Barton Springs: one of the crown jewels of Austin
The Chamber has a long history of addressing efforts to enhance the environment including several water-related projects like Barton Springs. Within Zilker Park, the three-acre pool is fed from underground springs. It has an average temperature of 68-70 degrees. Robert Redford – okay, we are totally name dropping – is said to have learned to swim there when he was five. Today, nearly 800,000 visitors take a dip.
In 1917, the Chamber of Commerce instituted and conducted a successful campaign on behalf of the city for the acquisition of Barton Springs, in addition to securing sufficient water for proposed military camps. These springs were a generous gift to the Austin Public Schools by A. J. Zilker.
The Chamber also worked with the Lions Club in 1922 to fund the construction of the first public bath house on the north bank of the creek.
Town Lake is also great
In addition to Barton Springs, the Chamber in 1959 was part of a five-person Town Lake Planning Committee established by the city to develop Town Lake. Through a significant effort and several years, the committee worked to ensure the lake and surrounding areas were as scenic and useful as possible. This included hike and bike trials.
According to comments by the late Vic Mathis, Austin Chamber Chairman from 1957-1983, the Town Lake project was adopted, but not without a lot of problems to solve.
“First a shoreline had to be established. Adjacent owners really didn't know where their property lines were out in that riverbed. Some had deeds that gave them land to the middle of the river, wherever that was. Another challenge was determining what type of zoning to establish on adjacent property, and which areas should be public lands for parks or other uses,” Mathis said.
Today the Austin Chamber continues to work with local and regional administrators to ensure Austin has the water capacity needed for both businesses and the community.
For 138 years, members of the Austin Chamber have had a passion for shaping our region into a great place to live, work and play. We have been engaged and involved with the founding of UT, SXSW, technology and innovation, the international airport, Barton Springs, and many other defining characteristics that make Austin’s culture unique. We are a community that is authentic, creative, caring, and diverse. These are some of the traits that have attracted more than 370 companies — and 270,000 new jobs—to our region in the last 11 years.