Our Austin Story is a comprehensive interpretive strategy for several of Austin’s most historic public spaces. It focuses on the heritage of Austin’s four historic squares (Brush, Republic Wooldridge, and Hamilton) and Congress Avenue, all of which are central to Austin’s birth and evolution as a growing, thriving city. It documents the stories of the people and places who shaped these important civic spaces and offers an important framework for celebrating, expressing and growing with respect for Austin’s diverse heritage.
OUR AUSTIN STORY HELPS AUSTIN EMBRACE THE PAST IN A WAY THAT BRINGS MEANING TO THE PRESENT AND ILLUMINATION TO THE FUTURE.
Our Austin Story was commissioned by the Downtown Austin Alliance, in partnership with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD). It was developed with contributions from a broad diversity of Austin citizens and stakeholders, many of whom shared their stories and perspectives on the past, present and prospective future of these public spaces.
Historic Downtown squares
Austin’s historic squares date to the earliest days of our city. In his 1839 Plan of Austin, Edwin Waller reserved four city blocks as civic squares, three of which still remain – Brush, Republic, and Wooldridge. Located in four different quadrants of downtown, each of these historic squares has a very distinct history that is influenced not only by what takes place in the square, but by what takes place in the surrounding area.
Edwin Waller platted Austin with Congress Avenue as the central axis of a 14 by 14 block grid system. In Waller’s plan, Congress Avenue was (and still is) the geographic and cultural center of Austin. Congress Avenue is central to Austin’s history and should be interpreted through the lens of the many connections that it conveys. This interpretive strategy introduces the concept of vibrant connections as a way to conceptualize the planning and interpretation of Congress Avenue, which is integrally tied to the many vibrant connections along the Avenue.
Our Austin Story Reports
The Project Team
The Downtown Alliance conducted this project in partnership with Austin Parks and Recreation Department. The project consultant is Ted Lee Eubanks, Founder and President of Fermata Inc.
Eubanks is a certified interpretive planner with over 25 years of experience both nationally and internationally in heritage tourism and community development.
Chair: Kate Singleton, Preservation Austin
Austin Parks and Recreation Department Liaisons: Kim McKnight, Cara Welch
Charles Peveto, Friends of Wooldridge Square
Sylvia Orozco, Executive Director, Mexic-Arte Museum
Dr. Andrea Roberts, University of Texas at Austin, School of Architecture
Vanessa Castro, City of Austin, Tejano Walking Trail
Mike Miller, Austin History Center
Rey Hernandez, Austin Parks and Recreation Department
Bob Ward, Travis County
Laura Esparza, Austin Parks and Recreation Department
Allison Watkins, Austin Parks Foundation
Ashley Dowgwillo, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau
Joanna Wolaver, Shoal Creek Conservancy
Melissa Barry - Vice President, Planning
Photos courtesy of Ted Eubanks Photography and Austin History Center, Austin Public Library