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Austin Neighborhood Profiles : Barton Hills

Aug 18, 2008
The residential neighborhood around Barton Springs which is now called Barton Hills is one of the earliest settlements in the Austin area, and the community was originally a small town itself. This unique neighborhood is so old that dinosaur footprints dating back millions of years have been found on the banks of the creek and springs!

More recently, shortly after the Texas Revolution in 1836, William Barton, for whom the community was named, patented the land near Barton Springs and named the springs for his three daughters. Prior to that, the Spanish had established three settlements around the springs in the early 1700s, and the creek and community were called Spring Creek at the time, which was in the Mexican state of Coahuala, but later granted to Benjamin Milam and referred to as Milam's Colony.

In 1875, passage could be bought from Austin to Barton Hills on the Steamboat Sunbeam for 50 cents round trip, and later, in the early twentieth century, the land was acquired by Andrew J. Zilker and deeded to the City of Austin as a park in 1918 and later 1931, on the condition that the city support educational programs. Robert E. Lee was also an early visitor to the area, and a well known street in the neighborhood is named for him today.

One of the earliest architects who built homes in the area was named A.D. Stenger, and his eclectic "contemporary" style, which favored low, sloping roofs and decks and balconies which extended into the treetops, was well known and he was frequently compared to Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1956, the neighborhood was named in Austin's Parade of Homes as the world's largest air-conditioned subdivision, and the neighborhood was later subdivided by S.R. Sheppard, among others, into six sections with 1585 planned lots on 535 acres of land.

In 1990, the population of Barton Hills was 6,796, and today it is over 9,000, with 8,036 residents being reported in the census of 2000, so the area is expanding rapidly as well. Today, there is an active neighborhood association, named for the neighborhood, and many schools, churches, small grocery stores and other small businesses around Barton Hills Drive.

There are also many activities and events in Zilker Park, which is the home of the Barton Springs Pool and hike and bike trails, as well as Umlauf Sculpture Gardens and the Zilker Botanical Gardens. In addition, there are and many campsites, picnic tables, and the Austin Nature Center in the park, which includes a small wild animal habitat which features animals, birds, reptiles, and other forms of wildlife native to central Texas.

The Barton Creek Hike and Bike Trail runs the length of the neighborhood, with entry points in various locations, and Campbell's Hole, a historic swimming hole which is formed from the waters of the creek and springs, is a popular spot for neighborhood children and families, as well as their dogs, since the trails are ideal for dog walking and hiking.

Barton Hills Elementary School is directly across from the greenbelt, and St. Mark's Episcopal Church, at the corner of Barton Hills Drive and Barton Skyway, is a pristine and very majestic neighborhood church which features a serene meditation walk on the grounds behind the church replete with tables, benches, and quiet, peaceful spots for prayer, worship, and meditation.

Since the neighborhood is adjacent to the Mopac Expressway, the area is easily accessible to visitors and residents alike, and with its natural beauty, many amenities, history, and gracious homes, it is one of the most popular and well-respected neighborhoods in Austin, for good reason!
About the Author
Ki works as a realtor in the Austin real estate market. His site provides information on barton hills homes along with a search of the Austin MLS.
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