Author Archive

9 Funky Facts About the Lone Star State

Posted on: August 31st, 2010 by Julia Rocchi 4 Comments

 

This Texas Tuesday, we're channeling Joe Friday and giving you just the facts, ma'am (and sir) -- nine "did you know" items, "whooda thunk" moments, and other tidbits about the Lone Star State.

  1. Texas comes from the Hasinai Indian word tejas meaning friends or allies.
  2. The Texas State Capitol houses the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the office of the governor of Texas. Originally designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker oversaw its construction from 1882–88. It is the largest, but not the tallest, state capitol building in the United States (though it is seven feet higher than the nation's Capitol in DC). And no, your eyes do not deceive you ... the building is made of Texas pink granite. (See our Flickr slideshow of the Texas State Capitol.)
  3. The Hertzberg Circus Museum in San Antonio contains one of the largest assortments of circusana in the world.
  4. Though it's now established as the capital city of Texas, Austin was once the capital city of the Republic of Texas from 1840 to 1842. This makes it one of the few cities in the country to be both a country capital and a city capital.
  5. The armadillo is the official state mammal. The lightning whelk is the official state shell.
  6. Be warned: Texas will drive you batty. That's because more species of bats live in Texas than in any other part of the U.S. Check out the Mexican free-tail variety up close in Austin, where 1.5 million of them live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Each night, from March through October, these winged Austinites take flight across the city to grab their grub. (When you come for the National Preservation Conference, snag a spot on the bridge and watch the excitement!)
  7. Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. The Dublin Dr Pepper, 85 miles west of Waco, still uses pure imperial cane sugar in its product.
  8. The highest point in Austin is Mount Bonnell at 785 feet -- a delightful break from Texas's usual flatness. Remember when our colleague Jason climbed to the top? Check out his views.
  9. Our apologies to anyone from Rhode Island, but the King Ranch in Texas is bigger than your entire state.

What fun facts do you know about Texas? Share them here!

* Thanks to Texas Facts and Trivia, 20 Fun and Interesting Facts about Austin, Texas, and Tripcart for supplying today's factoids.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

Five Sites to School You on Austin

Posted on: August 24th, 2010 by Julia Rocchi

 

Maybe it's all the shiny backpacks dotting the landscape, or the scent of new crayon boxes in the air, but we at Preservation Nation are in a serious back-to-school mood. If you're feeling the same urge to return to Mrs. Miller's third-grade classroom -- yet have such minor things like "adulthood" and "a job" standing in your way -- don't worry, we've got you covered.

As we head toward the National Preservation Conference in October, we've put together a lesson plan on Austin that takes you from the bird's-eye development view down to the street level (literally). The goal: to give you some Texas-sized context on why this city matters as a living, breathing example of preservation in action.

Let's get started!

  1. Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan. All cities change with time, but Austin is growing by leaps and bounds, having doubled its population every 20 to 25 years since 1839. The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan now involves all Austinites, old and new, in an important discussion about the city's future: How will an estimated influx of 750,000 people over the next 30 years impact a city known for its distinct sense of place? Read the evolving plan to see where they're heading.
  2. Weird City: Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas by Joshua Long. What started as Long's doctoral thesis is now a book about the struggle to “keep Austin weird” while also maintaining a thriving economy. Bring this book along on your Labor Day vacation to delve into Austin's delicate balancing act between growth and tradition.
  3. Austinist. We know most of our readers don't live in Austin, but if you follow Austinist, you can pretend you do. This weekday news and culture website shares all the latest events, exhibits, shows, specials, and other happenings from our favorite quirky city.
  4. Exploring Historic Austin. Revisit our preservation-centric Google Map to not only see the National Preservation Conference sites and field sessions, but also to understand just how much history fills the Austin landscape.
  5. CNN Video: Arts Center Re-uses to Rebuild. Zero in on one prime example of preservation in action -- how the Palmer Auditorium saved millions of dollars by re-using the building's existing materials and transforming itself into a state-of-the-art performing arts center.

Ok, your turn -- what other websites, books, people, or plans do you know of that can help turn visitors into in-the-know Austinites ahead of the National Preservation Conference?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

Beat the Heat at Austin's Frigid Frog

Posted on: August 5th, 2010 by Julia Rocchi 1 Comment

 

We've reached epic levels of humidity here at our DC HQ, but that's nothing compared to Austin's broiling summer temps. In fact, when Jason traveled to Austin to film this next video, he was already melting on the asphalt ... and that was only in May.

Luckily, Austonians know that the simplest of summer treats -- the humble snow cone -- is the most powerful tool in restoring a healthy balance. Enter SoCo vendor The Frigid Frog, which relies on local customers, its trusty trailer, and exotic flavors like 'Tiger's Blood' to keep Austin cool.

Cue mouth-watering goodness ...

Though the National Preservation Conference isn't until October (when it promises to be cooler), now's the time to reserve your hot spot! Register here.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

Field Trip to Bastrop! Who Wants BBQ?

Posted on: August 3rd, 2010 by Julia Rocchi

 

It might be hard to believe, but people occasionally do leave Austin. And when they do, downtown Bastrop is one destination that's worth the effort.

In this video, Jason leaves the bright moonlights behind and day-trips to this historic small town to chat with Susan Wendel (president of the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce) and work the lunch line at Billy's Pit BBQ with owner Billy Reed.

Oh, and there's a giraffe. With boots on. Check it out.

Bastrop is a field session at the 2010 National Preservation Conference. Join us there and in Austin by registering now.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

You and I and Moonlight in … Austin?

Posted on: July 29th, 2010 by Julia Rocchi 2 Comments

 

Austin's weird, but is it alien-weird? It sure seems that way if you look at the city at night, thanks to 17 historic moonlight towers.

I can hear your question now: What the heck is a moonlight tower? For the answer, let's turn to our trusty tour guide Jason, who shows and tells you the background of these only-in-Austin structures in this video.

Two days left to register for the National Preservation Conference at the early bird prices! Come join us and be illuminated.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.