Zilker Park Historic District
Austin skyline from Zilker Park
|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 the heart of south Austin (near Barton Springs Pool and Lady Bird Lake) 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. It was developed into the park during the Great Depression in the 1930s. 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 park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on 1997.
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. In 2006, the Rolling Stones played in front of 42,000 fans at Zilker Park in their only Austin appearance to date.
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. 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.
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. In 1934 the park was named Zilker Metropolitan Park, after its donor and patron.
Attractions within the park include:
- Austin Nature & Science Center
- Barton Springs Pool
- Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center - features the "Splash! Into the Edwards Aquifer" exhibit about the natural history of the Barton Springs
- Zilker Botanical Garden
- The Zilker Zephyr 12 in (305 mm) gauge miniature railway
- Zilker Hillside Theater
- Zilker Summer Musical (every summer at the Zilker Hillside Theatre)
- Zilker soccer and volleyball fields
- Zilker polo field
- Numerous historical markers and sites, concession stands, and picnic areas.
- Zilker Park Kite Festival
- Austin City Limits Music Festival
- Annual Rugby Tournament
- Zilker Gardens Festival
- Ballet in the Park
- Blues on the Green
- Freedom Festival and Fireworks
- Zilker Park Fall Jazz Festival
- Zilker Park Tree Lighting and Trail of Lights
- Austin Shakespeare Festival
- Annual Summer Musical (broadway musical) in the park
- Barton Springs diving championship
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- Gray, Christopher (27 October 2006). "TCB: Music news". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- Psencik, Katey. "Zilker Park: 350 acres of land, centuries of history and culture". KVUE. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "Zilker Metropolitan Park". City of Austin. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "Andrew Jackson Zilker". Austin Public Library. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
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