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Austin Treasures: Online Exhibits from the Austin History Center Austin History Center Home Austin Treasures Home

star border View of the Capitol from a distance Capitol Views View of the Capitol from a distance View of the Capitol from a distance star border
View of the Capitol from a distance View of the Capitol from a distance
Photograph of military parade marching down Congress Avenue with Capitol in background
Military forces parade down Congress Avenue during World War I. Built in 1915, the Paramount Theater (center) was known as the Majestic until it was renamed in the 1930s. The Keystona Hotel is now the location of the Stephen F. Austin Hotel. [C 02096] enlarge image

Photograph of scene on Congress Avenue showing elephants and horses in the street with Capitol in background
The arrival of the circus was a major event for Austinites of the 1890s. The traditional circus parade traveled north on Congress Avenue, turned at the Capitol, and moved southward again on Congress Avenue. [PICA 03009] enlarge image

Photograph showing a horse grazing and young women walking across the grassy space northeast of the Capitol building
Northeast view of the Capitol, August, 1892. State office buildings and parking garages now stand in open spaces where horses grazed and children once played. [C 01623] enlarge image

Photograph looking up Congress to the Capitol from 10th Street
The remodeled Firemen's Monument (to the left of the walkway) was dedicated May 12, 1905. The paving of Congress Avenue, begun in January 1905, did not yet extend to the Capitol Grounds in this view. [C 00250] enlarge image

Photograph looking at Capitol from the northwest showing many residences and businesses in foreground
The northwest view of the Capitol from the intersection of 17th and Nueces was taken shortly after the building's completion. [AR X.16 Caldwell A-33] enlarge image

The Capitol in Perspective

The Capitol building, in its anchoring position at the head of Congress Avenue, has been a constant focal point for the capital city since its dedication. For decades it was the dominant feature in the surrounding landscape.

It has also witnessed the growth of Austin from a sleepy town to a thriving metropolis. Austin has experienced several cycles of booms and busts since its founding, and Congress Avenue has been affected by them all. Each boom period brought with it new structures on "The Avenue," such as bridges and buildings, and new features, such as streetcars and brick paving. For over one hundred years, until Interstate Highway-35 was finished in 1961, the Congress Avenue Bridge was a significant link of the main north-south route through Austin.

Today the Capitol no longer dominates the plains. High-rise buildings erected in the last 35 years compete with the Capitol for the wonder of the viewer. Yet after more than 110 years the strength of the building firm in its site prevails. For many visitors and residents, the drive north up Congress Avenue heading toward the magnificent Capitol still personifies the experience of being a part of the capital city of Texas.

Photograph looking at Capitol from present site of the University of Texas Press showing trees and fenced pasture land in foreground
Today this pastoral setting is the site of the University of Texas Press. [PICA 06262] enlarge image

Photograph showing the Capitol dome against a dark sky with a large funnel cloud swirling nearby
The May 4, 1922 tornado was the only major tornado in Austin's history. Although the Capitol was not damaged, 13 Austinites were killed, 44 injured, and property damages were estimated at over half a million dollars. [PICA 00406] enlarge image

Photograph showing the snow-covered south grounds of the Capitol Building
Snow in Austin is always an event. Two inches blanketed the city in January 1918 when this scene was recorded. [C06267] enlarge image
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Exhibit Overview Early Austin Capitols Design and Construction Dedication Ceremonies The Capitol in Use The Capitol in Perspective