Round Rock, Texas
|City of Round Rock|
Dell Diamond baseball stadium in Round Rock
"Sports Capital of Texas"
|o City Council||Mayor Craig Morgan|
Mayor Pro-tem Will Peckham
|o City Manager||Laurie Hadley|
|o Total||35.9 sq mi (93 km2)|
|o Land||35.6 sq mi (92 km2)|
|o Water||0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)|
|Elevation||735 ft (224 m)|
|o Total||128,739 (US: 251st)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central (CST))|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
78664, 78665, 78680--78683
|Area code(s)||512 & 737|
|GNIS feature ID||1366966|
Round Rock is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, in Williamson County (with a small part in Travis County), which is a part of the Greater Austin, Texas metropolitan area. The population was 99,887 at the 2010 census.
The city straddles both sides of the Balcones Escarpment, a fault line in which the areas roughly east of Interstate 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. Located about 20 miles (32 km) north of downtown Austin, Round Rock shares a common border with Austin at Texas State Highway 45.
In August 2008, Money magazine named Round Rock as the seventh-best American small city in which to live. Round Rock was the only Texas city to make the Top 10. In a CNN article dated July 1, 2009, Round Rock was listed as the second-fastest-growing city in the country, with a population growth of 8.2% in the preceding year.
According to the 2008 ratings from the Texas Education Agency, the Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD) ranks among the best in the state. Of 42 schools within it, 12 were rated exemplary and 11 are recognized.
Round Rock is perhaps best known as the international headquarters of Dell Technologies, which employs about 16,000 people at its Round Rock facilities. The presence of Dell along with other major employers, an economic development program, major retailers such as IKEA, a Premium Outlet Mall, and the mixed-use La Frontera center, have changed Round Rock from a sleepy bedroom community into its own self-contained "super suburb."
Round Rock and Williamson County have been the site of human habitation since at least 9,200 BC. The area's earliest known inhabitants lived during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age), and are linked to the Clovis culture around 9,200 BC based on evidence found at the much-studied "Gault Site", midway between Georgetown and Fort Hood. One of the most important discoveries in recent times is the ancient skeletal remains dubbed "the Leanderthal Lady" because of its age and proximity to Leander, Texas. The site is 4 miles (6 km) west of Round Rock and was discovered by accident by Texas Department of Transportation workers while drilling core samples for a new highway. The site has been studied for many years and samples carbon date to this particular Pleistocene period around 10,500 years ago.
Prehistoric and Archaic period "open occupation" campsites are also found throughout the county along streams and other water sources including Brushy Creek in Round Rock and the San Gabriel River in Georgetown, 10 miles (16 kilometers) north. These archeology dig sites show a much greater volume United States evidence of Archaic Period inhabitants based on relics and flint tools recovered from burned rock middens. The earliest known "historical" Native American occupants, the Tonkawa, were a flint-working, hunting people who followed the buffalo on foot and periodically set fire to the prairie to aid them in their hunts.
During the 18th century, the Tonkawa made the transition to a horse culture and used firearms to a limited extent. Apparently, small numbers of Kiowa, Yojuane, Tawakoni, and Mayeye Native-Americans lived in the county at the time of the earliest Anglo settlements. After they were crowded out by white settlement, the Comanches raided settlements in the county until the 1860s. In the late 19th century, Native Americans were being pushed out of Central Texas.
As the area developed into a rural Anglo community, some of the modern paved roads followed the original Native-American pathways. One famous immigration route passed through Round Rock and is called the "Double File Trail" because the path was wide enough for two horsemen to ride side-by-side. It is part of a longer trail from North Texas that crossed the San Gabriel River in Georgetown, Brushy Creek in Round Rock, and the Colorado River in Austin. An elementary school in the Round Rock school district is named for the trail, Double File Trail Elementary School.
In 1851, a small community was formed on the banks of Brushy Creek, near a large round and anvil-shaped rock in the middle of the creek. This round rock marked a convenient low-water crossing for wagons, horses, and cattle. The first postmaster called the community "Brushy", and the creek was called "Brushy Creek", but in 1854, at the suggestion of the postmaster, the small settlement was renamed Round Rock in honor of this now famous rock. After the Civil War, Jesse Chisholm began moving cattle from South Texas through Round Rock on the way to Abilene, Kansas. The route he established, which crossed Brushy Creek at the round rock, became known as the Chisholm Trail. Most of the old buildings, including the old Saint Charles Hotel, have been preserved. This historic area is now called "Old Town".
Downtown Round Rock was the site of a historic gunfight and subsequent capture (and death) of the 19th-century American train robber Sam Bass, by the Texas Ranger Division on July 19, 1878. The Rangers followed Bass and his gang after they robbed the Fort Worth-to-Cleburne train. Bass was tracked to Round Rock, and as he attempted to flee, Bass was shot and killed in a gun battle by Ranger George Herold and Ranger sergeant Richard Ware. Sheriff's Deputy A.W. Grimes was killed in the shootout. Near Ware was Soapy Smith, a noted con man, and his cousin Edwin, who witnessed Ware's shot. Soapy exclaimed, "I think you got him." The event is known locally as the "Sam Bass Shootout." This shootout is re-created each year at the July 4 'Frontier Days' Celebration in Old Settlers Park. Bass is buried in Round Rock Cemetery, northwest of "Old Town" on Sam Bass Road. His original headstone can be found on display at the Round Rock Public Library.
In the first half of the 20th century, the county's wealth came from the cotton fields.Cotton, row crops, grapes, and truck farming were the predominant subsistence east of Interstate 35. West of the Balcones divide, ranchers raised cattle, sheep, and to a lesser extent goats. Due to Round Rock's favorable geographic location over the rich, fertile "blackland prairie" soils also known locally as the "black waxy" (due to the soil's high clay content), cotton was the largest economic driver at that time. Because of the soil and climate, this eco-region is ideally suited to crop agriculture. Nearby Taylor, Texas, east of Round Rock, was the primary cotton center where the crop was hauled for ginning (its seeds mechanically removed) at the cotton gin, compressed into bales, and shipped by train. Austin was also a cotton center for a time once the railroad arrived there in the 1870s. Cotton production and cattle raising, on a much smaller scale, continues today although primarily east of Round Rock.
To preserve the heritage of the famous crossing, a Chisholm Trail Crossing Park was developed to provide visitors with a simulated scene of Round Rock's historical role in the Chisholm cattle drive. Commemorative plaques in the park tell of the history of Round Rock. The bronze sculptures of four steers and pioneer woman Hattie Cluck and her son, Emmitt, were commissioned by the city through donations from Round Rock residents. The sculptures depict Round Rock's history as a crossing location along the Chisholm Trail.[clarification needed] The project plans include 18 to 20 additional bronze statues over time.
Following the end of the American Civil War, a group of Confederate veterans held a reunion in Georgetown on August 27, 1904, for the old settlers of Williamson County and their descendants. The invitation promised "good music, plenty to eat, and above all a warm welcome." The event was well-attended, and reunions -- now called Old Settlers Association (OSA) reunions -- have been held annually ever since. After the initial one, the event was moved to Round Rock and eventually a structure was built (along with three restored log cabins) in the Palm Valley area of Round Rock, in front of Old Settlers Park, just off Highway 79 in east Round Rock. All members of the organization are descendants of Williamson County residents prior to 1904. OSA has about 50 active members and 300 members in all. The Old Settlers Association today is a social and educational group, with the purpose of facilitating social activities, as well as collecting and preserving important historical information and facts. The facilities are rented for meetings, arts and craft and collectable shows, events, parties, weddings and rehearsal dinners.
In the 1950s, planners of the new Interstate Highway System proposed to route Interstate 35 through Taylor, whose population and cotton industry made it the county's economic powerhouse. Highway Commissioner DeWitt Greer called for the "interregional" highway to go through Taylor on its way from Dallas to Austin. But some Taylor leaders and other citizens fought the idea, worried about the possibility of cutting farmers off from all or part of their fields, traffic noise, damage to country life, loss of farmland, and unwanted right-of-way acquisition -- it was proposed to be an astounding 300 feet (90 m) wide, unheard of before this time. No one even knew what an "Interregional Highway" would look like, unless they had traveled to Germany to see the Autobahn or the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut. Instead, they wanted improvements to the farm-to-market roads and a straight route to Austin.
Meanwhile, Round Rock leaders sought the highway and its potential economic benefits. Mayor Louis Henna lobbied the Highway Commission. In June 1956, the 15-year debate over the form, funding, and route of the Interstate was resolved. Due to the heavy lobbying, and not wanting to antagonize Taylor, the highway was built along the edge of the Balcones Fault line running through Round Rock. The precise route was not without opposition, however, as the new road cut off "Old Town" to the west from what had become the more recent "downtown" area east of Interstate 35. The Interstate eventually made Round Rock into a viable and vibrant commercial center, while Taylor withered with the decline of the cotton industry. Today it is a minor, modest town with a smaller population, while Round Rock has thrived and rapidly grown into the largest city in the county, attracting companies like Dell Computer and major retail centers. The transformation of Round Rock is detailed in a book by Linda Scarborough (publisher of the Williamson County Sun newspaper) titled Road, River and Ol' Boy Politics: A Texas County's Path from Farm to Supersuburb published by Texas State Historical Press.
By the 1990s, Round Rock was primarily a bedroom community with the majority of its employed residents working in Austin and then returning home after work to places such as Round Rock and Georgetown, where housing and land were less expensive. In the 1990s, Round Rock had few major employers and jobs other than local retail and other services, or ranching and farming. In the late 1990s, though, that began to change as economic development became a major focus of the city and the Chamber of Commerce. Dell Corporation moved its headquarters to Round Rock, which has provided a significant number of jobs with 16,000 employees at its Round Rock headquarters.(See also the Business and economic development section in this article.)
Round Rock is 17 miles (27 kilometers) north of downtown Austin, and 10 mi (16 km) south of Georgetown. Its elevation is 709 ft (216 m).
Prior to the 2010 census, the city annexed part of the Brushy Creek CDP, increasing its area to 35.9 square miles (93 km2), of which, 35.6 square miles (92 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) is water.
The climate in this area is characterized by generally hot, humid summers and mild, cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Round Rock has a humid subtropical climate, Cfa on climate maps.
As of the 2010 census, there were 99,887 people and 37,223 households, residing in the city. There were 37,223 housing units with 20,364 owner-occupied homes costing at a median value of $163,400. The racial makeup of the city was 76.4% White, 9.4% African American, 0.4% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 5.7% from other races, and 3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race made up 25% of its population. According to a 2009 estimate by the U.S Census Bureau, the median income for a household was $69,892, and the median income for a family was $79,417.
There were 21,076 households out of which 47.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.5% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.4% were non-families. 18.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.87 and the average family size was 3.29.
In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 31.9% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 38.8% from 25 to 44, 16.3% from 45 to 64, and 4.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.1 males. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 96.3 men.
The per capita income for the city was $24,911.
The City of Round Rock has maintained a high quality of life while becoming a major center for economic growth in Central Texas, with industry clusters in clean energy, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and computer/software development.
Round Rock has more than twenty major employers including: Toppan Photomasks, Sears Customer Care, IKEA, Round Rock Premium Outlets, KoMiCo Technology Inc., Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corp (TGSLC), Cintas, Dresser, Hospira, and TECO-Westinghouse, Cerilliant Corporation, Emerson Process Management, and Dell.
Dell is a multinational computer and information technology corporation based in Round Rock, which develops, sells and supports computers and related products and services. The company employs about 11,500 people in the Round Rock facilities and, as of 2017, about 138,000 people worldwide. Dell was originally based in Austin after its initial formation in 1984 as PC's Limited by UT college student Michael Dell. With the need for significant space as it expanded, the City of Round Rock in 1996 offered Dell a "Chapter 380" agreement by offering to split sales tax revenue from in-state sales 50/50 between Dell and the City. A "Chapter 380" agreement is named for the chapter in Vernon's Statutes that permits sales tax revenue sharing for economic development purposes. It was the first time such an agreement had been used in Central Texas and among the very first in the state. As of 1999, approximately half of the general fund of the City of Round Rock originates from sales taxes generated from the Dell headquarters. Today the company is one of the largest technology companies in the world, listed as number 38 on the Fortune 500 (2010). Fortune also lists Dell as the #5 most admired company in its industry. As part of its clean energy program, in 2008 Dell switched the power sources of the Round Rock headquarters to more environmentally friendly ones, with 60% of the power coming from TXU Energy wind farms and 40% coming from the Austin Community Landfill gas-to-energy plant operated by Waste Management, Inc
Round Rock's largest commercial and office business center is La Frontera, at the intersection of Loop 1, SH 45 and IH-35. La Frontera combines multi-tenant offices, company headquarters facilities, 1,000,000 square feet (90,000 m2) of retail, and several apartment complexes and other smaller retail and housing centers. The project also includes Williamson County's largest hotel, the Austin North Marriott, which provides space for large conferences, meetings and banquets - a first for the county and an important component of Round Rock's economic efforts. The center is also home to the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation (TGSLC), and Emerson Process Management. The retail portion is the second largest outdoor commercial project in the Austin - Round Rock Metro area. La Frontera was developed by Bill Smalling and Don Martin, with Fort Worth financier Ed Bass as financial partner.
In 2006, a retail-only hub opened in Round Rock at the corner of Interstate 35 and Highway 1431 (now renamed "University Boulevard"): The major retailer center includes the Simon Property Group's Premium Outlets Mall, across the street is IKEA as well as numerous other retail stores and restaurants. The project was developed by Simon Property Group, with other portions by Barshop & Oles of Austin.
Round Rock is home to the Class AAA Pacific Coast League minor league baseball team Round Rock Express, owned by RSR Sports (Nolan Ryan, Don Sanders, Reid Ryan) and was founded by Reid Ryan, son of Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. As of August 2010, Nolan Ryan is also the new owner of the major league Texas Rangers ball club. Home games for the Round Rock Express are played at the Dell Diamond, a facility that is owned by the City of Round Rock and leased long-term to RSR Sports who run and maintain the facility.
Round Rock is the self-proclaimed "Sports Capital of Texas." The City's Old Settlers Park offers a professionally designed disc golf course, cricket, cross country running, twenty-field baseball complex, five-field softball complex, and seven soccer facilities in addition to the Rockin' River Family Aquatic Center.
The city of Round Rock is managed through a council-manager form of government. The City Council is composed of six city council members and the mayor. The mayor and all council members are elected at large and serve the entire city, not by geographic precincts. The mayor pro tem is appointed annually by council members. City Council positions are not full-time jobs. The council appoints a full-time city manager who manages the daily affairs of the city, and all council meetings are held at 221 E. Main Street, in downtown Round Rock, on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., unless indicated otherwise. Council meetings are televised.
The Commissioners Court is the overall governing and management body of Williamson County, consisting of five members. The county judge presides as chairman over the court, and is elected every four years by all voters in the county. Four commissioners are elected by single-member precincts every four years. While the majority of Round Rock is within Precinct 1, all four precincts include some portions of the city. (See Williamson County, Texas article for more detail.)
Municipal utility districts, commonly referred to as "MUDs", play a significant role in Round Rock. Each is a special-purpose district that provides public utilities such as water, wastewater, storm water, and sometimes roads, parks, solid waste, and other infrastructure and services to the residents of each district. MUDs are typically formed by a residential developer as a means to install utilities and roads to a project when a city is not ready or able to provide them. The developer gets reimbursed over time from the fees levied by the MUD, and at some point the area may be annexed by the city to bring the development into the city's tax base once the basic infrastructure costs are paid off. The MUD is represented by its own board of directors who are voted on by the residents of the district, and it has the authority to condemn land, add additional land area, and levy fees in lieu of property taxes to maintain the utilities and other facilities.
There are ten MUDs in Round Rock: Brushy Creek, Fern Bluff, Highlands at Mayfield Ranch, Meadows at Chandler Creek, Paloma Lake, Parkside at Mayfield Ranch, Siena, Teravista, Vista Oaks, and Walsh Ranch. Total population living within these MUDs is 47,648 (2010 city estimate).
Round Rock's largest district is Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District. Brushy Creek MUD was formed as Williamson County Municipal Utility District No. 2 in October 1977 with 725 acres (2.9 km2) of land. An annexation in 1983 increased the District to 2,210 acres (8.9 km2). The district name was changed to Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District on August 1990. The MUD provides a wide range of city-like services including parks and recreation, full utilities, road maintenance and a Home Owner's Association. Services a MUD can offer, however are also limited by law (for example they cannot offer library services).
Another similar but somewhat smaller MUD in Round Rock's is Fern Bluff Municipal Utility District in the Wyoming Springs area of town. Both MUDs play a significant role in local governance and maintenance of basic utilities.
From time to time there have been very contentious elections to the boards and heated debates regarding other MUD issues. Round Rock does not often annex a MUD in order to avoiding having to take on the aging infrastructure replacement and upkeep costs.
Round Rock Independent School District, a Texas Education Agency Recognized School District, is in southern Williamson County and northwest Travis County and includes all the City of Round Rock and portions of the City of Austin and the City of Cedar Park. The area covers 110 square miles (280 km2) encompassing high-tech manufacturing and urban retail centers, suburban neighborhoods, and farm and ranch land. "Roughly 45,001 students attend the district's five high schools, ten middle schools, 32 elementary schools, and two alternative learning centers. During the past five years, the number of students has increased by nearly 15%, and enrollment continues to grow by more than 1,200 students per year."
In August 2010, the district opened its fifth high school (Cedar Ridge High School), a ninth grade center reverted to a middle school and the district's 31st elementary school opened in the Stone Oak subdivision. "The average student-teacher ratio for RRISD is 16. The annual dropout rate for students in grades 7 - 12 is 1.1% and more than 77% of the district's graduating seniors take the SAT and ACT college entrance exams, scoring well above state and national averages." The property tax rates are significantly higher than the national average, and the schools' performance reflects the tax dollars invested.
In the annual report released July 30, 2010 the Round Rock Independent School District received the highest possible rating ("Exemplary") for twenty five of its schools, the highest number so rated in any of the suburban districts in Central Texas. These schools are: Westwood High School. Canyon Vista, Walsh, and Cedar Valley middle schools. Spicewood, Forest North, Caraway, Brushy Creek, Laurel Mountain, Fern Bluff, Canyon Creek, Great Oaks, Teravista, Cactus Ranch, Sommer, Deep Wood, Robertson, Pond Springs, Live Oak, Old Town, Jollyville, Forest Creek, Blackland Prairie, Union Hill and Gattis elementary schools. In 2010 the school district as a whole was rated "academically recognized" a significant step above 2009 when the school district was rated "academically acceptable" by the Texas Education Agency.
Round Rock also has a number of higher education opportunities. In 1990, the city, under the leadership of then-City Manager Bob Bennett, planning director Joe Vining, and local citizen Mike Swayze envisioned and oversaw creation of the Texas State University Round Rock Campus (a/k/a Round Rock Higher Education Center - "RRHEC"). The concept was envisioned as a way to lure colleges and universities to jointly provide education, training and degree opportunities on a part-time and full-time bases. The RRC used various empty facilities around town and many of the initial training programs were targeted to help educate students for work at local companies, such as Dell, which had specialized needs. In 2008, an educational campus and the first RRC building--the Avery Building--was opened through the combined efforts of Texas State University, Austin Community College, and Temple College in order to provide a broader range of educational opportunities, specialized training, and varying degree programs including post graduate degrees. The campus is in the heart of the emerging Avery Center development which houses Seton Williamson, the A&M Health Science Center and other medical campuses. By the end of 2009 1,700 students were enrolled in the programs. Texas State University has taken on the lead role in this effort and 100 acres (40 ha) of land for the facility and additional buildings was donated by the Avery family of Round Rock, whose family were early settlers on the land surrounding the RRHEC. Construction on the second Texas State campus building is underway and construction is nearly complete on this additional classroom building.(See also Texas State University Round Rock Campus)
The city is also home to the Texas A&M Health Science Center Round Rock which opened its doors December 2010. The campus is designed to eventually accommodate as many as 17 additional buildings over time as monies are appropriated each biennium by the Texas Legislature.
In August 2010, Austin Community College's largest campus to date opened adjacent to the Texas State University center. ACC is constructing five additional buildings with a total of 250,000 square feet (23,000 m2) to accommodate up to 5,000 students in its first phase. All three campuses are adjacent to each other within the burgeoning Avery Farms development.
The newest component of higher education is the School of Nursing at Texas State University, housed within the University's College of Health Professions. Other programs offered by the college are health information management, health services research, and physical therapy.
In November 2006, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) opened the first segment of the region's first toll road system. Both State Highway 130 and State Highway 45 toll roads run through portions of Round Rock and provide greatly increased mobility to the city, albeit with strong regional opposition to the high-toll charges to motorists. State Highway 130 runs just south of Austin Bergstrom International Airport at US Highway 183 and connecting to Interstate 35 north of Georgetown, and passes through the easternmost portion of Round Rock. It provides Round Rock residents with quick access to the Austin airport for about $6 each way. The project, when completed, will end at Interstate 10 just east of Seguin, about 30 miles (50 km) east-northeast of San Antonio essentially creating a parallel roadway to Interstate 35.
State Highway 45 is part of an eventual loop that runs east from State Highway 183 in Cedar Park to 130 at Pflugerville (east of Round Rock) where it merges with the SH 130 toll road, and then intersects with the southern portion of SH 45 near Buda, south of Austin. SH 45 passes through the entire southern portion of Round Rock. Highway 45 provides much faster access between Round Rock and Austin, alleviating what was previously a major bottleneck at Interstate 35. The project includes a tolled extension to Loop 1 (also known locally as the "Mopac Expressway") and allows direct access from to I-35 to Loop 1 by use of flyover connections rather than ground level intersections. The toll roads also provide access to the Dell headquarters and its considerable number of employees. Together, both toll roads significantly improve mobility in Round Rock.
Round Rock played a major role in the creation of SH 45 through constant pressure on the Texas Department of Transportation to make it a priority project, the purchase of right of way, and other assistance at critical early stages. Robert L. "Bob" Bennett, who was Round Rock City Manager at the time, oversaw the project for the city. Bennett, now retired, served as a founding member of CTRMA board of directors as an appointee of Williamson County in 2003. Former Williamson County Commissioner and former Round Rock City Councilman Mike Heiligenstein is the Executive Director of the CTRMA.
Round Rock has a wide array of hospitals and extensive health care services. Many of these facilities serve not only Round Rock, but the greater Williamson county area, as well as North Austin.