Northwest Hills, Austin, Texas
Northwest Hills map
|Founded by||Barrow family|
78731 or 78759
|Area code(s)||512 and 737|
Northwest Hills, sometimes referred to as Far West after its main street, is a suburb in the northwestern part of Austin, Texas, United States. The neighborhood is home to the largest concentration of Jewish residents in Austin, and includes a 40-acre complex housing a number of Jewish community organizations, synagogues, and schools.
David Barrow Sr. and Edward Barrow, along with their associate Chuck Stahl and David Barrow Jr., were responsible for much of Austin's expansion in the flatlands and in the mountain regions during most of the 1950s and 1960s. David Sr. was also primarily responsible for the eventual construction of Texas State Highway Loop 1 ("Mopac"), the highway that stretches on the east side of the neighborhood. He helped construct Mopac to help the flow of traffic for residents who lived in the northwestern quadrant of the city. Before Mopac was formed in 1966, most Northwest Hills residents had to commute to Lamar Boulevard, or sometimes as far as Interstate 35, to reach downtown, where most of them worked. He ran studies that showed that Austin needed better streets for northwestern residents.
The first properties the Barrows bought in Northwest Hills were on Balcones Drive. They then moved to the lands at Mount Bonnell, the ones that overlook the Colorado River, and began to develop properties there. Gradually, they developed lands further into the hills, expanding present-day Northwest Hills. Initially, the Barrows had no intention of expanding into Northwest Hills. They believed, however, that the affluent growth of the city was apt for northwestern Austin, and that if Austin were to ever build an area for that segment of the population, the design would take place in hilly terrains like Northwest Hills. The Barrows thus gradually began buying properties in the area by picking few parcels of land in sparse locations, developing them, and then moving to more rugged lands. Most of the lands in Northwest Hills were owned by M.E. Hart, a Canadian businessman, and a man known as Capitan Knox. The Barrows struck a deal with Hart and agreed to buy the lands from him at a rolling option, meaning that they would buy them in parts and purchase them at market price. Both of them benefited from the agreement since the Barrows did not have the capital to purchase upfront, while Hart sold the properties at an increasing market price since the values of the lands grew due to the neighborhood developments. The Barrows and their associates came to own 2,500 acres (1,000 ha) of the 3,500 acres (1,400 ha) of developed land in northwest Austin by the 1950s.
The development of the lands by the Barrows were considered unique for its time. When they put together a design for the neighborhood, they wanted to create a "new" town while drawing from other developed lands of Austin's core urban area. Balcones Drive, which borders the eastern part of Northwest Hills, was intended to serve as a counterpart to downtown's Colorado River. Far West Boulevard, which traverses Northwest Hills from east to west, was conceived to be comparable to Congress Avenue, the main street in downtown Austin. The developments by the Barrows were also considered unique because of the plan to include a Missouri Pacific Railroad system next to the neighborhood, as well as plans to have Far West Boulevard empty into Airport Boulevard, a main thoroughfare in the southeastern part of Austin.
Northwest Hills is located on the northwestern side of Austin. The neighborhood is sometimes referred to as Far West after its main street, Far West Boulevard, which stretches from Mopac on the east and goes deep into the residential homes on the west prior to reaching the Ladera Norte street, close to Capital of Texas Highway. The commercial area between Mopac and Mesa Drive, which intersects with Far West Boulevard, is the biggest commercial area of the neighborhood. The boulevard hosts several local and national businesses, stores, restaurants, apartments, and business offices. The streets adjacent to Far West Boulevard are the most densely populated areas of Northwest Hills.
Architecture and societal structure
Most of the houses in Northwest Hills area feature Colonial, Californian ranch, or Texas Tuscan villa-style architectures. Beyond Mesa Drive, many of the homes have a western Austin style: big family homes with large garages, landscaped yards, and old trees. The common design is brick and limestone. The community is mostly middle and upper-middle class, and is often cited as being "upscale".
Residents are usually quite involved with the community, and they have worked together with the City of Austin on zoning issues to ensure that the neighborhood continues to experience high-quality living standards. Despite being mostly family-residential, the area is also quite popular with college students due to the area's condominiums, townhouses, and apartment complexes. Most of the students live in the lower part of the neighborhood, in streets like Greystone and Wood Hallow, which connect with Far West Boulevard.
Northwest Hills is home to the largest concentration of Jewish residents in Austin. Situated just north of Far West Boulevard is the Dell Jewish Community Campus, a 40-acre complex founded in 2000 by Michael Dell, chief executive officer of Dell, a multinational computer technology corporation based in the Greater Austin area. Located at 7300 Hart Lane, the complex houses Shalom Austin (formerly the Jewish Community Association of Austin), an umbrella organization which includes the Jewish Federation of Greater Austin, the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service, and the Jewish Foundation of Austin & Central Texas. Religious institutions on the campus include the Austin Jewish Academy, Congregation Tiferet Israel (Modern Orthodox), Congregation Agudas Achim (Conservative), Temple Beth Shalom (Reform), and Congregation Kol Halev (Progressive).
Christian churches in Northwest Hills include Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, and St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic Church.
Every year since 1972, the Northwest Austin Civic Association (NWACA), which includes residents from Northwest Hills, hosts a Fourth of July parade. The parade, in which over 2,000 Austinites participate on average each year, features a band, dance teams, antique vehicles, miniature pets, fire trucks, and a so-called Ladies Lawn Chair Brigade, where female residents march the street dressed in red, white, and blue and carrying aluminum chairs.
Northwest Hills is located in the Austin Independent School District. Schools located in Northwest Hills include:
- Doss Elementary School
- Murchison Middle School.
- St. Theresa's Catholic School. It is next to the church under the same name.
Far West Boulevard is connected to Mopac, which stretches from north to south Austin and serves as a viable alternative for Interstate 35. Mopac has an 11-mile toll road, the Mopac Express Lane that runs both northbound and southbound, from Cesar Chavez Street (south) to Parmer Lane (north).
- Orum 2002, p. 311; 316–320; 325; 343–344.
- Floyd, Mikela (July 10, 2015). "Hottest Neighborhoods: Northwest Hills/Far West". Austin Monthly. Archived from the original on September 25, 2017.
- "Northwest Hills: Quiet West Austin Neighborhood Home to Many Students". West Campus Living. 2007. Archived from the original on June 29, 2008.
- "A Visitor's Guide to Austin and The University of Texas" (PDF). Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. p. 18. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
- Google (October 1, 2017). "Ladera Norte and Far West Boulevard" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
- "Community Resources". Shalom Austin. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
- Cone, Tonyia (April 2010). "For All Generations, For Generations to Come: Visionaries built foundation for Austin Jewish community's central address". The Jewish Outlook. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
When you drive in, you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere — in the middle of Northwest Hills, the largest Jewish population in the city. How in the world could this be here?
- "Shalom Austin History and Overview". Shalom Austin. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- Gwynne, S.C. (February 7, 2013). "Dell's Great Success Story". Texas Monthly.
- "Jewish Federation of Greater Austin". Shalom Austin. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- Maclaggan, Corrie (14 December 2014). "New Life in Austin for Brenham Synagogue". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
- List of Christian Churches in Northwest Hills:
- Gandara, Ricardo (July 3, 2010). "Ladies of the lawn chair perk up neighborhood parade". Austin American-Statesman.
- "Annual 4th of July Parade and Freedom Festival". Visit Austin. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- Lina, Donna (2007). "Northwest Hills". Austin American-Statesman. Archived from the original on November 28, 2007.
- Google (October 1, 2017). "St. Theresa's Catholic School" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
- "600s, UT Shuttles" (PDF). Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority. pp. 1–3.
- "MoPac Express Lane". Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- "How and Where Can I Access the Express Lanes?". Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
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