About

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    Image by Michael Knox

The Story

Edwin Waller’s original design of Austin consisted of a grid with a central square (Capitol Square) and four smaller, secondary “public squares.” In 1888, the squares were named Brush, Hamilton (now First Baptist Church), Bell (now Wooldridge), and Hemphill (now Republic).


Austin’s leaders saw little value in parks and public spaces, initially. Although the original city plan set aside public land, the city quickly found other ways to use these spaces for storage, garbage dumps, or other city services. Between 1950 and the early 1970s, Republic Square functioned as a parking lot.


Returning Republic Square to its original purpose began in 1976 as part of the U.S. Bicentennial celebration. Austin chose the current name, Republic Square, in tribute to the Republic of Texas.


Through a unique public-private partnership, the Downtown Austin Alliance, Austin Parks Foundation, and the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department have partnered to renovate the park and elevate its status once again as an important gathering place in the heart of downtown Austin.

The History

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Bird’s Eye View of the City of Austin, Travis County, Texas
Madison, WI: J.J. Stoner, 1873 Map #L-20 Courtesy of Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

Austin's Birthplace

Austin's Birthplace

Edwin Waller’s original design of Austin consisted of a grid with a central square (Capitol Square) and four smaller, secondary “public squares.” The first 306 lots of the city of Austin were sold at auction in 1839 under the Auction Oaks. In 1888, the squares were named Brush, Hamilton (now Republic), Bell (now Wooldridge), and Hemphill (no longer a public square).

1976: The Bicentennial

1976: The Bicentennial

After decades as a parking lot, Republic Square returned to its original purpose in 1976 as part of the U.S. Bicentennial celebration. The current name, Republic Square, was chosen then as a tribute to the Republic of Texas.
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Image by Unknown

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Douglass, Neal. [Walker's Austex Chili Company], photograph, 1948; (accessed March 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Roots of TexMex Cuisine

Roots of TexMex Cuisine

The soul of Republic Square is food, and that food is TexMex. In early years, vendors would sell tamales and candies in the square. Walker’s Austex Chile Company, located near the square, employed many people from the local neighborhoods. The food tradition continues today with the Sustainable Food Center’s Downtown Farmers’ Market, held each Saturday morning at the square.

Guadalupe Park

Guadalupe Park

By 1905, the neighborhood around Republic Square largely identified with Austin’s Mexican population. Three churches were established near the square, including Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. Locals at that time would call it “Guadalupe Park.” The square often hosted concerts and dances, church fundraisers, and the annual celebration of Mexico’s independence, Diez y Seis de Septiembre.
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Image # AR.2009.047(012). Jesse Herrera Photography Collection