Zilker Metro Park Vision Plan

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Sign welcoming people to Zilker Park as they drive west on Barton Springs Road.

The Zilker Metropolitan Park Vision Plan is a community-driven planning process to establish a guiding framework for the restoration and future development of Zilker Metropolitan Park. It is the first comprehensive planning initiative to encompass the park’s 350 acres and associated facilities.

El Plan de Visión para Parque Metropolitano de Zilker es un proceso de planificación impulsado por la comunidad para establecer un marco de referencia para la restauración y el desarrollo futuro del Parque Metropolitano de Zilker. Es la primera iniciativa de planificación integral que abarca los 350 acres del parque y las instalaciones asociadas.

Community Survey #3: Open now through September 30

Encuesta Comunitaria #3: Abierta hasta el 30 de septiembre

This visioning process aims to reach out to all Austinites to identify your hopes and desires for this jewel of Austin.

Este proceso de visión tiene como objetivo llegar a todos los habitantes de Austin para identificar sus esperanzas y deseos para esta joya de Austin.

The Zilker Metropolitan Park Vision Plan is a community-driven planning process to establish a guiding framework for the restoration and future development of Zilker Metropolitan Park. It is the first comprehensive planning initiative to encompass the park’s 350 acres and associated facilities.

El Plan de Visión para Parque Metropolitano de Zilker es un proceso de planificación impulsado por la comunidad para establecer un marco de referencia para la restauración y el desarrollo futuro del Parque Metropolitano de Zilker. Es la primera iniciativa de planificación integral que abarca los 350 acres del parque y las instalaciones asociadas.

Community Survey #3: Open now through September 30

Encuesta Comunitaria #3: Abierta hasta el 30 de septiembre

This visioning process aims to reach out to all Austinites to identify your hopes and desires for this jewel of Austin.

Este proceso de visión tiene como objetivo llegar a todos los habitantes de Austin para identificar sus esperanzas y deseos para esta joya de Austin.

Zilker Stories

We invited you to share your stories and experiences from Zilker. What do you love about this space? What makes it special to you?

Le invitamos a compartir sus historias y experiencias de Zilker. ¿Qué le encanta de este espacio? ¿Qué lo hace especial para usted?

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I have such wonderful memories of Zilker Park as a child....the train, family picnic gatherings at Barton Springs, the Botanical Gardens in Springtime. Running on Town Lake/Lady Bird Lake Trail ....which I enjoy doing many mornings before heading to work for the City or before church on a Sunday. Please do not disturb Zilker Park. I think the upgrades at the cafe were wonderful, so basic infrastructure and TLC is always needed. Do not overhaul the park in a way that will be unrecognizable --- its one of the last gems in the Violet Crown. A new train would be great. - Randy S. Ortega, fourth generation and native Austinite ....

randyo about 1 month ago

My parents were married at the Botanical Gardens, when my mom was 8 months pregnant with me in 1995. Watching all these trees go down and buildings go up has had such a huge impact on my mental. (Although I admit, the root is likely something more deep- seeded) My grandmother used to ask, 'If it ain't broke, why fix it?' In my opinion, the Botanical Gardens ain't broke.
Peace In Austin ✌️

Jadai45 2 months ago

My father used to take me fishing on the old spillway on Barton Creek when I was 5. He would bait the hook with a squirmy worm and help me drop the line into the crystal waters. I would wait for the little red and white ball on my line to bob under, signaling the “Piggy Perch’s” nibble.

That same year, my father, who loved the outdoors, worked as a journalist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. He went to the Austin Parks and Recreation Department with an idea and a small proposal in hand. He was then granted the first and only canoe contract on Barton Creek and Town Lake at that time. With money he saved and a small loan, he had enough money to buy his first used canoes. The trailer with the 9 canoes, pulled up in front of our little house on Pruitt. The year was 1969.

I played on the banks of Barton Creek over the next several years as my mother manned the business while my father still worked for the Parks and Wildlife Magazine. The hillside was all grass, not overgrown with bushes as it is now. A small dirt path, with occasional logs, marked steps and led from the top of the hill to the little shed by the creek, which was at the time called Armadillo Canoe Rentals.

Over the years, my days were filled with nature and the beauty of Barton Springs. Red eared snapping turtles sat upon the logs lining the banks and sunning themselves. Perhaps they are grandmother’s and grandfather’s of the same turtles we see today?

I learned that if you jump gently on a flat rock by the bank, a crawdad would squirt out from underneath and were easy to capture. There were many shells and fossils and rocks. I learned how to choose just the right size and shape rock for skipping. And I learned the different stages of pollywogs as they turned from squiggly little fishes to strange legged creatures with tails and finally, fabulous jumping frogs.

The playscape was a giant pirate ship, made out of old telephone poles. It had a limestone lined moat, with a series of multilevel pieces of telephone poles scattered around. These were placed strategically throughout the moat so that we children could jump from one to the other, entirely around the pirate ship without letting our feet touch the “water.”

There was also an old red fire truck. Me and my park playmates, who had come to the park that day with their parents, were small enough then to squeeze through the old gearbox hole next to the steering wheel. I guess that wasn’t the best idea because the hole was later welded shut.

There were of course swings and a wonderful merry go round, which was fun to spin around as fast as possible until we could no longer hold on, our small children’s bodies flew off into the sand. It was awesome. That is no longer there.

The Park Manager, Mr. Robinson, lived with his family in the little cottage by the playground. His son was a constant companion during the early days of my family’s canoe concession and we would explore near and far, Zilker Park's boundaries.

Eliza Springs was not fenced off then and we enjoyed climbing the steps down to the water, never swimming, as we were curiously cautious of the bubbles coming up from underneath.

We also explored the curious rock spring across from the park, which was dark with branches and moss covered rocks. We never swam there either because it was mirky.

The train was a constant in Zilker Park. During that time, there were two trains. The engineer would blow the horn as it heralded its way down the tracks and back. Riders waved to onlookers along the path and ended the journey with a dark tunnel ride and joyful screams of children going through the darkness into the light.

The concession stand was also an important part of the park. It had the most wonderful cotton candy and snow cones. When I think back, I can almost feel the red, sticky syrup dripping through my fingers, down between my toes, on my dusty bare feet. Busy bees would lick the leftover sweetness from the thin, white, paper cones, left discarded in the trash can.

The sixties and seventies in Austin were what defined our culture and in essence was the beginning of the “Keep Austin Weird” movement, started, I am told, by an Austin Community College Librarian.

Back then, they were known as “Hippies.” Barton Creek was the place then and now to cool off.
Swimming was made illegal and attempts to enforce the law were met with protests. I had a front seat to one such event. The police were lined up on one side of the creek and the “hippies” were lined up on the other. The hippies challenged the police by entering the water all at once and the police, unhappily, entered the cold water in full uniform and arrested the protesters.

Barton Springs Pool was not only known for its ice cold waters, but it was known far and wide for topless sunbathers. The southside hill of Barton Springs, women, probably old grandmother’s now, would celebrate their youthful bodies to the sun God.

Men, on lunch break, would line the perimeter of the chain link fence, and gawk. A man once approached me, then 15, and asked when I was going to take off my top.

In later years, the women would lie bare breasted on the grassy courtyard of the women’s changing room, away from prying eyes.

I wonder if anyone remembers the Yogi who did hours of Yoga on the hillside? A trendsetter!. I bet he would love Austin’s scene today.

Zilker Hillside Theater was then and still is today a summer staple of free family tradition. I have attended many hillside performances over the years. I even performed in the summer musical with some high school friends. The play was called, Gypsy Rose Lee. It was produced by the Austin Recreation Center which was housed in a giant green wooden building downtown. It has since been torn down and replaced by a parking garage and skate park.

Well, now 52 years later, through many floods and city negotiations, we are still here, in love with Austin, Barton Creek and Zilker Park. And though many things have changed, we are still committed to introducing and educating the world to this historical jewel through the experiential learning journey of a ride down the stream. Thanks to the vision of my parents, Howard and Dorothy Barnett, many newcomers, native Austinites and tourists now create their own memories of Zilker Park and the beauty of Barton Creek.

Laura 2 months ago

I remember playing on the playscape as a kid and wishing it was bigger. I remember riding on the Zilker Zephyr and thinking it was the BEST! I remember having lunch under the small pavilion near the play grounds with my summer camp.
As a teenager I spent every warm weekend in Barton springs pool. Was sad by the lack luster fair at the cafe. And watched my first professional play at the Hill Side Theater with a numb butt.
As a camp counselor with the Science and Nature center I took my students through the SPLASH exhibit and wondered why I never new it was there!
Plus the countless times I went to the soccer fields for the Trail of Lights, ACL, Blues on The Green or just to have a picnic and look at down town.
Now as a Mom when I take my toddlers to Zilker I still love every part of it. My priorities and interested changed as I grew but Zilker has always had something to keep me going back!

Raquel Estevez 7 months ago

Removed by moderator.

flashraito 9 months ago
Page last updated: 14 September 2021, 23:38