Georgetown is a city in and the county seat of Williamson County, Texas, United States, with a population of 47,400 at the 2010 census and a population of 70,685 at the 2017 Census estimate. Georgetown is the 7th fastest growing city in the U.S as of May 14 2019.
Red Poppy Capital of Texas, , Gtown
Location of Georgetown, Texas
|Coordinates: 30°39′4″N 97°40′53″W|
|• Mayor||Dale Ross|
|• City Manager||David Morgan|
|• Total||54.3 sq mi (141 km2)|
|• Land||52.1 sq mi (135 km2)|
|• Water||2.3 sq mi (6 km2)|
|Elevation||755 ft (230 m)|
|• Density||870/sq mi (340/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
78626, 78627, 78628, 78633
|Area code(s)||512 and 737|
|GNIS feature ID||1357960|
It is 30 miles (48 km) from Austin. Southwestern University, the oldest university in Texas, founded in 1840, is located in Georgetown about one-half mile from the historic square. Sun City Texas is a large retirement-oriented and age-restricted development that constitutes more than one-third of Georgetown's population.
Georgetown has a notable range of Victorian commercial and residential architecture. In 1976, a local historic ordinance was passed to recognize and protect the significance of the historic central business district, and in 1977, the Williamson County Courthouse Historical District, containing some 46 contributing structures, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Georgetown is also known as the "Red Poppy" Capital of Texas for the red poppy (Papaver rhoeas) wildflowers planted throughout the city. Georgetown's Red Poppy Festival, which attracts up to 30,000 visitors annually, is held in April each year on the historic square.
Georgetown has been the site of human habitation since at least 9,000 BC, and possibly considerably before that. The earliest known inhabitants of the county, during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age), can be linked to the Clovis culture, a Paleo-Indian culture characterized by the manufacture of distinctive "Clovis points" that first appeared around 9200 BC, and possibly as early as 11,500 BC, at the end of the last glacial period. 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 a nearby community Leander, Texas. The site is immediately southwest of Georgetown and was discovered by accident by Texas Department of Transportation workers while core samples for a new highway were being drilled. The site has been extensively studied for many years, and samples carbon date the findings to the Pleistocene period, about 10,500 years ago (8500 BC). Archeological dig sites showing a much greater evidence of Archaic period inhabitants have been found in burned rock middens at several sites along the San Gabriel that are now inundated by Granger Lake and at the confluence of the North and South San Gabriel Rivers in Georgetown.
The earliest known historical occupants of the county, the Tonkawas, were a flint-working, hunting people who followed 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. Also, small numbers of Kiowa, Yojuane, Tawakoni, and Mayeye Indians apparently were living in the county at the time of the earliest Anglo settlements. As these native populations thinned due to non-indigenous settlements, the Comanches still continued to raid native peoples settlements in the county until the 1860s.
Georgetown was named for George Washington Glasscock, who donated the land for the new town. Early American and Swedish pioneers were attracted to the area's abundance of timber and good, clear water. In addition, the land was inexpensive and fertile. Georgetown is the county seat of Williamson County, which was formed on March 13, 1848, after the early settlers petitioned the state legislature to create it out of Milam County. The county was originally to have been named San Gabriel County, but was instead named after Robert McAlpin Williamson (Three-legged Willie), a Texas statesman and judge at the time.
Georgetown was an agrarian community for most of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Shawnee Trail, a cattle trail that led from Texas to the rail centers in Kansas and Missouri, crossed through Georgetown. The establishment of Southwestern University in 1873 and construction of a railroad in 1878 contributed to the town's growth and importance. A stable economy developed, based largely on agricultural activity. Cotton was the dominant crop in the area between the 1880s and the 1920s. Williamson County was once the top producer of cotton in Texas.
Primarily to transport cattle and bales of cotton, at one time, Georgetown was served by two national railroads, the International-Great Northern Railroad, which eventually was merged into the Missouri Pacific, and the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad. The regional Georgetown and Granger Railroad (GGR) was completed to Austin in 1904. Currently, Georgetown is served by the appropriately named Georgetown Railroad, a 'short line' railroad that uses portions of the former M-K-T and the I-GN to connect with the Union Pacific Railroad at Round Rock and at Granger.
Extensive damage and loss of life throughout the county from a 1921 flood led Georgetown to seek flood control. A low-pressure system from a hurricane settled in over Williamson County and brought more than 23 inches of rain in Taylor and more than 18 inches of rain in Georgetown. An estimated 156 persons perished in the flood, many of them farm laborers. The flood and its horrific destruction culminated in the building of a dam on the north fork of the San Gabriel River to create and impound Lake Georgetown, which opened officially on October 5, 1979. Both Georgetown and Round Rock own the water rights to Lake Georgetown for municipal water use.
Population growth and industrial expansion continued modestly in the 20th century until about 1960, when residential, commercial, and industrial development, due to major growth and urban expansion of nearby Austin, greatly accelerated. In 2008, Fortune Small Business magazine named Georgetown the number-two best city in the nation to "live and launch" a new business.
In March 2015, Georgetown announced that their municipal-owned utility, Georgetown Utility Systems, would begin buying 100% of its power for its customers from wind and solar farms by 2017, effectively making the city 100% green-powered.
A densely overgrown 1908–1910 Victorian house was found in Round Rock, Texas, where the La Frontera project now sits. It was cut into pieces, moved to Georgetown, and restored. It is known locally as the Burkland-Frisk House, as it was built by an early settler in Williamson County, Leonard Frisk, and was later owned by Tony Burkland, a relative of the Frisk family. The house originally was set across the street from an identical house which was used in the filming of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and which was also cut into seven pieces and was moved to Kingsland, Texas, to become part of the Antlers Hotel. It was moved in 2006 and restored by the developers of La Frontera, Don Martin and Bill Smalling (1953–2008), and sits on San Gabriel Village Blvd, prominently overlooking the South San Gabriel River. The house was a "pattern book" house, ordered from a catalog and assembled on site from a package of materials brought by wagon from a local lumber company. It was likely built between 1908 and 1910, and is now used as an office.
In the 1970s, Georgetown's downtown was bleak and featureless. In an effort to modernize and compete with suburban retail development, building owners in the ‘50s and ‘60s obscured one of their most priceless resources – their retail buildings. The Texas-Victorian streetscape was plastered with stucco, aluminum covers, brick, and multiple layers of white paint, but community leaders had begun putting new stock back into their architectural heritage.
Georgetown's resurrected interest in its historic resources came at a time when the cost of borrowing money was soaring. Interest rates near 20% might have been a deterrent elsewhere. In Georgetown, every bank offered significantly lower interest loans for the renewal of the town's grand Victorian buildings and facades. And rehabilitation tax credit programs in the 1980s made investing in historic property an even more lucrative enterprise. By 1984, 40 rehabilitations were complete. A mere two years after its Main Street program was founded, more than half the Main Street district had undergone some kind of positive transition. The city was recently named one of the best places to purchase a historic house. Today, Georgetown is home to one of the best preserved Victorian and pre-WW1 downtown historic districts, with the Beaux-Arts Williamson County Courthouse (1911) as its centerpiece. Due to its successful preservation efforts, Georgetown was named a national Main Street City in 1997, the first Texas city so designated.
Georgetown has three National Register Historic Districts:
- Williamson County Courthouse District
- Belford National District
- The University Avenue/Elm Street District
Georgetown is located at 30°39′04″N 97°40′53″W (30.651187, −97.681333), 26 miles (42 km) north of Austin's central business district. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.9 square miles (64.6 km2), of which 22.8 square miles (59.1 km2) are land and 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2) (8.42%) are covered by water.
Prior to the 2010 census, the city annexed part of the Serenada CDP, increasing its total area to 54.3 square miles (141 km2), of which, 52.1 square miles (135 km2) of it is land and 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2) is water-covered.
The city is located on the northeastern edge of Texas Hill Country. Portions of Georgetown are located on either side 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. Inner Space Cavern, a large cave, is a major tourist attraction found on the south side of the city, just west of Interstate 35, and is a large-scale example of limestone karst formations.
The North and Middle Forks of the San Gabriel River both run through the city, providing over 30 miles of hike and bike trails, several parks, and recreation for both residents and visitors.
- Major highways
Georgetown is home to five endangered species. Two are songbirds protected by the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve in Travis and Williamson Counties. Invertebrate species found only in Williamson County live in the cave-like fissures on the west side of Georgetown. Karst topography is the name for the honeycomb-type limestone formations (including caves, sinkholes, and fissures) that are typical in the county's limestone geology west of I-35.
In the 1990s, a small group of concerned landowners and developers formed the Northern Edwards Aquifer Resource Council, with the goal of obtaining a United States Fish and Wildlife Service 10-A permit (known as an Incidental Take Permit) for the entire county by identifying and preserving a sufficient number of caves with endangered species to ensure survival of the species. These species would be preserved through voluntary donations of land rather than required setbacks and other involuntary means typically enforced on landowners without an incidental take permit. The group transferred their successful work on an environmental impact statement to the county in 2002 and a county-wide 10-A permit was obtained in October 2008.
Georgetown, like much of Central Texas, is characterized by its long and hot summers with cooler, mild winters. The average summer temperature typically reaches 100 °F for several days during July and August. It is common for highs to be near 90 °F well into October, but by this time, the nights are noticeably cooler.
Winters in Georgetown have highs in the 50s and 60s, with a few days dropping near freezing, providing the region with one or two ice storms per season. However, a few days reach well above the average. The region not uncommonly experiences the 80s well into December and 70s in January.
Fall, winter, and spring all average about two to three inches of rain per month, while July and August are the driest, averaging only one to two inches and sometimes no precipitation at all. Most of what rain does fall during the long summer comes from the outflow of Gulf storms that are often pushed away from the region by a large summer high-pressure system.
Georgetown has over 300 days of at least partly cloudy skies per year, with over 225 of them being mostly sunny to sunny.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, 28,339 people, 10,393 households, and 7,711 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,241.3 people per square mile (479.3/km2). The 10,902 housing units averaged 477.5 per square mile (184.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.39% White, 3.39% African American, 0.35% Native American, 0.67% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 8.31% from other races, and 1.83% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 18.07% of the population.
Of the 10,393 households, 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.6% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.8% were not families; 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the city, the population was distributed as 23.4% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.0 males. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 91.1 men.
The median income for a household in the city was $54,098, and for a family was $63,338. Males had a median income of $40,541 versus $27,082 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,287. About 4.4% of families and 7.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.3% of those under age 18 and 3.9% of those age 65 or over.
List of major employers
- Williamson County Government (1,700)
- Georgetown Independent School District (1,650)
- St. David's Georgetown Hospital (650)
- Airborn, Inc. (550)
- City of Georgetown (455)
- Southwestern University (450)
- Caring Home Health (400)
- Wesleyan Homes, Inc. (290)
- Sun City (Del Webb) (260)
Interstate Highway 35 location
Without question, the single most important issue relating to economic development was the location of Interstate 35 through Georgetown. Originally, when first conceived, a Georgetown route was very much in doubt, as most alignments had the road going through or near Taylor. At the time, Taylor was the economic hub of Williamson County as the center for cotton and cattle. While the Taylor leadership supported the Taylor route, local farmers opposed it. The interstate required then-unheard-of 300 feet of right of way across the entire county and through nearby Taylor farms, and many farmers worried that their homes might get cut off from their fields. Also, concerns were expressed about noise relating to cattle and other farm animals. Meanwhile, Round Rock and Georgetown leadership strongly lobbied for a route along the Balcones Escarpment fault line, which would later become U.S. Highway 81 and then eventually I-35.
The second-largest economic development activity in Georgetown history was the selection in 1995 of Georgetown as the site for the first-ever Sun City location in Texas. Originally called Sun City Georgetown, the project today is called Sun City Texas due to its size and because it draws residents from all over the state. As of 2010, about 11,500 people live in the massive, 5,300-acre (and expanding) community, with an average net worth over $1,000,000 per person. The economic stimulus, creation of sales tax, banking and investment, and the high rate of community support and volunteerism has had an enormous effect on Georgetown.
Opened in June 1995, Sun City Texas is a 5,300-acre (21 km2) age-restricted community located in Georgetown, about 10 miles west of I-35 on Williams Drive (RM 2338). It is part of the chain of Sun City communities started by the Del Webb Corporation (now a division of Pulte Homes). Residency is restricted to persons over age 55 (at least one person in a couple has to be 55 or older). Sun City Texas is made up mostly of single-family dwellings, but also has duplexes. It is legal to drive golf carts on the streets in the development (under a special Texas license exemption with help from Del Webb), and most shopping and the community facilities all have special parking slots for them.
Opposition to the project has been vocal at times, especially at the start during the zoning process, with arguments against the size of the community, its effect on Georgetown as a family-oriented town, concerns about the costs of providing city utilities, concern about lowered property taxes fixed for retirees under Texas law, and the disproportionate effect of city voting.
Georgetown is considered to be one of the best places to retire in the nation because of its fairly warm climate year round, close proximity to both the countryside and Austin, excellent medical care including Alzheimer's care, and its increasing population of retirees. In 2007, Georgetown was named by Retirement Places Rated (seventh edition) as the Best Place in America to Retire. Part of this is because Sun City Texas, a large master-planned community for "active adults 55 and over", calls Georgetown home. Fifteen years after the project groundbreaking, Sun City is now home to nearly 11,000 residents—nearly 70% retired with a median age of 65—and has been a driving force behind growth, development, and the very shape of Georgetown since its inception.
Numerous other active adult communities are also found in Georgetown, including the well-respected Wesleyan at Estrella, the Oaks at Wildwood, Heritage Oaks, and many others. Various projects offer differing levels of care, including assisted living. The city, county, and churches also maintain compassionate-care facilities for the elderly at the Bluebonnet Community Residence.
Georgetown is the first Texas city to operate entirely on renewable energy. Georgetown's projected power expenditures were $33 million for 2016 (spent $40 million); $39 million for 2017 (spent $46 million) and $45 million for 2018 (spent $53 million). It made up the shortfall through lower capital investments, rate adjustments, and "higher revenue" (tax). The average home power bill in the city increased 22% in 2019 compared to 2018.
Government and politics
The City of Georgetown is a home rule city and adopted its initial home-rule charter on April 24, 1970. As provided by its charter, Georgetown has a council-manager form of government. Under this form of government, the city council provides leadership by establishing the city’s goals and policies. The city council appoints a full-time city manager to achieve the desired end set by the city council. The manager oversees the day-to-day activities of the city and all city departments and executes council-established laws and policies. The city council is composed of seven council members elected by geographic districts:
- District 1 – Anna Eby
- District 2 - Valerie Nicholson
- District 3 – John Hesser
- District 4 – Steve Fought
- District 5 – Kevin Pitts
- District 6 – Rachael Jonrowe
- District 7 – Tommy Gonzalez
A mayor is elected at-large. Each position is elected for a term of three years, with council districts with staggered election dates. Dale Ross was elected Mayor in 2014 and was re-elected in 2017 with 72% of the vote. David Morgan was hired by the City Council as the City Manager in 2015.
State and national representation
- Texas House of Representatives:
- Texas Senate:
- United States House of Representatives:
The City of Georgetown is served by the Georgetown Independent School District and Georgetown High School, a National Blue Ribbon Award school, serves the community. Georgetown opened a second high school, East View High, in 2008. The graduating class of 2014 was the first class of students to graduate from East View as a full high school. Up to that point, East View High School had started as a freshman-only campus and added on one grade at a time as those students moved up.
Georgetown is also the home of Southwestern University, a private, four-year, undergraduate, liberal arts college. Founded in 1873, Southwestern is the oldest university in Texas. The school is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, although the curriculum is nonsectarian. Southwestern offers 40 bachelor's degrees in the arts, sciences, fine arts, and music, as well as interdisciplinary and pre-professional programs. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Association of Schools of Music.
Sites of interest
Movies filmed in Georgetown
- Friday Night Lights (TV series)
- My Boyfriend's Back
- Natural Selection
- The Big Picture
- Uber Goober
- Pair of Aces
- What's Eating Gilbert Grape
- Night Job
- Johnny Be Good
- Michael (1996 film) – a Nora Ephron film
- Varsity Blues
- Lemmy Lemmy
- Where the Heart Is
- Shady Grove
- The Prophet of Armageddon
- Dazed and Confused
- Hope Floats
- Temple Grandin
- Men, Women & Children
- Nolan Ryan, former Major League Baseball player
- W. E. "Pete" Snelson, former member of both houses of the Texas State Legislature from Midland; spent his last years in Georgetown, where he died in 2014
- John Wesley Snyder, a ranching pioneer
- Paul Womack, retiring judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
- Ryan Ludwick, a Major League Baseball outfielder who last played for the Cincinnati Reds
- Matt Dominguez, a Grey Cup winner and 2006 All-Star wide receiver with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League
- Brian Anderson, sports announcer: Turner Sports, Milwaukee Brewers
- Mason Crosby, NFL kicker, Green Bay Packers, 2010 Super Bowl XLV champion
- Granger Smith, singer-songwriter, Country Music, 2016 BMI Awards won the BMI Country Award, 2017 IHeartRadio Music Awards nominated for Best New Country Artist
- Conan Gray, singer-songwriter, internet personality, awarded 'Best YouTube Musician' at the 2019 Shorty Award.
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