Zilker Park

Last updated
Zilker Park Historic District
Austin skyline from Zilker Park
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Location Austin, Texas
Coordinates 30°15′49″N97°46′36″W / 30.26361°N 97.77667°W / 30.26361; -97.77667 Coordinates: 30°15′49″N97°46′36″W / 30.26361°N 97.77667°W / 30.26361; -97.77667
Built 1917
Architect Page, Charles H.; Dale, Fred A.
Architectural style Other, Moderne
NRHP reference #


Added to NRHP May 23, 1997

Zilker Metropolitan Park is a recreational area in south Austin, Texas at the juncture of Barton Creek and the Colorado River that comprises over 350 acres (142 ha) of publicly owned land. It is named after its benefactor, Andrew Jackson Zilker, who donated the land to the city in 1917. The land was developed into a park during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Today the park serves as a hub for many recreational activities and the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake, both of which run next to the park. The large size of the park makes it a capable venue for large-scale events such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Zilker Park Kite Festival. The park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on 1997.

Austin, Texas State capital city in Texas, United States

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2017 estimate, Austin had a population of 950,715 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,115,827 as of July 1, 2017. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

Barton Creek river in the United States of America

Barton Creek is a tributary that feeds the Colorado River as it flows through the Texas Hill Country. The creek passes through some of the more scenic areas in Greater Austin, surrounded in many parts by a greenbelt of protected lands that serves as a habitat for many indigenous species of flora and fauna. The creek passes through Barton Creek Greenbelt and is fed by Barton Springs.

Colorado River (Texas) river in Texas

The Colorado River is an 862-mile (1,387 km) long river in the U.S. state of Texas. It is the 18th longest river in the United States and the longest river with both its source and its mouth within Texas.



The land surrounding Barton Springs was claimed by its namesake, William Barton, in the 1830s for his cattle ranch. In the 1860s it was acquired by the Rabb family, who operated mills on Barton Creek. [2] In the early twentieth century Andrew Jackson Zilker bought a 350-acre (140 ha) plot of land between the Colorado River and Barton Creek, including the Springs, and used the spring water in his ice-making business. Zilker sold his land to the City of Austin in a series of sales in 1917, 1923 and 1931; he donated the proceeds of the sale to a trust dedicated to funding Austin's public schools. [3] [4]

Barton Springs

Barton Springs is a set of four natural water springs located at Barton Creek on the grounds of Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, resulting from water flowing through the Edwards Aquifer. The largest spring, Main Barton Spring supplies water to Barton Springs Pool, a popular recreational destination in Austin. The smaller springs are located nearby, two with man-made structures built to contain and direct their flow. The springs are the only known habitat of the Barton Springs Salamander, an endangered species.

Watermill structure that uses a water wheel or turbine to drive a mechanical process

A watermill or water mill is a mill that uses hydropower. It is a structure that uses a water wheel or water turbine to drive a mechanical process such as milling (grinding), rolling, or hammering. Such processes are needed in the production of many material goods, including flour, lumber, paper, textiles, and many metal products. These watermills may comprise gristmills, sawmills, paper mills, textile mills, hammermills, trip hammering mills, rolling mills, wire drawing mills.

Andrew Jackson Zilker American politician and philanthropist

Andrew Jackson Zilker (1858–1934) was a political figure and philanthropist in Austin, Texas, after whom Zilker Park was named. He was the last private owner of Barton Springs.

In the 1930s the city transformed the ranch into a space for public recreation, building park amenities and buildings with help from the Civil Works Administration. Barton Springs Pool was given a concrete dam and an enlarged swimming area. [2] In 1934 the park was named Zilker Metropolitan Park, after its donor and patron. [3]

Civil Works Administration former job creation program implemented by the United States Government

The Civil Works Administration (CWA) was a short-lived job creation program established by the New Deal during the Great Depression in the United States to rapidly create manual-labor jobs for millions of unemployed workers. The jobs were merely temporary, for the duration of the hard winter of 1933–34. President Franklin D. Roosevelt unveiled the CWA on November 8, 1933, and put Harry L. Hopkins in charge of the short-term agency.

Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool is a recreational outdoor swimming pool that is filled entirely with water from nearby natural springs. It is located on the grounds of Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. The pool exists within the channel of Barton Creek and utilizes water from Main Barton Spring, the fourth largest spring in Texas. The pool is a popular venue for year-round swimming, as its temperature hovers between about 68 °F (20 °C) and 74 °F (23 °C) year round.


Winter canoeing on Barton Creek in Zilker Park Zilker canoe.jpg
Winter canoeing on Barton Creek in Zilker Park

In addition to general-purpose lawns, sports fields, cross country courses, historical markers, concession stands and picnic areas, the park includes numerous public attractions. [5] The Zilker Botanical Garden features several independently maintained gardens located near the center of the park and hosts the Zilker Gardens Festival every spring. The Austin Nature & Science Center offers ecological exhibits, nature hike trails, and children's educational programming. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden adjoins the southeast end of the park, displaying sculptural works by artist Charles Umlauf and others. The Zilker Hillside Theater hosts regular performances by local theatre companies, including free "Shakespeare in the Park" every May and an annual summer musical. Barton Springs Pool adjoins the park on the east, offering public swimming; other water activities are available in Barton Creek. The Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center by Barton Springs Pool offers exhibits about the natural history of the Edwards Aquifer that feeds Barton Springs. Every winter the 155-foot (47 m) Zilker Holiday Tree is illuminated, along with a Trail of Lights display. The Zilker Zephyr 12 in (305 mm) gauge miniature railway carries passengers on a tour around the park. [3]

Zilker Botanical Garden

The Zilker Botanical Garden is a botanical garden of varied topography located on the south bank of the Colorado River at 2220 Barton Springs Road, near downtown Austin, Texas, United States.

Charles Umlauf American artist

Charles Umlauf was an American sculptor and teacher who was born in South Haven, Michigan. His sculptures can be found in churches, numerous public institutions, outdoor locations, and museums, including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as in many private collections. Umlauf received a number of accolades, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Ford Foundation Grant.

Edwards Aquifer

The Edwards Aquifer is one of the most prolific artesian aquifers in the world. Located on the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas, it is the source of drinking water for two million people, and is the primary water supply for agriculture and industry in the aquifer’s region. In addition, the Edwards Aquifer feeds the Comal and San Marcos springs, provides springflow for recreational and downstream uses in the Nueces, San Antonio, Guadalupe, and San Marcos river basins, and is home to several unique and endangered species.

The park's amenities and wide open spaces allow it to host a variety of large events each year. Most notably, the Austin City Limits Music Festival fills the park for two weekends each fall with numerous live musical performances by prominent artists.

Austin City Limits Music Festival annual music festival held in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas

The Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival is an annual music festival held in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas on two consecutive three-day weekends. Inspired by the KLRU/PBS music series of the same name, the festival is produced by Austin-based company C3 Presents, which also produces Lollapalooza. The reputation of the ACL television show helped contribute to the success of the first festival.

See also

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