spring, Austin holds the Statesman Capitol 10K race, which has the most participants of any 10K race in Texas.

Famous Austin People

  • Actors Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, and Glen Powell were born in Austin.
  • Actresses Dakota Johnson, Michelle Forbes, and Amber Heard were born in Austin.
  • Singers Willie Nelson, Nelly, Kevin Fowler, and Rick Trevino were born in Austin.
A mosaic of famous people born in Austin, Texas
Famous Austinites Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Nelly, Dakota Johnson, and Amber Heard (clockwise from top-left)
  • Other musicians and bands from Austin include Ghostland Observatory, Explosions in the Sky, Spoon, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, and the Black Angels.
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan rose to fame in Austin, although he was born in Dallas.
  • Authors from Austin include Julie Powell, Gloria Amescua, Stephen Harrigan, and Juli Berwald.
  • The fashion designer Tom Ford, whose NYC-based brand takes his name, was also born in Austin.

Austin History Facts

  • The Tonkawa and Comanche people were the original inhabitants of Austin.
  • The first European settlers to inhabit Austin were Spanish friars in 1730.
  • Austin was founded as the village of Waterloo in 1835, but renamed Austin shortly after.
Lone Star symbol on the gate of the Texas State Capitol in Austin
Lone Star on the gate of the Texas State Capitol
  • Austin city was incorporated in 1839, with Edwin Waller becoming the first mayor one year later.
  • Austin was restored to its capital status once Texas became a state in 1846.
  • The Texas State Capitol was first built in 1853, destroyed by fire in 1881, and rebuilt (much larger) in 1885.
  • On Christmas Day of 1871, the first train arrived in the city, connecting it to Houston.
  • The University of Texas at Austin was founded in 1883.
  • Austin acquired Barton Springs and the land around them in 1918.
Some passengers walking with their luggage inside Austin–Bergstrom International Airport
Austin–Bergstrom International Airport
  • In 1930, the Austin Municipal Airport opened.
  • The population of Austin reached 100,000 by 1945.
  • In 1959, the University of Texas at Austin became the first major university in the South to admit African Americans as undergraduates.
  • In the 1970s, musicians like Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan made Austin into a music capital.
  • The Austin Chronicle and Austin Press newspapers began publication in 1981.
  • In 1999, the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport opened.
  • In 2002, Greater Austin reached a population of 1 million, and that number doubled by 2020.
Three bridges across the river in Austin
Austin today
  • The first sections of the city’s first toll road network opened in 2006.
  • In 2019, the ban on camping in the city was removed to do the increase in homelessness, but it was reinstated in 2021.