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Round Rock, Texas
City
City of Round Rock
Nickname(s): Daffodil Capital of Texas
Motto: "Sports Capital of Texas"
Country United StatesUnited States
State TexasTexas
Counties Williamson, Travis
Brushy Creek 1851
Area
 • Total 35.9 sq mi (93 km2)
 • Land 35.6 sq mi (92 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (1 km2)
Elevation 735 ft (224 m)
Population (2016)
 • Total 122,767 (US: 251st)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Zip codes 78664, 78665, 78680—78683
Area code(s) 512 & 737
FIPS code 48-63500
GNIS feature ID 1366966
Website roundrocktexas.gov

Round Rock is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, located in Williamson County (with a small part in Travis), which is a part of the Greater Austin, Texas metropolitan area. The population was 99,887 at the 2010 census.

The city straddles both sides of the Balcones Escarpment, a fault line in which the areas roughly east of IH-35 are flat and characterized by having black, fertile soils of the Blackland Prairie, and the west side of the Escarpment which consists mostly of hilly, karst-like terrain with little topsoil and higher elevations and which is part of the Texas Hill Country. Located about 20 miles (32 km) north of downtown Austin, Round Rock shares a common border with Austin at Texas State Highway 45.

In August 2008, Money magazine named Round Rock as the seventh-best American small city in which to live. Round Rock was the only Texas city to make the Top 10. In a CNN article dated July 1, 2009, Round Rock was listed as the second fastest-growing city in the country, with a population growth of 8.2% in the preceding year.

Round Rock has a strong public education system. According to the 2008 ratings from the Texas Education Agency, the Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD) ranks among the best in the state. Of 42 schools within it, twelve were rated exemplary and eleven are recognized.

Round Rock is perhaps best known as the international headquarters of Dell, which employs approximately 16,000 people at its Round Rock facilities. The presence of Dell along with other major employers, a strong economic development program, favorable tax rates, and major retailers such as IKEA and a Premium Outlet Mall, and the mixed use La Frontera center, have changed Round Rock from a sleepy bedroom community into its own self-contained "super suburb."

History

Prehistoric Round Rock

Round Rock and Williamson County have been the site of human habitation since at least 9,200 BC. The earliest known inhabitants of the area lived during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age), and are linked to the Clovis culture around 9,200 BC (11,200 years old) based on evidence found at the much-studied "Gault Site," midway between Georgetown and Fort Hood. One of the most important discoveries in recent times is that of the ancient skeletal remains dubbed "The Leanderthal Lady" because of its age and proximity to Leander, Texas. The site is 4 miles (6 km) west of Round Rock and was discovered by accident by Texas Department of Transportation workers while drilling core samples for a new highway. The site has been extensively studied for many years and samples carbon date to this particular Pleistocene period at approximately 10,500 years ago (8,500 BC). Prehistoric and Archaic Period "open occupation" campsites are also found throughout the county along streams and other water sources including Brushy Creek in Round Rock and the San Gabriel River in Georgetown, ten miles (16 km) north. These archeology dig sites show a much greater volume of evidence of Archaic Period inhabitants based on relics and flint tools recovered from burned rock middens. The earliest known "historical" Native American occupants, the Tonkawa, were a flint-working, hunting people who followed the buffalo on foot and periodically set fire to the prairie to aid them in their hunts. During the 18th century they made the transition to a horse culture and used firearms to a limited extent. There also appear to have been small numbers of Kiowa, Yojuane, Tawakoni, and Mayeye Native-Americans living in the county at the time of the earliest Anglo settlements. After they were crowded out by white settlement, the Comanches continued to raid settlements in the county until the 1860s. In the late 19th century, Native Americans were being pushed out of Central Texas.

As the area developed into a rural Anglo community, some of the modern paved roads actually followed the original Native-American pathways. One famous immigration route passed through Round Rock and is called the "Double File Trail" because the path was wide enough for two horsemen to ride side-by-side. It is part of a longer trail from north Texas that crossed the San Gabriel River in Georgetown, Brushy Creek in Round Rock, and the Colorado River in Austin. An elementary school in the Round Rock school district is named for the trail, Double File Trail Elementary School.

19th century history

The Round Rock of Round Rock Texas
The "round rock" of Round Rock, Texas, located in Brushy Creek along the historic Chisholm Trail

In 1851, a small community was formed on the banks of Brushy Creek, near a large round and anvil-shaped rock located in the middle of the creek. This round rock marked a convenient low-water crossing for wagons, horses, and cattle. The first postmaster called the community "Brushy," and the creek was called "Brushy Creek". But in 1854, at the suggestion of the postmaster, the small settlement was renamed Round Rock in honor of this now famous rock. After the Civil War, Jesse Chisholm began moving cattle from South Texas through Round Rock on the way to Abilene, Kansas. The route he established, which crossed Brushy Creek at the round rock, became known as the Chisholm Trail. Most of the old buildings, including the old Saint Charles Hotel, have been preserved. This historic area is now called "Old Town."

The Sam Bass era of the 1870s

Palm House Museum, Round Rock, TX IMG 4063
The Palm House Museum in Round Rock, Texas

Downtown Round Rock was the site of an historic gunfight and subsequent capture (and death) of the 19th-century American train robber Sam Bass, by the Texas Ranger Division on July 19, 1878. The Rangers followed Bass and his gang after they robbed the Fort Worth-to-Cleburne train. Bass was tracked to Round Rock and as he attempted to flee, Bass was shot and killed in a gun battle by Ranger George Herold and Ranger sergeant Richard Ware. Near Ware was Soapy Smith, a noted con man, and his cousin Edwin, who witnessed Ware's shot. Soapy exclaimed, "I think you got him." The event is known locally as the "Sam Bass Shootout." This shootout is re-created each year at the July 4 'Frontier Days' Celebration in Old Settlers Park. Bass is buried in Round Rock Cemetery, located northwest of "Old Town" on Sam Bass Road. His original headstone can be found on display at the Round Rock Public Library.

Cotton

In the first half of the 20th century the county's wealth came from the cotton fields. Cotton, row-crops, grapes, and truck farming were the predominant subsistence east of Interstate 35. West of the Balcones divide ranchers raised cattle, sheep and to a lesser extent goats. Due to Round Rock's favorable geographic location over the rich, fertile "blackland prairie" soils also known locally as the "black waxy" (due to the soil's high clay content), cotton was the largest economic driver at that time. Because of the soil and climate, this eco-region is ideally suited to crop agriculture. Nearby Taylor, Texas, east of Round Rock, was the primary cotton center where the crop was hauled for ginning (its seeds mechanically removed) at the cotton gin, compressed into bales, and shipped by train. Austin was also a cotton center for a time once the railroad arrived there in the 1870s. Cotton production and cattle raising, on a much smaller scale, continues today although primarily east of Round Rock.

Chisholm Trail Crossing Park

To preserve the heritage of the famous crossing, a Chisholm Trail Crossing Park was developed to provide visitors with a simulated scene of Round Rock's historical role in the Chisholm cattle drive. Commemorative plaques in the park tell of the history of Round Rock. The bronze sculptures of four steers and pioneer woman Hattie Cluck and her son, Emmitt, were commissioned by the city through donations from Round Rock residents. The sculptures depict Round Rock's history as a crossing location along the Chisholm Trail. The project plans include 18 to 20 additional bronze statues over time.

Old Settlers Association

OSAEntrance
The entrance to the Old Settlers Association facilities in Round Rock, Texas

Following the end of the American Civil War a group of Confederate veterans held a reunion in Georgetown on August 27, 1904, for the old settlers of Williamson County and their descendants. The invitation promised "good music, plenty to eat, and above all a warm welcome." The event was well-attended, and reunions — now called Old Settlers Association (OSA) reunions — have been held annually ever since. After the initial one, the event was moved to Round Rock and eventually a structure was built (along with three restored log cabins) in the Palm Valley area of Round Rock, in front of Old Settlers Park, just off Highway 79 in east Round Rock. All members of the organization are descendants of Williamson County residents prior to 1904. OSA has approximately 50 active members and 300 members total. The Old Settlers Association today is a social and educational group, with the purpose of facilitating social activities, as well as collecting and preserving important historical information and facts. The facilities are rented for meetings, arts and craft and collectable shows, events, parties, weddings and rehearsal dinners.

The economic impact of Interstate 35

In the 1950s, Taylor was the economic powerhouse in the county due to it being the center of cotton production and shipping and had a large population. So it was expected, then, that the proposed Interstate 35, part of the new Interstate Highway System would pass through Taylor on its way from Dallas to Austin. In fact, the original routing plans drawn by Highway Commissioner DeWitt Greer called for the "interregional" highway to go through Taylor. Some of the citizens and leadership of Taylor lobbied against the Taylor route citing multiple concerns ranging from the loss of farmland, to unwanted right of way (ROW) acquisition — it was proposed to be an astounding 300 feet (90 m) wide, unheard of before this time—the possibility of cutting farmers off from their fields or having their fields be located on opposite sides of the road, traffic noise, and loss of country life. No one even knew what an "Interregional Highway" would look like. Instead they wanted improvements to the farm-to-market roads and a straight route to Austin.

Meanwhile, Round Rock leaders wanted the highway to come their way as they were focused on the potential economic development opportunities it would bring. At that time no one had ever seen such a road as an "Interstate" (unless they had traveled to Germany to see the Autobahn or Connecticut), but then-Mayor Louis Henna lobbied hard at the Highway Commission for the Round Rock route. In June 1956, the fifteen-year debate over the form, funding and route of the Interstate was resolved. Due to the heavy lobbying effort, and not wanting to antagonize Taylor, the route was eventually changed and the highway was built along the edge of the Balcones Fault line running through Round Rock. The precise route was not without opposition, however, as the final route cut off "Old Town" to the west from what had become the more recent "downtown" area east of Interstate 35. The Interstate eventually made Round Rock into a viable and vibrant commercial center. Due to the Interstate and the reduction in the importance of cotton as a primary crop, Taylor is today a minor, modest town with a smaller population, while Round Rock has thrived and rapidly grown into the largest city in the county, attracting companies like Dell Computer and major retail centers. The transformation of Round Rock is detailed in a book by Linda Scarborough (publisher of the Williamson County Sun newspaper) titled Road, River and Ol' Boy Politics: A Texas County's Path from Farm to Supersuburb published by Texas State Historical Press.

Life as a bedroom community

By the 1990s, Round Rock was primarily a bedroom community with the majority of its employed residents working in Austin and then returning home after work to places like Round Rock and Georgetown where housing and land was less expensive. In the 1990s, Round Rock had few major employers and jobs other than local retail and other services, or ranching and farming. But in the late 1990s, that began to change as economic development became a major focus of the city and the Chamber of Commerce. Dell Corporation (later renamed Dell) moved its headquarters to Round Rock which has provided a significant number of jobs with 16,000 employees at its Round Rock headquarters .(See also the Business and economic development section in this article.)

Geography

Round Rock is located 17 miles (27 km) north of downtown Austin, and 10 miles (16 km) south of Georgetown. Its elevation is 709 ft (216 m).

According to the US Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.3 square miles (68.0 km2), of which 26.1 square miles (67.7 km2) are land and 0.1 square mile (0.3 km2) (0.50%) is water.

Prior to the 2010 census, the city annexed part of the Brushy Creek CDP, increasing its total area to 35.9 square miles (93 km2), of which, 35.6 square miles (92 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) is water.

Climate

The climate in this area is characterized by generally hot, humid summers and mild, cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Round Rock has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 628
1890 1,438 129.0%
1900 1,138 −20.9%
1910 1,245 9.4%
1920 900 −27.7%
1930 1,005 11.7%
1940 1,173 16.7%
1950 1,683 43.5%
1960 2,458 46.0%
1970 2,811 14.4%
1980 12,740 353.2%
1990 30,923 142.7%
2000 61,136 97.7%
2010 99,887 63.4%
Est. 2016 122,767 22.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
2013 Estimate

As of the 2010 census, there were 99,887 people and 37,223 households, residing in the city. There were 37,223 housing units with 20,364 owner-occupied homes costing at a median value of $163,400. The racial makeup of the city was 76.4% White, 9.4% African American, 0.4% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 5.7% from other races, and 3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race made up 25% of its population. According to a 2009 estimate by the U.S Census Bureau, the median income for a household was $69,892, and the median income for a family was $79,417.

There were 21,076 households out of which 47.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.5% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.4% were non-families. 18.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.87 and the average family size was 3.29.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 31.9% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 38.8% from 25 to 44, 16.3% from 45 to 64, and 4.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 99.1 males. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 96.3 men.

The per capita income for the city was $24,911.

Sister cities

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