2016 Austin, USA
Austin, Texas (USA). Nominated as a Knowledge City-Region.
Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, Austin strikes a balance between nature, education, the arts, and commerce. Austin, the Texas state capital and the Travis County seat, is fueled by an entrepreneurial attitude that has resulted in the city's placement at the top of numerous business and cultural lists. Austin is known for its quality of life, which enables companies to attract and retain the very best talent from around the world. Its good jobs, easy living, excellent health care facilities, and low crime rate are a few of the reasons that Men's Journal ranked Austin the fifth best place to live in America in June 2004.
Lured to the area by tales of seven magnificent cities of gold, Spanish explorers first passed through what is now Austin during the 1530s. But instead of gold, they encountered several hostile Native American tribes; for many years, reports of the natives' viciousness (which included charges of cannibalism) discouraged further expeditions and restricted colonization. Spain nevertheless retained control of the region for nearly 300 years, withdrawing after Mexico gained its independence in 1821.
All of eastern Texas then experienced a boom as hundreds of settlers sought permission to establish colonies in the "new" territory. One of these early settlements was the village of Waterloo, founded in 1835 on the north bank of the Colorado River. In 1839 Mirabeau B. Lamar, vice-president of the Republic of Texas, recommended that Waterloo be chosen as the capital, noting among its assets its central location, elevation, mild climate, and freedom from the fevers that plagued residents of the republic's coastal areas. Despite stiff competition from those whose preference was Houston, Lamar's proposal was eventually accepted, and Waterloo was incorporated as Austin in 1839 and renamed in honor of Stephen F. Austin, "Father of Texas." Austin remained the capital when Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845.
During the 1850s the country's regional conflicts mounted, and Texans were fractured into three distinct camps: those who advocated supporting northern policies, those who wished to ally themselves with secessionist southern states, and those who urged the reestablishment of the independent Republic of Texas. Although Travis County citizens voted strongly against secession, Texas as a whole sided with the South when the Civil War erupted. Austin's contributions to the war effort included the manufacture of arms and ammunition and the mustering of the Austin City Light Infantry and a cavalry regiment known as Terry's Texas Rangers after its leader, B. F. Terry.
Despite some political strife following the Civil War, Reconstruction brought prosperity to Austin. The coming of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad in 1871 and the International-Great Northern five years later provided stimulus to the city's growth and commerce.