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Have you ever wondered what’s behind the names of some of the neighborhoods in Austin? Some names have been made up for business and gentrification purposes. However, several of Austin’s neighborhoods have much deeper histories—and connections to the city’s long-ago status as a place for settlers to flock to. Here are the stories behind Austin’s most notable neighborhood names.
- Barton Hills: Named after William “Uncle Billy” Barton, who settled near the natural spring, now known as Barton Springs. Fun fact: Barton originally named the springs after his daughters Parthenia, Eliza, and Zenobia — but it didn’t stick. “Hey, anyone up for a dig at Parthenia, Eliza, and Zenobia on Saturday?”
- Bouldin: Named after Colonel James Bouldin. Bouldin moved to Austin from Missouri in the 1850’s.
- Bryker Woods: Named in 1936 after combining the first 3 letters of the last names of the neighborhoods 2 developers: J.C. Bryant and McFall Kerbey.
- Cesar Chavez: Named after the Mexican-American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist.
- Cherrywood: Named after the major road that bisects the neighborhood, Cherrywood Road. This road was originally named Chestnut Street and the neighborhood was first cotton fields, pastures, and woods before it became full of homes.
- Davenport Ranch: Named after the wealthy widow of a South Texas oil tycoon, Osceola Heard Davenport. She assembled a 9-acre ranch in the now neighborhood in the 1950’s.
- Govalle: Named after the Swedish immigrants that moved to Texas in the mid-1800’s. Swen Magnus, who established his home in the area in the 1850’s, named the neighborhood, “GoValla,” a Swedish phrase that means “good grazing land.”
- Hancock: Named after Lewis Hancock, Jr. His father, Lewis Hancock, was mayor of Austin from 1895 to 1897.
- Hyde Park: Founded in 1891 by Monroe Martin Shipe, he named the neighborhood after the major park in Central London, Hyde Park. Shipe wanted to market the area as an “affluent neighborhood” thus naming it something British.
- MLK: Named after Martin Luther King Jr., the Christian minister and activist who lead the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to 1968.
- Mueller: Named after the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. The former site of the airport closed in 1999 when Austin-Bergstrom opened in the South Eastern part of Austin.
- Oak Hill: Previously named Shiloh and Oatmanville, this neighborhood was named after a post office named Oak Hill that was built in 1870 on the land.
- Pemberton Heights: Named for Walter Pemberton Fisher and James Fisher. Both men were cousins of Samuel William Fisher, who was president of the Austin Development Company.
- Rosewood: Named after the city park in the neighborhood, Rosewood Park. The park site was originally the site of Rudolph Bertram’s home, a local store owner. In the 1930’s, the site became a park with baseball fields, a swimming pool, and more.
- SoCo: Named after the road South Congress because Congress extends south of the Colorado River. Before 1852, the road did not extend that far until James Gibson Swisher donated the land for postal routes and travel to San Antonio.
- St. Edward’s: Named after the university in Austin, which was named after Edward the Confessor and King in 1877.
- Steiner Ranch: Named after Thomas Casper “Buck” Steiner, who came to Texas in the early 1900’s. Steiner was known for the rodeo and saddlery business.
- Sunset Valley: Named for its landscape of rolling hills and wooded valley.
- Tarrytown: Named after the founding family’s summer retreat in Tarrytown, New York.
- Travis Heights: Named after William Barre “Buck” Travis who was a 19th century American lawyer and soldier. He died at the Battle of the Alamo as a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army.
- Triangle: Named after the three-way intersection including Harris Triangle Park, Jarratt Triangle Park, and Wooldridge Triangle Park.
- Zilker: Named after political figure and philanthropist, Andrew Jackson Zilker, who deeded about 35 acres of land in that area. Fun fact, he was the last private owner of Barton Springs.
And if you want to ogle some of the prettiest homes in Austin, head to Shadow Lawn! The district in Hyde Park is home to several historic homes from the turn of the 20th century. Founder of the neighborhood, Monroe Martin Shipe, had his home here on the corner of 39th Street and Avenue G. Take a stroll through the neighborhood to see some of Austin’s most iconic and historic homes.
There you have it. Now you know how some of the best Austin neighborhoods got their names. We’ll save how you say some of these neighborhoods for another time! But if you want to know how to say some of Austin’s most famous streets, learn all about that here.