Republic Square: A Brief History

A Capsule History of Republic Square

Republic Square: A Brief History

Austin was born under the oak trees of Republic Square on August 1, 1839, when 306 lots of the newly surveyed, square-mile town were sold at auction. Excluded from the auction were four unnamed public squares that were to be preserved forever as gathering places for the citizens. Only three of those squares remain today -- Republic and Brush Squares and Wooldridge Park.

In the 1870s, the neighborhood around what was then "Hemphill Square" was socially diverse, with a mixture of small residences and businesses. Historian Marta Cotera says that by the late 19th century the neighborhood was principally Mexican-American, and the park itself was then known as Guadalupe. As people of color were pushed or pulled eastward in the 1920s and 30s, many of the residences around Guadalupe Park were replaced by warehouses, car lots, lumber yards, ice houses, and printers.

In 1950, the square became a parking lot. In 1976, following efforts by the Sierra Club and other groups, the block was rededicated as Republic Square. A strong revitalization movement, complete with designs for a water wall and concession stands, was initiated for the state's sesquicentennial celebration of 1986. But the indefinite postponement of the construction of the Austin Museum of Art diminished public interest in improving the square at that time.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Chale Nafus
B-Boy City Freestylin'
B-Boy City Freestylin'
Roméo Navarro is bringing freestyle dance out of the underground

Oct. 25, 2002

Up South
Up South
Blowing "Up" with wordsmith Bavu Blakes

Aug. 30, 2002

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Republic Square, Wooldridge Park, Brush Square, Hemphill Square, Sierra Club, Marta Cotera, Austin Museum of Art

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle