7 Nicknames for Austin, Texas, and the Reasons for Them

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A modern city skyline with a bridge, trees, and a body of water in front
Austin's lively and vibrant atmosphere has gained the city many interesting monikers

Austin, the capital of Texas, might not have the state's largest population (not by a long shot - it actually ranks fourth for population), but you'd never know that based on the city's hip culture and lively music scene. You can always find something exciting to do, whether that's hiking in the clothing-optional Hippie Hollow Park or watching a million bats take flight over the river.

Thanks to its unique flair and vibrant history, Austin has gained several noteworthy nicknames over the years. Like the city itself, some of these monikers date back to the 1800s. Many of them, however, are much more modern.

From the official slogan as the Live Music Capital of the World to the chilled-out reference as a Hippie Haven, there are plenty of different ways people refer to the weirdest city in Texas. Keep reading to discover seven popular nicknames for Austin, Texas, and the reasons behind each of them.

7 Austin, Texas, Nicknames

Buildings under a violet sky reflecting into a lake in front
City of the Violet Crown is one of the oldest nicknames for Austin, Texas

City of the Violet Crown

Austin has been known as the City of the Violet Crown since the late 1800s. You may not hear it much anymore, but it's one of the city's oldest nicknames. The City of the Violet Crown refers to the Belt of Venus weather phenomena, which causes the Austin sky to turn violet at sunset. This violet-colored sky is the city's crown.

The City of the Violet Crown nickname was first published in the Austin Daily Statesman newspaper in 1890. It was made famous, however, in the 1894 short story Tictocq: The Great French Detective, in Austin by author O. Henry.

If you want to get a feel for what Austin was like before the start of the 20th century, check out the Driskill Hotel. This is one of the most unique landmarks in Austin and dates back to 1886. The skyline has changed significantly since then, but the evening hues will still remind you that you're in the City of the Violet Crown.


You'll hear it often: ATX is one of the most commonly used nicknames for Austin, TX, in both text and casual conversation. It's a shortened version of Austin, Texas, and is frequently used by Austin locals. The phrase is usually pronounced A-T-X, although you'll sometimes hear A-Tex.

The ATX nickname is inspired by the famous ATL moniker for Atlanta, Georgia. ATX originated within the hip-hop community but has expanded to much wider usage over the past couple of decades.

You'll find ATX used in the name of Austin businesses, restaurants, and even real estate developments. The city also hosts the ATX TV Festival, an annual showcase of what's happening in the television industry.

A rocky beach shore on a sunny day
In the 1960s, Austin was a popular destination for free-spirited hippies

Hippie Haven

Austin became a popular destination for a generation of free-spirited hippies as the counter-culture movement spread out from San Francisco, California, in the late 1960s. Known as a Hippie Haven, the developing Austin counter-culture scene also brought an influx of musical talent to the city.

Even now, Austin maintains a very alternative, hipster feel, much of which is owed to the hippies who moved to the city more than 50 years ago. The area's reputation for live music is undoubtedly attributed to the generation as well.

And it shouldn't be too surprising that Hippie Haven is home to Hippie Hollow Park, the only clothing-optional public park in Texas. After all, one of the most famous Texas facts is that Austin's slogan is "Keep Austin Weird!"

Silicon Hills

The Silicon Hills nickname for Austin dates back to the mid-1990s when Austin's booming technology sector began to see significant growth. Silicon Hills comes from California's Silicon Valley name, with the "hills" part referencing the hills overlooking Austin from the west.

Austin's tech industry originated in 1962 when Tracor, a government defense contractor, began manufacturing electronics in the city. By the end of the 1960s, IBM and Texas Instruments were also operating in Austin.

You shouldn't be surprised to find plenty of big technology firms headquartered in the Jumbo State (yes, that's an actual Texas nickname). Some of the largest with headquarters in Austin include Oracle and Tesla.

Many other major companies also have offices here, including IBM, Cisco Systems, and Facebook. And with the healthy state of the Austin tech sector, the Silicon Hills nickname is likely to be around for a while.

Ismael Quintanilla III/Shutterstock.com
A large sign that says "ACL Fest" near trees under a blue sky with white clouds
Austin's music scene and festivals inspired the Live Music Capital of the World name

Live Music Capital of the World

Austin began to develop a reputation for live music in the 1970s as hippie culture brought more musicians to the city. By the mid-1980s, Austin had become known as the Live Music Capital of the World because it had more live music venues per capita than anywhere else.

Opinions vary on whether the nickname can be attributed to the Austin Chamber of Commerce or the city council. Either way, it served as a means to help Austin stand out and attract tourism.

Today, the live music scene is still going strong, with hundreds of venues open across the city. Austin also has yearly musical events, including the famous South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits music festivals.

The 512

The 512 is the nickname for the city of Austin that you'll most likely hear in casual conversation. You'll also see it often in writing, primarily online. And if you're calling someone in Austin, you'll probably need to type it in.

Like many other numerical city nicknames, the 512 refers to Austin's telephone area code. It was one of the original area codes the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) set up in 1947. The 512's area has shrunk over the years, but it still serves the residents of Austin.

Since 2013, the 737 area code has also been used for the city. However, don't expect it to gain the same level of popularity or widespread use as the 512 area code moniker.

Erin Donahue Photography/Shutterstock.com
Bat City is one of the nicknames for Austin, Texas
Once the sun sets, Austin becomes a famous spot to see Mexican free-tailed bats

Bat City

If you're strolling along the Colorado River near Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge (one of the most famous landmarks in Texas) at sunset, you'll quickly discover why Austin is known as Bat City.

Since the early 1980s, the Congress Bridge has been home to an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. You can spot them taking off from under the bridge and flying out towards Lady Bird Lake just after dark.

The bats are here from early spring until early fall, heading south into Mexico during the colder winter months. But for the majority of the year, Austin has the most significant urban bat population in North America. And if you're in Bat City in August, make sure to attend the annual Austin Bat Fest.

In Summary

If you've made it through all seven monikers on this list, there's no doubt that you've learned a new Austin, TX, nickname or two. From the historic City of the Violet Crown to the modern tech-focused Silicon Hills, Austin has been called quite a few names throughout its history.

There are a lot of slogans for the city of Austin, with these seven simply being the most popular. Whether you live in the 512 or just wanted to learn more about ATX, you've hopefully discovered some unique slogans for Austin. And don't forget about the interesting origins of the many nicknames the city has earned over the years!

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Written by Jonathan Davis

JDavis WRITER Jonathan is a Florida-based travel writer who can't seem to stay in one place for long. With more than two decades of trips under his belt, Jonathan has a wealth of information to share about travel within the United States and abroad.

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