Republic Square Park had served many purposes before it became the magical setting for Party for the Parks, which benefits the Austin Parks Foundation.
Edwin Waller’s team auctioned the first city lots in the block set aside as one of the Austin’s original four smaller squares. Tonkawas camped their under the protection early city dwellers. At other times, it marked the anchor for Austin’s chili and spinach canning industries as well as its Mexican-American community.
In the 1930s, city leaders coveted the square for an auditorium that would eventually become the Long Center for the Performing Arts. Some used it as a dump, but perhaps most ignominiously, it gave up its dignity as a parking lot for a former American-Statesman building.
The Parks Foundation, Downtown Austin Alliance and Austin Parks and Recreation combined forces to bring the dusty square back to life. Sustainably landscaped, it is once again the site for a weekend farmer’s market. Daily, it is among the busiest and most pleasant stops Capital Metro’s bus empire.
To the west is the new, modernist federal courthouse; to the east a condo tower and an almost-completed hotel. High rises are planned to the north and south.
But for this evening, it was a party place. Enclosed by the natural and built environment, Republic Square glowed at dusk. A short program, ample food and drink and plenty of elbow room made this one of most agreeable nights in recent memory.
Perhaps it was a bit humid, which might have, along with traffic, kept away a potentially larger crowd. I wasn’t complaining. I found dozens of ideal partners in conversation. I encourage the Parks Foundation to keep the Party for the Parks in a park such as this one.