©2006 ACVB Photo/The Driskill Hotel The Driskill Hotel, built in 1886, is Austin's oldest hotel.

Austin Architecture & Landmarks

Austin is more known for its scenic natural beauty and its music than for its architecture, but there are plenty of must-see landmarks in this city. The Governor's Mansion, a Greek Revival masterpiece designed by noted architect Abner Cook, is a real showplace, with the Governor and family in private residences on the second floor. There are also the Moonlight Towers; of the 31 originally bought from the city of Detroit, 17 still survive today. Austin is the only U.S. city that still uses this old tower system to light its city.

Besides the showpiece of the State Capitol building -- definitely the most impressive, architecture-wise, in Austin -- Congress Avenue also boasts its share of beautiful old buildings. St. Edward's University (3001 South Congress) was designed by noted Texas architect Nicholas Clayton and completed in 1887. The school's Old Main Building was once deemed "one of the finest in all of Texas." In fact, a seven-block strip of renovated Victorian and native limestone buildings on East 6th Street between Congress Avenue and Interstate 35 is a National Registered Historic District.

Historic neighborhoods also abound in Austin, from charming homes dating from the 1890s in Hyde Park to the grand estates of Tarrytown in West Austin.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in Austin

Perhaps the best example of Austin architecture is the Governor's Mansion (1010 Colorado St). Designed by Abner Cook, who specialized in the Federal style of homes for mostly private residences, the Governor's Mansion was constructed between 1854 and 1856. It has a decidedly Greek Revival look to it, characterized by two-story porticos, Doric columns, and Cook's signature X-and-sticks motif for upper and lower balustrades. Every Texas governor has made his -- or her -- home there, occupying the second story.

Other Cook-designed projects in Austin include the Pease Mansion (6 Niles Rd), built in 1853 and features a front portico and two-story icon columns over the front door, and the Neill-Cochran House (2310 San Gabriel St), which was made of Austin limestone and Bastrop pine in 1855 and designed in a Greek-Revival style with two-story Doric columns across the wide front veranda. The Pease Mansion is privately owned and can be looked at from the street, but you can tour the Neill-Cochran House.

There's also the University of Texas Tower (23rd Street at Guadalupe), which was built in 1936 and is the pride of the University of Texas at Austin. It's 27 stories high -- just a little bit taller than the State Capitol, and it lights up in burnt orange every time there's a UT victory. When UT won the Rose Bowl against football powerhouse the University of Southern California in 2005, the tower glowed burnt orange for nearly two weeks in celebration. There are also gold-plated clocks on each face of the tower that stretch more than 12 feet across. And on August 1, 1966, student Charles Whitman opened fire on the campus below, killing 13 and injuring many others. The observation deck was closed in 1974 after several suicide leaps from the Tower, and stayed closed for the next 25 years until 1999, when UT celebrated its 116th birthday and decided to reopen the deck with a new safety lattice in place.

The Frost Bank Tower (401 Congress Ave) is 515 feet and 9 inches tall, making it the tallest building in Austin. Its silvery blue glass facade includes 200,000 square feet of glass, with 45,000 square feet of glass on the crown alone. The Scarbrough Building (101 6th St) was made in 1911 and is the city's first steel skyscraper.

The One Congress Plaza Building (111 Congress Ave) features a striking stair-steeped pyramid design with a tower camera on its roof, which belongs to KTBC Fox7. The building's 1-acre sunken plaza is landscaped with shady trees, park benches, and a waterfall that cascades down a granite wall.

The Norwood Tower (114 W 7th St) is an ornate Gothic-style high rise and the first building in Austin to have an electric elevator. Former President Lyndon B Johnson was a former owner of the building. Its lobby's ceilings feature 22-karat gold leaf and gold leaf on the exterior facade details.

The Mobil Three-Star Driskill Hotel (604 Brazos) was built in 1886, making it Austin's oldest hotel and a landmark. Former President Lyndon B Johnson stayed at the hotel in 1960 while waiting for election results for his race as vice president to John F Kennedy. Johnson returned in 1964 to listen for the election results of his race for president. The building's east, south, and west facades are topped with a bust of Colonel Jesse Driskill, the hotel builder, and his two sons.

Shopping in Austin means picking up one-of-a-kind and locally made merchandise you won't find anywhere else. Keep reading to learn more about Austin's shopping scene.

Austin is more known for its scenic natural beauty and its music than for its architecture, but there are plenty of must-see landmarks in this city. The Governor's Mansion, a Greek Revival masterpiece designed by noted architect Abner Cook, is a real showplace, with the Governor and family in private residences on the second floor. There are also the Moonlight Towers; of the 31 originally bought from the city of Detroit, 17 still survive today. Austin is the only U.S. city that still uses this old tower system to light its city.

Besides the showpiece of the State Capitol building -- definitely the most impressive, architecture-wise, in Austin -- Congress Avenue also boasts its share of beautiful old buildings. St. Edward's University (3001 South Congress) was designed by noted Texas architect Nicholas Clayton and completed in 1887. The school's Old Main Building was once deemed "one of the finest in all of Texas." In fact, a seven-block strip of renovated Victorian and native limestone buildings on East 6th Street between Congress Avenue and Interstate 35 is a National Registered Historic District.

Historic neighborhoods also abound in Austin, from charming homes dating from the 1890s in Hyde Park to the grand estates of Tarrytown in West Austin.

©2006 ACVB Photo/The Driskill Hotel The Driskill Hotel, built in 1886, is Austin's oldest hotel.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in Austin

Perhaps the best example of Austin architecture is the Governor's Mansion (1010 Colorado St). Designed by Abner Cook, who specialized in the Federal style of homes for mostly private residences, the Governor's Mansion was constructed between 1854 and 1856. It has a decidedly Greek Revival look to it, characterized by two-story porticos, Doric columns, and Cook's signature X-and-sticks motif for upper and lower balustrades. Every Texas governor has made his -- or her -- home there, occupying the second story.

Other Cook-designed projects in Austin include the Pease Mansion (6 Niles Rd), built in 1853 and features a front portico and two-story icon columns over the front door, and the Neill-Cochran House (2310 San Gabriel St), which was made of Austin limestone and Bastrop pine in 1855 and designed in a Greek-Revival style with two-story Doric columns across the wide front veranda. The Pease Mansion is privately owned and can be looked at from the street, but you can tour the Neill-Cochran House.

There's also the University of Texas Tower (23rd Street at Guadalupe), which was built in 1936 and is the pride of the University of Texas at Austin. It's 27 stories high -- just a little bit taller than the State Capitol, and it lights up in burnt orange every time there's a UT victory. When UT won the Rose Bowl against football powerhouse the University of Southern California in 2005, the tower glowed burnt orange for nearly two weeks in celebration. There are also gold-plated clocks on each face of the tower that stretch more than 12 feet across. And on August 1, 1966, student Charles Whitman opened fire on the campus below, killing 13 and injuring many others. The observation deck was closed in 1974 after several suicide leaps from the Tower, and stayed closed for the next 25 years until 1999, when UT celebrated its 116th birthday and decided to reopen the deck with a new safety lattice in place.

The Frost Bank Tower (401 Congress Ave) is 515 feet and 9 inches tall, making it the tallest building in Austin. Its silvery blue glass facade includes 200,000 square feet of glass, with 45,000 square feet of glass on the crown alone. The Scarbrough Building (101 6th St) was made in 1911 and is the city's first steel skyscraper.

The One Congress Plaza Building (111 Congress Ave) features a striking stair-steeped pyramid design with a tower camera on its roof, which belongs to KTBC Fox7. The building's 1-acre sunken plaza is landscaped with shady trees, park benches, and a waterfall that cascades down a granite wall.

The Norwood Tower (114 W 7th St) is an ornate Gothic-style high rise and the first building in Austin to have an electric elevator. Former President Lyndon B Johnson was a former owner of the building. Its lobby's ceilings feature 22-karat gold leaf and gold leaf on the exterior facade details.

The Mobil Three-Star Driskill Hotel (604 Brazos) was built in 1886, making it Austin's oldest hotel and a landmark. Former President Lyndon B Johnson stayed at the hotel in 1960 while waiting for election results for his race as vice president to John F Kennedy. Johnson returned in 1964 to listen for the election results of his race for president. The building's east, south, and west facades are topped with a bust of Colonel Jesse Driskill, the hotel builder, and his two sons.

Shopping in Austin means picking up one-of-a-kind and locally made merchandise you won't find anywhere else. Keep reading to learn more about Austin's shopping scene.