What was Austin called before it became 'Austin'?

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Did you know the land of Texas’ capital city wasn’t always called Austin? Before it became the city it is today, there was once a site on the Colorado River called Waterloo. 

Waterloo was a small community near the Colorado River and Shoal Creek before the city of Austin was founded, according to the Austin History Center. The origin of the Waterloo name is not known, but it could be from the Battle of Waterloo. 

Early settlers of Waterloo lived on the north bank of the Colorado River, near the current-day Congress Avenue Bridge, according to the Texas State Historical Association. Mirabeau Lamar, the president of the Republic of Texas, visited the site in the 1830s. He decided it would be the capital city of the Republic of Texas. 

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In 1839, a site-selection commission, appointed by the Texas Congress, visited the area. TSHA said the group found four families living near the home and called the incorporated site “Waterloo.”

The site was picked because the commission was “impressed by its beauty, healthfulness, abundant natural resources, promise as an economic hub, and central location in Texas territory.” The commission approved buying about 7,700 acres, including the Waterloo area. 

Later, the city’s name was changed to Austin, named after Stephen F. Austin, according to the TSHA. Judge Edwin Waller became the city’s first mayor in 1840. 

Today, several “Waterloo” namesakes remain in Austin, such as Waterloo Park in downtown Austin, Waterloo Records on North Lamar and Waterloo Ice House restaurants throughout the city. 

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