In the 1830s, pioneers began to settle the area in central Austin along the Colorado River. In 1839, the site was chosen to replace Houston as the capital of the Republic of Texas and was incorporated under the name "Waterloo". Shortly afterward, the name was changed to Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas" and the republic's first secretary of state. The city grew throughout the 19th century and became a center for government and education with the construction of the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin. After a lull in growth from the Great Depression, Austin resumed its development into a major city, and by the 1980s it emerged as a center for technology and business. A number of Fortune 500 companies have headquarters or regional offices in Austin, including Amazon.com, Apple Inc., Cisco, eBay, General Motors, Google, IBM, Intel, Oracle Corporation, Paypal, Texas Instruments, 3M, and Whole Foods Market. Dell's worldwide headquarters is located in nearby Round Rock, a suburb of Austin.
Residents of Austin are known as Austinites. They include a diverse mix of government employees, college students, musicians, high-tech workers, and blue-collar workers. The city's official slogan promotes Austin as "The Live Music Capital of the World", a reference to the city's many musicians and live music venues, as well as the long-running PBS TV concert series Austin City Limits. The city also adopted "Silicon Hills" as a nickname in the 1990s due to a rapid influx of technology and development companies. In recent years, some Austinites have adopted the unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird", which refers to the desire to protect small, unique, and local businesses from being overrun by large corporations. In the late 19th century, Austin was known as the "City of the Violet Crown", because of the colorful glow of light across the hills just after sunset. Even today, many Austin businesses use the term "Violet Crown" in their name. Austin is known as a "clean-air city" for its stringent no-smoking ordinances that apply to all public places and buildings, including restaurants and bars.
U.S. News & World Report named Austin the #1 place to live in the U.S. for 2017 and 2018. In 2016, Forbes ranked Austin #1 on its "Cities of the Future" list, then in 2017 placed Austin #1 on its list for the "Next Biggest Boom Town in the U.S." Also in 2017, Forbes awarded the South River City neighborhood of Austin its #2 ranking for "Best Cities and Neighborhoods for Millennials". WalletHub named Austin the #6 best place in the country to live for 2017. The FBI ranked Austin as the #2 safest major city in the U.S. for 2012.
Austin, Travis County and Williamson County have been the site of human habitation since at least 9200 BC. The area's earliest known inhabitants lived during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age) and are linked to the Clovis culture around 9200 BC (11,200 years ago), based on evidence found throughout the area and documented at the much-studied Gault Site, midway between Georgetown and Fort Hood.
When settlers arrived from Europe, the Tonkawa tribe inhabited the area. The Comanches and Lipan Apaches were also known to travel through the area. Spanish colonists, including the Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre expedition, traveled through the area for centuries, though few permanent settlements were created for some time. In 1730, three missions from East Texas were combined and reestablished as one mission on the south side of the Colorado River, in what is now Zilker Park, in Austin. The mission was in this area for only about seven months, and then was moved to San Antonio de Béxar and split into three missions.